Coverage: ESPN Plus
3:00 PM ET, September 13, 2003
Peden Stadium, Athens, OH
ATHENS, Ohio (AP) -- Minnesota didn't want to be added to the list of early season college football upsets.
Marion Barber III ensured the Golden Gophers were safe for at least one more week.
Barber rushed for 104 yards and four touchdowns Saturday as Minnesota beat Ohio 42-20, dashing the Bobcats' hopes of a second straight win over the Gophers in what was their first home game against a Big Ten team.
The Bobcats, who play in the Mid-American Conference, stunned the Gophers 23-17 at Minnesota in 2000. The MAC also has produced its share of shockers this season.
Gophers coach Glen Mason warned his players to be ready.
"We talked all week long about playing teams from the Mid-American Conference," Mason said. "It's been a crazy year in college football already."
Barber made sure the Gophers had nothing to worry about against the Bobcats.
He scored on his team's first two possessions and had two more TD runs after the Bobcats (1-2) pulled within 21-14 in the second quarter. Barber has scored eight touchdowns in Minnesota's 3-0 start.
"I think I could have run a few of those in, but it took the team to get him in that position," Mason said.
Ohio quarterback Fred Ray rushed for 93 yards and three touchdowns. He also completed 14-of-22 passes for 123 yards and an interception.
Asad Abdul-Khaliq was 9-of-14 for 146 yards with a touchdown and an interception for Minnesota. He threw a 3-yard TD pass to Aaron Hosack in the second and also scored on a 13-yard run in the fourth.
Barber ran for his third touchdown on the final play of the first half to give the Gophers a 28-14 lead. Minnesota bypassed a field goal attempt to give the ball to Barber, who scored on an option toss from the 2-yard line on fourth down.
Barber's run capped an eight-play, 56-yard drive that followed Ray's second touchdown -- an 8-yard run that cut the Gophers' lead to seven with 6:06 left in the second quarter.
Ray drove the Bobcats to the Gophers' 14 late in the third quarter, but the drive ended with an incomplete pass into the end zone. Minnesota responded with a nine-play, 86-yard march that ended in a 19-yard TD run by Barber that made it 35-14.
"When you play good teams you have to capitalize on every opportunity you get," Ohio coach Brian Knorr said.
Ray blamed himself for the fourth-down incompletion.
"I had two reads on the route, and I was looking at both of them," he said. "I saw the tight end come across, open up a little bit, but it was my mistake on that. It should have been a touchdown."
Barber capped Minnesota's opening nine-play, 80-yard drive with a 3-yard TD run and scored from 4 yards out five plays later after Ohio fumbled an option pitch on its first snap.
"It was pretty important to get us on the board quick, to say that we could play with these guys," Barber said. "We just kind of built up off that first score."
Minnesota hosts Louisiana-Lafayette next Saturday before beginning Big Ten play Sept. 27 at Penn State.