MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Forget the pass. Minnesota got all the
offense it needed on the ground.
Laurence Maroney and Marion Barber III each gained more than 100
yards for the second straight game and both scored a touchdown to
lead Minnesota (No. 19 ESPN/USA Today, No. 24 AP) to a 55-7 rout of Indiana on Saturday.
It was the most lopsided Big Ten win for Minnesota since a 55-7
victory against Iowa on Nov. 5, 1949.
Maroney led the way with 164 yards, while Barber had 107 to give
him 995 on the season. Against Illinois last week, the two had 179
and 129 yards, respectively.
Fullback Thomas Tapeh added 65 yards and two touchdowns.
Minnesota (8-2, 4-2 Big Ten) totaled 435 yards rushing -- fourth
best in school history and the most since 1980 at Northwestern -- in
sending Indiana (1-8, 0-5) to its 11th straight league loss and
12th overall on the road.
The Hoosiers' last road win came at Michigan State on Nov. 10,
The Gophers, who had seven different players score touchdowns,
entered the game as the third-best rushing offense among NCAA
Division I teams and the best in the Big Ten.
"Right now, I would say we are a great running football team,"
Minnesota coach Glen Mason said.
Asad Abdul-Khaliq, the Big Ten leader in pass efficiency, threw
for 66 yards and a touchdown. But the Gophers didn't need passing
yards. They took a 20-0 lead and let the running game take over.
"If I don't have to throw the ball, that's fine with me,"
Abdul-Khaliq said. "It's a plus when a quarterback doesn't have
much to worry about."
Minnesota didn't have much to worry about against the struggling
Hoosiers. Indiana was manhandled for the second straight week after
losing 35-6 last weekend to Ohio State.
"That was our worst game, I think," defensive end Kenny Kendal
said. "This wasn't a good step."
Barber had a 62-yard punt return in the third quarter to the
Indiana 27, which helped set up receiver Jared Ellerson's 13-yard
TD run off a reverse that gave Minnesota a 41-7 lead.
Tapeh put Minnesota ahead 48-7 with his second TD of the game, a
1-yard run with 29 seconds left in the third quarter. Backup
quarterback Benji Kamrath added another 1-yard run late in the
Minnesota outgained Indiana 527-263 in total yards.
Freshman quarterback Graeme McFarland started for Indiana in
place of Matt LoVecchio, who sustained a head injury in last week's
loss to Ohio State. Head coach Gerry DiNardo said he found out
Friday night that LoVecchio would be out -- McFarland found out he
was starting Saturday morning.
"He competed hard," DiNardo said.
The Hoosiers were also without running back Brian Lewis, who was
also knocked out of the Ohio State game with a head injury. Chris
Taylor started in his spot.
McFarland had played in all eight of Indiana's previous games,
going 6-for-6 with a TD.
But he got off to a rocky start against the Gophers.
On the game's first drive, McFarland dropped back on third down
and fumbled as he was sacked by Justin Fraley. Gophers safety John
Pawielski scooped the ball and ran 22 yards for a touchdown.
"They blitzed and I needed to throw it to Courtney (Roby),"
McFarland said. "He's a free rusher and I was supposed to throw it
quicker and I didn't get it off in time."
It was the first time the Gophers had returned a fumble for a
touchdown since Oct. 31, 1998 against Michigan.
"That was big," Gophers defensive end Mark Losli said.
"That's something we've been looking for for many weeks. We were
close, but we finally got one. It's a good way to start the game."
The Gophers made it 13-0 on their second drive when Barber ran
for a 1-yard score. Tapeh opened the second quarter with a 4-yard
TD run to make it 20-0.
Taylor gave the Hoosiers some hope when he scored on a 3-yard
run with 6:36 left in the half to make it 20-7.
But the Gophers deflated Indiana's hopes with an 80-yard scoring
drive. Abdul-Khaliq made a 5-yard pass to Ben Utecht, who made a
leaping grab in the back of the end zone for his 15th career TD
McFarland finished 12-of-30 for 152 yards.