MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- After a sluggish first half, Curtis Painter was nearly flawless in the final two quarters to lift Purdue to a 45-31 victory over Minnesota on Saturday night.
Painter was 17-for-21 for 199 yards in the second half and finished with 338 yards passing and three touchdowns. Dorien Bryant added 12 catches for 150 yards and two touchdowns for the Boilermakers (4-0) in their Big Ten opener after easy victories over Toledo, Central Michigan and Eastern Illinois.
Purdue's defense gave up huge chunks of yardage to the Gophers (1-3) in the second half, allowing them to hang around much longer than they should have.
Adam Weber was awful in the first half of his first Big Ten start, but the redshirt freshman played well in the second half to finish 23-of-44 for 237 yards and a touchdown for the Gophers. He also rushed for 63 yards and a score.
The game would have been much more interesting had the Gophers not turned the ball over four times in the first half, including a fumble by Jamal Harris on a blocked field goal at the end of the first half.
Leading 24-3 with 41 seconds to play in the half, Purdue lined up to kick a field goal. Mike Sherels burst through the line and blocked Chris Summers' kick. Harris scooped up the ball and had nothing but green turf in front of him as he headed toward the end zone.
But as he neared the Purdue 20, Harris appeared to try to switch the ball from his left to his right hand and dropped it.
Purdue holder Jared Armstrong hustled from behind and pounced on the ball.
The Gophers took the opening kickoff of the second half and marched right down to score, cutting Purdue's lead to 24-10.
The Boilermakers dropped five passes in the first half and committed four penalties, hardly looking like the high-flying team that entered the week leading the conference in scoring, passing offense and total offense.
The game turned into a track meet in the second half, with both offenses racing up and down the field against woeful defenses.
The two teams combined for 49 points in the second half, but the Gophers again dug themselves too big of a hole. They trailed by 21 points at halftime for the third time in four games this season, and the Gophers have lost all of them.
Purdue's Desmond Tardy returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and defensive end Cliff Avril made a brilliant leaping interception that he returned 43 yards for a score to stake the Boilermakers to the big halftime lead.
Minnesota scored touchdowns on its first four possessions of the second half and Purdue scored on its first three tries after halftime, which should come as no surprise in this series.
Entering the game, the combined score averaged 66.7 points per game in the last 10 contests.
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