Date/Time: Oct. 15, 2022 / 11 a.m. CT
Site: Champaign, Ill.
Stadium: Memorial Stadium
Series Overall: Minnesota Leads 40-31-3
Streak: Minnesota Lost 1
Series in Illinois: Minnesota Trails 17-18-1
Streak: Minnesota Won 1
Last Meeting: Minnesota lost 14-6 in Minneapolis (11/6/21)
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
1. Coming off its bye week, RV/RV Minnesota (4-1, 1-1 B1G), heads out on the road to face No. 24/RV Illinois (5-1, 2-1) Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. on Big Ten Network.
2. Minnesota enters Saturday’s contest leading the nation in total defense and ranked 13th in total offense. The Golden Gophers are holding opponents to just 222.0 yards per game and are averaging 494.6 yards of offense per game. They boast the No. 6 rushing defense (81.4 ypg) and No. 6 rush offense (244.4 ypg) along with the fourth-ranked passing efficiency defense (98.52 rating) and 20th-ranked passing efficiency offense (163.14 rating). Alabama (6th-D, 7th-O), Georgia (8th, 4th) and Ohio State (7th, 2nd) are the only other programs with their total defense and total offense both ranked in the top 15. For good measure, Minnesota also has the No. 2 scoring defense (8.8 ppg) and No. 21 scoring offense (38.6 ppg). With 193 points scored and 44 allowed, the team’s scoring margin of +149 ranks sixth nationally behind Ohio State (+199), Alabama (+191), Michigan (+190), Georgia (+173) and Ole Miss (+151).
3. The 193 points through the first five games of the season is tied for seventh most in Minnesota history. It equals the mark by the 2004 squad and is outpaced only by starts in 1904 (371 points), 1905 (257), 1916 (245), 1903 (235), 2003 (207) and 2005 (199). Along those lines, the Maroon and Gold’s scoring differential of +149 through five games is eighth best in program history, and the team’s best mark since 1916 (+217). In addition, the 44 points allowed through five games is the best for Minnesota since 1967 (29 points).
4. With Illinois ranked 24th, Saturday marks the first game this season for Minnesota against a team ranked in the AP Top 25. Minnesota is 1-2 all-time against the Illini when they are ranked, including a 44-10 win over then-No. 22 Illinois in 2000. The losses came when the Illini were also No. 22 in 1991 and sixth in 1983. That 1991 matchup marks the only time Minnesota has played a ranked Illinois team in Champaign. The teams have never faced each other when both are ranked in the AP Poll. The Gophers are looking to snap a 10-game losing streak to ranked opponents on the road, last winning at then-No. 21 Nebraska in 2014.
5. The 2022 campaign is the sixth for head coach P.J. Fleck at Minnesota, where he holds a record of 39-24. He is already tied for fifth in program history for wins, sixth in Big Ten wins (22), and is seventh in games coached (63). Fleck’s .619 win percentage is third best among the 11 Minnesota coaches with at least 45 games under their helm behind only Henry L. Williams (.786, 1900-21) and Bernie Bierman (.716, 1932-41, ’45-50). A win Saturday would make Fleck the fifth coach at Minnesota to reach 40 wins and he is on track to do it in the third fewest games (64). In his 10th season overall as a college head coach, Fleck is 69-46 (.600).
Gopher left guard Axel Ruschmeyer spoke with MNN sports director Mike Grimm about the game:
(info and photo courtesy of Gopher Sports)