Minnesota got its win over Rutgers on Saturday, just as everyone predicted.
But no one saw the Gophers blowing an 18-point lead and needing a go-ahead field goal with six seconds left to avoid what would've been an embarrassing fall-from-ahead defeat at the hands of the Big Ten's worst team.
Minnesota had a 21-3 lead after a quarter, but Rutgers stormed back behind new starting quarterback Gio Rescigno and took a 32-31 lead with four minutes to go. But Emmit Carpenter sent one through the uprights with six seconds left on the clock to re-grab the lead and give the Gophers a win ... barely.
The Knights entered this one with just 14 combined points in four Big Ten contests, out-scored in those games by a whopping 174-14 margin. And it looked like it would be another blowout loss for Rutgers as Minnesota jumped out to that big lead, getting first-quarter touchdown runs from Shannon Brooks, Rodney Smith and Mitch Leidner.
Rescigno, installed as the new starter this week by head coach Chris Ash, threw his first touchdown toss of the game in the second quarter, but the Knights still trailed by double digits at the break.
Huge plays defined the third quarter. Rescigno hit Andre Patton from 37 yards out in the first minute of the second half before Minnesota added a field goal. When Damon Hayes intercepted Leidner and took it back 55 yards for a score, it appeared Rutgers had come all the way back, but the Knights were unsuccessful on their two-point conversion try, keeping it a one-point Minnesota lead. And then Smith put the Gophers back in front by a full touchdown with a 94-yard return touchdown on the ensuing kickoff.
Rescigno threw another touchdown a few minutes into the fourth quarter but failed again on the two-point conversion, trimming Minnesota's lead to two, and David Bonagura's field goal with four minutes to play gave Rutgers its first lead of the day at 32-31.
But immediately following that kick, the Gophers went on a 13-play, 59-yard drive that chewed almost four minutes off the clock and ended in Carpenter's kick to retake the lead for Minnesota and give it the win.
The Gophers racked up nearly 400 yards of offense, gaining 243 yards on the ground thanks 111 yards from Smith and 87 yards from Brooks.
Rescigno was a mixed bag in his first start, completing 22 of his 38 passing attempts for 220 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Rutgers running back Justin Goodwin had 97 yards rushing.
The win sent Minnesota to 5-2 on the season ahead of next weekend's game at Illinois.
The loss dropped Rutgers to 2-6 on the year, with an 0-5 mark in Big Ten play. The Knights play Indiana in two weeks.