MINNEAPOLIS -- — Daniel Jackson caught a pair of touchdown passes Saturday and Minnesota pulled away in the second half to beat Louisiana 35-24 and end a two-game slide.
It was a somewhat solid bounce-back performance for Minnesota, which blew a 21-point fourth-quarter lead in last week’s 34-31 overtime loss at Northwestern.
Minnesota (3-2) did it without freshman running back Darius Taylor who ran for 198 yards before injuring his leg late in last week’s loss. His 133 rushing yards per game rank second nationally, and he’s received three straight Big Ten freshman of the week honors.
Without their bell cow, Minnesota saw three running backs and quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis get between 10 and 15 carries apiece. Zach Evans ran for 85 yards, Bryce Williams 53 yards and a score, and Sean Tyler had 47 yards. Kaliakmanis added 17.
Dual-threat quarterback Zeon Chriss passed for 172 yards and ran for 74 for Louisiana (3-2). The Ragin' Cajuns went in averaging 38.8 points per game, but got only a 52-yard run by Jacob Kibodi for second-half points.
Evans capped an 11-play drive with an 18-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter for Minnesota for a 21-17 lead. Williams added a 2-yard run early in the fourth quarter and Kaliakmanis later found Jackson for a 37-yard score.
Kaliakmanis finished 12 of 14 for 146 years and two touchdowns.
Louisiana had 211 yards of offense in the first half but ran just eight plays and gained 30 yards in the third quarter. That included an incomplete fourth-down pass near midfield and an interception by Minnesota’s Tyler Nubin. Jack Henderson added a fourth quarter pick.
Eclipsing more than 500 total yards in each of its past two games, Louisiana finished with 349 against the Golden Gophers.
On an 80-degree, muggy day with no wind, the Ragin’ Cajuns scored on three of their first four drives, including a 7-yard touchdown reception by Peter LeBlanc and a 6-yard score by Robert Williams en route to a 17-14 halftime lead. Kaliakmanis threw a 10-yard score to Jackson and snuck in from the 2 for Minnesota.
SUN BELT SUCCESS
Minnesota is 12-0 all-time against Sun Belt Conference opponents. In addition to being 4-0 against Louisiana, the Gophers have three wins against Louisiana-Monroe, a pair of wins against Arkansas State, and single victories versus Georgia Southern, Texas State and Troy.
Louisiana: The Ragin’ Cajuns were sharp in the first half, so consistency is a concern. Louisiana also needs to be cleaner. It committed seven penalties, including a couple pass interference infractions and a false start on 3rd and 1.
Minnesota: Obviously, the health of Taylor is the big question. A defense that was brutal in the fourth quarter a week ago and pedestrian early in this one, dominated the second half other than one long run.
Louisiana: Returns to Sun Belt Conference play with an Oct. 7 home game against Texas State.
Minnesota: In a nationally televised primetime game, No. 2 Michigan visits next Saturday in the latest battle for the Little Brown Jug that has gone to the winner since 1903.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll