WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana — Purdue coach Darrell Hazell struggled to find an explanation.
Quarterback David Blough couldn't sort it out any better.
One week after nearly upsetting a top-five team on the road, the Boilermakers found themselves grounded at home.
Minnesota freshman Shannon Brooks ran 17 times for 176 yards and changed the game with a 71-yard TD run early in the second half to lead the Golden Gophers to a 41-13 blowout.
"This was a very disappointing game," Hazell said. "There was no type of rhythm. ... We have to take a closer look at everything schematically."
And why not after this debacle?
D.J. Knox capped a 75-yard drive with a 1-yard TD run to open the game, but the Boilermakers didn't score again until Blough threw a 10-yard TD pass to Cole Herdman with 4:39 left.
In between, the mistake-prone Boilermakers (1-5, 0-2 Big Ten) couldn't do anything right.
Paul Griggs hit the left upright on his first extra-point attempt. Punt returner Trae Hart muffed a punt near midfield as he tried to make an ill-conceived diving catch. Blough finished 21 of 49 with one TD pass and three interceptions, and the ground game that looked so strong at Michigan State managed only 2.4 yards per carry.
Purdue has lost four straight overall, eight straight in league play and has only two wins over FBS foes under third-year coach Hazell.
"We didn't do our jobs, hit the short throws and then turned the ball over three times," Blough said. "When you do that, it's hard to beat anyone."
Brooks gave the sluggish Minnesota offense the jolt it needed.
By breaking tackles and running away from defenders, he almost single-handedly got the Golden Gophers' sluggish offense in sync and looked like the former Purdue star Mike Alstott.
Coach Jerry Kill thought he looked like someone else.
"He reminds me of Marion Barber," Kill said. "He is fast, and he hits the holes."
He certainly did Saturday.
The question now is whether he can keep it up during a brutal four-game stretch against Nebraska, No. 18 Michigan, No. 1 Ohio State and No. 22 Iowa.
But he's at least given the Golden Gophers some momentum.
The FBS' second-lowest scoring offense scored 28 in the third quarter alone — more than it had scored in any game of its previous five games — and the Big Ten's worst rushing team piled up a season-best 326 yards on the ground.
Brooks delivered body blow after body blow with his strong inside runs, then changed the game by breaking tackles and outrunning the rest of the Boilermakers defense on the second play of the second half on the TD run that made it 17-6.
Purdue never recovered.
Much maligned quarterback Mitch Leidner took the cue, throwing two TD passes to Brandon Lingen to make it 31-6, and Jalen Myrick finished the scoring flurry with a 27-yard interception return that made it 38-6 with 1:11 left in the third quarter.
Minnesota won its third straight in the series for the first time since 1989-91.
"For me, this was huge in terms of confidence, because it was something I always knew was there," Leidner said after going 8 of 12 for 59 yards with two TDs and one interception following a week in which fans were calling for him to be replaced. "When you get into situations like last week at Northwestern, it is something that tests you. It is a matter of staying positive, because we all knew this time would come. For us to do this right now is good for everybody's confidence."
After Ryan Santoso's 37-yard field goal cut Purdue's lead to 6-3, Myrick picked off Blough, putting the ball at the Purdue 37. Six plays later, Leidner capitalized with a 1-yard TD plunge that gave Minnesota a 10-6 lead. Leidner's 19th career TD run broke a tie with Sandy Stephens for the second-most rushing scores by a Minnesota quarterback.
But it was Brooks' strong runs that kept the Gophers offense chugging.
"It was my breakout game," Brooks said. "It was only 10-6 coming out of halftime, and then that long run, just for momentum, was a big play."
AP college football website: collegefootball.ap.org