PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Rodney Smith ran for 111 yards and two touchdowns and No. 20 Minnesota improved to 7-0 for the first time since winning the national title in 1960 with a 42-7 victory over Rutgers on Saturday.
Smith scored on runs of 3 and 16 yards and Tanner Morgan threw two touchdowns as the Gophers (7-0, 4-0) won their ninth straight game spanning two seasons and handed Rutgers (1-6, 0-5) its fifth consecutive loss overall and 17th straight in the Big Ten Conference.
The nine-game winning streak is the Gophers' longest since 1941-42.
The Gophers blew the game open in the fourth quarter, when Mohamed Ibrahim had a 6-yard TD run and defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr. scored on a 33-yard interception return on consecutive plays on offense. Morgan, who went 15 of 28 for 245 yards, scored his second TD, a 56-yard pass to Tyler Johnson that could have been viewed as rubbing it in against a beaten foe.
There was a tender moment after the Ibrahim touchdown. Redshirt sophomore Casey O'Brien, a four-time cancer survivor, was sent out to hold the ball for the extra point by kicker Michael Lantz. He was mobbed by teammates after the kick.
Rutgers avoided its fourth shutout in a Big Ten game this season when Kay'Ron Adams scored on a 5-yard run with 5:33 to play.
That prevented Minnesota from picking up its first shutout since 2006 and first in a league game since 2004.
The Scarlet Knights came into the game as 29½-point underdogs and made the Gophers sweat a little. Smith didn't get Minnesota on the scoreboard until late in the first quarter with his short run and Morgan had a 13-yard TD pass to Rashod Bateman with less than five minutes left in the half. Smith scored from 16 yards out on the opening series of the second half for a 21-0 lead.
Rutgers, which is using its third quarterback in a season marked by the firing of Chris Ash after the fourth game, was outgained 443-197. Johnny Langan was 9 of 19 for 48 yards and three interceptions, two by Winfield.
Minnesota: The Gophers stay undefeated, face inconsistent Maryland at home next week and then get a week off before playing host to No. 7 Penn State.
Rutgers: Rutgers put up a good effort on defense until late. The positive is that next week is a winnable game.
Minnesota: Hosts Maryland next Saturday.
Rutgers: Hosts Liberty next Saturday.