MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - The University of Minnesota football team hosts Illinois at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Huntington Bank Stadium, and will do so without running back Darius Taylor.
The freshman got injured during the Gophers’ 12-10 win at Iowa two weeks ago, and did not play in last week’s 27-12 win over Michigan State. Taylor was listed as out on the team’s availability report Saturday. He’s won the Big Ten Freshman of the Week Award three times for the Gophers this season.
Zach Evans was upgraded to questionable after he also missed last week’s victory. Evans' best game this season came against Louisiana on Homecoming, with 15 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown. He had 12 carries for 45 yards, and one catch for 13 yards in the loss to Michigan.
P.J. Fleck leaned on No. 5 running back Jordan Nubin in last week’s win over the Spartans. He had 40 carries for 204 yards and two scores on the way to earning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors. He got a bulk of the carries after Sean Tyler lost a fumble on Minnesota’s second offensive play. Tyler got one carry the rest of the game.
The Gophers are also without starting offensive lineman Tyler Cooper. Defensive back Justin Walley is not on the availability report after suffering an injury against the Spartans last week, so he should be ready to play against the Illini.
Minnesota is seeking to end a nine-game losing streak against Bret Bielema on Saturday. The Gophers can also earn bowl eligibility for the fifth time in seven seasons under Fleck, and can stay atop the Big Ten West with a victory.