Minnesota's David Cobb, the "other" tailback in the Big Ten West Division, had a big game Saturday to help propel the Golden Gophers past Purdue 39-38 and into first place by themselves in the division.
Cobb (5-foot-10, 229 pounds), who came into the game eighth in the nation in rushing at 136.5 yards per game, rumbled for 194 yards and a touchdown on 35 carries for Minnesota. While Cobb was eighth in the nation in rushing, he also was third among West Division running backs, behind Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon and Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah, and fourth in the league; Indiana's Tevin Coleman went into the weekend as the nation's leading rusher.
It was Cobb's fourth 100-yard game of the season. He now has 1,013 yards and is on pace to shatter the single-season school record of 1,464 yards set by Laurence Maroney in 2005; Cobb is on a pace that would net him 1,736 yards.
Maroney had three 200-yard games that season, also a school single-season record; Cobb has two 200-yard outings, so he could tie or break that mark, too.
Maroney was a first-round pick in the 2006 NFL Draft and Minnesota hasn't had a running drafted since then.
Cobb lacks elite speed (4.55 in the 40), but he is a downhill runner who almost seems to relish contact between the tackles. Saturday was his fourth consecutive game with at least 30 carries. Cobb has good vision and balance, and also is a competent receiver. He seems a likely third-day pick.
Minnesota (6-1) rallied from a 31-20 halftime deficit and became bowl-eligible with the win. With Iowa's loss at Maryland, the Golden Gophers are the only unbeaten team in league play (3-0) in the West Division. The Golden Gophers won eight games last season, their highest win total since they won 10 in 2003; last season was just the fourth time Minnesota won as many as eight games since 1967.