MINNEAPOLIS -- After an 0-2 start in the Big Ten, the Minnesota Golden Gophers have fought their way back into the race for the West Division title. Heres where it starts to get interesting.Rodney Smith ran for 153 yards and three touchdowns and quarterback Mitch Leidner ran for 74 yards and two more scores Saturday as Minnesota defeated Purdue 44-31.The Gophers (7-2, 4-2 Big Ten) opened conference play with an overtime loss at Penn State and a home loss to Iowa. But theyve rattled off four straight wins over admittedly lesser foes -- Maryland, Rutgers, Illinois and Purdue, who have combined for five conference victories this season.Now the schedule gets tougher, with road games at Nebraska and Wisconsin sandwiched around a visit from Northwestern. Minnesota can win the Big Ten West if it wins out, which seemed and unlikely position for them to be in four weeks ago.After our first two conference games nobody gave us a chance ... to be in here, Gophers coach Tracy Claeys said. They kind of said the season was over. We just kept battling one game at a time and we fought our way back into this thing.Smith and Leidner put the points on the board on Saturday, but the Gophers resurgence in the past month and against Purdue was due in large part to its defensive effort. Trailing 28-23 at halftime, Minnesota forced three second-half turnovers, and the offense turned each of them into touchdowns as the Gophers outscored the Boilermakers 21-3 in the second half.We cant keep beating ourselves like that. Its frustrating, said Purdue quarterback David Blough, who threw four touchdown passes in the first half but was held in check after the break. They gave us every single coverage in America in the second half, they kept throwing wrenches in (our offense).Purdue (3-6, 1-5) again was competitive but continued to be plagued by second-half woes in its third game since head coach Darrell Hazell was fired. The Boilermakers have been outscored 83-10 in the second half in their last three games.It puts tears in my eyes not to be able to get them to a point they can finish, Purdue interim coach Gerad Parker said. Thought it was a chance for us, got into the third quarter and had a chance to win the game. We got to do that and relay to them its not okay to finish short and just be close.As Purdue tries to regroup, Minnesota gets ready for the most important stretch of its season, beginning with a game Saturday night at Nebraska. That leaves little time to celebrate its recent success.It feels good, but we have bigger goals, Smith said. This week is a big week coming up for us and we know that.STREAKINGPurdue receivers racked up more than 100 yards after the catch in the first half thanks to two long touchdowns off short passes. In the first quarter, Cameron Posey caught a ball one step ahead of Minnesota safety Damarius Travis and ran the last 60 yards untouched for an 89-yard touchdown. De Yancey later shook off a tackle and ran the last 45 yards of a 60-yard touchdown playYou never know until you get into the games how youre going to match up, Claeys said. Speeds hard to tell on video -- it really is. So after those two big plays we went to more safety help on them.OFF TARGETMinnesota linebacker Nick Rallis was ejected after being called for targeting in the fourth quarter. Hell miss the first half of the Nebraska game as a result. Replays appeared to show that Rallis made a clean hit with his shoulder but the replay official confirmed the ejection.That was the sixth targeting call against the Gophers, and though Claeys admitted to frustration over the inconsistent way the rule has been interpreted and implemented, he knew better than to say anything about it after the game.I would add more but Christmas is coming up and I would much rather use my money on Christmas presents than send it to the Big Ten, he said.THE TAKEAWAYPurdue: Blough ended the day with 391 passing yards, the fifth time hes passed for 300 yards this year. . Yancey and Posey each topped 100 receiving yards with a touchdown for PurdueMinnesota: Smith topped the 100-yard mark for the fourth straight game and sixth time this season. . Gophers running back Shannon Brooks missed the game due to an unspecified injury. . Minnesota rushed for five touchdowns for the second straight game. . Sophomore Emmit Carpenter became the first Gopher in 19 years to kick two 50-yard field goals in a game. Carpenter converted from 52 and 53 yards in the first half. . Sophomore linebacker Blake Cashman, a walk-on filling in for two injured teammates, finished the game with two sacks.LAST WORDI know to you guys it seems like a theme: Purdue cant finish in the second half. But we were just as ready in the second half as we were in the first half. It was not anything about lack of effort. They just made more plays in the second half. -- Boilermakers linebacker Markus BaileyUP NEXTPurdue hosts Northwestern on Saturday afternoon.Minnesota travels to Nebraska for a Saturday night clash with the Cornhuskers.Air Max 95 Pas Cher France . Hamelin, who triumphed in the 500 on Saturday, edged out Victor An of Russia by 0.021 seconds to maintain his lead in the World Cup standings. Russias Vladimir Grigorev was third. In the relay, Canada took control six laps from the finish line to beat Russia and the Netherlands. Air Max 95 Pas Cher . The players spoke Jan. 13 during a Major League Baseball Players Association conference call after Rodriguez sued the union and Major League Baseball to overturn an arbitrators decision suspending him for the 2014 season and post-season. http://www.pascherairmax95.fr/ . -- Yogi Ferrell orchestrates pretty much everything in Indianas offence. Air Max 95 Pas Cher Chine . Walcott is available for Saturdays home match against Southampton as Arsenal looks to extend its two-point lead at the top of the Premier League. The Gunners are currently the second highest scorers in the league but Wenger insists Walcott will add something extra to his team. Grossiste Air Max 95 . Bradwell was scheduled to become a free agent Tuesday. Born and raised in Toronto, Bradwell is entering his sixth CFL season, with all six played for his hometown Argonauts.MONZA, Italy -- Valtteri Bottas thinks Williams can challenge Ferrari for the podium after qualifying fifth for the Italian Grand Prix.Bottas split Ferrari and Red Bull on Saturday afternoon to put himself in the mix the race. The Finn says Williams pace so far this weekend has suggested it can compete with the Ferraris over a race distance.Asked what he could achieve from fifth, Bottas said: I think we might have an opportunity here to challenge some cars in front. Not the Mercedes but maybe the Ferrari - that will be nice. But we dont know how much more pace they have compared to practice. From our numbers there could be the possibility for fighting with them, and if it is possible then we will try.Williams dropped behind Force India in the battle for fourth at the Belgian Grand Prix. With Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg having to settle for eighth and ninth on the grid, Bottas seees Italy as a perfect opportunity to shift the momentum back in favour of Williams.ddddddddddddIts going to be very important in the battle with Force India. Now I have two cars between them and me, which is a great opportunity. With Felipe starting from 11th on a free tyre choice it could help in that battle. I just hope we make the right calls and things turn out well.When asked why Williams had seen such an upswing in performance between Spa and Monza, he replied: Theres nothing new in the car for Spa and Monza. I think this track suits our car better, thats most of it, and also the weekend started really well.The gaps are very, very small and if you get everything perfect you can gain a couple of places. Its the race that counts so we need to improve. ' ' '