Cupito leads Gophers

Associated Press

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Bryan Cupito became Minnesota’s all-time leading passer.

If the Golden Gophers win their regular-season finale next week, he will really be able to enjoy the feat because his career will end at a bowl.

Cupito threw two second-half touchdowns to help Minnesota pull away for a 31-18 victory over Michigan State on Saturday.

The Gophers (5-6, 2-5 Big Ten) kept their postseason alive and now need to beat Iowa at home to play in a bowl game for the seventh time in eight years.


Cupito’s 37-yard TD pass to Ernie Wheelwright, who eluded two Spartans with spin moves, put Minnesota ahead 24-12 midway through the third quarter. On the play, Cupito broke Cory Sauter’s school-record 6,834 yards passing set from 1994 to 1997.

"It’s a great honor, but I’ll be more excited about it if we can win fext week," Cupito said.

Nothing can get the Spartans excited about this season.

Minnesota’s win knocked Michigan State (4-7, 1-6) out of the bowl picture in what was an inglorious home finale, 1 1/2 weeks after John L. Smith was fired and permitted to finish the season on the sideline.

"I feel bad for our seniors," Smith said. "I feel bad that we weren’t able to get out of here with a win in their last (home) game."

With only pride at stake, the Spartans will end the season at Penn State and fail to be bowl-eligible for the third straight year, their worst postseason drought since the early 1980s.

Michigan State returned a blocked punt for a score and had a safety, taking a 9-0 lead midway through the first quarter before falling apart because of mistakes and missed opportunities for its seventh loss in eight games.

"We had plenty of chances and we couldn’t convert," Smith said. "That has really been the story of our season."


Michigan State quarterback Drew Stanton was sacked late in the first quarter and left the game because of dizziness in his last home contest. Smith said Stanton was hit so hard, it crushed part of his helmet.

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