Gophers prepare for Purdue

Coming off an upset victory over Rutgers last Sunday, No. 17 Minnesota (6-6, 2-2) will look to win back-to-back Big Ten duals for the first time this season when it hosts Purdue (7-2, 2-1) at the Sports Pavilion this Sunday at 1 p.m.

Sunday’s contest will be the 48th dual between the two teams, which first met in 1926. The Gophers own a 36-8-2 advantage over Purdue, a lead Minnesota has stretched over the past two decades by winning 14 of the last 15 meetings with the Boilermakers, including the last seven.

Minnesota GophersThis weekend’s match will be the first in more than two calendar years between the two programs, which last wrestled in November 2013, the only dual in series history to not take place in January or February. The Gophers dominated that last meeting, taking nine of the dual’s 10 matches to earn a 35-3 win. After falling behind 3-0 following a decision at 125, the Gophers swept the final nine matches, including a 12-2 major decision from Brett Pfarr at 184 pounds in his first career dual appearance. That victory came over Tanner Lynde, who will be wrestling for Purdue at 184 this Sunday.

Outside of Pfarr and Sam Brancale, no other Minnesota wrestler from that dual will be on the mat this weekend. Meanwhile, Purdue could have as many as five: Lynde, Kyle Ayersman or Danny Sabatello at 141 pounds, Alex Griffin at 149, Doug Welch at 157 and No. 7 Chad Welch at 165.

As could be assumed from the dearth of returning Gophers, no matches from that 2013 dual are scheduled for rematches on Sunday. Looking at this weekend’s bout card, all but one of the dual’s 10 matches will be the first-ever college meeting between the two competitors. The lone exception comes at 149. At Midlands two years ago, Jake Short took a 10-3 decision over Alex Griffin during Short’s redshirt season.

The Boilermakers come to Minneapolis after sweeping a pair of conference duals last weekend, first a 27-15 win over Michigan State in East Lansing on Friday, then a 32-6 home rout of Maryland on Sunday. Those wins put Purdue over .500 in the league after suffering a 42-3 loss in its conference opener against Penn State. The Boilers have built their overall record by beating all seven unranked teams they have wrestled so far this season. Purdue is yet to defeat a ranked opponent, with losses to Penn State and a non-conference loss against Central Michigan (currently ranked No. 18), 18-16.

Sunday’s match will be the last home conference dual for Minnesota this season. The home mat, whether unrolled at Williams Arena or the Sports Pavilion, has been good to the Gophers this year. Minnesota is 6-1 at home in its current campaign, and 28-3 when wrestling in Minneapolis during the past five seasons.

Though the Gophers have a strong home record, Purdue has wrestled well in gyms away from West Lafayette this season. The Boilers are 4-0 on the road this year, including their Big Ten road win over Michigan State. All-time, Purdue has defeated the Gophers in just two matches held in Minneapolis, first in 1987 and then again in 2004.

After Sunday’s showdown with Purdue, Minnesota will hit the road for the next three weekends, wrestling the final four duals of the Big Ten season away from the Twin Cities before returning home for a non-conference dual with Iowa State on Feb. 19 at Williams Arena.

The dual on Sunday begins at 1 p.m. Central. Fans can stream all the action live on BTN Plus and receive mat-side updates throughout the dual by following Gopher Wrestling on Twitter.

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