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A.J.’s Annihilations: The One We’ve Been Waiting For

Epenesa wreaks havoc on the Gophers picking up a Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week award in the process.

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A.J. Epenesa is coming for the Gophers.
Jimmy Simmons of JJs Photography Plus

BHGP decided before the season started to have a weekly A.J. Epenesa story mainly due to his dominance from his sophomore season and his numerous preseason accolades, but also because we were fully aware that there was a strong possibility that this would be the juniors last year in black and gold (unless Pittsburgh trades up to get him). All season it’s been a fun journey and Epenesa has made an impact in every game, just not always in a way that stuffs the stat sheet.

Well, against Minnesota, Epenesa stuffed the sheet big time. According to Pro Football Focus, Epenesa graded out with a score of 90.9% with four defensive stops and nine quarterback pressures.

For his effort, Epenesa garnered numerous honors including the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week.

Extra pictures this week are from Jimmy Simmons of JJs Photography Plus. Check out the link to see his set from the game. Thanks for allowing me to use some of your images, they look great!

Tanner Morgan is going to be seeing #94 in his nightmares.
Jimmy Simmons of JJs Photography Plus

Game Notes:

The official stats for Epenesa were four tackles including two and a half sacks. That only tells half the story as he was able to get pressure on Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan throughout the game. Besides the sacks and tackles he forced Morgan to rush some throws including this one that could have saved an early touchdown (video below at 0:18 seconds).

A strip sack in the third quarter.

Here’s a half sack early in the fourth quarter.

A big full sack on the last drive of the game for the Gophers.

And as pointed out in the Rewatch, if you can’t beat them, tackle them.

A wonderful game for a great player from a tremendous family. If we only get three more games of Epenesa, I’m going to enjoy every minute of them.

2018 Annihilations: 10.5

2019 Annihilations: 7.0

This Week Last Year: Iowa 63, Illinois 0

I remember vividly that I was in Las Vegas last year during this game and had placed a small wager on Iowa to cover the spread. Genius right? Well, yes and no. I had also decided that a wager on the under was a good move as well. Iowa covered the over/under early in the third quarter.

In this game Epenesa had eight tackles and 1.5 sacks including a scoop and score. If you’d like to see the highlights of that wonderful blowout, see the video below.

Up Next: Illinois

A big win over an previously undefeated Minnesota last week and a Black Friday date with Nebraska next week would make this week one to be careful of the dreaded “trap game”.

Illinois (6-4, 4-3) is certainly improved over last year. Their biggest win on the season was an upset victory over Wisconsin. Iowa will need to focus on USC transfer WR Josh Imatorbhebhe we leads Illinois with nine touchdowns.