Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports
Huntington Bank Stadium was rocking as the Minnesota Gophers football team concluded their non-conference schedule this past Saturday, annihilating the Colorado Buffaloes 49-7. After a long home stretch of clean football, the Gophers are starting their season 3-0, and aren’t looking to slow down.
Since the opening kick-off, the Gophers took control with a dominant first half. Mo Ibrahim had a hot day, with 179 yards and three touchdowns, two of them being less than a minute apart in the first quarter. Minnesota took a demanding 35-0 lead heading into halftime.
Ibrahim has engraved his name in Gopher history, moving up to fifth all-time in rushing yards and finishing the day with a school record of 12 straight games with 100-yard. After a year of being sidelined by a torn achilles, Ibrahim is averaging 154.6 yards a game for an impressive Gopher run game.
On the other hand, Quarterback Tanner Morgan found his receivers for three touchdowns, finishing the day 11-16 for 157 yards. In the first half, Morgan found Chris Autman-Bell and Dylan Wright for scores while having a bobbled interception by Brevyn Spann-Ford. The Gophers had outgained Colorado 349-39 within just the first half.
However, the beat down on Colorado didn’t come without a price. Leading receiver, Chris Autman-Bell, left the game with a significant right knee injury. Late in the second quarter, Autman-Bell leapt up to catch the ball and was left down on the turf for minutes in pain and agony as he gripped his right knee. Autman-Bell had three catches for 58 yards, including the 39-yard touchdown pass.
Early Monday morning following the game, Autman-Bell and the Gophers announced he would miss the rest of the season as his injury would require surgery. He will still have a year left of eligibility, if he plans to return back to the Gophers next season.
The second half started off how it left off. Gopher defense started right out of the gate, with Mariano Sori-Marin breaking up a fourth down pass to give the ball back to the Gophers. The Gopher offense ran the ball down the field with Morgan finding Clary Geary for an 8-yard touchdown pass. Most of the Gophers starters were pulled out of the game in the third quarter.
Colorado ended the 49-0 shutout with a touchdown halfway through the fourth quarter, with no other action from both sides. The Gophers limited Colorado to one third-down conversion and out gained the Buffs 500 yards to 227 yards. Minnesota has outscored their opponents 149-17 in their first 3 non-conference games.
Harsh critics are saying that the Gophers have only found success because they have one of the easiest schedules in college football, however, the team has learned what their strengths and weaknesses are. The Gophers are heading to East Lansing next Saturday to face the Michigan State Spartans, their first matchup since 2017.
The Gopher defense will have their hands full against the Spartans, as they will be covering top receivers Jayden Reed, Tre Mosley, and Keon Coleman. Minnesota’s secondary will have to show up next weekend and apply the pressure. However, the Spartans one dimensional offense will test the Gopher’s pass rush. Coming off a few shaky weeks, the Spartans’ offensive line has allowed opponents’ defense to apply pressure on their quarterback, Payton Thorne.
If the Golden Gophers can keep up the strong pace they’ve kept in their first three games, I personally like their odds heading to Michigan. The key to winning for the Gophers comes from their ability to eat up the time clock while working their way down the field to limit the Spartans’ scoring opportunities. The match-up kicks off at 2:30 P.M.