Gopher Football Regains Momentum with Win over Rutgers


Charlie Rapheal, Editor

Huntington Bank Stadium hosted Gopher Football this past Saturday in a Halloween weekend home game against Rutgers. Coming off a three game losing streak, there was a big opportunity to turn around the season, and the Gophers did just that. The final score was 31-0, and the Gophers got the win. 

The Gophers began their season with a four game win streak, but the momentum quickly shifted when they began facing more formidable opponents. Their record was brought back down to 4-3 after the losing streak, and Rutgers threatened to bring them back to 500. The victory over Rutgers was a well needed one, and it goes to show that the team isn’t done playing yet. 

We knew that it was going to be a tough, physical Big Ten football game, and I thought up front, besides a few holding penalties, I thought we played really hard, really tough

— PJ Fleck

The first quarter was relatively uneventful, with a few long pass looks from both teams but ended still with an empty scoreboard. The second quarter started and it was Gopher Mohammed Ibrahim to first put points on the board. After rushing for a 2nd and Goal touchdown the Gophers had points on the board and began pulling away. He rushed for a second touchdown later in the same quarter. 

After a relatively uneventful third quarter, the scoreboard read 14-0 going into the fourth. Ibrahim then rushed for a huge third touchdown, and it was followed with a field goal later in the quarter. Gopher running back Bryce Williams snuck in a fourth touchdown for the team, and the game finished out with a scoreless Rutgers. 

Mohammed Ibrahim is the man to talk about again, rushing for three touchdowns and totaling 159 yards. He continues to carry the run game, after Saturday now sits as the all time touchdown leader for the Gophers at forty-four. 

It’s also notable that not a single touchdown was thrown by the Gophers this weekend, and this is likely due to the fact that their passing game has been lackluster lately. Against Rutgers, the Gophers only put up 122 receiving yards total. That is less than what Ibrahim ran for, by himself. When asked about the vertical passing game at the post game press conference, head coach PJ Fleck said “There’s not a lot of it. We have thrown the ball vertically, and that’s where we’ve thrown in some of our interceptions over the last few games. So the two games that we lost, I feel like it was because of a vertical passing game. And that can maybe make you hesitant to be able to do that again, because you’re not doing something to not lose the game. But knowing what can cost you a game is part of winning a game.” Against Rutgers, the Gophers were able to rely on Ibrahim to carry the offense, however there is going to need to be some heavy improvement on the receiving side of their offense if they want to end the season strongly. Tougher teams like Iowa and Wisconsin will be able to take advantage of this lack in the Minnesota passing offense. 

This struggle with receiving that the Gophers are facing could be traced back to the Chris Autman-Bell Injury in the third game of the season. Autman-Bell was the number one target in the beginning of the season, and was also a sixth year player who had the potential to add a lot of leadership and experience to the team. Ever since his injury, the Minnesota offense hasn’t been much to write home about. 

The Golden Gophers are looking ahead to an opponent in Nebraska this coming Saturday, and fans eager to see if the team will start a win streak, or be back in the gutter after a fluke win over Rutgers. Head Coach PJ Fleck was also asked about the coming opponent in the Rutgers post game press conference, and his response was “They’ve got really explosive wide receivers, and I’m sure everybody knows that. With the quarterback position, there’s three guys they played all year and rotated at times. And I’m not sure which ones they’re going to play, as we’re not sure if Casey is going to play or not, but the two behind them. I know Coach Mickey’s talked a little bit about Chubba, and talked a little bit more towards that side. But we don’t know which one they’re going to actually play. So all three of them do very similar things. They’re very mobile with their feet, and they can throw the ball down the field.” 

With four games remaining and all four of them being conference opponents, it should be an interesting end of the season for the Gophers. The upcoming remaining games go as follows: Nebraska, Northwestern, Iowa, and Wisconsin. The Northwestern and Iowa games are home games.