Ibrahim and the Gophers Run Over Northwestern

Sep+17%2C+2022%3B+Minneapolis%2C+Minnesota%2C+USA%3B+Minnesota+Golden+Gophers+running+back+Mohamed+Ibrahim+%2824%29+celebrates+after+the+game+against+the+Colorado+Buffaloes+at+Huntington+Bank+Stadium.+Mandatory+Credit%3A+Matt+Krohn-USA+TODAY+Sports

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim (24) celebrates after the game against the Colorado Buffaloes at Huntington Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Will Schiffler, Editor

The University of Minnesota Gophers hosted Northwestern this past weekend with a record of 6-3 after winning their first four games. The Minnesota Gophers went without their sixth-year quarterback Tanner Morgan. Morgan left the Gophers’ 20-13 victory against Nebraska due to an upper-body injury. P.J. Fleck put the offense in the hands of red-shirt freshman Athan Kaliakmanis. Athan, recruited out of Antioch, Illinois, landed on the ESPN300 during his high school football career. The ESPN300 ranks the top 300 high school football players from each graduating class, which contains mostly five or four-star recruits. 

On Saturday, the Gophers leaned on the backbone of their offense Mohamed Ibrahim, nationally ranked sixth for all running backs. Ibrahim continues to add accolades to his deep resumé while at the University of Minnesota. This season, Mohamed already has 18 touchdowns, over 1,200 rushing yards, with a 5.3 average rush yards per attempt. Ibrahim continued to climb the ranks in the Gopher record book Saturday where he ran the ball 36 times for 178 rushing yards and three touchdowns. 

Minnesota jumped to a 14-point lead in the first half with two touchdowns from Mohamed Ibrahim. Minnesota’s offense displayed many packages along the offensive line to dominate the Northwestern defensive line. Minnesota went into halftime with an 11-point lead with a score of 14-3. Minnesota continued to dominate the Northwestern defense in the second half with the run game. P.J. Fleck went into their home game against Northwestern determined to beat the Wildcats. The run game allowed freshman quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis to play a simple game with only 13 pass attempts for seven catches and 64 yards. 

Minnesota picked up three points from their kicker Matthew Trickett in the third quarter for a 41-yard field goal. Trickett, currently in his fifth season for the Golden Gophers, has had his career-best year going 11 for 12 on field goals and for kicking 100 percent from 40 or more yards. The fourth quarter sent the same message as the rest of the game, with the Gophers continuing to dominate. Minnesota tacked on two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter, one from Ibrahim and the second from Zach Evans, giving Minnesota a commanding victory against a weakened Northwestern football team. 

Minnesota’s defense continues to look like one of the best defenses in the nation, giving up only a field goal to the Northwestern offense. The Wildcats had four quarterbacks combine for 15 catches on 32 attempts for 206 passing yards. Minnesota continues to lean on the effectiveness of the third-down defense to keep their hopes alive in the Big Ten West. Minnesota’s defense only allowed two first downs when on third down. Currently, Fleck’s successful defense is ranked third in the nation in points per game, third with a 27.52% opponent third down conversion rate, and sixth with an average of allowing 168.1 pass yards per game. With all running backs in the NCAA, Ibrahim ranks fifth in rushing yards, first in touchdowns, and fourth in rush attempts. 

Minnesota will pivot its focus to this Saturday as they host the Iowa Hawkeyes. P.J. Fleck and the Gophers will keep evaluating Tanner Morgan to see if he can return from his injury. Fleck will have another decision on whether he will start his sixth-year quarterback or the red-shirt freshman. Matt Sikorski had a strong opinion on who should take the snaps if Tanner Morgan is cleared to play. “

Despite the lack of offense Tanner Morgan has displayed this season, I think you have to play the experienced quarterback, especially against Iowa.”

— Matt Sikorski

” Along with Matt Sikorski, the University of Minnesota’s campus should be loud for the final home game of the season with the Big Ten West on the line.