Gophers football crushes Colorado 49-7

Mohamed Ibrahim had a historic day on the ground rushing for over 200 yards in three quarters.

Running+back+Mohamed+Ibrahim+carries+the+ball+down+the+field+during+the+Minnesota+Golden+Gophers+football+game+against+the+Colorado+Buffaloes.

Ethan Fine

Running back Mohamed Ibrahim carries the ball down the field during the Minnesota Golden Gophers football game against the Colorado Buffaloes.

by Matthew Kennedy

Mike Sanford Jr.’s return to Minneapolis was … rough. The Gophers former offensive coordinator and currently with Colorado got mauled by Minnesota 49-7.

Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim did not play in last year’s 30-0 shutout against the University of Colorado Boulder Buffaloes and had to get acquainted with Colorado quickly. Ibrahim started off rushing five times for 40 yards and a touchdown on the Gophers opening possession.

On Colorado’s first play on offense, Gopher’s Terell Smith came flying in for a strip sack on J.T. Shrout and the ball was recovered by Jalen Logan-Redding. Minnesota and Ibrahim would quickly flip that turnover into points, while throughout the game Gopher offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca was not afraid to trust his top tailback on long third downs

The Gophers ended up with a 14-0 lead with 8:44 left in the first quarter.

On Minnesota’s third offensive drive, Ibrahim converted a 3rd and 21 and a 3rd and 9 carry, bowling and bruising his way for every yard. Ibrahim finished the first quarter with an outstanding statline: 11 carries for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns. Unfortunately, however, the Gophers drive ended with Tanner Morgan tossing his first pick of the season, caught by Isaiah Lewis.

The relentless running back for the maroon and gold didn’t slow down. Ibrahim soon tied Darrell Thompson’s all-time program career rushing TD record at 40 to put the Gophers up 21-0 with 9 minutes left in the second quarter.

At this point of the contest, Ibrahim – the only Gopher football player to ever run for over 200 yards four times – was running on average 9.3 yards per carry and finished out the game rushing 23 times for 202 yards and 3 touchdowns: a performance worthy of slotting him in Heisman Trophy consideration.

“DT (Darrell Thompson) was a big part of Minnesota history so just to be tied up with him is amazing,” said Ibrahim. “It says a lot about my team getting me into the end zone three times today. They were pushing me and motivating me and we got the job done today.”

On the other side of the football, Minnesota’s defense continued its dominance. At the first half’s conclusion Colorado only attained 39 total yards.

The Gophers then started to attack through the air starting with a 39-yard passing score from Morgan to Chris-Autman Bell. Shortly after that play on the next possession, Autman-Bell left the game with a right leg injury after Morgan threw a ball behind him.

“We don’t know exactly what’s going on but obviously we love CrAB (Chris Autman-Bell) to death he’s a huge part of this team,” said Morgan. “You never want to see your brother down on the field like that, but it was awesome for our guys to continue to row and row for Chris.”

Even with Autman-Bell sidelined, the Gophers receiving corps still shined. To close the half, Morgan tossed a touchdown pass to Dylan Wright who made an acrobatic catch to stay in bounds in the right corner of the endzone, putting Minnesota up 35-0 at halftime.

“We completed 12 passes to six other people who caught balls,” said Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck. “I think we’re deeper than we’ve ever been when you look at athletes and playmakers.”

Following a loud, high scoring first half, the second half was relatively quiet. The lone score in the third quarter was provided by Clay Geary jumping in the air to nab an 8-yard touchdown. That was the sixth year receiver’s first ever touchdown catch. Bryce Williams in the fourth quarter found paydirt as well, vaulting the Gopher lead to 49-0.

Colorado found the endzone for the first time with 9 minutes to spare in the game. Shrout found Austin Smith for four yards. Both Buffaloes quarterbacks (Shrout and Brendon Lewis) struggled mightily throwing for a combined 6-17 for 38 yards and a touchdown.

Minnesota opens Big Ten conference play next Saturday in East Lansing versus Michigan State. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network with a 2:30 p.m. kick.

“This next week we’ll do whatever we can to play one of the best teams in the Big Ten and the country,” Fleck said, looking forward to the matchup with the Spartans.“We’ve watched them in the offseason [and] they’ve done a great job in the transfer portal and development. Then again, we can only focus on ourselves.”