Sept. 17, 2022: A truly dominant first half from Mohamed Ibrahim and the Gophers sparked the third-straight blowout to begin the season 49-0 over Colorado.
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The Gophers received the opening kick and Mo Ibrahim set the tone. With five carries, 40 yards and a TD on the first drive, Minnesota took an early 7-0 lead. DB Terell “T-Time” Smith forced a fumble on Colorado’s first offensive play and the Gophers’ offense quickly took over. After another Ibrahim TD, it was 14-0 Minnesota in a blink of an eye. A Tanner Morgan INT was the first mistake of the day for the Gophers, as Colorado took over deep in its own territory.
The defense did not let Colorado get any momentum, shutting the Buffaloes down after Morgan’s INT. Mohamed Ibrahim continued one of his best performances in a Gophers uniform, carrying Colorado defenders for his third TD of the day, tying Darrell Thompson’s program record of 40 career-rushing TDs and Minnesota took a 21-0 lead. After a shaky start for Tanner Morgan, he closed the half strong with two great deep ball TDs to Chris Autman-Bell and Dylan Wright. Other than an unfortunate injury to CrAB it was a near-perfect first half for the Gophers.
Colorado opened half No. 2 with easily its best offensive drive of the half but still couldn’t add any points to the scoreboard. After a long 6:29 drive, Tanner Morgan found Clay Geary for another miraculous TD, Geary’s first in a Gophers uniform, 6+ years after graduating from Lakeville South High School in 2016.
With the starters finally out of the game, Bryce Williams joined the party with a 22 yards touchdown to begin the final quarter of play. Colorado finally got on the board mid-way through the quarter on a miraculous catch at the pylon cutting the Gophers’ lead to 49-7 as time would eventually run out.
Instant Reaction & Takeaways:
After a thundering opening-game run from Mohamed Ibrahim, it seemed like the Gophers came to play with a different level of energy. After outgaining Colorado 349-40 in the first half, I think it is fair to say that was the case. Ibrahim put together a masterful first 30 minutes of football. With 20 carries for 179 yards (nine per carry) and three touchdowns, it is fair to say that he firmly put himself into the discussion for the Heisman trophy. Tanner Morgan started out slow with a few questionable passes, but he finished very strong with two great deep ball TDs to Chris Autman-Bell and Dylan Wright to end the half. The defense allowed Colorado to an abysmal 1.8 yards-per-play making for a truly terrific all-around first half of football. Most of the starters were done by the time the third quarter was done.
I think the biggest takeaway from this game was Chris Autman-Bell’s injury. CrAB is an uberly talented WR and certainly would boost the Gophers’ offense, but I personally believe that they have enough talent at the position to manage his loss. A combination of Dylan Wright, Mike Brown-Stephens and Daniel Jackson is more than capable of being a Big Ten WR core, while redshirt-freshman Le’Mecke Brockington has more than enough talent to get some serious reps. Losing CrAB for an extended period of time hurts, but I do not believe it cripples the Gophers’ long-term goals this season.
What is Next?:
The Gophers will have their first true test of the season next week. Traveling to East Lansing, Mich. for a 2:30 p.m. tilt with a likely top-20 ranked Michigan State squad is a massive step up in competition compared to what Minnesota has faced through two weeks. As I am writing this the Spartans have a big-time road test of their own in week three against a tough Washington team.
Through three weeks, I don’t think Gophers fans should overreact to impressive wins over far inferior competition. But it has been confirmed that this team is a player in the Big Ten West. It is time to show it next week against the Spartans.