Sept. 2, 2021: Minnesota fell to the No. 4 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes 45-31, moving to 0-1 on the 2021-22 season.
–> Follow @Tony Liebert on Twitter
Full Game Recap:
- Pregame: Ohio State’s rare inexperience grew to even more pre-game, as starting center Harry Miller did not make the trip to Dinkytown, opening the door for redshirt-freshman Luke Wypler to get his first career start at center. As for the maroon & gold, Chris Autman-Bell opted to remain on the sidelines, due to a leg injury he suffered in the offseason.
- First-Quarter: The Gophers received the opening kickoff and it seemed as if they missed Chris Autman-Bell… badly. The game opened with eight straight run plays, led by eight combined carries for 37 yards from Mo Ibrahim and Tanner Morgan. The offense would eventually sputter out near Ohio State’s 40-yard line following two incomplete Tanner Morgan throws. After a great punt from Mark Crawford, the Buckeyes were pinned inside their own 10. OSU head coach Ryan Day went with a much different approach, beginning with three pass attempts, and then two runs, by Miyan (10 career carries) Williams, he capped off the drive with a 71-yard touchdown run handing the Gophers a 7-0 deficit.
- Offensive drive No. 2 for the Gophers saw Texas A&M transfer Dylan Wright record his first reception in the Maroon & Gold, he brought in two catches for 20 yards, but that was about all the offense could produce, quickly punting the ball back to Ohio State. The Buckeyes’ offensive line continued to dominate up front, slowly carving away at the Gophers’ defense. Minnesota DB Terell Smith had held preseason All-American WR Chris Olave without a reception for much of the first quarter, but a deep target to Olave ended in a defensive pass-interference call, extending OSU’s drive.
- Second-Quarter: The Minnesota defense came up big, forcing Ohio State into a field goal on its first drive of the quarter. Redshirt-freshman QB CJ Stroud began to really settle in forcing very few throws, especially for a player making his first career start, but the Gophers now trailed 10-0.
- Right when the Gophers’ offense looked to stall out on their first drive of the quarter, Ibrahim broke a power to the left side of the line for a monster 56 yard gain. Shortly after, Dylan Wright caught a beautiful fade in the far left corner of the endzone for his first career touchdown as a Gopher. 10-7 Ohio State, 9:11 to go in the first half.
- The momentum completely shifted from there. Terell Smith’s terrific first half continued with a game-changing interception giving the ball back to the Minnesota offense. Ibrahim carried the offense all the way down the field, capping off the drive with a short one-yard touchdown, giving the Gophers their first lead of the game 14-10.
- Short drives would go back and forth, ultimately the Gophers would go into the locker room with a 14-10 lead.
- Third-Quarter: Ohio State began half numero dos, with the ball and it looked measured and patient on the offensive end. Dinking and dunking its way down the field, until Chris Olave broke through for a 38 yards touchdown over the middle. Terell Smith had held him in check for much of the first half, but it is almost an impossible task to keep a player of his caliber quiet. OSU regains the lead 17-14.
- The Gophers began working their way down the field right past the 50-yard line. The momentum, fortunately, continued to be in their favor, a MASSIVE Morgan interception was called back after a roughing the passing penalty was ruled, giving the Minnesota offense life. Mohamed Ibrahim took advantage punching in his second touchdown of the day from 19 yards out, taking back the lead 21-17.
- After short offensive drives from both sides, Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson finally broke out for a 56 yard TD fooling Minnesota safety Calvin Swenson, giving the Buckeyes a 24-21 lead.
- When Minnesota retained position, the Ohio State Buckeyes made their first big play of the game, as DE Zach Harrison stripped Tanner Morgan resulting in a scoop and score, giving the Buckeyes a 31-21 lead with just under three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
- Fourth-Quarter: In a tumultuous drive that saw Mo Ibrahim head to the injury tent with what seemed to be an Achilles injury, the Gophers were able to leave with a 46-yard field from Matthew Trickett to make it a one-score ball game 24-31.
- As Ibrahim walked off the field with a walking boot on his left foot, the momentum continued to shift. CJ Stroud found true-freshman RB TreyVeon Henderson for a 70 yard TD on a third and long screen pass extending the Buckeyes’ lead to 38-24.
- With their back against the wall, Tanner Morgan put the team on his back without their top two offensive weapons and drove them down the field. A one-yard TD from Bryce Williams brought the Gophers back into the game down 31-38 with under six minutes to go.
- The Buckeyes quickly answered with a 61-yard bomb to Chris Olave on the second play of the drive. Ohio State completely blew up Minnesota’s coverage and extended its lead to 45-31.
WHAT… A… GAME. The Golden Gophers just played within two scores of the No. 4 team in the country for 60 minutes. It is obviously very frustrating to play that well of a game and not end up in the winning column but asking a team to knock off a top-five program in the country without their No. 1 and No. 2 offensive weapons is one heck of an ask. There is a lot of positives to take away from this game. Minnesota took a punch in the mouth early and answered back. The Gophers showed heart, toughness and most importantly that they are a good football team.
Dylan Wright lived up to the hype and played like a supremely talented wide receiver should all game. Terell Smith played a terrific game from the secondary, limiting Chris Olave to nothing for much of the first quarter. As for the rest of the secondary, it was not pretty for much of the second half. There were two or three completely blown coverages that were really the difference in the game, three long TDs from TreyVeon Henderson, Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave was too much to overcome. The front seven played very well getting pressure on CJ Stroud and limiting the rush attack for much of the game.
The offensive side of the ball also played well for much of the game. Tanner Morgan was accurate, decisive and controlling from the quarterback position. The offensive line played like one of the best units in the conference and the pass catchers stepped up (relatively) in Autman-Bell’s absence. Treyson Potts played like someone who could step into the RB1 role in Ibrahim’s absence (god forbid). This offense overall was able to move the ball against Ohio State with ease.
Minnesota is a very good football team that just lost to a great team. There is no reason to hand their heads, and this is a great measuring test for where Minnesota sits as a program among the nation’s elite.
What is Next?:
Next for the Gophers is an 11:00 a.m. kickoff next Saturday against Miami (OH). The Redhawks will be coming off of a matchup with top-10 team Cincinnati in week one. This will be a great “breather” game for the Gophers after an absolute dog fight with the Buckeyes. It is hard to see right now, but this was as good of a loss as there can be. As for Mohamed Ibrahim that is a different story. If Mo is out for an extended period of time it could completely change the direction of this team. Treyson Potts and Bryce Williams are talented running backs, but they’re not Heisman contenders. There is still a lot of room for this team to grow, but they just showed they can contend with the conference’s best.