Minnesota had another laugher as it finished up nonconference play, but this one didn’t leave the Gophers smiling like the previous two.
An injury to star wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell tempered any good feeling from Minnesota’s 49-7 bludgeoning of Colorado. There were no immediate updates after the game on Autman-Bell, who left with a leg injury, but he did have to go to the hospital, a potential bad harbinger.
As for the game, it was another dominating Gophers performance against an overmatched foe.
Minnesota rolled up 500 yards of offense – the Gophers held an incredible 349-40 edge at the half as they rolled to a 35-0 lead. Minnesota scored touchdowns on seven of its 10 possessions, which included a game-ending drive in which the Gophers ran out the clock.
Meanwhile, Colorado didn’t gain more than 35 yards on any drive until early in the fourth quarter when against a bunch of Gophers backups the Buffaloes ruined Minnesota’s chance for a shutout.
It was about the only mystery left in the game.
Of course, after playing teams with a combined record of 0-10, Minnesota is something of an enigma as well. Three blowout victories speak to the potential. But now it's time to do it against quality competition in Big Ten play.
The big question is: Will Autman-Bell be around to help prove how good this Gophers team can be?
Here's a recap of Saturday’s game:
PLAYER OF THE GAME
There was little doubt, as usual, to the focus of Minnesota’s offense at the start. Mohamed Ibrahim. He rushed the ball seven times on the Gophers’ first 11 plays and reached the end zone twice. He finished with 23 carries for 202 yards and three touchdowns. It was the 13th time Ibrahim rushed for 2+ touchdowns in a game and fifth with 3+. In doing so, Ibrahim tied Darrell Thompson for the most rushing touchdowns in school history.
DON'T FORGET ABOUT ME
Wide receiver Clay Geary is in his seventh year at Minnesota. He missed all of last season due to injury. Still, it’s not like he’s been a focal point in the offense, having caught six passes entering this season and none at home since 2018. The Lakeville South alum get his first collegiate touchdown on an eight-yard pass from Tanner Morgan late in the third quarter – on a pretty grab in the corner of the end zone at that. It’s nice to see a program guy, one who puts in all the work but doesn’t get playing time, get rewarded after all those years. It’s definitely a moment he’ll never forget.
Defensive coordinator Joe Rossi set the tone quickly. On Colorado’s first offensive play of the game, cornerback Terrell Smith came off the edge on a blitz and sacked Buffaloes quarterback J.T. Shrout and forced a fumble, which the Gophers recovered at the 11-yard line. Two plays later, Ibrahim got his second TD run. Minnesota never let up, at least in the first half, forcing three three-and-outs in the first two quarters and two other drives which went for 17 yards on five plays and 10 yards on six plays. This was a true full team beatdown.
There’s a lot of statistics we can throw out demonstrating just how much of a blowout this was. How about this one: Minnesota converted 13 of 15 third-down attempts (including all 10 tries with 1-4 yards to go). Dating back to 2009, as far back as our research goes, never had more than 11 third-down successes over that span and just six times with 10+ in that same time period (with one of those against an FCS team). Oh, and Colorado was just 1 of 12 on third-down attempts and had only one third-and-short – and were stopped.
THEY SAID IT
"This is hard. It's the hardest part. It's hard to see somebody, a teammate, laying on the ground like that. He means so much to us, means so much to my family. His family means much...tons to this program and my own family. And I know this, whatever it is, he'll handle it the right way, he'll row through it. And we'll be a better team for it somehow, someway and he'll make us better no matter what it is." -- head coach P.J. Fleck on Chris Autman-Bell
"Yeah, I mean, it's a really good job by T-time on the dub side. You know, once he sees the exchange, he takes off and he's got the quarterback there and just didn't decelerate, went right through it. Did exactly what he was coached to do and good call, really good call by Joe, really good execution by the players. And I think that's, you can call it a surgical performance. You know, when you kind of look at offense, defense, special teams, because there was a lot of challenges we had." -- Fleck on the corner blitz on the defense's first play
"He's going to give all the credit always to the offensive line and all those guys but he works his butt off every day. He deserves that. He's earned that." -- quarterback Tanner Morgan on Mohamed Ibrahim
"Put him up there top three, because he was a dog, and it was it was good to get a taste of a pretty good running back before we get into our league. Props to him. He's a good runner." -- Colorado safety Isaiah Lewis on Ibrahim
After three home nonconference games, Minnesota takes to the road to face Michigan State at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. The Spartans were 11-2 last season – including 6-0 at home. Michigan State started off the season with easy wins over a pair of MAC teams, Western Michigan and Akron, before falling at Washington 39-28. We probably don’t know too much about either the Gophers or Spartans based on who they played and the results. We’re about to find out.