Turned out it wasn’t the altitude but the aptitude.
The thin air of Colorado had little effect on Minnesota as it dominated the Pac-12’s Buffaloes 30-0. It didn’t matter if this game was played 5,000 feet above sea level or 5,000 below, it was all Gophers from the get-go, quite literally.
Getting the ball first, Colorado muffed the opening shotgun snap, losing 10 yards. It was a harbinger of things to come.
Minnesota’s defense was smothering, limiting Colorado to 63 yards of total offense on 45 plays (1.4 average). Colorado finished with -19 yards rushing, due in part to four sacks and eight tackles for loss, but even the Buffaloes’ running backs found little room to roam, with a host of rushers combining for nine yards (backup QB Drew Carter, who came into the game led, led Colorado with nine yards on two carries).
The Gophers held Colorado to just six first downs. The Buffaloes got past the Minnesota 40-yard line just once – to the 39 – and then were sacked on a fourth-down play. If this game was played until Halloween it wouldn’t surprise if Colorado couldn’t reach the end zone enough to make this a contest.
Obviously, Minnesota’s offense didn’t need to do much in this one but did anyway.
Controlling the ball with a run-oriented scheme – at times using six or seven offensive linemen on a play – the Gophers rushed for 277 yards on 53 carries (5.2 average) with four TDs.
Quarterback Tanner Morgan and the receiving crew (which included the return of Chris Autman-Bell, who led the team in receiving yards and also drew a defensive pass interference) was efficient at moving the chains, completing 11 of 17 passes for 164 yards, an average of 14.9 yards per completion and 9.6 per attempt. Eight of the completions were resulted in a first down.
This one folks, was a laugher, with the Gophers doing all the whooping.
Here's a recap of Saturday’s game:
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Colorado’s offense hasn’t shown to be good in its first two FBS games but give credit to Minnesota for making quarterback Brendon Lewis uncomfortable from the outset. With that in mind and based on the Gophers’ dominant defensive performance, this week’s award goes to defensive linemen Boye Mafe and Thomas Rush, each of whom had a pair of sacks. Here’s where we note Minnesota had exactly zero sacks in its first two games. The pressure was constant and kept the Buffaloes QB uncomfortable all game, a big reason for the shutout.
DON'T FORGET ABOUT ME
If you weren’t sold yet, it’s clear the mantle has been passed from Mohamed Ibrahim to Trey Potts. While Minnesota still splits up the carries, Potts is the bell cow. He had 121 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries – and didn’t see the field after scoring his final TD with 23 seconds left in the fourth quarter. It’s hard to match Ibrahim, but there’s been little dropoff with Potts in the backfield.
It was still just a 13-0 game when Colorado got the ball at its own 47-yard line following a short punt. The Buffaloes managed to get the ball to the Minnesota 39 but Lewis threw a hospital ball to Chase Penry, a little high over the middle. Penry couldn’t make the catch and paid the price anyway, getting hit hard and having to come out of the game. A more accurate pass and the Buffaloes had a first down and a chance to get on the board. Instead, on fourth-and-7, Colorado went for it and Rush quickly got through an open spot in the line and chased Lewis back for a 12-yard sack. It was really the only chance the Buffaloes had all game to make this a contest.
0 – points allowed by Minnesota. It marked the Gophers’ first shutout since Sept. 16, 2006 (vs. Temple), the first vs. Power 5 school since Oct. 23, 2004 (Illinois) and the first on road vs. a Power 5 since Nov. 12, 1977 (Illinois). Colorado hadn’t been blanked at home since 2012. In addition, the 63 yards allowed by Minnesota were the fewest this century. Only three times since 2000 has Minnesota given up fewer than 150 yards of total offense in a game: 129 vs. Texas State on Aug. 31, 2002, 133 at Louisiana on Sept. 7, 2002 and 142 vs. Kent State on Sept. 8, 2001. The fewest yards allowed to a Power 5 team in that span was 160 against, you guessed it, Illinois, on Nov. 26, 2011 and it was the least on the road against a Power 5 since allowing 171 at Michigan on Sept. 27, 2014.
THEY SAID IT
"I compared the win to having a 48-ounce T-bone tomahawk steak, and you have the appetizers, a little bit. You ordered it, you get appetizers, you get the salad, get the soup, by the time you get it you only eat three quarters of it. We still left a lot of meat on the bone, didn't execute in a lot of areas, but found a way to win, played a lot of people, and just proud to get to win." -- head coach P.J. Fleck
"I think we played lights out, I think we started the game off really fast. O-line tight ends, you know, we came together and I think we just played really physical football early on. Our defense you know they played great the whole game. I feel like they played a full game: first, second, third, fourth quarter. They came on just show that they can play with the best of the best.”
"There wasn't necessarily anything particular, you know, play the call we had and did it to the best of our ability and at the end of the day that was all was. Getting pressure and keeping him in the pocket and, you know, again, doing that together coming off on the sidelines talking about adjustments and just making sure that we were doing it together and that we were all on the same page and making sure he wasn't going to run." -- defensive lineman Thomas Rush on defending QB Brenden Lewis
"That was a complete beatdown." -- Colorado head coach Karl Dorrell
Minnesota completes the nonconference portion of its schedule when it hosts Bowling Green next Saturday at 11 a.m. The Falcons are 1-2, with the lone win coming over FCS Murray State on Saturday. The Falcons lost their opener to Tennessee 38-6 and narrowly lost at home to South Alabama, 22-19.