Game Recap: Gophers Dominate the Huskers, Clinch Bowl Bid and Crack Top 25!
Well the Gophers just keep on winning! Or should I say the 20th ranked Gophers. After defeating the Nebraska Cornhuskers 34-7 Saturday night, Minnesota improves to 6-0 for the first time since 2003, clinched a spot in a bowl game and most importantly, earned a spot in the AP Top 25 for the first time in the PJ Fleck era and the first time overall since 2014.
Despite the rain, snow, sleet and 30+ MPH winds, it was definitely worth bundling up and tailgating hours before the game and witnessing the Gophers clobber the Huskers of Corn. Beer and Chili was worth it in itself, but seeing the Gophers up 34-0 at the end of the third quarter was an awesome sight. I do not want to forget to mention that most of the 10,000 Takes crew was out there tailgating, bracing the elements. Jack Leverentz, Zane Wagner and Bubba joined yours truly for some beer and fun.
It was all Minnesota from the start. Chris Autman-Bell scored the first touchdown of the game on a beautiful 15-yard middle screen pass from Tanner Morgan. That ended up being the only receiving touchdown of the game as Minnesota's run game dominated the Husker defense.
As much as I like seeing great passing in a football game, I love seeing some old school football. Minnesota's next four touchdowns were on the ground with Mohamed Ibrahim getting three of those TDs.
The Gophers tallied 322 total rush yards dispersed between three running backs. Rodney Smith lead all in rushing with 139 yards and one touchdown. Shannon Brooks had 99 yards and Ibrahim had 84 yards with three rushing touchdowns as mentioned above.
As for the O-line, it was without big guy, Daniel Faalele, but they still played physical and made key blocks. The Gophers used a lot of horizontal runs to get the big linebackers of Nebraska moving laterally, which was problematic for them and successful for Minnesota.
And let's give the O-line a huge round of applause! They did not allow one single sack! They have come a long way since the non-conference schedule to not allow a single sack against a heavy Nebraska defensive line.
Morgan threw for only 128 yards completing eight passes on 13 attempts. Weirdly enough, Tyler Johnson still managed to get 109 yards on five receptions. He was responsible for over 85 percent of the Gophers pass game.
The other side of the football was just as impressive for a second straight week. The Gophers shutout the Nebraska offense through three quarters and only allowed seven points the entire game. In addition, the defense only allowed 299 total yards, 148 passing yards and 151 rushing yards.
The defense had five TFL and four sacks. They were lead by linebacker Kamal Martin for second consecutive week with 15 total tackles. Gophers defensive back, Antoine Winfield Jr. also had an impressive day with 10 total tackles, one TFL and one sack. But overall the whole defense played consistent and did an amazing job shutting down Husker star receiver, JD Spielman, limiting him to only 3 receptions for 59 yards.
It certainly did not help that Nebraska was without starting quarterback, Adrian Martinez, but they were still shutout in every facet of the game by the Minnesota defense.
As usual, many Nebraska fans made the trip from the corn state to the frozen tundra to witness Scott Frost take on the Golden Gophers. I would not say Lincoln has frozen over, and it does not look like it will anytime soon. Minnesota utterly dismantled Nebraska, and as one drunk fan said when the Gophers went up 28-0, "They stink, they stink! It's official! They stink!" referring to, of course, the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
I will say, however, I genuinely like and respect Nebraska fans. They are never disrespectful or arrogant. They are very kind and just want to see a good game. So, in a way, I do hope things turn around for Nebraska in the future because football is really all they have in that state.
But for now, it is definitely the Gophers time to reign over the Huskers and move forward in their quest to win the West. The Gophers are now only one of 12 teams to remain undefeated, and have the nation's fourth longest winning streak dating back to last season.
I think it is safe to say to enjoy the moment while it lasts because after the Gophers play the easy part of their schedule in the next few weeks they will have to play Penn State, Iowa and Wisconsin. I just hope when it comes to those games, we do not get killed. Soak it all in now folks! It might not last!
You never know though! When the Gophers play some tougher teams, they might be ready! We will have to wait and see until we get to that part of the schedule.
For right now, let's focus on next week when the 20th ranked Gophers travel to New Jersey take on a terrible Rutgers team. Minnesota cannot let this be a trap game. 7-0 is right on the horizon, and I can almost taste it!
Row the boat, Ski-U-Mah, Go Gophers!