It was Athan Kaliakmanis and Mo Ibrahim to the rescue.

Minnesota’s freshman backup QB and star RB provided the spark, helping rally the Gophers from a 10-0 halftime deficit in a 20-13 win over Nebraska Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

The Gophers, not known for their ability to overcome deficits, rallied to win for the first time in 33 games when trailing by double digits.

Minnesota star RB Ibrahim was held in check the opening half. His streak of 16 consecutive 100-yard rushing games was in jeopardy. But the 2nd half flipped a switch. Ibrahim raised his game to a new level.

Ibrahim found the end zone twice as the Gophers offense — led by a steady diet of Ibrahim runs — wore down an inspired Huskers’ defense over the game’s final 2 quarters.

Limited to just 31 first half yards with Morgan at the helm, Kaliakmanis revved the engine as he and Ibrahim provided a lethal 1-2 combo which proved too tough a task for Nebraska to contain.

Defense dominates

Of course it helped that the Minnesota defense continually forced 3-and-outs and got the ball back to its offense.

The Huskers’ defense did its part, pitching their first shutout in the opening half against a B1G opponent since 2019. They got standout performances from a number of guys. That included senior Caleb Tannor, who’d had a disappointing first 8 games of 2022.

But it was the Minnesota defense that saved the day after the Nebraska offense went into hibernation following a 10-point opening quarter. Chubba Purdy got the start at QB and did well early. But the Gophers started mixing up their pressure and started rattling the freshman. The Huskers never found the end zone after an TD on their opening drive of the game.

Morgan didn’t return in the 2nd half due to precautions from a nasty hit he took from Nebraska’s Ty Robinson late in the 1st half on a sack. Morgan was sidelined a few weeks ago with a concussion sustained in Minnesota’s loss to Illinois Oct. 15. He finished 6-of-8 for just 38 yards.

Fleck’s success against Nebraska continues

Gophers head coach PJ Fleck improved 5-1 against Nebraska. And it’s no accident he’s had success. Fleck believes in a power running game and suffocating defense. The Gophers and Ibrahim exhibited those traits in a dominating 2nd half performance in which Nebraska had zero answers.

Every time you count Fleck’s team out, they seem to respond. Things looked bleak at half, but there was little panic in the Minnesota locker room. And you can credit that to Fleck and his staff.

Up Next: Minnesota

The Gophers will host Northwestern next week, looking to improve its bowl standing.

Morgan’s status will once again be a question mark throughout the week. But if he’s unable to go, Kaliakmanis certainly gained a ton of confidence with his 2nd half performance Saturday compared to his rough outing in Happy Valley 2 weeks ago.

Up Next: Nebraska

The Huskers will travel to Ann Arbor to tangle with Michigan. Joseph’s team needs wins in all 3 games to reach bowl eligibility. Not happening. Along with the Wolverines, Nebraska ends with a home date against Wisconsin and a Black Friday game at Iowa.

After losing its 3rd straight game, it’ll take a Yeoman’s effort by the staff to keep this train on the tracks over the season’s final 3 weeks.