Rapid reaction: Minnesota gets first win of season in dominant performance vs. Illinois
Final score: Minnesota 41, Illinois 14
Brief recap: Minnesota jumped out to an early lead and carried that to a 41-14 victory over Illinois. Tanner Morgan and Mohamed Ibrahim kept the chains moving for the Gophers, and the Illini offense never got going with fourth-string quarterback Coran Taylor under center.
Key player: Mohamed Ibrahim stole the show for the Gophers. He rushed the ball 30 times for 224 yards and four touchdowns. He also had several massive gains, including a 53-yard rush in the fourth quarter that set up his final touchdown run and officially iced the game.
Key moment: Arguably the biggest moment in this game came early in the third quarter as the Illini were in the red zone. Illinois got it to first-and-goal down 28-7, but eventually had to punt. Minnesota forced an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and a negative 23-yard rush on a fumble, which meant Illinois had to punt on 4th and goal. From there, the game turned from a comfortable Gophers victory to a full-scale blowout.
Key Stat: 541 yards. In addition to an excellent defensive performance, Minnesota showed out offensively. They finished the game with 541 yards thanks to major performances from Ibrahim, Tanner Morgan and Rashod Bateman. Morgan completed 17-of-27 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown. Bateman caught 10 of those passes for 139 yards and a score.
What it means for Minnesota: The Gophers get their first win of the year after falling flat in the first two weeks. Minnesota was expected to contend for a division championship this season, and this is the first time in 2020 that they’ve looked capable of doing so. With two losses already, it might be too late for that, but it’s still a good sign that they were able to right the ship this week.
What it means for Illinois: It’s hard to take much away from this game from Illinois’ perspective. Lovie Smith’s squad is playing with its fourth-string QB due to COVID-19 and various injuries. They’ll face Rutgers next week in search of their first win of the year.