Rapid Reaction: Minnesota stays a step ahead of Nebraska
On a day when neither offense was consistent, Minnesota’s most consistent weapon came though.
Junior running back Mohamed Ibrahim scored two touchdowns, both on direct snaps, and ran for more than 100 yards to lead the Golden Gophers past Nebraska 24-17 on Saturday at Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium. The game was played in windy, cold conditions in Lincoln including snow piled up on the sidelines and beyond the end zones.
Tanner Morgan threw for one touchdown for Minnesota, which was only 4-of-13 on third down not including kneeldowns in the final seconds.
Nebraska, apart from one big play, didn’t fare any better, gaining just 308 yards. At least the Cornhuskers kept this one close, unlike in 2019 when they were crushed by Minnesota 34-7.
Nebraska got a field goal with 5:51 left but coach Scott Frost chose to take the points off the board because a penalty against Minnesota gave Big Red a first down. A subsequent holding call wiped out a Nebraska touchdown and the hosts settled for a field goal anyway, Connor Culp’s 30-yarder with 4:42 left in the game.
Minnesota got the ball back and killed off the rest of the clock behind a couple of big runs by Ibrahim.
Late in the third quarter, Nebraska stopped Minnesota on 4th down in Cornhuskers territory. But Minnesota’s defense responded three plays later as lineman Boye Mafe knocked the ball loose from quarterback Adrian Martinez and linebacker Thomas Rush recovered the fumble.
Earlier in the quarter, Nebraska drove 72 yards in 9 plays only for Culp to miss a 32-yard field goal that would have tied the score at 17.
Wan’Dale Robinson’s 47-yard run early in the second quarter lit a spark for the Nebraska offense, which gained just 27 yards in its first 3 drives. That led to Martinez finding tight end Austin Allen in the end zone for a 8-yard score, trimming Nebraska’s deficit to 10-7.
The next Cornhuskers drive was even better — a 13-play, 73-yard march ending in Martinez’s 7-yard touchdown run for a 14-10 lead with 2:57 left in the first half.
But the Golden Gophers had plenty of time to answer. Running back Cam Wiley scampered 61 yards, setting up Morgan’s 4-yard TD pass to Brevyn Spann-Ford with 1:23 left. It was the sophomore tight end’s first reception of the season. Cornhuskers cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt was ejected during the drive for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Morgan.
On Nebraska’s second possession, Luke McCaffrey entered the game and threw a pass intended for Allen that was low. Allen tipped it upward and Minnesota sophomore defensive back Tyler Nubin intercepted it, giving the Golden Gophers the ball at the Nebraska 35-yard line. That led to Ibrahim taking a direct snap on 4th and 1 and running 26 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Wiley came into the game for a spell at running back on the next possession as Ibrahim was banged up on his TD run, but Ibrahim came back later in the drive.
Minnesota hadn’t played since Nov. 20, having had two games canceled since because of coronavirus concerns, and reportedly had 33 players missing either because of COVID-19 or injuries.