On a day filled with great bowl games, Minnesota took down Auburn 31-24 in one of the best games of the holiday. The Golden Gophers dominated up and down the field all game with 494 total yards compared to the Tigers’ 232. Minnesota’s quarterback Tanner Morgan notched 278 of those yards through the air, and had two passing touchdowns as well. However to breakdown the game, the match was dominated at the offensive line by Minnesota, and this is where the key advantage was. In Tampa, Florida, it was the 25th Outback Bowl to be played, and it will go down as one of the more exciting outings.
This game was the end of a great season for the Golden Gophers, one that shows a very positive future for the program. Minnesota was knocking on the door for a chance to play in the Big 10 Championship just over a month ago, until they fell to Wisconsin 38-17. But apart from that game, Minnesota went undefeated in their Big 10 schedule with the exception of a four point loss at the hands of Iowa. Yet the Head Coach of the squad, P.J. Fleck, seems quite optimistic about the future:
“We’re doing everything we possibly can to make this a championship program” … “We want to change people’s thoughts, ideas and mindset. This is one game, one win. [But] it shows where we can go. It shows what we’re capable of doing, but it doesn’t guarantee anything. You have to go earn it every single day.” (per Star Tribune)
This Outback Bowl victory marks the fourth bowl game victory for the program in the past five years, and the second under Coach Fleck. Also, looking to the future, the Gophers’ sophomore running back Mohamed Ibrahim had a very strong game, tallying 140 yards and a touchdown. On the other side of the ball, Minnesota’s defense wasn’t as strong in how many points they let up, but keeping Auburn to 232 yards is nothing to scoff at.
Minnesota managed to win 11 games this year, the most wins in one season in program history. It was certainly a great end for a historic year for the men in maroon and gold. Meanwhile, Gus Malzahn of Auburn struggled in this game, which would come as a surprise to many. It was Auburn who truly ended Alabama’s playoff hopes when they beat the tide in the Iron Bowl by three back in November. A final record of 9-4 is a strange outcome for a team that put together one of the most impressive and exciting games of the year just over a month ago.
Next year, keep an eye out for the Golden Gophers. They will be looking to make some noise in the weaker side of the Big 10, and they have their eyes on something even bigger.