The Gophers continued its climb into a category of Big Ten West contenders with a 34-7 win over Nebraska on a windy, wet and chilly Saturday night at TCF Bank Stadium.
After a shaky non-conference start, Minnesota has solidified itself more and more in three league games – none better than a four-quarter shellacking of the prestigious yet rebuilding Cornhuskers.
Minnesota’s recipe has been a strong running game and stout defense, following a near identical script for a second consecutive game. After they allowed Purdue to comeback in the U’s 38-31 win two weeks ago, the Gophers controlled Illinois in a 40-17 victory last week.
On Saturday, the Gophers stormed to a 34-0 fourth-quarter lead before a Huskers’ touchdown ended a 111-minute, 27-second streak of the U defense not allowing TD dating back to the fourth quarter of the Boilermakers game.
When Saturday’s rout was on and it looked like Minnesota had forced a turnover, Nebraska coach Scott Frost was seen on the sideline yelling at his players to “run off the field!”
Minnesota rushed for 326 rushing yards with its top three running backs healthy for the first time. Mo Ibrahim scoring three touchdowns on 84 yards rushing’ Rodney Smith had 18 carries for 139 yards and a score; Shannon Brooks contributed 13 carries for 99 yards.
The Gophers improve to 6-0 for the first time since 2003 and cruise past the bowl-eligibility checkmark that often takes this program until late November to achieve. They have also carved out a better path to 8-0, and 5-0 in Big Ten, with Rutgers and Maryland in the next two weeks.
Nebraska (4-3, 2-2) played without starting quarterback Adrian Martinez, who was sidelined last week with an apparent knee injury. While receiver JD Spielman, of Eden Prairie, returned from injury, standout freshman receiver/running back Wan’Dale Robinson was lost to an apparent left leg injury in the second quarter.
The win over the Cornhuskers looked a lot like the Illini victory.
Minnesota took a 14-0 halftime lead with 220 rushing yards, which was above the 196 from the first half against the Illini. On Saturday, Brooks averaged 18 yards per carry, Smith busted off an even 10 per rush, while Ibrahim contributed the lone rushing score.
Minnesota’s defense, meanwhile, pitched a shutout, building on the three points it allowed to the Illini last week. The Gophers had two sacks of Huskers backup Noah Vedral and got more pressures with a four-man rush. Kamal Martin led the unit with 10 sacks.
The first play of the second half, too, was nearly a carbon copy of last week. After stacking up gashing runs, Minnesota dialed up a play-action pass and Morgan found Tyler Johnson wide open for a 45-yard gain. Last week, it was Morgan finding Rashod Bateman for a 59 yards.
Both times those drives ended with touchdowns.
One element where the Gophers stepped up from last week is zero turnovers after two giveaways led to 14 Illini points.
Source:: Daily times