Gopher football had complete control of the line of scrimmage and ran Maryland into the ground at Huntington Bank Stadium. Minnesota ran for 326 yards on the afternoon, beating the Terps 34-16 and improving to 5-2 and beginning to flex their muscle in the Big Ten West.
It was total domination on the ground today for Minnesota. Ky Thomas had over 100 yards at halftime, finishing with 129 and a touchdown. Bucky Irving also hit the century mark with 105 yards and a touchdown for himself. Bryce Williams, after 127 yards last week, also had a touchdown to go with his 48 yards rushing. Cole Kramer chipped in a rushing touchdown of his own to give the Gophers 4 rushing touchdowns.
There has been a plea here for a balanced offense, allowing Tanner Morgan to use his arm and keep defenses off balance. There was no balance this afternoon at Huntington Bank Stadium as the Gophers ran a total of 69 plays, 56 of them were rushing. But when your opponent cannot stop your ground game, you keep running over and through them until the game is over. Morgan’s arm was barely needed today throwing only 12 passes for 125 yards.
Of course the defense did it’s part today as well, holding an explosive Maryland offense to only 79 rushing and 268 total yards, most of which came while in prevent late in the 4th. They forced a fumble on Maryland’s opening drive and forced a turnover on downs at a key time in the 3rd quarter to essentially make the Gophers +2 in the turnover department. There were 6 tackles for a loss and two sacks. The Terps were just 5/11 on 3rd down and could not find any consistent offense in Minneapolis.
The game started off rather slowly with both teams feeling each other out and ending the first quarter with a 3-3 tie. But from that point the Gopher offense could not be stopped by Maryland. They scored touchdowns on 4 of their next 5 drives, the one that did not result in a touchdown was really only stopped by the end of the 2nd quarter when Minnesota attempted a FG that was blocked.
Maryland struggled to move the ball offensively with their first touchdown coming in the 2nd quarter that was largely aided by a 43-yard pass from Taulia Tagovailoa to Marcus Fleming and was capped with a 13-yard run by Tayon Fleet-Davis. Their other touchdown came very late as Minnesota was in prevent defense, up 24 in the 4th quarter.
This score made it 10-17, which was the same score at halftime. And then the Gophers ran away with the 2nd half, allowing fans to hit the exits early in the 4th quarter.
This was the first game this year when nearly all of the pieces came together. The offensive line dominated, the ground game set the tone of the offense and an efficient Tanner Morgan. The defensive line, along with Jack Gibbens, made rushing impossible for Maryland and overall this team just dominated.
The question now turns to consistency and continuing to improve throughout the remaining schedule. Today was total control, up next is a trip to Northwestern to face the Wildcats. Minnesota and Iowa are the only two teams who control their own destiny in the Big Ten West.