A near perfect day with the sun shining and the Rocky Mountains as the backdrop for a college football tilt between your Golden Gophers and Colorado. The day was so perfect, one could almost forget there was a game to be played. Of course there was and the perfection continued for your Gopher football team (nearly). As the Gophers notched a road, shutout win over Colorado 30-0.
The Gophers earned their first road shutout against a Power-5 opponent for the first time in 44 years. The last such event was a 21-0 win at Illinois in 1977.
The entire first half today was a Gopher clinic. The Gopher offense moved the ball with ease, putting 13 points on the board and the Gopher defense held the Buffs to just 7 yards of offense. SEVEN yards! The defensive line was getting great pressure on Colorado’s Brendon Lewis, getting 4 sacks and the entire defense corralled the Buffs running game to -27 yards rushing.
Offensively the Gophers were balanced with 108 yards passing and 117 yards on the ground. There were 3 lengthy drives that resulted in a missed FG and 2 touchdowns.
There really was not much else to say about the 1st half. The Gophers executed and dominated. The only aspect of the game that was frustrating was special teams where Matthew Trickett missed a 24-yard field goal attempt and then missed his first PAT attempt, leaving 4 points on the field for Minnesota.
The second half was more of the same. A balanced Gopher offense that moved the ball, a defense that didn’t allow Colorado to move the chains and more missed opportunities for points on special teams. Throw in two Buffs turnovers and the second half was never close and many subs were allowed to play for much of the 4th quarter.
In the ground game, today we saw two Gopher backs emerge as reliable and talented rushers. As Fleck always seeks his “pair and a spare,” it appears the pair is determined. Trey Potts is the clear starter for this offense and had 121 yards and 3 touchdowns this afternoon. But Mar’Keise “Bucky” Irving broke out today to compliment Potts with 89 yards on 15 carries while also showing some elusiveness. Then Ky Thomas was given 7 carries in the 4th quarter, perhaps indicating he’s the “spare” and he ran for 66 yards including a 14-yard touchdown with 5:09 remaining to cap off the Gopher’s win.
Through the air the Gophers returned Chris Autman-Bell to the lineup, but Tanner Morgan spread the ball around to Autman-Bell, Daniel Jackson and Dylan Wright as the only players with more than one target throughout the afternoon.
But it is the defense that really deserves the most ink after today’s performance. Coming into today, this unit was last in the Big Ten in points allowed and 12th in yards allowed. Albeit, they did face Ohio State in week 1, but regardless of the opponent the numbers were not kind to the defense.
Today it was all three levels who played well, contributing to the total domination of Colorado’s offense. The defensive line was putting pressure on Lewis throughout the game, finishing with 4 sacks, 2 for Thomas Rush and 2 for Boye Mafe. The linebackers led the team in tackles with Jack Gibbens also forcing a 2nd half fumble. And the defensive backs had 3 pass breakups, limiting Colorado’s starting quarterback to 50% completion and just 55 yards.
The Colorado offense is not known for being prolific, especially through the air. But Jake Broussard is the Pac-12’s reigning offensive player of the year and this Gopher defense held him to just 8 yards.
A fantastic performance by the entire Gopher team today, putting things together for the first time this season. On more non-conference game is on the schedule before resuming Big Ten play and making a run to win the Big Ten West.
Bowling Green comes to Huntington Bank Stadium next Saturday.