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Gophers grind out 31-3 win over Northwestern

Mohamed Ibrahim and the defense led the way for Minnesota

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 12 Northwestern at Minnesota Photo by Bailey Hillesheim/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Minnesota Golden Gophers (7-3) rolled up 302 rushing yards en route to a 31-3 win over the Northwestern Wildcats (1-9) at Huntington Bank Stadium on Saturday.

Mohamed Ibrahim finished with 36 carries for 178 rushing yards and three touchdowns to power the Gophers’ offense. The Minnesota defense shut down the Wildcats, holding them to 3-for-12 on third down and limiting their scoring to a single field goal.

The teams traded punts to start the game before the Wildcats were able to break through into Gopher territory with a 37-yard pass to tight end Marshall Lang that set up Northwestern at the Minnesota 25-yard line. But the drive stalled from there and ended in a turnover on downs after Terell Smith dropped running back Evan Hull for a loss on fourth and short. The Gophers took over and marched 82 yards down the field on a nine-play scoring drive capped by a 14-yard touchdown run by Mohamed Ibrahim to give Minnesota a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.

The Gophers kept the ground game rolling in the second quarter on a scoring drive powered almost entirely by Ibrahim, whose one-yard touchdown plunge pushed the lead to 14-0. Ibrahim rolled up 116 rushing yards in the first half alone, stretching his streak of consecutive games with at least 100 rushing yards to 18 games. Unfortunately, the passing game was nowhere to be found. Redshirt freshman Athan Kaliakmanis, making his second career start in place of an injured Tanner Morgan, was 3-of-9 for 17 passing yards in the first half.

The Wildcats were able to get on the board before halftime. Backed up to their own 7-yard line, Northwestern quarterback Brendan Sullivan found Malik Washington for a 27-yard gain. Sullivan took a shot from Kyler Baugh in the end zone and exited the game, with Ryan Hilinski taking over under center for the Wildcats. He proceeded to find Washington on a pass that turned into a 49-yard reception thanks to poor tackling by Minnesota. The Gophers were at least able to limit Northwestern to a 35-yard field goal, cutting their lead to 14-3 going into the break.

Tyler Nubin intercepted Hilinski on the second play of the third quarter, setting up Matthew Trickett to kick a 41-yard field goal extending Minnesota’s lead to 17-3. On the Gophers’ next possession, Northwestern forced and recovered a Dylan Wright fumble, but their drive ended in a turnover on downs. Minnesota turned the ensuing drive into a scoring drive capped by Ibrahim’s third touchdown run of the game. After another turnover on downs for the Wildcats, Ibrahim took a seat on the bench and freshman running back Zach Evans saw the first action of his career, recording six carries for 29 rushing yards and his first career touchdown.

Ryan Stapp snagged his first career interception at Minnesota in the fourth quarter.