The Gophers completely dominated for the second consecutive week, beating Western Illinois 62-10 and moving to 2-0 on the season. This was the first time a Gopher team scored over 60 points since 2006. Once again it was a team effort with a balanced offense and a dominating defense.
Offensively it was fantastic balance with 679 total yards! Tanner Morgan finished completing 14/18 for 287 yards and 1 touchdown. Then Mohamed Ibrahim had yet another 100-yard rushing game, his 11th in a row, fishing with 130 yards and 2 touchdowns. And Chris Autman-Bell hit over 100 yards with 118 yards on 5 receptions.
On defense, they were unable to force back-to-back shutouts after blanking New Mexico State. But the starting unit only allowed one threatening drive from the Leathernecks (that was largely aided by 2 Gopher penalties) that resulted in a field goal. The late WIU touchdown was scored on true freshman Tariq Watson on a 33-yard touchdown pass from Nate Davenport to Naseim Brantley.
They held Western Illinois to 1/13 on third down, forced 8 punts on 13 possessions (five of those were 3-and-outs), gave up only 35 total yards rushing, and Jorden Howden made a fantastic interception in the 3rd quarter.
And let’s not forget about special teams. Matthew Trickett was 8/8 on PATs and 2/2 on field goals, hitting from 34 and 46 yards. And Mark Crawford wasn’t called upon to punt until the team’s final possession, where he booted it 46 yards and pinned it inside the 20.
The numbers look tremendous all around, and they should be. Western Illinois is just not a very good football team this season and this is a game that the Gophers absolutely SHOULD have dominated. And they did.
What matters most in this afternoon’s game is that they did exactly what they were supposed to do and they did it well.
The offensive line, especially in the second half, opened up massive holes for all of the Gopher running backs.
Last week the backups were not put into the game until about 10 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter, today it was much earlier in the 3rd. Gopher fans should be salivating over what they saw from Athan Kaliakmanis. He came in with 4:46 in the 3rd. On his initial drive he went 3/3, 67 yards and a 1-yard touchdown run. He looked like he was in command and was throwing some impressive balls.
Apart from the impressive numbers and the individual performances, this game was not terribly interesting. The Gophers were in total control over an inferior opponent, leaving zero doubt from the opening kickoff.
Up next is a power 5 program with Colorado coming to Huntington Bank Stadium on Saturday. This one is a 2:30 kickoff as the Gophers look to move to 3-0.