The Gophers won, but it wasn’t pretty. Minnesota defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers 20-13 in a game of two-halves. Nebraska scored on their first two possessions getting a 10-0 lead heading into the half. Starting the third quarter the Gophers were without starting quarterback Tanner Morgan who left the game with an undisclosed injury. Athan Kaliakmanis came in and the offense took off. The Gophers scored on four of their six second half possessions. Ibrahim rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns. and the Gophers rallied to beat the Cornhuskers to reach bowl eligibility. With that let’s take a look at the Minnesota Gophers week 10 takeaways.
They Finally Won A Game That Wasn’t A Blowout
I know, right? Like what’s up with the Gophers? Their average margin of victory in their previous five wins was 38 points; today it was seven. It was a different game for Minnesota. They were awful during the first half, unable to do anything offensively, punting four times on 22 plays with only 26 yards of total offense. It was not a good first half by any means other than the defense who got Nebraska in check after giving up ten points to start the game.
The second half was a different story, with backup quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis taking over for an injured Tanner Morgan. The offense was much better scoring 20 points and punting only twice and racking up 269 yards. The Gophers found their stride and balance as Kaliakmanis threw for 137 yards and Ibrahim rushed 128 and two touchdowns. It was a great win for the Gophers, as they should expect something similar when they take on Iowa (5-4) and Wisconsin (5-4) to end the year.
Athan Kalikamanis Has Played His Way To Starting Next Season…Maybe Even This Year
Okay, so the first part is true. Unless some other recruit or transfer shows something that impresses more than Kaliakmanis has, he will be the starter. Okay, so enough of looking ahead to next season (we have an entire offseason for that) let’s look at this season. Will Athan Kaliakmanis start again this season? I honestly don’t know. Clearly, he is talented enough to be the Gophers starter. So far this season he has thrown for 259 yards, one touchdown, three interceptions, averaging 7.8 yards per throw. He also has 50 yards rushing and a touchdown.
Given that Morgan hasn’t played great, it’s not out of the realm of possibility. The offense under Morgan racked only 26 yards in the first half today, while Kaliakmanis totaled 269 yards, a difference of 243. That’s pretty significant given everything at stake. So, what caused this? Well, the style of offense. With Morgan you know you’re either running it or doing some sort of RPO (Run pass offense). When Kaliakmanis came in the RPO was much more effective and they were taking shots down the field.
It just seems P.J. Fleck and the coaching staff have lost confidence in Tanner Morgan. Now, there is speculation that Morgan was “benched”, but Fleck told everyone it was an undisclosed injury to do it in a more respectful manner. I’m not sold on this theory, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it was true. Fleck did say this was an injury and not a quarterback controversy. Morgan left with an injury from a hard sack he took in the first half. He already missed a game and a half with a concussion. If that’s the case, we could see Kaliakmanis back for another game or two this season.
The Streak Continues
That’s right Mohamed Ibrahim now has 17 straight games with 100 yards rushing. He now has the most consecutive games since 2000, passing Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey.
Mo IbraHIM 💯#B1Gstats pic.twitter.com/ZGnEhI9ihV
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) November 5, 2022
The game started off slow for Ibrahim and the Gophers, but he came to life in the second half. Once Athan Kaliakmanis took over, getting the passing game involved, it opened lanes for Ibrahim who racked up 128 yards on 32 carries, and two touchdowns, averaging four yards per carry. It got tense with about 20 minutes to go when he still needed around 70 yards to keep his streak going. Fortunately he got more than enough racking up close to 90 over the last 20 minutes of the game, helping the Gophers seal their comeback win.
A Look Ahead
Next week the Gophers host Northwestern (1-8). The Wildcats are coming off a 21-7 loss to #2 Ohio State.
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