THE AXE STAYS IN MINNESOTA!! The Gophers went into Madison and defeated the Wisconsin Badgers 23-16. The Gophers were led by freshman quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis who had his best game of his career, throwing for 319 yards and two touchdowns. This is the first time that Gophers have Paul Bunyan’s axe in back-to-back years since 1993-94. The Gophers are also tied in the all-time series at 62-62-8. Just a great day for the Gophers who await their bowl game and opponent. With that let’s take a look at my Minnesota Gophers week 13 takeaways.
The Future Looks Bright With Athan Kaliakmanis
As I said in my game preview for this week’s game, I wanted to see balance on offense and for P.J. to show that he wants to throw the ball. Well, I don’t think he read that article, but I saw exactly what I was looking for and I was impressed. I was concerned if a team could shut down Mo that the offense would sputter. Wisconsin did just that, holding him to 70-yards.
Athan Kaliakmanis went off for a career high (though he’s only played a few games) for 319 yards and two touchdowns. Before today’s game he had thrown for 547 yards, today 319. This kid is talented. He made some great deep throws (just imagine if Chris Autman-Bell didn’t get hurt). There were a few that weren’t great but he’s a freshman, he’s allowed to have some off throws.
THIS IS A NFL CALIBER THROW. Reads the cover 2 look perfectly & knows he has to throw a bullet to push the WR to the sideline & keep him away from the safety coming over the top. This is how you teach the zone hole throw. #Gophers have a special arm talent. pic.twitter.com/cQdMUd4LGZ
— Ron Johnson (@3RonJohnson) November 26, 2022
Kaliakmanis also showed off his dual-threat ability by moving around the pocket and breaking off a couple of short runs for 14 yards. On a day where Wisconsin was able to contain and limit Ibrahim, Kaliakmanis put the offense on his back and led the way to a big win for the Gophers in Madison.
MINNESOTA!! Athan Kaliakmanis ➡️ Le'Meke Brockington for the 45 yard TD!! pic.twitter.com/pNOANc6BnH
— 𝗙𝗢𝗟𝗟𝗢𝗪 @𝗙𝗧𝗕𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗱𝟳 (@FTBeard7) November 26, 2022
With the Gophers looking to lose a lot of veteran talent, Kaliakmanis is in place to start not only next year but the next few in Minnesota. In one of the most important positions in the game, the Gophers look to have found their new star on offense for the time being.
The Defense Held Firm
The defense was well, the Gophers’ defense. What’d you expect from them? While it seemed like Wisconsin was able to move the ball consistently, on paper that wasn’t the case. The Badgers had 334 yards of total offense with 191 yards passing and 143 rushing. It also helped to have Wisconsin’s starting running back out for the game and quarterback Graham Mertz out for the last drive. In the end the Gophers did what they needed to, and it showed by keeping the axe for another year in Minnesota.
They also stepped up late getting a big turnover, unfortunately the Gophers were unable to capitalize on it, missing a field goal that would have put the game out of reach for the Badgers. In the end the defense stood tall and were too much for backup quarterback Chase Wolf to overcome the skill and talent of Joe Rossi’s defense.
The Streak Comes To An End
Unfortunately, Mohamed Ibrahim’s streak of 100 yards rushing in a game came to an end at 18 games. Still very impressive, especially after coming back from his Achilles injury he suffered last season. It was disappointing for him not to keep the streak going and ending his career on 20 straight games with 100 yards rushing. In the end we won, we beat Wisconsin, and we kept the axe. Does it suck to not see him continue the streak? Yes, but it’s a lot better for it to happen when we win, especially against Wisconsin, then if we were to have lost.
He also came up short on the single season rushing record held by David Cobb and the all-time rushing record. He needs 57 yards to break the all-time rushing record and 32 to break the single season record. Mohamed Ibrahim should break both of these in the bowl game.
Getting 60 yards shouldn’t be a problem. Wisconsin was able to contain him at 70 yards, averaging 2.6 per carry, but it came at a cost. The Gophers lit up the Badgers’ secondary throwing for 319 yards. If they can have this kind of threat in their bowl game, Ibrahim should have no problem racking up 60 yards to break the pair of records.
A Look Ahead
The Gophers now wait to see what bowl game they end up in. With an 8-4 record the Gophers should get into a good bowl game, but we’ll have to wait and see what bowl and who they will be playing. Oh, and P.J. Fleck is 3-0 in bowl games with Minnesota.
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