Date/Time: Sept. 11, 2021 / 11 a.m. CT
Stadium: Huntington Bank
Series Overall: Minnesota Leads 4-0
Streak: Minnesota Won 4
Series in MN: Minnesota Leads 4-0
Streak: Minnesota Won 4
Last Meeting: Minnesota won 26-3 in Minneapolis (9/15/18)
FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
1. Minnesota enters Saturday’s contest with 19 straight non-conference victories, the longest active streak in the country. Through Saturday’s games, Iowa and Kentucky had each won 12 straight against non-conference foes, while Alabama (9) was the only other team in the country with a streak longer than five games. The Golden Gophers haven’t lost a non-conference game since Sept. 3, 2015, at home to then-No. 2 TCU. Included in the streak are 15 regular season wins and four bowl victories. Minnesota is 11-0 under P.J. Fleck in non-conference games.
2. Fifth-year senior quarterback Tanner Morgan is in his third full season as the Minnesota starter, and he’s already proven himself to be one of the best signal-callers to ever wear the Maroon and Gold. Morgan is 18-9 as a starter and has completed 419 passes (seventh most in school history) of 678 attempts (eighth most) for 6,233 yards (sixth most) in his career. His career completion percentage of .618 ranks first in school history, as does his 156.59 pass efficiency rating, while his 47 career touchdown passes ranks fourth. Morgan owns 11 Minnesota season and game records and was named All-Big Ten Honorable Mention in 2020. In 2019, he was named All-Big Ten Second Team, a Davey O’Brien Award semifinalist and a Manning Award finalist.
3. The 2021 campaign is the fifth for head coach P.J. Fleck at Minnesota. He entered the year with a record of 26-19. In Minnesota football history, only Henry L. Williams (42, 1900-03) had more wins in his first four seasons than Fleck’s 26. In addition, Fleck’s 15 wins in Big Ten play tied with Cal Stoll (1972-75) for the most in a coach’s first four years with the Gophers. Overall, Fleck is now 26-20, putting him ninth in program history for wins, while his .565 win percentage is third best among the 11 Minnesota coaches with at least 45 games under their helm behind only Williams (.786, 1900-21) and Bernie Bierman (.716, 1932-41, ’45-50).
4. Head coach P.J. Fleck announced on Monday that 2020 Big Ten Running Back of the Year Mohamed Ibrahim will miss the rest of the season after suffering a lower leg injury against Ohio State. Ibrahim has 14 career 100-yard rushing games, which includes a current streak of nine in a row dating back to the 2020 Outback Bowl. Ibrahim’s nine-game streak is the longest in program history, two more than former Gopher great Laurence Maroney. Before leaving Minnesota’s season opener late in the third quarter with an injury, Ibrahim ran for 163 yards and two touchdowns on 30 attempts against Ohio State. In two career games against the Buckeyes, he ran for 320 yards and four scores on 53 carries. Ibrahim now has 3,003 rushing yards for his career, becoming the eighth Minnesota player to reach the 3,000-yard milestone.
5. With Mohamed Ibrahim missing the rest of the season, Minnesota will look to its depth to replace his productions. After Ibrahim went down against Ohio State, redshirt sophomore Trey Potts carried four times for 20 yards (10 rushes for 34 yards total), while redshirt junior Bryce Williams had a two-yard touchdown run and redshirt sophomore Cam Wiley gained one yard on two rushes (3-4 total) as Minnesota tried to rally. The 5’11, 210-pound Potts entered 2021 having played in seven games with 26 career rushes for 172 yards and one touchdown. He was ranked the No. 13 all-purpose running back by 247Sports out of high school as he rushed 347 times for 3,490 yards and 59 touchdowns in 31 career games during his prep career. Williams (6’0, 215 pounds) has the most experience of the running back trio with 541 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 140 career carries. The majority of his production came as a freshman in 2018 with 502 yards and four scores on 117 carries, including a breakout performance against Miami (OH) with 33 carries for 141 yards. The biggest of the bunch at 6’2, 210 pounds, Wiley has 43 carries for 215 yards and one touchdown in 11 career games. He had a career-high 81 yards on seven attempts last season in a win at Nebraska. Talented former four-star recruits Ky Thomas and Mar’Keise Irving have not yet played in a game for the Gophers. Thomas was the 2019 Gatorade Athlete of the Year in Kansas after rushing for 3,009 yards as a senior. He rushed for 7,703 yards and 95 touchdowns in his career. Irving was the No. 9 running back in the nation last season and ended his high school career with 3,264 rushing yards and 587 receiving yards.
PHIL IT UP
MNN sports director Mike Grimm spoke with Gopher defensive back Phil Howard about a variety of things:
(photo and info courtesy of Gopher Sports)