Date: Dec. 12, 2020
Time: 11:00 a.m. CT
Site: Lincoln, Neb.
Stadium: Memorial Stadium
Series: Minnesota 33-25-2
Streak: Minnesota W1
Last: Minnesota won 34-7 on Oct. 12, 2019, at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis
FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
1. Minnesota heads to Nebraska this week for a game against the Cornhuskers. The Dec. 12 date will represent the latest regular-season game in the history of Minnesota football. The Gophers, who did not play the last two weeks as the program responded to positive COVID-19 cases, lead the all-time series 33-25-2. Both teams most recently played Purdue. Minnesota beat the Boilers 34-31 on Nov. 20 and Nebraska beat Purdue 37-27 on Dec. 5. Minnesota paused all team activities on Nov. 24 after 15 individuals (9 student-athletes; 6 staff members) tested positive for COVID-19 from Nov. 19-23. From Nov. 19-Dec. 3, Minnesota had 49 individuals (23 student-athletes; 26 staff members) test positive for COVID-19. In a return to football – and under guidance of medical experts – team members started light acclimatization workouts on Wednesday, Dec. 2. The team held a walkthrough on Saturday, Dec. 5 and practiced on Sunday, Dec. 6.
2. Tanner Morgan did not throw a touchdown in Minnesota’s 34-31 win against Purdue (Gophers rushed for five scores), ending his streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass at 18. Morgan’s 18 straight games with a touchdown pass is a school record and spanned from Dec. 26, 2018 (Quick Lane Bowl win against Georgia Tech) to Nov. 13, 2020 (Purdue). Morgan threw 36 touchdowns during the steak and Minnesota was 13-5 during that time.
3. Mohamed Ibrahim is averaging 163.4 rushing yards per game, which ranks first in the nation for anyone who has played in at least five games. He ranks 17th in the nation in rushing yards (817) despite playing in only five games. Everyone above him (except Buffalo’s Jaret Patterson) has played in at least eight games. Ibrahim ranks tied for sixth nationally in rushing touchdowns (13). Despite playing in only five games, Ibrahim leads the Big Ten in rushing attempts (155), rushing yards (817), rushing touchdowns (13) and scoring (78). Ibrahim’s 13 touchdowns have covered a collective 41 yards (longest of the year is 16 yards and he has seven 1-yard touchdowns). His 29 career touchdowns rank tied for sixth in school history with Rodney Smith. The school single-season record for rushing touchdowns is 18 and was set by Gary Russell in 2005 (12 games played). Ibrahim’s 13 touchdowns ranks tied for fourth in school single-season history with David Cobb (2014), Darrell Thompson (1987) and Jim Perkins (1976). Ibrahim is averaging a touchdown every 11.9 rushes this season.
4. Minnesota has attempted only two field goals this year. Brock Walker was good from 29 yards vs. Michigan and 25 yards at Maryland. Minnesota opponents have made only 2 of 8 FGs this year (Michigan 0-3, Maryland 1-2, Purdue 1-3).
5. Chris Autman-Bell was Minnesota’s No. 3 receiver each of the past two seasons. He took on a larger role this year (14 catches, 315 yards, 1 TD, 22.5 yards/catch) and will most likely be heavily featured now that Rashod Bateman has opted out. Autman-Bell has played in 31 career games and has made 70 catches for 1,135 yards (25th in school history) and six touchdowns. He has caught at least one pass in 30 games and has made one catch in 25 straight games. He made 28 catches for 371 yards and five touchdowns in 2019 and made 28 catches (fourth all-time for a Minnesota freshman) for 449 yards (third all-time for a Minnesota freshman) in 2018. He also led the team with a 16.03 yards per catch average in 2018.
Gopher quarterback Tanner Morgan sat down with MNN sports director Mike Grimm:
(info and photos courtesy of Gopher Sports)