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Gophers throttle Colorado 49-7 to improve to 3-0

Gophers have outscored their opponents 149-17 through 3 games

NCAA Football: Colorado at Minnesota
Minnesota Golden Gophers running back Bryce Williams runs the ball for a touchdown against the Colorado Buffaloes during the fourth quarter at Huntington Bank Stadium on Sept. 17, 2022.
Matt Krohn / USA Today Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — The Gophers football team completed the preseason — ahem, nonconference — portion of its schedule on Saturday.

Minnesota cruised to a 49-7 win over Colorado at Huntington Bank Stadium to move to 3-0 going into the Big Ten slate. With a 38-0 win over New Mexico State and a 62-10 victory over Western Illinois, Minnesota outscored those three by a combined 149-17.

Those 149 points register as the fourth-highest total through a season’s opening three games in program history, and two of those were in the early 1900s, when the U was demolishing a few poor Minnesota high schools. The third was in 1916 versus three colleges in the Dakotas.

Colorado was, in theory, supposed to be a stiffer test given their status as a member of the PAC-12 Conference. It didn’t matter; Saturday’s game was about as one-sided as possible.

After calling the first two wins “workmanlike,” Fleck described Saturday as “surgical.”

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The biggest downside Saturday was clear: top receiver Chris Autman-Bell left the game in the second quarter with an apparent right leg injury. He looked distraught as he needed help getting into the locker room at the half and didn’t return. Head coach P.J. Fleck did not have a definitive update on Autman-Bell postgame.

Former Gophers and current Buffaloes offensive coordinator Mike Sanford Jr., who was not being retained last November, couldn’t get anything going against his former employer. U defensive coordinator Joe Rossi did not let him get comfortable with an aggressive play call out of the gate.

Rossi dialed up a cornerback blitz on their first play. Terell Smith came off the edge for a blindside strip sack of J.T. Shrout, and it was recovered from Jalen Logan-Redding.

MORE MINNESOTA GOPHERS COVERAGE:
Victory marked first time Minnesota won in East Lansing since 2009
The 27-point win over the Spartans was Minnesota's closest game this season.
Minnesota travels to Michigan State to open up Big Ten play on Saturday
Minnesota is collecting data on how much players are exerting on the field and when they might be on the verge of an injury
Minnesota (3-0) heads into the Big Ten opener against Michigan State (2-1) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Mich.
Autman-Bell accounted for 23% of the Gophers’ targets through 3 weeks
Geary will be part of a group of wideouts asked to step up as No. 1 pass-catching target Chris Autman-Bell was lost to a season-ending leg injury against the Buffaloes.
In the first half of Saturday’s 49-7 victory over Colorado, Autman-Bell landed awkwardly after trying to adjust to an off-target throw from Tanner Morgan. Visibly distraught, Autman-Bell needed assistance to leave the field and went to a hospital for further tests.
Minnesota has been all business against three incredibly weak programs: arguably the worst Division I outfit in New Mexico State, a rebuilding FCS team in Western Illinois and possibly the worst Power Five program in Pac-12 member Colorado. Those three teams are a combined 0-10 this season.
The East has all the ranked teams but the West should be wild, with Minnesota in the hunt for its first Big Ten title of any sort since 1967

“We knew we were going to come out and attack; that was part of our game-plan,” linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin said. “We talked all week about how we needed to get more takeaways. For the first two things to go our way that quickly just shows how prepared we were for this football game.”

After scoring on the opening drive, Minnesota’s offense took the turnover and quickly added another touchdown for a 14-0 lead. It was the start of a long day for the Buffaloes.

Sanford’s offense, which was 125th in the country in total yards through two games, didn’t break the shutout Saturday until Gophers backups were in the game in the fourth quarter.

Colorado’s rushing defense was even worse. They entered Week 3 at 131st in the nation, dead last, with 355 rushing yards allowed per game. They gave up 334 on Saturday.

Mo Ibrahim had 202 yards on 23 carries for a nearly nine yard average and three touchdowns, which were all scored in the first half. With seven TDs in the first three games, he moves into a tie with Darrell Thompson career record of 40 rushing scores.

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“He’s a big part of Minnesota history,” Ibrahim said of Thompson, a star in the late 1980s. “Just to be tied up with him is just amazing. It says a lot about my team, getting me in the end zone.”

Ibrahim didn’t know postgame exactly how many times had scored, turning to quarterback Morgan at the podium. “What did I have two?”

Given how lopsided the entire game was Saturday, Ibrahaim could be forgiven for losing count.

NCAA Football: Colorado at Minnesota
Colorado Buffaloes quarterback Brendon Lewis carries the ball pursued by Minnesota Golden Gophers defensive lineman Logan Richter in the third quarter at Huntington Bank Stadium on Sept. 17, 2022.
Matt Blewett / USA Today Sports

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Related Topics: MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS
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