Minneapolis, MN—The 2021 football season is now in the air and the Ohio State Buckeyes have a lot to prove this year in the B10.
The Golden Gophers football team didn’t get the result they wanted to open the new season, losing to the Buckeyes 45-31 in front of a full crowd at Huntington Bank Stadium in Minnesota on a rainy Thursday night.
It was first time since Nov. 30, 2019, the Gophers had a sellout crowd at Huntington Bank Stadium. It sure helps when you’re opening against the No. 4-ranked team in the country. Tailgating returned and the band was rocking the stands.
First year QB starter C.J. Stroud passed for 294 yards and four touchdowns, with the win it kept coach Ryan Day unbeaten in Big Ten play.
For Minnesota it’s just one game, but there’s plenty of positives to take from the meet despite the result.
Gopher running back Mohamed Ibrahim had 163 grueling yards on the ground along with two touchdowns, but had to leave the game late in the third quarter with a leg injury and did not return. OSU had no answer for the reigning Big Ten Running Back of the Year. Ibrahim spent some time in the on-field medical tent before heading to the locker room with a boot on his left leg.
There’s been nothing officially released on Ibrahim’s injury, but it didn’t look good for the bruiser back. Replays suggested he suffered a calf injury. If he’s out a long period of time, it changes the complete offensive dynamics for the Gophers.
The Golden Gophers were down 10-0 in the second, head coach P.J. Fleck had a big decision to make, facing a 4th-and-1 at their own 29-yard line. Go for it, or don’t get it and risk going down 17-0 to OSU. Fleck had faith in his offensive unit, and they wanted to go for it. The ball went to Ibrahim, who bounced off the left side for a 56-yard jaunt. A few plays later, Tanner Morgan hit Dylan Wright for a 13-yard touchdown on the left side of the pylon. The 4th-and-1 run was a gamble, but it paid off for the Gophers.
The Buckeyes trailed at halftime (14-10) for the first time in a regular season game under coach Day, but OSU knew all they had to do was relax and play Ohio State football to take control of the game.
“Everybody was encouraging me, telling me I can do it. My teammates all have belief in me,” said Stroud, who went 13 for 22 with one interception.
In the third quarter the Buckeyes figured it all out, Chris Olave had touchdown catches of 38 and 61 yards, and Garrett Wilson scored on a 56-yard reception that gave OSU the lead for good at 24-21 halfway through the third quarter. Less than three minutes later, Haskell Garrett snatched a fumble from a strip-sack that Zach Harrison put on quarter back Tanner Morgan and ran it in for a 32-yard touchdown.
“I was really proud of how we responded,” Morgan said. “We’ve just got to keep responding and change our best.”
COLLEGE FOOTBALL FAN EXPERIENCE IS BACK
PJ Fleck said it best after the loss: “That is what the world should look like, that atmosphere was special. It’s just really good to have football back.”
Minnesota: This was the type of performance the Golden Gophers were looking for in their attempt to get back on track after a dismal 2020 season, regardless of the outcome. The concern is the defense, they gave up way too many long gains, even against the super talented Buckeyes.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes return home to face No. 11 Oregon on Sept. 11.
Minnesota: The Gophers host Miami of Ohio on Sept. 11.