The Gophers Look Like the Best Team in the Big Ten-West

Sep 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim (24) celebrates after the game against the Colorado Buffaloes at Huntington Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Gophers won their third consecutive game 30-plus points on Saturday. They dominated Colorado from start to finish, and the game ended in a score of 49-7. As the dust settles after Week 3, Minnesota is the only team in the Big Ten-West that has come out of their non-conference schedule completely unscathed at 3-0. They look like one of the best teams in college football right now, and certainly, the Gophers look like the best team in the Big Ten-West.

Last season, the Gophers played inconsistent football, en route to a 9-4 record and 6-3 within the Big Ten. A loss to Iowa cost them the division championship last year, and a non-conference loss to Bowling Green got the season off to a very sour start in the polls. That said, they were able to come away with Paul Bunyan’s Axe by beating Wisconsin, and they ultimately won the Guaranteed Rate Bowl over Virginia.

In 2021, they’ve not only been consistent; they’ve been dominant. A huge reason for that has been the return of running back Mohamed Ibrahim, who after missing all but one game in 2021 with an Achilles tear, has picked up right where he left off against Ohio State last season when he rushed for 163 yards and two touchdowns.

Through three games, Ibrahim has 67 times for 464 yards and seven touchdowns. On Saturday against Colorado, he put together his fourth career game with 200+ rushing yards. He had 203 yards on the ground and three touchdowns. It was the first time he eclipsed the 200-yard mark since November 7th, 2020, against Illinois.

This presence in the running game has been a crucial foundation for Minnesota’s success in 2022. The Gophers have averaged nearly 50 points per game, and they are one of two programs in the country averaging more than 300 rushing yards per game.

On top of the success on the ground, Tanner Morgan looks much closer to the QB that he was in 2019 than he has the past two seasons. His passes have been consistently accurate, and Chris Autman-Bell has been a reliable receiver.

This upcoming weekend features the beginning of conference play and the program’s first real test as Minnesota faces a premier team in the country, Michigan State. The Spartans are coming off a big upset loss to the Washington Huskies on Saturday, and they’ll surely be looking to avenge that loss. It will be hostile territory when Minnesota heads to East Lansing, but we’ll see if they can continue to play dominant football behind their veteran offense.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing as well as minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh can often be found training for a marathon, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his takes, NFL and otherwise, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken