MINNEAPOLIS — There aren’t many goals left in Minnesota for Mohamed Ibrahim.
Helping to snap a three-game losing streak was just the latest feat by the tireless Ibrahim in which the Rutgers Scarlet Knights had a ringside seat.
Ibrahim rushed for 159 yards and three touchdowns on 36 carries to lead the Gophers past Rutgers 31-0 on Saturday for their first win in four weeks.
After recovering from a torn Achilles tendon in the 2021 season opener and suffering an ankle injury earlier this month, Ibrahim put in some of his best work to date against a Scarlet Knights team that entered the game ranked sixth in the FBS and third in the Big Ten in rushing defense. The sixth-year star extended his 100-yard streak to 16 in a row.
“I feel good,” Ibrahim said. “I do my best throughout the week to improve every day, then I go out on Saturday and see where we are.”
As for Rutgers, they had just 134 total yards in the type of game that got offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson fired earlier this month. Wimsatt was often out of sync with his receivers, which did him little good.
“Some of them were a little high and some of them had to be caught. Drops, they’re inexcusable at this level,” Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said.
Quarterback Tanner Morgan came back quickly from a concussion that kept him out of the previous game for the Gophers (5-3, 2-3), who enjoyed a 19-game practice and 99 yards on their first possession that drained 10:24 off the clock.
“It’s kind of something we’re proud of, playing that kind of ball,” Morgan said.
The Gophers converted 13 of 19 third downs and were in full control of that sunny 69-degree afternoon, turning the second half into a snoozer and handing coach PJ Fleck a victory over his mentor and former boss Schiano. The Gophers had the ball for 41:02, the third time they went over 40 minutes this season.
Minnesota’s revived defense produced a punishing and relentless performance against a Scarlet Knights team missing early rusher Samuel Brown V and dealing with quarterback instability.
“I’m really proud of their determination,” Fleck said. “There are a lot of teams that can really soar after that.”
Gavin Wimsatt made his second career start for Rutgers (4-4, 1-4), going 6 of 17 for 68 yards. He threw the first of Tyler Nubin’s two interceptions at the Rutgers 33 early in the fourth quarter that set up Ibrahim’s third touchdown — the 46th of his career — for a three-point lead.
Ibrahim grabbed the all-time program record from Darrell Thompson, who cheered on the feat from his perch in the radio broadcast booth. Thompson had 43 touchdowns in 44 games. Ibrahim played 35 games, with four or five games remaining.
“Fifteen teams in a row ahead of us couldn’t slow him down, could they? We knew it was a tall order, but we were confident we were going to do it,” Schiano said. “They did a very good job schematically.”
Rutgers punter Adam Korsak showed off his Australian-born leg strength, with a 77-yard punt in the first quarter that landed 2 yards shy of his own program record. Korsak has five of the longest 11 punts in Rutgers history.
The position on the pitch didn’t help much. The Gophers responded with a 13-play, 86-yard drive on their second possession. After Scarlet Knights made their first third save of the game, Ibrahim forced his way into 1’s fourth goal for a 14-0 lead.
“The way he makes it look effortless is really amazing,” Nubin said. “People outside won’t understand how he does it. People think, “It’s just Mo”, but inside you see how hard this guy works, how hard he pushes others, how dedicated he is, just the way he carries himself. .
Brown will undergo season-ending foot surgery next week, Schiano said. Wimsatt is also in recovery mode, after a shoulder-to-shoulder strike at the end of a run sent his head slamming back into the turf midway through the fourth quarter. The second was replaced by Noah Vedral, the sixth-year player who started the previous three games.