The Gophers, finishing their year with a 9-4 record, hit the right numbers yesterday in a 28-20 win over Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl in New York. Here are figures worth remembering, and praise for a Gopher never to be forgotten:
Minnesota won its sixth consecutive bowl game dating back to 2015. That’s not only a school record but sets an all-time Big Ten Conference mark, eclipsing a record the Gophers had shared with Wisconsin (2014-2018) at five consecutive bowl wins.
The Gophers have won nine games or more in each of the last three full seasons (not counting the pandemic season of 2020). The last time Minnesota accomplished that was in the early 1900s.
All-American tailback Mo Ibrahim set school records yesterday for most rushing yards in a season and career. He did so by gaining 71 yards in the first half, then sat out the second while resting an ankle that has troubled him this year. Ibrahim also set a new single season record for the Gophers with 20 touchdowns, getting Minnesota’s first score yesterday with a four-yard power (what else) run.
Running backs coach Kenni Burns, interviewed on the KFAN Radio pregame show yesterday, said working with Ibrahim was “probably the biggest joy” of his life. Burns recalled that over six years Ibrahim had to develop confidence and his skills, but the coach could see the potential and told the Baltimore native he had a chance to be the greatest runner ever at Minnesota. “I am determined to be,” Ibrahim answered, according to Burns.
Ibrahim, 24, will take on the challenge of making an NFL roster next year. He also has interest in a coaching career. Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck, who has never seen a better runner from the line of scrimmage to 12 yards out, said he “looks forward” to hiring the former three-star recruit who through ability and grit willed himself to a great career, while earning the love of his coaches and teammates.
After the game Minnesota QB Tanner Morgan made a request to athletic director Mark Coyle and school president Joan Gabel. “I think his number (24) should be retired tomorrow.”
With an awful playing field at Yankee Stadium, it may well have been best Ibrahim didn’t play in the second half. Chunks of loose grass were prevalent on the hard field, famous as home to the 27 times World Series champion Yankees. Players on both sides were losing their footing through much of the game and field conditions worsened in the second half.
Syracuse, 7-6 after its bowl loss, had the better of the game statistics but not the final score because the Gophers made two big plays in the second half. Leading 14-10 in the third quarter true freshman safety Coleman Bryson, playing for the injured Tyler Nubin, intercepted a Syracuse pass and ran 70 yards for a touchdown. Bryson was named MVP of the Pinstripe Bowl.
Later in the third, Syracuse kicked off after the Orange had booted a 38-yard field goal to make the score 21-13. Minnesota return man Quentin Redding caught the ball, faked a pitch to Le’Meke Brockington and then ran 72 yards to the Syracuse 25. Soon after Gopher wide receiver Daniel Jackson caught his second touchdown pass of the day from Morgan, another sixth-year player and a leader who goes out as the winningest QB in school history.
The Orange had 477 yards in total offense, Minnesota 215. Syracuse passed for 330 yards, while the Gophers had 138. The Orange, who out first-downed Minnesota 27-13, rushed for 65 yards more than Minnesota. The Gophers, though, got the numbers they wanted including a win by eight points.
BTW in Minnesota’s last 24 away games Fleck’s teams are 18-6 (.750), including the four bowl wins. That is the best 24-game stretch away from home in program history (began with a 37-15 win at Wisconsin on November 24, 2018). Since then, the only Big Ten team with more wins or a higher win percentage away from home is Ohio State at 21-3 (.875).
Praise for New Twins Executive Chair
The Twins have a new leader in Joe Pohlad, who has succeeded his uncle, Jim Pohlad, as executive chair. For many years Joe, 40, has worked in various business positions for the Twins.
“…I think he’s a great fan of the organization and what it means to the Upper Midwest,” a source who is familiar with the Twins told Sports Headliners while speaking anonymously.
Joe is officing at Target Field, while Jim works nearby in a downtown building. Derek Falvey, the organization’s chief baseball officer, said his access to Jim was there when needed, “But now Joe, just being in the building, gives us a little more efficiency.”
The anonymous source sees Joe as a cooperative voice in the front office. It’s expected Joe will allow the baseball leaders to do their jobs, without being meddlesome. ”…I think he is very level-headed,” the source said. “Nobody I ever dealt with (among) the Pohlads…none of them were volatile. They were always very even keeled, very levelheaded guys, and Joe is the same way. Cut from the same cloth.”
Falvey said Jim and Joe were among the first people he met when the Twins were courting him to become the team’s baseball leader in 2016. That initial friendship with both men continues to this day.
The Pohlad family, including Jim’s brothers Bob and Bill, have made a strong impression on Falvey. He has learned they care a lot about the legacy of the Twins in the Upper Midwest, and the vitality of downtown Minneapolis. They have invested considerable resources in both without seeking recognition.
“They just want to be a part of the community,” Falvey said. “They’re so humble.”Comments Welcome