Minnesota Wins the Pinstripe Bowl

Minnesota wins the Pinstripe Bowl to close out another nine-win season. Here's the good, the bad, and the ugly from an exciting game.

Despite suffering two key injuries during the game, Minnesota wins the Pinstripe Bowl over Syracuse, 28-20. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly from the Gophers’ exciting season finale:

Minnesota Wins the Pinstripe Bowl

Star running back Mohamed Ibrahim played only the first half, and still managed to set new school records for single-season rushing yards (1,665), touchdowns (20), career carries (319), and career rushing yards (4,668). For some reason, Minnesota’s defense is absolutely outstanding in the second quarter. Even after allowing a Syracuse touchdown to end the first half, the Gophers outscored opponents 120-36 in the second frame this season.

Redshirt freshman Quentin Redding broke a 72-yard kickoff return to set up Minnesota’s fourth touchdown late in the third quarter. In addition, freshman receiver Le’Meke Brockington is coming on and continues to show some nice chemistry with Athan Kaliakmanis. That connection is definitely something to look forward to next year.

Speaking of things to look forward to next year, we think Minnesota fans will be seeing a lot more of freshman Coleman Bryson. The Pinstripe Bowl MVP had a momentum-changing 70-yard pick-six midway through the third quarter. His fellow freshman in the backfield, Darius Green, had to be helped off the field twice but returned each time and played well. The Gopher secondary should be one of the best in the Big Ten again next season. Don’t forget, Tyler Nubin decided to return, and Justin Walley is still only a sophomore.

Finally, it was great to see Tanner Morgan finish his long career at Minnesota not only getting to play but throwing two touchdowns and finishing in the victory formation.

It Wasn’t All Good

Sophomore Cody Lindenberg had been playing an excellent game before leaving with an injury in the third quarter. He didn’t return, although Donald Willis played capably in his stead, it is never good for a standout player to leave due to injury. While the defense only allowed two touchdowns, the unit let Syracuse move the ball a bit more easily than anyone hoped. Quarterback Garrett Shrader threw for 330 yards, and ran for 38 (it seemed like more) and two touchdowns.

In fact, Syracuse outgained Minnesota in total yards 477-215. The Orange also led in time of possession (34:03) and first downs (27-14).

Final Thoughts

Can we please stop playing bowl games in baseball stadiums? The surface is awful. Aside from injury potential, watching guys fall when they weren’t even tackled just isn’t entertaining. The injury to quarterback Kaliakmanis looked bad. Fortunately, he has plenty of time to heal before next season.

Finally, late in the fourth quarter, with Syracuse driving, senior linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin recovered a fumble around the Minnesota 25-yard line and ran it back 50 yards before being horse-collared on the sideline. Great moment for the senior, right? Except that the play went to review… and it turned out there had been 12 Gophers on the field at the snap. Bad break for the Gophers.

So Minnesota wins the Pinstripe Bowl to finish an up-and-down season with nine wins. It’s the third nine-win campaign in the last four years and was a great way to send out this group of seniors.

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