A new decade is upon us and so too is one final chance for both the Minnesota Golden Gophers and Auburn Tigers to shine on the football field this season. The two are squaring off today in the 2020 Outback Bowl in Tampa. For Auburn, they will need to keep their foot on the gas to avoid a letdown after taking down Alabama in the Iron Bowl. For Minnesota, it’s a chance to redeem themselves after stumbling against Wisconsin in the regular season finale. The key to today’s game will be the success of Auburn QB, Bo Nix. If the Gophers can somehow contain Nix it may be a long day for Auburn. However, that is easier said than done as Minnesota will have their hands full. Meanwhile, Auburn will try to limit Tanner Morgan, who threw for 28 TDs and nearly 3,000 yards in during the regular season.
To begin the game, Minnesota’s Tanner Morgan threw a pick on their opening possession deep in his own end to set up great field position for Auburn on the Gopher 12-yard line. Minnesota’s defense held strong, limiting the Tigers to a 24-yeard field goal. On the Gopher’s second possession Morgan just brushed off the early pick and continued to air it out. Morgan found Tyler Johnson for a 17-yard strike. The Gophers drive then stalled, which resulted in a 40-yard field goal to tie the game at 3-3. Auburn responded immediately by returning the kickoff 96-yards for a touchdown to put the Tigers up 10-3. The Gophers went 3 and out on their next possession but were fortunate to recover a punt after the ball bounced off of an Auburn player around the Tiger 40-yard line. Morgan then drove the Gophers down to the 16-yard line where Mohamed Ibrahim broke a few tackles to scamper into the endzone. This tied the game at 10-10. Looking to take the lead, Auburn stalled and gave the ball back to Minnesota. An exciting first quarter came to a close with the game even at 10-10 and Minnesota about to punt the ball back to Auburn.
Auburn began the 2nd quarter from their 32-yard line. After a few quick strikes by Bo Nix, Auburn tried an unsuccessful trick play on 3rd and long and were forced to punt. Minnesota took over from their own 8-yard line. After some more chuck plays from Morgan, Rodney Smith rushed for 31-yards down the sideline. This set the Gophers up at the Auburn 37-yard line. Morgan continued to light it up with a 34-yard strike to Rashod Bateman to the 3-yard line. Minnesota then scored twice only to have both touchdowns overturned under official review. On 4th and goal the Gophers finally connected on a 1-yard reception to Seth Green. This put the Gophers up 17-10 midway through the 2nd quarter. As I mentioned earlier about the importance of containing Bo Nix, the Gophers let him scramble outside of the pocket, where he found Sal Cannella for a 37-yard touchdown to even the game at 17. Minnesota responded with more of the aerial assault from Morgan, who found Tyler Guthrie for 29 yards to march Minnesota to the Auburn 31. From there, the Gophers pounded the rock with a 21-yard gain from Ibrahim to the 17-yard line. Morgan then found his favorite target Tyler Johnson for a 9-yard reception to the 2-yard line. On the next play, Johnson hauled in a spectacular 1-handed touchdown catch from Morgan to put Minnesota up 24-17, which is how it would stand heading into the half.
Coming out of the half Minnesota’s defense forced a 3 and out, sacking Nix on 3rd down. Minnesota didn’t do much better on their first possession a they were also forced to punt after picking up just one 1st down. On their second possession of the half, Bo Nix started to heat up and he was doing it with both his arm and legs. Nix has been connecting on a bunch of short, but effective passes to go along with a 16-yard scramble. Nix then found Seth Williams for a 15-yard completion to set up first and goal from the 3-yard line. Auburn eventually punched it in on a goal line plunge to even things up at 24. Minnesota’s response fizzled out following a holding penalty that they could just not overcome. Auburn did not fare much better and attempted an unsuccessful fake punt which ended the 3rd quarter.
In the 4th quarter Minnesota looked for the go ahead score but came up short deep in Auburn territory on a 4th and 1. Auburn then had a 3 and out setting up Minnesota at their 25-yard line. Tanner Morgan then went deep on the very first play and found Tyler Johnson on a 73-yard touchdown reception, giving the Gophers a 31-24 lead. Auburn went 3 and out on their next possession. The Morgan to Johnson connection continued with yet another connection, which put Johnson over 200 yards receiving on the day. Facing a 4th and 1 Morgan worked some more of his magic and connected on a 11-yard connection to move the chains. From there, Minnesota continued to run out the clock as they held off Auburn 31-24 to take the 2020 Outback Bowl. A new decade is upon us and so too is one final chance for both the Minnesota Golden Gophers and Auburn Tigers to shine on the football field this season. The two are squaring off today in the 2020 Outback Bowl in Tampa. For Auburn, they will need to keep their foot on the gas to avoid a letdown after taking down Alabama in the Iron Bowl. For Minnesota, it’s a chance to redeem themselves after stumbling against Wisconsin in the regular season finale.