2020 Kicks Off with a Golden Gopher Kind of Outback Bowl

By on January 3, 2020
Photo-Travis Failey

The fans who attended The 2020 Outback Bowl were treated to a glorious day with an outstanding football game and even better weather as the #9 ranked Auburn Tigers took on the #16 ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Photo-Travis Failey
Photo-Travis Failey

This year’s game was also the 25th year with Outback Steakhouse as the Bowl’s title sponsor and once again they rolled out the red carpet to all including the fans, the teams, and the media.

Photo-Jordan Raiff

What was predicted by some to be a potential blowout by the Tigers in the 2020 Outback Bowl turned into a nail-biter that came down to the Tigers not being able to handle the huge offensive line of the Gophers.

Photo-Travis Failey

With a 16 play drive highlighted by a game-clinching pass over the middle to tight end Bryce Witham on 4th and 1, interim offensive coordinator Matt Simon called a masterpiece.

Photo-Travis Failey

Behind Simon, the Gophers accumulated 494 yards and controlled the ball more than 37 minutes and his kids played like stars and made big plays when they needed them.

Photo-Travis Failey

Wide receiver and Outback Bowl MVP Tyler Johnson had 12 catches for 204 yards, just one yard shy of the bowl record set in 2012 by Georgia Bulldog Tavarres King. Johnson had two touchdowns with both being spectacular. The first was a beautiful one-handed grab in the back of the end-zone while tiptoeing the back end line.

Photo-Travis Failey

The play was reviewed and the replay showed maybe a blade or two of grass separating his shoe and the out of bounds area. The Johnson receiving touchdown was a 73-yard bomb with the score tied 24-24 with 10:26 to play in the fourth quarter. Johnson streaked past the Tiger’s defense for the game-winning and final score at 31-24.

Photo-Jordan Raiff

“I was hoping I landed inbounds,” Johnson said. “I knew that I just needed to go up and make the play. Hat’s off to coach Simon for calling that play.”

Photo-Travis Failey

Gophers Head Coach P.J. Fleck said of Johnson “He’s gonna leave here the greatest receiver in the history of Minnesota.”

Photo-Jordan Raiff

QB Tanner Morgan went 20-30 for 278, two TDs and a pick. Another star for the Gophers was running back Mohammed Ibrahaim who carried the ball 20 times for 140 yards and a score.  

Photo-Travis Failey
Photo-Travis Failey

Auburn’s great defensive line that includes Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson seemed invisible at times as Minnesota’s offensive line was able to handle them throughout the game.

Photo-Jordan Raiff

Another issue for Auburn was that their secondary was questionable. It allowed more than 200 passing yards per game and got hit for more than 300 yards by Alabama, LSU, and Texas A&M, but it only allowed 5.9 yards per pass and picked off eight throws in the last six games.

The Auburn defense had one interception in the game but when Morgan had time he was extremely effective for the Gophers and was rushed consistently and was never sacked in the game.

Photo-Travis Failey

The Tigers on offense meanwhile gained only 232 total yards with 22 minutes of time of possession which were both were season-lows.

Photo-Jordan Raiff

Tiger’s coach Gus Malzahn “The bottom line is, they outplayed us and they out-coached us, and they deserved to win today, That’s just really the facts of the matter.”

Photo-Travis Failey
Photo-Travis Failey

Tiger’s true freshman QB Bo Nix played well throwing for 176 yards and a score with a QB rating of 134.9. A huge blown no-call on a hold/pass interference by the Gophers on third down throw to TE Will Hastings was critical. After the punt, the Gophers held the ball for the final 8:38 to bring home the Outback Bowl Trophy.

Photo-Travis Failey
Photo-Jordan Raiff

Some Tigers fans might be calling for Gus Malzahn’s job as once again the Tigers did not get it done on at their bowl game. His record is now just 2-5 in bowl games with wins against Memphis and Purdue who were 6-6 at the time. Malzahn might get a reprieve as the Tigers beat Bama in this year’s Iron Bowl albeit without star QB Tua Tagovailoa.

Photo-Travis Failey

As the announced crowd of 45,652 left Raymond James Stadium both Auburn and Minnesota fans departed with some level of smiles as the sun started to set over Tampa Bay.

Photo-Jordan Raiff

Once again the Outback Bowl group rose to the occasion on their 25th Anniversary and no matter what team you supported on Wednesday afternoon, everyone left a winner.

Photo-Travis Failey

Notes:  

Minnesota (11-2) clinched its first 11-win season since 1904, and is assured of its first appearance in the final Associated Press rankings since 2003.

Photo-Jordan Raiff
Photo-Travis Failey
Photo-Jordan Raiff
Photo-Jordan Raiff
Photo-Travis Failey
Photo-Jordan Raiff
Photo-Jordan Raiff
Photo-Jordan Raiff
Photo-Jordan Raiff
Photo-Jordan Raiff
Photo-Jordan Raiff
Categories: College Football, Football, Sports
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