No. 18 Minnesota topped No. 12 Auburn 31-24 in the Outback Bowl in Tampa on Wednesday afternoon through a phenomenal offensive performance against the stout Tigers defense. Running back Mohamed Ibrahim toted the rock 20 times for 140 yards and one touchdown while unleashing punishment on a Tigers defensive front that is led by future high-round draft picks Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson.
Tyler Johnson showed out in his final game with the Golden Gophers. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound wide receiver caught 12 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns -- including the game-winning, 73-yarder from Tanner Morgan with 10:26 to play in the fourth quarter. His first score, , was a one-handed, toe-tap, highlight-reel catch for the ages.
The two teams traded field goals early in the first quarter before Auburn's Noah Igbinoghene took a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. Minnesota roared back with two scores in the middle of the second quarter before Auburn quarterback Bo Nix found Sal Canella wide open over the middle of the field for 37-yard touchdown.
Gophers QB Morgan finished the day 19-of-29 passing for 278 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in a wildly efficient effort, and the Minnesota defense allowed Auburn just 56 rushing yards and 232 total yards on the afternoon. Nix was 17 of 26 for 176 yards and one touchdown on the afternoon.
The win caps off a dream season for the Gophers. Coach P.J. Fleck's crew started the season 9-0 and was ranked as high as No. 8 in the College Football Playoff Rankings. It pushes Minnesota's record to 11-2 on the season -- its first season with more than 10 wins since 1904.
For Auburn, it puts an end to an up-and-down season that included a thrilling 48-45 win over rival Alabama, but losses to LSU, Florida and Georgia rendered the Tigers an afterthought in the SEC ace. Coach Gus Malzahn, who entered the season on the hot seat, will keep his job by all accounts. But a lackluster effort heading into the offseason won't sit will with the Auburn family.