Defense leads Minnesota to Holiday Bowl win

Tricia Pearson
December 28, 2016

After a Luke Falk interception set Minnesota up in Washington State territory, Smith sealed the victory for the Gophers with a nine-yard touchdown.

The Golden Gopher football team continues to prepare for tomorrow night's Holiday Bowl in San Diego against Washington State.

Brooks' TD catch was one of the few exciting plays in an otherwise pedestrian edition of what traditionally has been one of the country's most exciting bowl games.

First, here's all the noise surrounding the Minnesota football team as they prep for Washington State in the Holiday Bowl.

The potential boycott put the integrity of this year's Holiday Bowl in doubt, with officials in the hard position of possibly scrambling to replace Minnesota with Northern Illinois, a Group of Five team with a losing record (5-7). "[Falk] didn't have the look that he wanted".

The Cougars (8-5) led 6-3 at halftime.

Washington State running back Jamal Morrow continued his coin toss success, winning for the 17th time in 22 games has been game captain. Asked Monday to elaborate, he said: "I would. Historically, your best bet is to assume everybody is playing".

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He used his left to make a juggling grab for a 25-yard touchdown, helping the Cowboys tie the score, 21-21, before halftime. The triumph allowed the Cowboys to tie a franchise record with 13 wins-a mark they also hit in 1992 and 2007.

The adversity for the Gophers continued right before the game.

"[It] won't be his last game", Leach said. But that is no excuse for six false start penalties.

Sophomore receiver Tavares Martin left the game toward the end of the second quarter, and appeared to suffer some sort of a leg injury.

Minnesota's star defensive lineman Steven Richardson left the game with an injury nearly immediately after. Missing 10 players who could have played roles in the Holiday Bowl game puts the team in a position where they have nothing to lose.

The formidable task of having a depleted secondary take on one of the nation's most potent offenses might go a long way toward that goal. But his offensive production was enough.

Before the late fourth-quarter touchdown with Minnesota leading 17-6, the Gophers gave up 190 yards and no touchdowns. It was his first interception of his career. The Cougars opened the season with back- to-back losses to Eastern Washington and Boise State. Whether they remain focused on this game will be interesting because getting behind the Cougars early can be a bad thing.

Leidner was 11 of 20 for 129 yards and one touchdown. Gophers players dropped the two-day boycott of football activities on December 17. Asberry's score was the 46th rushing touchdown this season, breaking the school record held by the 1945 national championship team that had two Heisman Trophy winners in the backfield.

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