Iowa defense struggles to stop running back Mohamed Ibrahim in win over Minnesota

The sixth-year back tallied a career-high and Huntington Bank Stadium record 263 yards on 39 carries.


Jerod Ringwald

Minnesota running back Mohamed Ibrahim carries the ball during a football game between Iowa and Minnesota at Huntington Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Ibrahim carried the ball 39 times for 263 yards. The Hawkeyes defeated the Gophers, 13-10.

Chris Werner, Assistant Sports Editor

MINNEAPOLIS — Before Iowa’s matchup with Minnesota on Saturday afternoon at Huntington Bank Stadium, the Hawkeye run defense ranked eighth in the nation and third in the Big Ten, giving up 88.6 yards per game on the ground.

That average rose more than 20 yards to 108.9 thanks to the 312-yard rushing performance Minnesota put together in its 13-10 loss to Iowa.

Gopher running back Mohamed Ibrahim accounted for 263 of Minnesota’s rushing yards. Ibrahim, who is from Baltimore, Maryland, averaged 6.7 yards per carry on 39 attempts — more than double the 2.55 yards per rush Iowa’s defense allowed through its first 10 games of the year.

“He just sees the holes so well,” Iowa senior linebacker Seth Benson said. “He’s just patient, you know, you rock back and then he’s gonna hit that hole. If you don’t rock back, he’s gonna hit the one you’re supposed to go to. He’s just so low to the ground and he just spurts through there. He’s a really good back.  He’s got a bright future and also a testament to their O-line.”

From the bench, Iowa tight end Luke Lachey —  who had his best game as a Hawkeye, reeling in five catches for 77 yards — said it was hard to see Ibrahim run all over Iowa’s normally stout rush defense. 

“He’s a beast,” Lachey said of Ibrahim. “Just watching him run, I mean, they were getting like four yards a carry. It’s like, second-and-6, third-and-2, first down, you know? … It was tough to watch “ 

Before Saturday’s game, Iowa had not surrendered more than 200 rushing yards in a single game this season. Ibrahim is the first back to gain more than 200 yards rushing in a single game against the Hawkeyes since Wisconsin’s Johnathan Taylor gashed Iowa’s defense for 250 yards in 2019.

“From a rush defense standpoint, it was probably one of our worst performances on the year,” senior defensive back Kaevon Merriweather said. “I think, especially in the back end, we missed some of our fits, where we were supposed to be, some plays we should have made that just allowed them to get in the open field and make those huge runs.”