Tyler Johnson, No. 18 Minnesota Shock No. 12 Auburn in 31-24 Outback Bowl Win

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJanuary 1, 2020

TAMPA, FLORIDA - JANUARY 01: Mohamed Ibrahim #24 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers rushes during the 2020 Outback Bowl against the Auburn Tigers at Raymond James Stadium on January 01, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Minnesota closed out its dream season with a win in the 2019 Outback Bowl, defeating Auburn 31-24 Wednesday.  

Receiver Tyler Johnson was the best player on the field with 12 catches for 204 yards at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, keying an offense that totaled 494 yards from scrimmage against the No. 14 scoring defense in the FBS. It was enough to give the Golden Gophers their 11th win of the year, the program's most since 1904, in 13 games.

It's only the team's second season of double-digit wins in the past 100 years.

Bo Nix totaled 176 passing yards in the loss for Auburn (9-4) as head coach Gus Malzahn fell to 2-5 in his bowl career, including 0-5 in January.


Notable Stats

  • Tanner Morgan, QB, Minnesota: 19-of-29, 278 passing yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
  • Mohamed Ibrahim, RB, Minnesota: 20 carries, 140 rushing yards, 1 TD
  • Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota: 12 catches, 204 receiving yards, 2 TDs
  • Bo Nix, QB, Auburn: 17-of-26, 176 passing yards, 1 TD
  • JaTarvious Whitlow, RB, Auburn: 9 carries, 24 rushing yards, 1 TD
  • Anthony Schwartz, WR, Auburn: 6 catches, 49 receiving yards


Tyler Johnson Steals Show As Minnesota Torches Auburn Defense  

Only once this year did Auburn allow more than 24 points in a game before Wednesday. The defensive line was known as one of the best in the country, led by All-American Derrick Brown. However, it was the Minnesota offensive line that won the battle in the trenches.

The unit sent a message early on with Mohamed Ibrahim and Rodney Smith picking up big chunks of yardage on the ground.

Brandon Marcello @bmarcello

Auburn is getting gashed by Minnesota's offensive line. Never thought I'd say that about Auburn's defensive line.

Chris Long @ChrisLongKSTP

#Gophers OL, which many pundits figured would have trouble vs Auburn today, is giving Morgan a fair amount of time. Run blocking has been aces as well... esp on the TD and that Smith run right there.

David Pollack @davidpollack47

Minnesota is pounding the rock right at Auburn. Over 100 yards rushing in just over a qtr. Owning Time of possession! 17-10 Minnesota but Auburn has a kick of return for a Td

The Gophers outrushed Auburn 141-5 in the first half and finished with 215 yards on the ground.

This helped open things up for the passing attack, where Tyler Johnson did his damage.

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

ARE YOU KIDDING?!? #SCtop10 https://t.co/M5bAU1a0QM

Eddie Radosevich @Eddie_Rado

Going to be hard to find a better catch this bowl season. Tyler Johnson just did that.

Taylor Budge @Taylor_Budge

We are 13.5 hours into 2020 and Tyler Johnson already has talks of catch of the year.

Rick Gregg @rickgregg

I don't think it hyperbole to say Tyler Johnson just had the catch of the decade. Oh, My,

The senior receiver first turned heads with his acrobatic catch in the back of the end zone.

He then gave the Gophers a fourth-quarter lead with a 73-yard touchdown.

ESPN @espn

WIDE. OPEN. Minnesota is up 31-24 on Auburn in the 4th on ESPN 😤 https://t.co/lAcvwbZ4Ia

Teddy Greenstein @TeddyGreenstein

For all those who think NFL-ready seniors should blow off non-playoff bowl games ... pretty sure Tyler Johnson glad he’s playing in Outback

Johnson had an incredible career at Minnesota and saved one of his best games last to help Minnesota rack up points against an elite opponent.


Freshman Bo Nix Flashes Ability But Can't Generate Enough Offense

Auburn couldn't do much offensively to start the game, only keeping up on the scoreboard thanks to a key special teams play.

Bleacher Report CFB @BR_CFB

AUBURN GOES 96 YARDS FOR 6️⃣ (via @SECNetwork) https://t.co/IEoNugeEHd

The Tigers had 17 points at halftime despite just 110 yards from scrimmage.

Still, Bo Nix kept Auburn in the game with great individual plays.

In the second quarter, Nix found Sal Cannella for a 37-yard touchdown to convert a 4th-and-5 play.

Kevin Scarbinsky @KevinScarbinsky

That's how you move in the pocket and keep your eyes downfield. Touchdown, Auburn. Well done, Bo Nix.

The squad tied the game again in the third quarter after an extended drive led by Nix.

Tom Green @Tomas_Verde

What an impressive drive by Auburn there to tie this game back up. Thirteen plays, 86 yards, capped by a touchdown by Boobee Whitlow out of the Wildcat. Bo Nix made some great decisions and throws on that drive, too.

On a day when the run game provided little help (2.2 yards per carry), Nix was able to make key throws in and outside the pocket.

The problem was the lack of consistency and the inability to sustain drives. The offense finished 3-of-11 on third downs, forcing the team to spend the majority of the game on defense.

The defense also hurt its cause by allowing key conversions on fourth down.

ESPN College Football @ESPNCFB

4th and goal. @GopherFootball rowed right into the end zone 😤🛶 https://t.co/3pjG68m6z5

ESPN College Football @ESPNCFB

What a catch on 4th down 😳 https://t.co/kZwEEfJqqX

Losing the line of scrimmage battle on both sides of the ball led to problems throughout the game.

Nix flashed his potential in the Outback Bowl, but it wasn't enough to come away with a win.