Last year Maryland defeated Virginia Tech in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium and set a record for points in their 54-10 win, the largest margin of victory since the game’s inception. Thursday afternoon in the Bronx, Minnesota and Syracuse did not surpass that record.
Instead there were a few personal records set on the field. And not like the inaugural game, when 38,274 attended (December 30, 2010) then Syracuse defeated Kansas State, this one was played before 31,110 fans, the second smallest crowd for this annual bowl game.
Then again, this is the college football Bowl season and Syracuse has always accepted the invite, having been here two previous times. The Yankees and a major sponsor will take any number of schools to be a part of this,
And Syracuse from the ACC, also has that following and a history in the Bronx. The Orange defeated Pittsburgh many years ago (October 20, 1923), 3-0 in the inaugural college football game at the original Yankee Stadium.
But these Golden Gophers, with the second ranked offense in the Big Ten Conference, took the Pinstripe trophy with a 28-20 win. Though this is not a major college bowl game on the schedule, you can’t say that to the coaches and players.
Two schools continued to play in late December, on the cold turf at Yankee Stadium, and that alone is a statement. But Notre Dame versus Rutgers before 47,122 fans in 2013, and a year later the Penn State 31-30 overtime win over Boston College, with a record 49,012 in the stands, still stand as memorable Pinstripe Bowls.
So the Golden Gophers went in the record books, more so Mohamed Ibrahim, who, with a touchdown and 71 yards, became Minnesota’s all-time rushing leader and finished his career with 4,668 yards and 53 rushing touchdowns.
At Yankee Stadium and in the Pinstripe Bowl that is sacred. Maryland and quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa took home MVP honors last year with 20-of 24 passes (2 TD’s) and 42 rushing yards, not a record but fun to watch.
“It’s not something that I circled,” Ibrahim commented when asked about his record breaking day in the Bronx. “I just took it week by week, just doing my job, executing the game plan and one game lead-up to another and it just adds up.”
His 320 rushing attempts also established a Minnesota school record, now fifth in rushing TDs in the Big Ten. His 10-yard run with a little over two minutes remaining in the first half broke a record, and there was a nice 4-yard run with 13:39 remaining in the half.
A major accomplishment and Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck, fifth in program history with wins, said his All-American running back is an overachiever. And the achievement for a record at the Pinstripe Bowl.
“There’s nothing you can tell me that he can’t do,” Fleck said. “And that goes back to his recruiting process. I bet you there’s a lot of people that would like Mohamed Ibrahim on their team, There could be a lot of NFL teams that would like him on their team.”
The Golden Gophers are 11-12 in their history of Bowl games, now with six straight wins and the second longest streak in the country next to Alabama.
“Well we did win,” Fleck said. “The whole goal was to be 1-0, right? Everybody is going to compare it. We’re going to say be 1-0. We were today 1-0 against Syracuse. That’s all we wanted to focus on.”
But nothing beats winning that final game of the season and getting a win at Yankee Stadium in the Pinstripe Bowl. Defending champions have returned to the Bronx and more records have been established.
And that Golden win for the Gophers
Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso. Watch “Sports With Rich” with Rich and co-host Robert Rizzo Tuesday evening live 8pmET on the SLG Network and YouTube