The Minnesota Golden Gophers (11-2, 7-2) defeated the Auburn Tigers (9-4, 5-3) 31-24 on New Years Day in the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium.
The game started as many have at Raymond James Stadium this season - with a turnover. After Auburn won they toss and defered, Minnesota elected to receive. Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan's pass was intercepted by Javaris Davis at the Minnesota 36 before being returned to the Minnesota 12. The Golden Gophers got their first big win of the game when their defense stood strong and forced Auburn to hit a field goal to take an early 3-0 lead. Minnesota then used their next drive to drive down the field and get a 40-yard field goal to tie the game 3-3.
Auburn then responded with a dynamic play, as Noah Igbinoghene returned the kickoff 96-yards for a touchdown, the longest kickoff return in the history of the Outback Bowl, to take a 10-3 lead. Minnesota was able to tie the game when Mohamed Ibrahim got a 16-yard touchdown with 4:05 to go in the first quarter, and this game was off to a dynamic start.
Heading into the second quarter tied 10-10, Auburn was unable to get anything going on their first drive. Minnesota was then able to drive the ball deep int Auburn terrioty - after a couple of plays were called touchdowns on the field but overturned on review, the Golden Gophers finally got a short touchdown pass to Bryce Witham to take a 17-10 lead. Auburn answered on the very next drive, when Bo Nix hit Sal Cannella for a 37-yard touchdown to tie the game 17-17. Then it was Minnesota once again, as wide receiver Tyler Johnson began making key play after key play, and he finally came through with a 2-yard touchdown to take a 24-17 lead that would be the score going into halftime.
In the third quarter Auburn was able to tie the game 24-24 thanks to a 3-yard touchdown from JaTarvious Whitlow that made it a tie game going into the final frame. As the fourth quarter progressed, it was once again Tyler Johnson coming through with the game-changing play. He pulled in a tremendous 73-yard touchdown pass to give the Golden Gophers the 31-24 lead with 10:26 to go in the game. Auburn was not able to do anything on the ensuing possession, giving Minnesta the ball back with 8:38 to go in the game. The Golden Gophers never gave Auburn another opportunity to touch the football, as they orchestrated a tremendous 16 play, 68 yard drive to take the final eight minutes off the clock before taking a pair of knees to secure the win.
Tyler Johnson was named the MVP of the Outback Bowl with his impressive stat line that included 12 catches for 204 yards and two touchdowns in his final game as a Minnesota Golden Gopher.