BOULDER, Colo. — After Colorado’s seventh punt Saturday, many of their white-clad students headed for the exits with nearly a full quarter left to play at Folsom Field. It meant an already large contingent of Gopher fans, who weren’t leaving this party early, could be closer to being the stadium’s majority.
Thousands of maroon-and gold fans bid adieu to their counterparts by singing “The Rouser.”
On the field, the Gophers were putting the finishing touches on a dominating 30-0 win over the Buffaloes for Minnesota’s first road shutout against a Power Five Conference opponent since a 21-0 win at Illinois in 1977, and its first against a Pac-12 program since a 20-0 win at Washington in 1948.
Afterward, Minnesota fans eager to greet players next to the field accidentally broke the rusted metal railing in front of section 103 of the nearly 100-year-old venue. No one was hurt, a stadium official said, and some Gopher fans apologized, the latest example of Minnesota Nice.
“I know it wasn’t malicious or anything,” Minnesota linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin said. “When we talk about our fans believing in us and supporting us, it shows right there. … I hope Colorado can get that fixed.”
The pro-Gophers contingent might have accounted for roughly 10-12,000 of the announced crowd of 47,842, and the scene was reminiscent of the large turnout for the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day 2020. On the foothills of the Rocky Mountains on Saturday, the Minnesota fans finished the game off with the “Row The Boat” chant — just like they did in Tampa, Fla., 20 months ago.
Minnesota was a 2.5-point underdog to the Pac-12 foe who nearly knocked off now-No. 7 Texas A&M last week, but the Gophers easily passed its biggest non-conference test of the season.
The Gophers (2-1) used a dominating defensive performance to extend the nation-leading 21-game non-conference winning streak. After losing the opener to Ohio State, they played much better than in the narrow win over Miami (Ohio) last week and can complete a 3-for-3 non-conference sweep against Bowling Green next Saturday.
Colorado (1-2) was shutout for the first time since 2012 and they managed only 63 total yards. They were held to minus-19 rushing yards when factoring in Minnesota’s four sacks. Those Buffalo fans who left early didn’t see their eighth and final punt, their punt returner muffing a catch to give the ball back to Minnesota for a field goal, and the Buffaloes offense turning the ball over on downs. In other words, they missed nothing positive.
“What our defensive team did, what our defensive coaches did, our players, was a wonderful performance,” Fleck said of a shutout closed out by backups.
Running back Trey Potts scored three touchdowns — two in the first half to provide a 13-0 halftime lead and his third gave Minnesota a commanding 20-0 lead late in the third quarter. He accounted for 121 of Minnesota’s 277 rushing yards.
Minnesota’s blowout could have had seven more points on the board, with kicker Matthew Trickett missing three kicks: two field goals and an extra point. That, and Tanner Morgan throwing for only 164 yards, were the only elements that kept it from being a complete-game performance.
After producing none in the first two games, the Gophers had four sacks Saturday, each ending first-half drives. They added four other tackles for lost yards across the game, had four pass break-ups and recovered a fumble they forced.
The suffocating defense allowed the on-site Gophers fans to think about where to continue the party on the bar-filled Pearl Street in this college town on Saturday night.
“A third of this stadium was filled with maroon and gold,” Fleck estimated. “This isn’t just across the border. This is a flight, people take time out of their entire weekend. Just so proud of our fans and kept us going all the way through the game.”