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EAST LANSING, MICH. – The history books tell us that it was the Visigoths who destroyed Sparta.

On Saturday, that distinction belonged to a football team from Minneapolis, led by a balding 23-year-old quarterback, that dominated the Spartans of Michigan State in a 34-7 thrashing in front of 74,587 stunned and silenced onlookers.

Tanner Morgan completed 23 of 26 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns as the Gophers showed in the Big Ten opener that there's substance in their 4-0 start. They've outscored opponents by a combined 183-24 and made a statement with their play that they intend to be contenders for the conference title.

Along with Morgan, the Gophers got another strong performance from running back Mohamed Ibrahim, who rushed 21 times for 100 yards and a touchdown for his 13th consecutive 100-yard rushing game.

Then there's the Gophers defense, which limited the Spartans (2-2, 0-1) to 240 yards and forced three turnovers, two when MSU had the ball in Minnesota territory. The Gophers nearly had their second shutout of the season, but Spartans backup QB Noah Kim threw a 27-yard TD pass to Germie Bernard with 17 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

No matter, coach P.J. Fleck's team enters next week's homecoming game against Purdue with a resounding answer to those who questioned who they've beaten.

"I've got to take my hat off to our players," Fleck said. "They just played incredibly hard. And I couldn't be more proud of them right now in this moment."

In playing their first game without top wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell, the Gophers were in control from the get-go, driving 77 and 75 yards on their first two possessions for a 14-0 lead, stunning a team that was ranked No. 11 in the country two weeks ago.

Leading that charge was Morgan, the sixth-year senior who's having a huge bounce-back season under offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca. Morgan completed nine of his first 10 passes for 111 yards and a touchdown. With his favorite receiver out for the season, Morgan spread the ball around to 10 different pass-catchers.

"I've been saying it for a long time now. We have a lot of guys that can go make plays for us," Morgan said.

Morgan should include himself in that group. Along with his passing efficiency, he did some damage with his feet, too. His 15-yard scramble in the first quarter kept the chains moving on a third-and-12 situation, and on the next play he found Daniel Jackson for a 23-yard touchdown, the first of the receiver's two TD grabs.

"I love it because it's fun," Morgan said. "It's football, and I get an opportunity to show my guys that I'll put my body on the line to get a first down just like they do every single play."

The Gophers opened the scoring with Ibrahim's 2-yard TD in the first quarter. It was the 41st rushing TD of his career, breaking a tie with Darrell Thompson for the school record. Jackson's first TD followed, and the Gophers ended a dominant first quarter outgaining Michigan State 169-1.

Matthew Trickett's 26-yard field goal stretched the lead to 17-0 early in the second quarter.

Michigan State went up-tempo on its third possession and got its first two first downs, but Gophers cornerback Justin Walley intercepted Payton Thorne's fourth-and-4 pass from the Minnesota 46.

"We had to go out there and execute the game plan in the best of our ability," said linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin, who led the Gophers with nine tackles. "And I think we did exactly that."

Thorne and the Spartans came out throwing in the second half, driving to the Gophers 6 before Minnesota's defense responded when Thomas Rush forced the QB to fumble and Walley recovered at the 10.

"We had three [turnovers] today, and that's about what we should have every week," Walley said.

After the turnover, the Gophers drove 90 yards on 12 plays, draining 6:53 from the clock and extending their lead to 24-0 on Morgan's 6-yard TD pass to tight end Nick Kallerup.

Gophers defensive end Danny Striggow quickly followed with a highlight-reel play, sticking a hand out and intercepting Thorne's screen pass to give Minnesota the ball at the MSU 28. Morgan hit Jackson on a curl route for a 4-yard TD pass and 31-0 lead. Trickett added a 22-yard field goal with 1:48 to play, finishing a 15-play drive that lasted 10:37.

Afterward, Fleck raved about his team's effort and Morgan's growth.

"I love that Tanner just continues to thrive and continues to find ways to make his game better,'' he said.