Throughout his Gophers career, Mohamed Ibrahim has gained the tough yards in big games.

He churned out 121 yards to help beat Wisconsin for Paul Bunyan's Axe in 2018. He powered his way to 140 against Auburn in the Outback Bowl at the end of the 2019 season. And finally, he gained 163 in three quarters of work in Thursday's opener against Ohio State.

That, unfortunately for Ibrahim and the Gophers, will be it for the running back in 2021. Coach P.J. Fleck on Monday announced that Ibrahim will miss the remainder of the season because of a lower left leg injury suffered late in the third quarter of Minnesota's 45-31 loss to the fourth-ranked Buckeyes. Ibrahim will undergo surgery on Tuesday.

"There is no replacing Mohamed Ibrahim,'' Fleck said. "He's a special, special player.''

Though Fleck would not give specifics on the injury, it is believed to be a torn Achilles' tendon.

Ibrahim was not available for comment but posted on Twitter: "what if everything you are going through is preparing you for what you've asked for?''

Ibrahim, the reigning Big Ten running back of the year and a player Fleck considered the best running back in the country, was injured with 37 seconds left in the third quarter on his 30th carry of the game. He went down after making a cut and pushing off with his left leg. Ibrahim tried to limp off the field but fell to the ground and was tended to by the team's athletic training staff.

Fleck described the injury as "not career ending. He'll make a full recovery from it, but you feel really, really bad for the young man.''

Ibrahim had rushed for touchdowns of 1 and 19 yards against Ohio State, the performance raising his career totals to 3,003 rushing yards and 33 rushing TDs. The yardage ranks eighth in program history and the TD total is tied for third. Last year, he averaged 153.7 rushing yards per game, which ranked second nationally, and earned third-team All-America honors from the Associated Press.

A redshirt senior from Baltimore, Ibrahim will have a year of eligibility remaining in 2022 if he chooses to use it and could apply for a medical hardship waiver to gain an additional year. The NCAA did not charge players a year of eligibility in the COVID-19-impacted 2020 season.

"Whether he comes back [to Minnesota] or goes to the NFL, it's a choice he'll make,'' Fleck said. "Not now, but later.''

With Ibrahim out, the Gophers will turn to the depth behind him to fill in, and that consists of a quintet of runners with varying degrees of experience but none nowhere near the 547 carries Ibrahim has in his career.

Trey Potts rushed 10 times for 34 yards and caught one pass for 12 yards Thursday, giving him 206 career rushing yards, while fellow redshirt sophomore Cam Wiley carried three times for 4 yards vs. Ohio State and has 215 career yards.

Bryce Williams, a redshirt junior, rushed once for a 2-yard touchdown Thursday and has 541 career yards, including a 33-carry, 141-yard effort against Miami (Ohio) as a true freshman making his first start in 2018. Also in the mix could be redshirt freshman Ky Thomas and true freshman Mar'Keise "Bucky'' Irving.

"It's a great challenge to our other backs, a great challenge to everybody else on the team, and everybody else is going to have to be able to play a little bit harder, a little bit better, but that's what a team is,'' Fleck said.

Fleck said Ibrahim was doing well after the disappointing news.

"He's not feeling bad for himself,'' Fleck said. "He plays the game as hard as he possibly can, and he has no regrets.''