Game Day: Nebraska vs. Minnesota

The upper hand

Minnesota plays well in the trenches, but the Gophers have holes the Huskers can exploit. Will the NU offense — led by whichever quarterback is at the helm — be able to find those openings against a relentless Gophers team? The potential return of Taylor Martinez, who has missed Nebraska's past three games, could give the Huskers a boost.

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2-Minute Drill by Sam McKewon

Nebraska rush offense vs. Minnesota rush defense

The Huskers have the Big Ten's second best rushing team, averaging 284 yards per game, while Minnesota gives up 123 rushing yards per game. Anchored by the league's best defensive tackle, Ra'Shede Hageman, the Gophers can gum up rush lanes. But they lack great speed at linebacker and safety to run down Ameer Abdullah or Taylor Martinez, should he play. NU is missing its top lineman, Spencer Long. Edge: Minnesota

Nebraska pass offense vs. Minnesota pass defense

Martinez feasted on the Gophers' defense last year, throwing for 308 yards. Since Minnesota will likely attempt to take away the run game, the Huskers' receivers — better than Minnesota's defensive backs — should be in for a big day. Edge: Nebraska

Minnesota rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

The Gophers have had success running the ball this year against bad teams in nonconference play, but in three Big Ten games, they've averaged just 114 yards per game and 2.92 yards per carry. Two running backs — Rodrick Williams and Donnell Kirkwood — have been hobbled with injuries. Edge: Nebraska

Minnesota pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

Ranked 121st nationally in passing yards, Minnesota's passing game is wholly complimentary to the run game. Gophers quarterbacks Philip Nelson and Mitch Leidner have played extensively; neither is dynamic. The Huskers' corners are the strength of the defense; the safeties will have to watch play-action. Edge: Nebraska

Special teams

With a kick and punt return touchdown to his credit this year, Minnesota defensive back Marcus Jones is a guy to fear. The Gophers' punting and place-kicking game is solid. Nebraska kicker Pat Smith remains relatively untested in field goals, though NU kickoff specialist Mauro Bondi and punter Sam Foltz have been solid. Edge: Minnesota

Intangibles

Minnesota coach Jerry Kill has taken a leave of absence to manage and treat his epilepsy, but he's still around practice, and it's unclear whether he or interim head coach Tracy Claeys will make key decisions Saturday. Nebraska's coming off a bye. Traditionally, Bo Pelini's team do well in that scenario. Edge: Nebraska

Key matchup: Nebraska's defensive line vs. Minnesota's offensive line

The Gophers don't have great offensive skill players, but they do boast one of the bigger, better lines in the league. Nebraska's defensive line is young and at times inconsistent. But it's also talented, and armed with an extra bye week of coaching. The Huskers have shut down Minnesota's run game for the last two years.

Nebraska wins if ...

it shuts down Minnesota's run game. If the Gophers can't run, they won't score much.

Minnesota wins if ...

it runs the ball well, hits a few big passes, and keeps NU's speedy skill players in check.

Our take

Nebraska has whipped Minnesota by 27 and 24 points in the last two years, and although the Gophers are fielding their best team under Kill, they haven't closed the gap enough. Regardless of which quarterback plays the most snaps — Taylor Martinez, Ron Kellogg or Tommy Armstrong — the Huskers should have enough offense to win another road game.

Our prediction: Nebraska 27, Minnesota 13

Live updates

 

Videos

Extras

Printable rosters

Looking for a handy reference guide that you can take to the game? Check out our two-page printable roster, sorted by jersey number and including height, weight, year in school, hometown and high school information. Click here »

Game notes

Check out a PDF of the game notes for the Nebraska-Minnesota game provided by the Huskers athletic department. Click here »

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Listen: BRT Podcast

In this week’s edition of "The Big Red Today Podcast," Sam McKewon joins host Jon Nyatawa to examine Nebraska’s defense — can the Huskers build on last week’s improvement? Jon and Sam then venture off on a few tangents: Northwestern’s ticket-selling strategy, the aesthetic appeal of Purdue’s athletic campus, the formation of the college football selection committee and more. Click here »

Recruiting updates

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Big Ten coverage

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Big Red Today coverage

Highlights: Bo Pelini, Huskers press conference

Watch Monday's press conference with Nebraska volleyball coach John Cook, football coach Bo Pelini and Husker football players.

Bo Pelini

Volleyball coach John Cook

Ameer Abdullah

Tommy Armstrong

Corey ...

Lunch with Tom: Replay

Hungry for some sports chat? Replay Monday's “Lunch with Tom’’ featuring columnist Tom Shatel.

Live Blog Lunch with Tom: 10 a.m.

Q&A with Husker quarterback Ryker Fyfe

The backup quarterback notched his first career touchdown pass at Fresno State, connecting with Christian Bailey on a 10-yard throw in the fourth quarter. The sophomore from Grand Island has ...

Nyatawa: Extra attention to special teams paying off

LINCOLN — Nebraska’s dramatic improvement in the punt return game goes well beyond the elusive and instinctive freshman fielding the football.

That is an observation not meant to discount the ...

Nebraska secondary rushes to 
pass challenge

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Neither cared for it to stop, either.

The Nebraska starting cornerbacks spend an awful lot ...

Notes: Huskers catching up on sleep since end of Fresno State victory

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Yeah, that ...

QB Armstrong is a runner on the rise for Nebraska

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Shatel: Nebraska charges up neat promotion for Abdullah

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Huskers return to AP Top 25

Nebraska has made it back into the Associated Press Top 25 poll after being knocked out last week.

The Huskers came in at No. 24 in the AP poll this ...

Huskers roll past Fresno State

FRESNO, Calif. — In the unyielding heat of the night, a sweat-drenched, sellout crowd fanned themselves with game programs, wrappers, hats and anything else they could find discarded in the rows ...

Barfknecht: Players try to blot out Big Ten’s mediocrity

FORT WORTH, Texas — In 2016, the Big Ten will increase the number of conference games for each school from eight to nine.

Some coaches and athletic directors already have suggested ...

Barfknecht's Big Ten rankings, Sept. 15

World-Herald Big Ten beat writer Lee Barfknecht ranks the conference after the third week of college football action.

* * *

1. Michigan State (1-1)

Last week: Idle. This week: Eastern Michigan, 11 ...

McKewon: Huskers must flush Fresno, keep focus on Miami

IN THE AIR OVER DEATH VALLEY, Calif. — We’re at 32,000 feet, a 22-month-old is howling in the cabin like Bo Pelini’s cat before a scratch fight, the ...

Husker Talk Live: Game Day replay

Log on at 8 p.m. for the Husker game day chat to track live updates before and throughout Nebraska's 9:30 p.m. showdown with Fresno State.

Want ...

Huskers set to see smaller crowd in Fresno

The limitations of Bulldog Stadium will result in Nebraska playing in front of one of the smaller crowds on Saturday night that it has seen in the last 15 years ...

Tracking the Husker offense, defense

World-Herald staff writer Rich Kaipust takes a look at Nebraska's effort on both sides of the ball during the Huskers' 55-19 win over Fresno State.

* * *

TRACKING THE OFFENSE

The ...

Barfknecht: Gophers, Big Ten still don’t measure up

FORT WORTH, Texas — Minnesota coach Jerry Kill wanted little to do with Saturday’s football game at TCU long before it was played.

He wanted even less of it as ...

Chatelain: On hot night in Fresno, the Huskers make some needed strides

Turnovers lost. Punt returns.

Who, even inside the Osborne Complex, could’ve foreseen this kind of improvement?

In 2013, the Huskers were 112th in turnovers lost: 29 giveaways. Only 10 ...

Nebraska-Fresno State: Five things we learned, don't know

Five things we learned and five things we still don’t know coming out of Saturday's Nebraska-Fresno State football game.

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Five things we learned

1. Nebraska’s found a ...

From the sidelines: Husker skill players follow Ameer’s orders to start fast against Fresno State

Ameer Abdullah was an angry man when he entered Bulldog Stadium for Saturday’s pregame warmups.

The final tweet by Nebraska’s senior I-back gave a hint to his mindset ...

Shatel: On trip to Twilight Zone, Huskers sap the drama, create feel-good ending

FRESNO, Calif. — Start the bus. Head to the airport. Don’t look back. Don’t come back.

The Fresno State trip is over, and Nebraska not only survived, but was ...

Notes: Walk-on Lane Hovey steps up; Kalu shines in start; Gregory sees 'dirty' play

FRESNO, Calif. — Nebraska’s health issues in its receiving corps resulted in an unlikely contributor Saturday.

Sophomore walk-on Lane Hovey caught a career-high three passes for 48 yards in the ...

Bolstered by Gregory's return, Husker defensive line has succesful 'hunt' at Fresno

FRESNO, Calif. — Fresno State started Saturday night’s game with five receivers, nobody left in the backfield to help its offensive line and a quarterback who was going to throw ...

Big gains help Huskers pound Dogs' all-or-nothing defensive attack

FRESNO, Calif. — On the third snap of the game, Fresno State’s defenders swarmed Ameer Abdullah in the backfield, dropping the Husker I-back for a 2-yard loss.

Suddenly, the Nebraska ...

Fresno offense wants to find quality in its quantity; young defense has room to grow

FRESNO, Calif. — About all Fresno State did with 21 more snaps than Nebraska on Saturday night was make everyone wait a little longer for a result they knew before halftime ...

Big Red Breakfast: Warren says Huskers have strong appeal in Deep South

Charlton Warren recruits the Deep South for Nebraska football. And even in the land of mild winters and SEC football, the Huskers’ new secondary coach says he sells a product ...

Mad Chatter: Time for the Big Ten to wake up and solve its football problem

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Shatel: After 30 years, it’s a homecoming for Steve Taylor

Fresno Week. Steve Taylor Week.

Congrats, Steve.

This must be the return trip that Tom Osborne promised back in 1984, when he recruited you to play quarterback at Nebraska. You ...

Who will show up? Huskers focus on splitting up with split personality

LINCOLN — The letdown. Nebraska coach Bo Pelini worried about it all last week.

He’s been around too long to assume that even the most dedicated and focused athletes won ...

Barfknecht: With Big Ten down, Nebraska has chance to rise to top

Dear Nebraska football program:

The Big Ten has a deal for you.

This league, besides accepting you for membership starting in 2011, has decided to run in place since you ...