Game Day: Nebraska vs. Minnesota

Well-grounded Gophers

Minnesota coach Jerry Kill’s gritty group can trip up teams with more talent. So the Gophers keep burrowing away, and Saturday they enter Memorial Stadium for an 11 a.m. kickoff with Nebraska — with their West Division destiny under their control.

READ MORE »

2-Minute Drill by Sam McKewon

Nebraska rush offense vs. Minnesota rush defense

If there's one weakness the Gophers would appear to have on the defensive side, it would be a penchant to give up big runs if their talented trio of linebackers can't make a play. Minnesota's smallish defensive line should have trouble with an inconsistent-but-occasionally-strong Husker offensive line. Ameer Abdullah is healthy enough to play, and he made a few nifty plays against Wisconsin when he had the room. NU needs more out of quarterback Tommy Armstrong in the run game.

Nebraska pass offense vs. Minnesota pass defense

The Gophers boast one of the best pass defenses in the Big Ten, and should against use a man-to-man style against Nebraska, daring the Huskers to hit big plays or perfectly execute screen passes. Minnesota's secondary, which includes Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Cedric Thompson, should match up well against Nebraska's wide receivers. Armstrong has struggled mightily in the throwing game, so look for offensive coordinator Tim Beck to give him some early rhythm throws to boost his confidence.

Minnesota rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

The Gophers only average 4.77 yards per carry — which ranks 39th nationally — but they are dogged in their pursuit of the running game. They'll pound and pound, specifically with running back David Cobb and quarterback Mitch Leidner. Nebraska's run defense had actually held up well this year — until Wisconsin, where the Huskers gave up 581 rushing yards and 408 to Melvin Gordon alone. Will that NU defense show up in Lincoln? Don't bet on it. But running is what Minnesota does.

Minnesota pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

The Gophers run to set up the playaction pass, but let's not kid ourselves: Leidner is no Joe Montana, or Rickey Foggie for that matter. As big as Minnesota's wideouts are, and as good as tight end Maxx Williams is, Nebraska still has the kind of pass defense that frustrates most excellent quarterbacks, much less a throwing running back like Leidner.

Special teams

Nebraska has made more strides in special teams this year than any other unit, and it shows in a consistent victory in the battle for field position. That said, Minnesota has an elite punter in Peter Mortell, who leads the Big Ten in gross punting average. Gophers kicker Ryan Santoso has range beyond 50 yards on field goals. Nebraska's coverage units have been strong all season, and De'Mornay Pierson-El is one of the best punt returners in college football.

Intangibles

It's Senior Day at Nebraska, and such a fact seemed to derail Minnesota back in 2012 when the Gophers made their first visit to Memorial Stadium in decades. Minnesota won't be cowed this time — not after beating Nebraska 34-23 last year. The Huskers are coming off their worst game in nearly two seasons, and the collective attitude of the team this week hovered between wanting to forget what happened at Wisconsin and wanting to gird against the inevitable criticism of losing another game. It's not a good mental state.

Key matchup: Minnesota's running game vs. Nebraska's defense

The Gophers want to pound the ball, burn up the clock, and force the opposing offense to execute. If Minnesota is able to run the ball for 200-plus yards, Nebraska's offensive efficiency — which has been lousy lately — had better be nails. NU's defense again has to carry the load.

Our take

Nebraska has the athletes and talent to beat Minnesota by two touchdowns. Don't bet on it. The Gophers have a style that frustrates many opponents, including the Huskers. A fourth-quarter game awaits, but Nebraska will be tough enough to pull it out. Remember: The Huskers are pretty good at winning close games.

Our prediction: Nebraska 24-17

Live updates

Live Blog Husker Talk Live: Game Day

Videos

Extras

Live: TBL pregame, postgame

"The Bottom Line" pregame show with Mike’l Severe will broadcast live Saturday from the Lincoln Railyard at 9:30 a.m., then tune in after the game for a complete breakdown and call-in show. 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 »

Husker History

Find information on every win, loss and tie in Husker history. With historical World-Herald front pages, photos, stories, key stats and more, our ever-growing Husker History page is your new home for taking a look back into the history of one of the nation's most tradition-rich programs.Click here »

On social media

Check out the Big Red Today page on Facebook to discuss the latest news with the top Husker fans, and follow us on Twitter to get instant updates and analysis whenever news breaks.

BRT app

iPhone and Android users, get your Husker updates on the go by downloading our free Big Red Today app from the App Store and the Google Play store. Omaha.com/BRTapp and Omaha.com/android

Recruiting updates

Visit the Big Red Today recruiting page to find the latest updates on potential future Huskers, including player cards for those athletes already committed. Click here »

Email alerts

Sign up for the Big Red Today email newsletter to get the Husker news, analysis, daily headlines and more delivered to your inbox. Click here »

Big Ten coverage

Look for additional updates on our Big Ten page to get the best coverage of the conference from both The World-Herald and some of the best writers from across the country. Click here »

Big Red Today coverage

All the recruits: How the Huskers' 2018 commits fared in high school games this week (Aug. 18)

A player-by-player look at how all 10 of Nebraska's 2018 recruits performed, individually and as a team, during games played during Nebraska's bye week.

McKewon: Husker defensive coordinator Bob Diaco has a plan, and the Blackshirts have a new vibe

Camp Feel Good. That’s the Huskers’ training camp in 2017. The players walk with a collective pep, which is odd for the August grind. Whether it lasts into the season remains to be seen, but Bob Diaco has jolted the…

Competition suits Nebraska tight ends to a tee with each Husker battling to start

Time spent on tee boxes and greens this summer is starting to help the Husker tight ends. The summer camaraderie is spilling onto the football field as Jack Stoll, Connor Ketter, Tyler Hoppes and the rest compete for the starting…

Shatel: Former Husker Adam Carriker has lots to offer in new career path

Adam Carriker will appear on Omaha.com and “The Bottom Line,” offering opinions on Nebraska football, breaking down games, answering fans’ questions and posting video reaction after games. If you haven’t ever heard him, you’re going to love him.

Recruiting: Wait winding down for Nebraska commit Cameron Jurgens

It's been more than two years since Cameron Jurgens committed to Nebraska, and the time is fast approaching when he'll officially become a Husker.

Husker redshirt freshman receiver JD Spielman ready for test after months of study

Fake it till you make it. The motto flashed through JD Spielman’s mind often during his first 12 months as a college football player. So far, there has been more pretending than the speedy wide receiver cares to admit.

WR Manuel Allen dumps Nebraska, another chapter in Huskers' receiver recruiting drama

Nebraska's 2018 recruiting class got smaller Thursday evening when Corona (Calif.) Centennial wide receiver Manuel Allen announced on Twitter he was decommiting from NU and flipping to Louisville.

Husker notes: Freshman receiver Tyjon Lindsey proves to be fast learner; New looks for offensive line

A big play at Nebraska’s Thursday practice pitted two top-100 recruits against each other.

Huskers' Dicaprio Bootle pushing for big role; small corner likes ‘beating up receivers’

He’s not a tall cornerback. He’s not built like a safety. Dicaprio Bootle is one of the smaller scholarship players on Nebraska’s 2017 roster, which lists him at 5-foot-10, 185 pounds. The height seems a little generous.

Recruiting: Nebraska pursuing several 500-mile radius defensive targets for its 2018 class

The Huskers have recently offered a pair of defensive recruits from bordering states, continuing a push to close out the class on that side of the ball with targets from within the 500-mile radius.

Husker notes: Bray says linebackers are making strides; Freedom’s role in new defense and more

If and when Nebraska needs depth at linebacker, Trent Bray is more confident than ever in maintaining quality. The NU linebackers coach said Tuesday that the “4” part of Bob Diaco’s 3-4 defense has made noticeable strides in the last…

Recruiting: Nebraska extends scholarship offer to Iowa's No. 1-rated recruit

Nebraska made an entry Monday night into the recruitment of consensus four-star John Waggoner. He's the top-ranked recruit in Iowa, according to all the major recruiting services.

Barfknecht: After standout season, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley is only getting better

Note to Big Ten defensive coordinators: Don’t read this column at meal time. Maybe don’t peruse it at all, so you can dodge the queasy feeling that comes with figuring out ways to slow down Penn State running back Saquon…

NU punter Caleb Lightbourn years ahead of last season, responding to approach of new Husker coaches

Lightbourn’s reality changed in the spring, when new defensive coordinator Bob Diaco said he would coach punters directly. For Diaco, every detail makes a difference.

Shatel: A head-to-toe NU volleyball indoctrination; If he plays, no mop-up time for freshman QB Gebbia

It’s no secret Nebraska volleyball stands out from the other Husker sports. There are reasons for that. I might have found another one.

Speedy junior Mikale Wilbon having ‘very good camp’ in four-way battle for Husker running back job

Already having established himself as Nebraska’s fastest running back, Mikale Wilbon has been working to earn another title before the Sept. 2 opener against Arkansas State.

McKewon: With Adidas deal and coming Big Ten windfall, A.D. Shawn Eichorst has vision for Huskers’ future

Nebraska just got three times as much money and Adidas apparel per year at a time when the Big Ten’s full share is about to kick in. How did Shawn Eichorst pull that off?

Husker sophomore Mohamed Barry works to master inside linebacker role so instincts take over

With a chance to make significant contributions in Nebraska’s new 3-4 defense, Mohamed Barry has been fine-tuning two areas of his game.

Intensity of Huskers’ youthful but experienced defensive staff rubs off on players

Mike Riley has never worked with a group of defensive assistants this young. All played college football in the not-so-distant past. All are well-regarded recruiters eager to meet prospects. In the months that the staff has been together, team workouts…

Husker notes: Young Huskers exuding confidence as Nebraska takes step forward with Saturday's scrimmage

Coach Mike Riley said NU worked on third-down, red zone and “high red zone” plays — those start around the opponents’ 40-yard line — and mixed in a few drives. Unlike Thursday, when the offense struggled at times to deal…

Mike Riley 'real impressed' with Tristan Gebbia as true freshman makes case to be Huskers' backup QB

While playing as a true freshman wouldn’t be “the best thing for him,” quarterback Tristan Gebbia has impressed coaches so much during the first half of training camp that they’d consider pulling his redshirt if needed.

Nebraska chancellor expects Huskers will never host Friday night football game

At the University of Nebraska Board of Regents meeting Friday, UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green told regents he'd been talking with the Big Ten, which created the Friday night TV package with Fox Sports 1, and does not think NU will…

TBL: Husker commit Cameron Brown done with recruiting, says Nebraska feels like home

Cameron Brown made one commitment to Nebraska that only lasted a month, so now that he has rejoined the Huskers' 2018 recruiting class, is he going to stick this time?

NU regents approve 11-year, $128 million deal to keep Huskers with Adidas

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln will stay in an exclusive contract with Adidas and will get more than $128 million in cash and goods over 11 years.

Injuries to wide receivers put Huskers in 'bit of a bind,' Mike Riley says

Nebraska wants to open up its passing playbook this season, and NU coaches believe Tanner Lee is the quarterback who can do it. But NU is running low on healthy scholarship receivers who can catch Lee’s passes.

Husker freshmen Patrick O'Brien and Tristan Gebbia 'very close' in battle for No. 2 QB spot

Nebraska knows Tanner Lee is its starting quarterback. Offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf hedged Thursday on which backup — between Patrick O’Brien and Tristan Gebbia — is No. 2.

Barfknecht: Injured Wisconsin linebacker Jack Cichy knows underdog role all too well

Sometimes, real life interrupts the best plans of football coaches and columnists. Big Ten West Division favorite Wisconsin got a real-life slap in the face Thursday with news that All-America candidate Jack Cichy is out for the season with a…

Husker notes: Devine Ozigbo’s improved diet pays off; Progress made ‘day by day’

Devine Ozigbo has looked slim and trim this training camp. He’s stayed in the weight room, which has helped, but most importantly, he said, he stayed in Lincoln instead of going home to Sachse, Texas, over the summer.

Shatel: NU assistant Trent Bray’s choice to stay in Lincoln shows Diaco Effect isn’t limited to players

We’re expecting a Diaco Effect this season. That’s why the defensive guru was hired. It’s on his résumé. It’s in his voice. It’s in his coaching. Impact. How long will it take for Diaco to have that impact? Good question.

NU's John Parrella, Blackshirts seeking defensive line depth through versatility behind an established first unit

DaiShon Neal insists he doesn’t get excited for games. Yes, he knows it sounds funny coming from a redshirt sophomore with two career tackles.