Game Day: Nebraska vs. Minnesota

KEEP IT SIMPLE

Run. Pass. Tackle. The Huskers are ready for Minnesota’s physical challenge, but they’ll have to handle it better than in 2013 or 2014. There’s nothing subtle about the tactics of teams like Minnesota. They want to ram, bash, pummel and maul — for four long quarters.

READ MORE »

2-Minute Drill by Rich Kaipust

Nebraska rush offense vs. Minnesota rush defense

Nebraska owns the second-best mark for yards per carry in the Big Ten at 5.4, but its attack has lacked consistency. The use of fullback Andy Janovich adds to the versatility, and the Huskers would benefit from Tommy Armstrong doing damage on some quarterback runs. Minnesota ranks ninth in the Big Ten in rushing defense at 142.8 yards per game.

Nebraska pass offense vs. Minnesota pass defense

It might be a good time to go after the Gophers' secondary considering its injuries, which include All-Big Ten cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun. The only problem is that the Husker passing offense has gone into a two-week funk, and Armstrong has completed just 35.6 percent of his passes against Big Ten teams. The Minnesota defense has more interceptions than TD passes allowed (six to five), and opponents are completing just 52.8 percent of their throws.

Minnesota rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

Minnesota went for 326 yards last week at Purdue, but against the worst rushing defense in the Big Ten. Nebraska currently ranks third, holding opponents to 95.3 yards per game and 3.3 per carry, and will surely load up against the run this week. The Gophers like freshman back Shannon Brooks (176 yards at Purdue) and their magic number is 200 yards rushing as a team (20-3 under Jerry Kill when reaching that plateau).

Minnesota pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

The Gophers won’t scare many teams with how they throw it, but Nebraska has been shredded by teams just about every week this season. The Huskers would love to make Mitch Leidner throw it 30-plus times, but they thought the same thing with Joel Stave — and the Wisconsin quarterback burned them for 322 yards and a TD. NU will need to make some plays on the ball, hit Leidner a few times and get off the field on third down.

Special teams

Neither team has been effective with its return games, so the edge might simply go to whoever can break anything of substance Saturday. NU is solid with kicker Drew Brown and punter Sam Foltz, but Minnesota leads the Big Ten in net punting at 39.4 yards per kick and Peter Mortell is one of the league’s best.

Intangibles

Nebraska can’t seem to shake this problem it has with penalties, which is currently costing it 82.8 yards per game. The Huskers also haven’t forced a turnover in October. NU, however, ranks near the top of the Big Ten in both red-zone offense and defense, while Minnesota is 13th in both categories. The Gophers also have a negative turnover margin. Injuries have hammered both teams, so hard to say who is better off or worse off there.

Key matchup: Nebraska receivers vs. Minnesota defensive backs

The Husker receivers struggled getting open against Wisconsin, and Minnesota will come with some of the same physical coverage. NU also needs to get Jordan Westerkamp active again after a quiet two weeks, and maybe unleash De’Mornay Pierson-El in his third game back. The Gophers potentially have one of the best secondaries in the Big Ten, but have had to piece together that unit because of a string of injuries.

Our take

Several of the above categories easily could have gone either way, so no surprise that the oddsmakers have this one right around even. Nebraska might have the potential difference-maker with Armstrong, who’s leading the Big Ten in total offense, but the junior needs to find the rhythm that he had going in September. The Huskers easily could be beaten down by the events of recent weeks, but maybe some things start turning around in the second half of the season.

Our prediction: Nebraska 24, Minnesota 13

Live updates

#Huskers on Instagram

Videos

Extras

Live: TBL pregame, postgame

"The Bottom Line" pregame show with Mike’l Severe will start broadcasting live at 1 p.m. Saturday, then tune in after the game for a complete breakdown and call-in show with Mike'l and Joe Ganz. Click here »

Game notes

Check out a PDF of the game notes for the Nebraska-Minnesota matchup provided by the NU 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 Database is your new home for archiving 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. Plus, look back at historical moments in Nebraska football by following @HuskerHistory on Twitter.

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

Husker Talk Live: Replay

World-Herald staff writer Sam McKewon logged on Monday for a special edition of “Husker Talk Live.”

McKewon: Early Top 25 — Week 1 opponents Alabama, Florida State could meet again in playoff

What if I told you that the biggest game on college football’s 2017 opening weekend could easily become a rematch in the College Football Playoff? Same teams — even the same stadium! Alabama and Florida State square off in Atlanta…

Mike Riley, Nebraska moved swiftly to bring in new defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, then keep him in Lincoln

Don’t let him leave the building. As Nebraska coach Mike Riley had an instant, perfect click with Bob Diaco late last week, the prevailing mood among Husker staffers was that Riley, in a whirlwind, had found the man to take…

Mike Riley: Bowl game clinched former Husker defensive coordinator Mark Banker's dismissal

Mike Riley chose to not renew the contract of his longtime defensive coordinator — Mark Banker — after watching film of the Huskers' 38-24 loss to Tennessee in the Music City Bowl.

Video: Mike Riley introduces defensive coordinator Bob Diaco

Watch a replay of the Huskers' press conference as Mike Riley and Bob Diaco take to the podium to discuss Nebraska's new face in the defensive coordinator role.

D’s in his DNA: Bob Diaco relishes return to coordinator role; Mike Riley praises passion, scheme

Nebraska coach Mike Riley turned to Diaco after deciding to part ways with longtime coordinator Mark Banker, and Riley and Diaco appeared at an introductory press conference Friday to discuss the last 10 days and the future of the Husker…

Shatel: Mike Riley continues to change Husker culture, scores another win with Bob Diaco hire

New defensive coordinator Bob Diaco won the room. He won the press conference. And Mike Riley won. Again. He’s gone 6-7 and 9-4 in two seasons. But in the offseason Riley is a sparkling 2-0.

Recruiting: Tyjon Lindsey leads all Husker commits in final rankings, but highly-rated targets remain available

247Sports, Rivals and Scout have all released their final batch of rankings of the nation’s top college football prospects, and Tyjon Lindsey leads the way among Husker commits according to all four services.

McKewon: Billy Devaney's recruiting role grew with Huskers after key staff departure

As Nebraska football finishes its 2017 recruiting class and gears up to start the 2018 cycle, Ryan Gunderson’s departure from the player personnel department should not go unnoticed.

Nebraska set for battle with Iowa, LSU over tight end recruit Kurt Rafdal

Nebraska and Iowa — and possibly a SEC school — will square off for a tall, sure-handed tight end in the final weeks before signing day.

Bryan Reimers among six Husker walk-ons hauling in scholarships for spring semester

Nebraska gave scholarships to at least three Husker in-state walk-ons Wednesday: Fullback Luke McNitt, I-back Austin Rose and wideout Bryan Reimers.

Nebraska lands coveted 2018 athlete Eric Fuller, sets sights on teammates Joseph Lewis, Greg Johnson

Nebraska received on Wednesday a coveted commit from one of Los Angeles’ top talent hubs – for next year’s recruiting class. NU wouldn’t mind getting a few commits for the 2017 recruiting cycle from Los Angeles Hawkins High School. For…

New defensive coordinator Bob Diaco on why he chose Nebraska: 'Blackshirt defense, man, and Coach Riley'

Bob Diaco's first public comments as Nebraska's defensive coordinator underlined his passion for the new job, his new boss and returning to the Big Ten.

Recruiting: After Tyjon Lindsey's commitment to Nebraska, options abound at wide receiver

Nebraska got the biggest commit of the 2017 recruiting cycle on Saturday, when top 100 prospect Tyjon Lindsey flipped from Ohio State to the Huskers. But NU wideouts coach Keith Williams isn't done on the trail.

Recruiting: With one DB target announcing Thursday, Huskers set to host two others this weekend

Nebraska doesn’t have a defensive back committed to its 2017 recruiting class with two weeks left until national signing day, but the Huskers are about to host two of their top targets, and another is set to announce his commitment…

Shatel: Huskers are embracing change with Bob Diaco hire

Take a closer look at the game and you see that staff turnover is commonplace in big-time college football. Some head coaches replace an assistant every season. That wasn’t the Nebraska way, not the old Nebraska way. But then, that…

Lincoln East OL Chris Walker commits to Nebraska, flipping from Wyoming

For a second straight recruiting cycle, Nebraska snagged an in-state commitment just before signing day — flipping a prospect from Wyoming.

Coach who worked with Bob Diaco gives him high marks

Nebraska has been trying to get back to the Big Ten championship game since 2012. Bob Elliott thinks Bob Diaco can help it get there as the new defensive coordinator.

McKewon: Two key Husker pieces add up to one big week for Mike Riley

Should the Mike Riley era at Nebraska turn out to be a big winner, the last seven days might be remembered as the Riley Rally.

Recruiting: Tyjon Lindsey picks the Huskers days after decommitting from Ohio State, becomes NU’s highest-rated commit

Saturday was a big day for Nebraska football with the Huskers landing a commitment from four-star wide receiver Tyjon Lindsey.

A ‘different breed’ comes to Lincoln: Bob Diaco brings 3-4 scheme, top-level experience to NU’s coordinator post

As he built one of the best defenses in the nation, Bob Diaco would arrive before dawn at Notre Dame’s football offices and usually be one of the last to leave. He loved the film room, and wanted his players…

McKewon: Five quick takes on Tyjon Lindsey's commitment to Nebraska

Four-star wide receiver Tyjon Lindsey announced on Saturday that he was committing to Nebraska, days after he dropped his commitment to Ohio State. World-Herald staff writer Sam McKewon has five quick thoughts on what landing Lindsey means for the Huskers.

It's official: Nebraska names Bob Diaco its new defensive coordinator

Nebraska officially announced Bob Diaco as its defensive coordinator Saturday, three days after coach Mike Riley dismissed his longtime coordinator, Mark Banker. The World-Herald had reported the expected move on Friday night.

Coaching with energy: Mentors, former teammates say Bob Diaco has the same personality on sideline that he had on field

Bob Diaco went from pads on his shoulders to whistle around his neck, and somehow made the transition in the Iowa football program without changing himself.

Shatel: With the NFL's Chargers bolting San Diego, some of one’s youth is taken away

You always remember your first time. Mine was on Oct. 2, 1966. My father and I drove down from Escondido, California, about 30 miles to Balboa Stadium, in the middle of gorgeous Balboa Park near downtown San Diego.

Former Nebraska defensive coordinator Mark Banker talks about departure, being fired over the phone

Former Nebraska defensive coordinator Mark Banker — a longtime friend, confidant and assistant to coach Mike Riley — learned over the phone he wouldn't be returning as a Husker coach.

Recruiting: Top Nebraska DT target Damion Daniels down to three, set for signing day announcement

Dallas Bishop Dunne defensive tackle Damion Daniels will announce his college choice on Feb. 1 — national signing day — his father, Tony Daniels, told The World-Herald Friday.

Recruiting: Huskers open contact period visiting with top targets, longtime commits

Not only did the Huskers visit with some of their top targets — players they want to add before national signing day — but they also checked on recruits they’ve had committed for months.

Huskers to name ex-Irish aide Bob Diaco as defensive coordinator, replacing Mark Banker

Nebraska football will name former Notre Dame defensive coordinator and former Connecticut coach Bob Diaco as its new defensive coordinator, multiple sources confirmed to The World-Herald Friday.

Nebraska targeting defensive coordinator with experience in 3-4 scheme; Bob Diaco a candidate

The World-Herald confirmed through several sources Thursday that coach Mike Riley may be leaning toward a coach with experience with the 3-4.