Nebraska rush offense vs. Minnesota rush defense
The Huskers are averaging just 3.6 yards per carry over the last four outings, and haven’t had more than 157 yards in a game since Oct. 1 vs. Illinois. The decline in production has coincided with injuries to the line, but NU head coach Mike Riley also spoke this week about finding a couple identity runs and riding them. It won’t be easy getting matters straightened out against a veteran Minnesota defense that allows just 3.34 yards per carry to rank No. 16 nationally.
Nebraska pass offense vs. Minnesota pass defense
The Huskers’ completion percentage has gone into the tank the last few weeks, and NU is now one of just six FBS teams hitting below 50 percent (49.2). Nebraska was waiting on the status of quarterback Tommy Armstrong all week — and preparing Ryker Fyfe just in case — but Armstrong has been struggling to find any rhythm and has just four TD passes in the last six games. Teams have thrown on Minnesota with some success, including Purdue last week for 391 yards and four scores, but Nebraska would help itself first by running the ball at least some.
Minnesota rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense
Success on the ground has helped fuel a four-game winning streak, which has been highlighted by sophomore tailback Rodney Smith hitting 100 yards each week and the Gophers picking up 15 rushing TDs (now 28 for the season). Nebraska is a much tougher test, however, although the Huskers have been dented the last two weeks by Wisconsin (223 yards) and Ohio State (238). Mitch Leidner has hurt NU with his legs before, so it will have to contain the Gophers’ quarterback run game, too.
Minnesota pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense
The Gophers have just six touchdown passes all season, and four of those came against Indiana State in September. Only senior Drew Wolitarsky has more than 17 receptions and there is very little big-play threat. Last week definitely got away from Nebraska — Ohio State threw for 352 yards and four TDs — but it had been very good for most of the season. It should get cleaned back up.
Minnesota has been fairly consistent with its kickoff and punt coverage, and Smith gives them a legitimate threat on kickoff returns. Gophers kicker Emmit Carpenter also has made more field goals than anybody in the Big Ten, connecting on 16 of 18 attempts. Nebraska still seems to be ironing things out from week-to-week, although Drew Brown has been steady as expected.
One team is riding a four-game winning streak and the other has lost two straight, but the level of opponent is a big reason why. Nebraska finally gets back home, and has been very good in night kickoffs at Memorial Stadium. Both teams are fighting for Big Ten West survival, so incentive won’t be lacking. NU will have to take care of the football, with Minnesota already forcing 21 turnovers through nine games. It also has a huge edge in head coaching experience with Mike Riley (195 games) vs. Tracy Claeys (15 games).
Key matchup: Nebraska offensive line vs. Minnesota defensive front
The Huskers haven’t had a 100-yard rusher in four weeks, but it hopes by getting some linemen healthy that it can start opening some holes again down the stretch. Among those back in the mix is left guard Jerald Foster, who might be able to supply a boost. Minnesota won’t make it easy, starting with its rugged front four, so Nebraska better match the physical part of the challenge.
Minnesota caught Nebraska right after its embarrassing loss at Wisconsin two years ago, and beat the Huskers 28-24 in Lincoln. The Gophers have the mental and physical makeup to do it again, so NU will have to be firmly regrouped or suffer the consequences. Nebraska, meanwhile, can lean on some of the success and experience that it has had in close games if this one gets tight. Minnesota made a nice four-game run, but lost at home to Iowa the last time it played an upper-level Big Ten opponent.
Our prediction: Nebraska 21, Minnesota 20
Big Red Today coverage
Some fans say Iowa and Nebraska aren't rivals. Others concede they are. But nobody took the game as seriously as the 1891 Omaha World-Herald sports department.
Nebraska and Purdue faced off as conference opponents for the first time in 2013, which ignited what will be at least 13 consecutive seasons with one another on the schedule. But 2013 wasn't the first overall matchup. Nope, that came…
We wrote this story out of Minnesota in 2013 and 2017, too. The names change. The clichés, too, a little bit. And even if it’s supposed to be different under Scott Frost — even if, one day, it is —…
Time and again, opposing coaches see Nebraska step off the bus and wonder if they can run the ball on them. And then they do.
Scott Frost had one hand in his pocket, and the other one was carrying a playsheet. And nothing was fine for the Nebraska football coach.
P.J. Fleck just shoved his oar right down Nebraska’s throat. People like to laugh at Fleck, the Minnesota football coach, saying he’s a huckster and a fake. Well, there was nothing fake about what Fleck’s Gophers did to Nebraska on…
The blank faces said it all. By the time Nebraska defenders trudged off the cold and misty field at TCF Bank Stadium, they had already processed much of the carnage. A 20-point third quarter that blew the doors off a…
A closer look at the defining stats and figures from the Huskers' loss to Minnesota on Saturday.
Minnesota carved up Nebraska’s defense with its run game Saturday night because it spotted soft spots disguised as strengths.
World-Herald staff writer Chris Heady takes a look at Nebraska's effort on both sides of the ball during the Huskers' loss to Minnesota.
Three things we learned and three things we still don’t know about the Huskers coming out of Saturday's loss to Minnesota.
Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez is not suited up for the game an hour ahead of kickoff and will not play against Minnesota.
Some regents say it’s a win for Nebraska to bring Hank Bounds back because he is a good fundraiser who knows and cares about the projects involved. Some observers say they are perplexed by the amount he will receive, and…
The Huskers think a strong second half is coming. Their counterparts in Minneapolis have already experienced it.
Noah Vedral knows the offense back and forward. We haven’t seen a lot of his game. He got in one game last year. And then last week. That’s the beauty of it, too. There isn’t a lot of film of…
Fremont senior Keegan Menning added his name to the list of walk-ons in Nebraska’s 2020 class on Thursday night.
“It’s an awesome rule,” said Luke McCaffrey, who’s drawn raves from coaches and teammates while he redshirts and works to push Adrian Martinez for the starting role next season. “I think it’s fantastic.”
Mohamed Barry was named a quarterfinalist for the 2019 Lott Trophy, which recognizes a player who made the biggest impact on his team both on and off the field.
If it’s Christmas weather — 32 degrees — for Nebraska’s Saturday night game at Minnesota, well, Scott Frost can’t think anything much better.
While Nebraska's travel roster is rounding into form, the status of players at multiple key positions remains unclear.
"I just thought that I was on a different planet almost," she told The World-Herald. "It was a special place to be."
“Defensively, they’re a lot more sound than what we saw last year and more athletic," Scott Frost said. "They’ve definitely improved. You can tell it’s year three of his tenure up there. They’re starting to look like the team he…
They've given you lifelong memories, permanent heartache, everlasting glee and eternal suffering.
Weather, smeather. That was more or less the reaction from Nebraska offensive coaches Tuesday when probed about how they might adjust preparations for Saturday night's game at Minnesota that calls for temperatures in the mid-30s and a good chance of…
Encouraging news this morning from Husker football practice. Adrian Martinez (knee) and JD Spielman (undisclosed) were both in pads for practice Wednesday.
Earlier this week, I called Matt Turman to talk about his nephew, Noah Vedral, waiting and getting that big moment. But as we talked, it hit me that there's a bigger story. The story about the small, small world of…
For Nebraska’s program to be full blast again, the A.D. says it will take two more recruiting classes and two more years of developing a walk-on program.
Nebraska has dominated Minnesota since 1963, claiming 19 of 22 games. But the Gophers have the all-time edge.
Inside linebacker Mohamed Barry doesn’t usually concern himself much with wide receivers. This week, he’s at full attention.
Nebraska received a commitment Tuesday from Miami Northwestern defensive back Ronald Delancy. Three takes on the decision of the 6-foot, 165-pounder.