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
Hit it and get it. Nebraska running back Greg Bell doesn’t want to dance in the hole, slow down for a second or, truth be told, even talk about himself. Too much competition. Too big of a reward if he…
One popular opinion among Husker offensive coaches Wednesday was that the tight ends solidified their reputation as much as any unit following Sunday's live-action scrimmage.
New School is now in session. Here are the rules: No dog-cussing the players. No bullying or personal shots about their appearance. If you must chew, do so with a positive message. Teach. Look forward.
Nebraska offensive line coach Greg Austin offered a pretty insightful analysis of where the offensive line is two weeks before the Akron opener. There's good news. And could-be-better news.
There are days Mario Verduzco grades film of Nebraska quarterbacks and likes what he sees. Good ball placement. Strong body language. Quick tempo. Then there are workouts like last Thursday and Friday, which the Husker QB coach labeled "kind of…
Nebraska wrapped up its 11th workout of training camp Wednesday morning inside the Hawks Center. Afterward, offensive coordinator Troy Walters said Scott Frost — with input from his staff — will pick a starter soon between Tristan Gebbia, Adrian Martinez…
If you're looking for a nostalgic Husker pick in your upcoming fantasy football draft, here's your guide.
Nebraska kicked off practice early Wednesday morning. Media were allowed to watch about 40 minutes. Here's what we saw and heard.
Nebraska quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco gave some insight into the quarterback battle on Sports Nightly Tuesday evening.
Interstate 29 represents one of Scott Frost’s biggest in-state recruiting headaches. FCS schools in the Dakotas can’t compete with a Nebraska scholarship offer, but they can damage the Huskers' depth by taking players that may have otherwise walked on at…
Tre Neal, the Husker with more knowledge of the defense than anyone after transferring from UCF, has risen to the top of Nebraska's production chart that keeps score of plays made and not made in practices by members of the…
Breon Dixon can’t breathe. He’s cornered by reporters on the second floor of the Hawks Championship Center, gasping for air. “We’re looking way better I’d say as a team, as an offense …” out of breath, he trails off and…
Nebraska’s defensive coaches have a good grasp on who will be in the top two units after a major scrimmage Sunday, defensive coordinator Erik Chinander said Tuesday.
Former Blackshirt Grant Wistrom believes Scott Frost is the right coach for the Huskers.
In the wake of reports about Maryland football’s toxic, bullying culture toward the players, Nebraska coach Scott Frost said Tuesday on the Jim Rome Show he’ll never try to motivate his team through intimidation.
The lines are sure to be long for Scott Frost's first Fan Day as head coach of the Huskers. Here's everything fans should know before attending the event.
The pep talk worked. After Nebraska legends Jason Peter and Grant Wistrom talked to Husker players Friday night, the team had its most-spirited practice of training camp the following day.
Tickets are on sale now for next week's Husker Nation Kickoff Luncheons in Lincoln and Omaha.
Nebraska's defensive coaches have a good grasp on who will be in the top two units after a major scrimmage Sunday, defensive coordinator Erik Chinander said Tuesday. The next week is about trying to identify starters.
Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos said Monday on his monthly radio show there's a structure in place to make sure the athletic department avoids problems like what's currently plaguing Ohio State and Maryland.
Police arrested a 20-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy on suspicion of burglary, according to a news release from the Lincoln Police Department.
What happened in Giltner is a prime example of Nebraska’s in-state recruiting failures over the past 15 years. Another instance of a program that lost track of its identity and abandoned its roots.
If anyone asks you about being in the Big Ten these days, say, “We just got here, and we really don’t know anybody.”
The dynamic warmup — or “stretch” as Scott Frost calls it — is a far cry from the static, stationary stretches employed under former coach Mike Riley. Setting the tone for the fast-paced action of practice, the new warmup is…
Three weeks ago, we sportswriters scurried to our seats at Big Ten media days, sat upright in our chairs and kept our eyes forward to soak in Commissioner Jim Delany’s “hunky-dory’’ speech. But things haven’t been so hunky-dory since that…
Beau Wood should’ve been Perkins County High School’s starting fullback and defensive end. Instead, he had become a reserve — on the cross-country team.
Auburn had 81 players on its 2006 state championship football team. Last fall it had 29. Dozens of kids have turned away from football and found an alternative — cross country.
Sam McKewon zeroed in on as many Husker running backs ran by. Collectively, it’s best bunch NU has had since 2011, when Burkhead started and Abdullah, Green and Heard backed him up.
Maryland placed head coach DJ Durkin on administrative leave on Saturday while the school scrutinizes allegations of poor behavior by the football staff, apparent misdeeds that came to light following the death of a player on the practice field.
Hartington, a town resisting the forces of rural decline, hasn’t boasted a Husker football letterman since its All-America guard 17 years ago. But Scott Frost is back in Lincoln and there’s hope that the drought may end soon, perhaps with…