Game Day: Nebraska vs. Minnesota

Chasing a carrot

What’s left to play for? What’s the carrot? For the Huskers, it's a bowl game. Nebraska hasn’t missed the postseason since 2007. It’s only missed a bowl game twice since 1968. That's their motivation.

READ MORE »

2-Minute Drill by Sam McKewon

Nebraska rush offense vs. Minnesota rush defense

The Golden Gophers are in full rebuilding mode on defense, and the run defense in particular has taken some lumps. In Big Ten play, Minnesota is allowing 5.41 yards per carry and 209.3 rushing yards per game. Its front seven, though stout in the middle, frays on the edges. Nebraska’s run game, which has been hot and cold in league play, will benefit from having the same starting lineup two weeks in a row. Running back Devine Ozigbo is built for bad weather and Jaylin Bradley may also return to the lineup.

Nebraska pass offense vs. Minnesota pass defense

Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee threw three interceptions vs. Northwestern, snapping a string of four straight excellent performances. Minnesota’s pass defense — which has faced only 24.8 attempts per game in Big Ten play, and thus appears stingier than it really is — will try to play underneath zone coverage and bait Lee into another mistake. The Huskers’ trio of top receivers — Stanley Morgan, De’Mornay Pierson-El and JD Spielman — will get some chances, especially if Minnesota loads the box to stop the run.

Minnesota rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

In Year 1 of the PJ Fleck era, the Gophers have a clear identity: Run the ball downhill with a diet of read option and receiver jet sweeps mixed in. Good defenses tend to stuff it, while bad defenses get worn down over four quarters. Nebraska’s run defense has been porous for weeks, and coach Bob Diaco’s recent comments about the expectation for his unit can’t possibly be encouraging to his players.

Minnesota pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

The Gophers have completed all of 59 passes in Big Ten play, and quarterback Demry Croft has connected on just 39.5 percent in conference games. While Nebraska’s pass defense has consistently struggled, the Huskers should have safeties Antonio Reed and Aaron Williams back in the fold, which will help. Plus, Minnesota is one of those pass offenses where, on third down, you can get after the quarterback, who’s not likely to burn you. Minnesota receiver Tyler Johnson (32 catches, 620 yards, seven touchdowns) is a dynamic deep threat.

Special teams

It’s basically a wash among the kick coverage units — Nebraska has the better kickoff guy in Drew Brown, Minnesota has the better punter in Ryan Santoso — but the Huskers have a slight edge in kickoff return with Spielman. The Gophers have struggled badly in league play with field position after kickoffs.

Intangibles

Minnesota is in Year 1 of PJ Fleck’s "Row The Boat" infomercial, and even if the team has taken a dramatic step back from last season — when the Gophers finished 9-4 — Fleck will get time to turn it around in Minneapolis. Players seem on board with Fleck’s calisthenics and bravado, but it’d be fair to wonder whether Husker players feel the same about their head coach, Mike Riley, and specifically Diaco, whose oddball comments seem to be more about everything other than the job he’s doing.

Key matchup: Minnesota’s run game vs. Nebraska’s run defense

If Nebraska stops Minnesota’s run game, the Huskers almost certainly win. The Gophers’ passing game hits the occasional big play, but Diaco is so freaked out about giving up one of those that he allows a few rushing yards to guard against it. If his bend-don’t-break system traps the Gophers, Nebraska wins. But don’t expect that.

Our take

On a weekend full of big, fun football games, here’s a game the nation will forget — a morning kickoff with a chance of snow between two 4-5 teams. The fan turnout is not likely to be good. The motivation may be low. Somehow, Nebraska will have to pull out of a sluggish orbit, ignore the bizarre comments of the defensive coordinator and just plow ahead. Minnesota is not very good — perhaps, in total, worse than Nebraska — but has to smell victory here. Look for an ugly game that concludes in a tough loss for the Huskers.

Our prediction: MINNESOTA 24, NEBRASKA 21

Live updates

#Huskers on Instagram

Videos

Extras

Game notes

Check out a PDF of the game notes for the Nebraska-Minnesota matchup provided by the Husker 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 Red Today coverage

McKewon: Try tackling Marvin Scott when he reaches full speed. It doesn't look fun

Florida running back Marvin Scott, a 'freakish bodybuilder,' commits to Nebraska

Nebraska’s newest commit for the 2020 recruiting class won’t have to be pointed to the weight room.

Carriker Chronicles: Will the return of Husker Power bolster a second-year leap under Scott Frost?

On Saturday's episode, Adam Carriker discusses the second year under Scott Frost, whether or not the Huskers can make a leap in success and how the return of Husker power will help.

'Game-changer' Cam Jurgens is back and healthy, may start at center against South Alabama

Redshirt freshman center Cam Jurgens, previously limited in training camp due to an undisclosed injury, was back at full speed this week, coach Scott Frost said, and now appears headed for the No. 1 spot on the NU depth chart.

Chatelain: This 'bizarre' Husker stat is so 'insane,' Scott Frost couldn't believe it's true

Any examination — any obituary for the glory years — must include the factor that unites the Callahan, Pelini and Riley eras.

Adrian Martinez says he is 'very thankful' to play for Husker fans on Jim Rome Show

Husker quarterback Adrian Martinez phoned into the Jim Rome Show Friday.

Husker practice report, Aug. 23: Scott Frost wants to build off the look of new alternative jerseys

Nebraska has a new leader at center.

Huskers place walk-on lineman Trent Hixson from Omaha Skutt on scholarship

Trent Hixson was already trending toward starting at left guard this season. Now he'll do so as a scholarship player.

Former Husker receiver De'Mornay Pierson-El catches touchdown pass for Raiders in NFL preseason game

Pierson-El hauled in a key touchdown pass from Nathan Peterman with 5:48 left in the fourth quarter, one of his six receptions in the game.

With Huskers set to 'invade' Buffs' stadium, ticket prices hit Colorado's all-time high

Most of Colorado's home game tickets start at $40 for seats in the end zone and top out around $135 near midfield. But prices are driven by fan interest. And interest is high for the renewed rivalry ticket.

Husker receiver Jaevon McQuitty found his confidence and vows not to be forgotten

With the season opener barely more than a week away, signs point to McQuitty as a contributor.

McKewon: Predicting how the Big Ten West will be won in 2019 shapes up as a fool's errand

2019 is the kind of season in the Big Ten West where you predict in pencil, not ink, and you keep a fat, pink eraser on your desk.

Huskers land commitment from Oklahoma running back recruit Sevion Morrison

Morrison becomes the ninth commit in the Huskers' latest recruiting cycle and the first in more than six weeks.

McKewon: New Husker commit Sevion Morrison can run in just about any offensive system

Three quick takes on the decision from the 6-foot, 201-pound three-star prospect.

Huskers make big jump in football, men's basketball recruiting spending — just like rest of Big Ten

The money Nebraska spends on recruiting its football and men’s basketball student-athletes has increased dramatically in the last five years, according a study released Thursday morning by the USA Today Network. Some teams in the Big Ten have juiced their…

Husker notes: Jack Stoll's goal? A lot of points; Receivers developing depth

Who will be the starting running back? The Huskers like their options

A depth chart for the Nebraska running backs coach can look one way before the season. But by October it may be completely different based on what players show in games.

Husker practice report, Aug. 21: Offensive depth chart takes shape with opener around the corner

Nebraska began preparations for South Alabama on Wednesday, which means the offensive depth chart is close to final.

The time will come for the Huskers' Black Sweatshirt Posse; for now, members are hungry and waiting

Players like Casey Rogers know they are part of the next group up.

Three teams — including Nebraska — sit one game apart for No. 5 on all-time wins chart

Nebraska and Notre Dame are tied for fifth with 897 wins apiece, and Oklahoma sits one game back at 896.

Shatel: Are the Huskers ready for expectations? Is there an air of urgency at Memorial Stadium?

The expectation at Nebraska should be a team that is well-coached, plays physical and plays hard. A team always held to a high standard. Do that and the other stuff will fall into place. Are expectations in place? Not yet,…

Pick Six Podcast: Reasonable expectations for the Huskers, featuring The World-Herald's Tom Shatel

World-Herald staff writers Sam McKewon, Chris Heady and Evan Bland tackle the hottest Husker headlines in the latest episode of the Pick Six Podcast.

Some opinions 'totally changed' toward the positive as Big Ten Network visits Huskers' practice

The Big Ten Network made its annual bus tour stop in Lincoln on Monday, and the reactions were almost unanimously positive.

Video: Nebraska fall football practice, Aug. 19

Check out all the video from Monday's Huskers fall football practice as compiled by The World-Herald.

Carriker Chronicles: Alternate uniforms honor Nebraska's Blackshirt tradition

On Monday's episode, Adam Carriker shares his thoughts on the alternate uniforms Nebraska will wear during the 2019 season.

Husker Practice Report, Aug. 19: No 'mush faces' on Nebraska's defense, Erik Chinander says

Chinander finds no fault with the effort and passion of his defense this training camp.

Huskers make preseason AP Top 25 for first time since 2014

Nebraska is officially a top-25 team again.

Sam McKewon's preseason AP Top 25 ballot

Here's how Sam McKewon voted in his preseason AP Top 25 ballot for the college football season.

Three Huskers haven't been charged in drug cases because of prosecutors’ concerns over hemp law

Three Nebraska football players who have been cited on suspicion of possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia have yet to be charged in Lancaster County Court because of prosecutors’ concerns about an industrial hemp bill recently passed in the Nebraska…

Even in the hot sun, Huskers are showing more energy and not squandering practice time

Highly motivated Huskers are loving practice, even as dog days of summer set in.