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(13) Nebraska (5-1) at Minnesota (1-5)



Saturday, October 22nd, 3:30 p.m. (et)

The Sports Network

By Pat Taggart, Associate College Football Editor

GAME NOTES: The 13th-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers are set for what appears to be a lopsided Big Ten Conference matchup with the struggling Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Nebraska opened the season with four consecutive double-digit victories before getting blown out by a dominant Wisconsin squad on the road. To the credit of Bo Pelini and his Cornhuskers, they bounced back strong from that defeat by besting Ohio State in a 34-27 final. It has been two weeks since that contest for Nebraska, which is in its first season as a member of the Big Ten following its defection from the Big 12.

"I've been a part of some pretty great ones. That's up there," said Pelini after the come-from-behind win over Ohio State. "I'm proud of our football team, I'm proud of the character on our team. They just kept fighting."

Jerry Kill's first year as head coach at Minnesota has been taxing to say the least, as the team has managed a mere one victory through the first six games and the coach has battled some pretty serious health issues. The last three tilts have resulted in double-digit losses, including a 45-17 beating at the hands of the mediocre Purdue Boilermakers in the most recent outing two weeks ago.

"The first quarter was just one of those things where it just hits you in the mouth," said Kill, whose team allowed 24 points in the opening period to Purdue. "We just seemed like we weren't able to fight back."

Somewhat surprisingly, Minnesota owns a 29-20-2 series advantage over the Cornhuskers.

Nebraska trailed Ohio State 27-6 early in the third quarter, but the Huskers were able to charge back thanks to tremendous play by quarterback Taylor Martinez. The dual-threat signal caller ran for a score and passed for two more during a 15-minute span, and Rex Burkhead ran 17 yards for a touchdown with 5:10 remaining to break at 27-27 deadlock. The Cornhuskers finished with 423 yards, and both Martinez and Burkhead ran for over 100 yards in the tilt.

"Taylor played his butt off," said Pelini. He's one of the leaders on the team, and I'm proud of him."

Give Nebraska's defense plenty of credit for pulling it together after the sluggish start to the Ohio State game. Sure, the Cornhuskers allowed some big plays, including a 32-yard touchdown pass and a 63-yard TD run, but holding the Buckeyes scoreless over the final 25 minutes opened the door for the comeback.

Through six games, Nebraska is scoring 37.0 ppg while generating 419.0 total ypg. Martinez has completed 54.3 percent of his passes for 1,014 yards with as many passing scores (six) as interceptions. But he has also rushed for 584 yards and nine TDs, second on the team to Burkhead's 635 yards and nine scores.

Opponents are generating 27.2 ppg against Nebraska, which has yielded 20 touchdowns to opposing offenses thus far. Considering the fact that the Huskers are permitting 4.5 rushing ypc and 12.2 passing yards per completion, there is obviously some room for improvement against both means of attack. There have been nine sacks and nine takeaways notched to date, numbers that could also be better at this point. Keep an eye on Lavonte David, as he has posted 58 total tackles, including six TFL.

Switching focus to Minnesota, it struggled mightily in the loss to Purdue last time out, generating a mere 213 total yards while turning the ball over three times. The Gophers held the ball for just over 26 minutes and finished 4-of-12 on third-down conversion attempts. MarQueis Gray took the majority of the snaps for coach Kill's team and completed a mere 8-of-20 passes for 104 yards with an interception. Sure, the QB did run for a score, but the overall offensive production wasn't enough.

"We've got to find a way to help our quarterbacks out; we are just a very young football team," said Kill.

Purdue posted 372 yards and five offensive touchdowns against Minnesota. The Gophers failed to register a single takeaway and permitted 8-of-16 third-down conversion attempts to be successful.

Overall this season, Minnesota is only generating 18.0 ppg and 300.3 total ypg, proof of the struggles of the team's offense. The Golden Gophers have gotten 25 catches from DaJon McNight, but he is more of a possession receiver than a game breaker. As for Gray, who leads the club in rushing with 371 yards, he has only completed 48.5 percent of his passes for 625 yards and three touchdowns with four interceptions.

Opponents are racking up 35.0 ppg against Minnesota, which is allowing 414.2 total ypg. The Golden Gophers are permitting 247.7 passing ypg and have given up 13 passing scores while registering a mere three interceptions. There has been a glaring lack of big plays made by the defense, which has logged just five sacks in six outings.

There is no reason to expect an upset this weekend, as Nebraska is vastly superior to Minnesota. Kill may not win a single conference game this season, but he didn't inherit a good football team. Therefore, Gopher fans must be patient.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Nebraska 49, Minnesota 13

10/19 10:36:07 ET