(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
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
"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
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
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
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
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Nebraska 49, Minnesota 13
10/19 10:36:07 ET