Nebraska Preview: Cornhuskers Host Minnesota
There have not been a lot of positives for Nebraska or Minnesota heading into Saturday's (October 20) Big Ten Conference match-up in Lincoln, as each team sits winless in the league's West Division.
But for all of you 'glass half full' kind of people, there is one piece of good news - one of these teams is guaranteed to get a conference win!
The Gophers (3-3/0-3 Big Ten) have dropped three straight since opening the season with wins over New Mexico State, Fresno State, and Miami (OH). Since then they've been blown out by Maryland and Iowa but did put a scare in Ohio State last weekend (October 13), rushing for 178 yards and leading at one point 14-10 before losing 30-14.
Redshirt freshman running back Mohamed Ibraham accounted for 157 of those yards and is averaging 100 yards per game this season.
Like Nebraska with Adrian Martinez, the Gophers start a freshman quarterback, Zack Annexstad, who has struggled at times, throwing eight touchdowns and seven interceptions.
His top two targets, junior Tyler Johnson and freshman Rashad Bateman are each among the top ten in Big Ten receiving yards.
Defensively, senior linebacker Blake Cashman is seventh in the Big Ten in tackles; junior defensive end Carter Coughlin leads the league with seven sacks; while freshman defensive back Terrell Smith is fourth in passes defended.
Minnesota has been very good on special teams in 2018, leading the Big Ten in punt returns with Sam Renner and Demetrious Douglas combing for nearly 30 yards a return.
One big difference between the Gophers and Huskers is penalties. Minnesota is the second least penalized team in the Big Ten (24), while Nebraska is the most flagged team (61).
Kickoff in Lincoln is 2:30 PM, Saturday. You can listen to the game live on ESPN 99.1.
Last week, the Cornhuskers (0-6/0-4 Big Ten) ran their historic losing streak to ten games with a 34-31 overtime loss at Northwestern.
The Nebraska offense controlled the game early with a touchdown drive and later, with a chance to go up 10-0, kicker Barret Pickering's field goal attempt hit the upright and the score stayed 7-0.
The Wildcats scored the next 14 points including a defensive touchdown on a fumble return after a second-quarter sack of Martinez.
Two touchdown runs from Davine Qzigbo and a score from Maurice Washington gave Nebraska a seemingly insurmountable 14-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but Northwestern scored twice in the final 2:30, including a 99-yard touchdown drive, to force overtime.
In OT, Nebraska opted not to attempt a 33-yard field goal on their first possession and was turned away scoreless when a bad snap on fourth down forced Martinez to toss wildly into the end zone, where the pass was picked off.
The Wildcats were successful on a 37-yard field goal attempt on their first possession.
I talked with the 'Voice of the Huskers' Greg Sharpe about Northwestern loss and the match-up with Minnesota: