Nebraska finally gets convincing win at Minnesota
Final: Nebraska 48, Minnesota 25
Key play: Terrell Newby scores 69-yard TD on second carry
If there was ever a guy that needed a big play early, it was Newby. The Nebraska tailback went untouched for 69 yards on his second carry of the game. He hadn’t scored since Week 2 against South Alabama. For the feature back at Nebraska to go five games without a rushing score is saying a lot. But Newby busted open a monster score after Minnesota carved up the Blackshirts on the opening drive. Nebraska’s longest play from scrimmage all season set the tone for its best offensive day of the year.
Telling stat: Minnesota held to 2.5 yards per carry
A week after the Gophers ran all over Purdue, they couldn’t get much of anything going against the Huskers. Part of that was game flow. Minnesota’s offense struggles when it falls behind like it did on Saturday. Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks were held in check in limited work early, which made it awfully difficult for Minnesota to keep pace with Nebraska. It was surprising to see just three first-half carries for Brooks after he ripped off 176 yards last week. Clearly, this offense lacks an identity.
-De’Mornay Pierson-El is back
Pierson-El is as talented as they come in the open field. For the first time since returning from injury two weeks ago, he looked like the explosive preseason All-American Nebraska fans hoped he would be. He flashed his playmaking ability in the punt return game, but his most impressive play of the day was an atypical one. On a ball Tommy Armstrong shouldn’t have thrown into double coverage, Pierson-El made a jumping, juggling catch for his first touchdown reception of the year. This offense needs all the weapons it can get.
-Mitch Leidner played his best game of the year
Leidner shook off a thumb injury and delivered in the passing game with his best output of the season. This was a guy that hadn’t hit 100 yards passing in either of his two previous games. Against the nation’s worst pass defense, he did exactly that. There wasn’t much Nebraska could do to slow down K.J. Maye, who was the possession receiver the Gophers had been lacking all year. Leidner was mistake free up until the pick-six on the Gophers’ last chance to get back into the game. Unfortunately for Minnesota, it was all for nought because of its inability to contain Danny Langsdorf’s offense.
What it means: Nebraska can look like a contender…in flashes
The Huskers had played in five nail-biters in six games to start the year. Finally, they didn’t look like the team that played down to its competition with late-game woes. Armstrong stepped up and delivered an absolute must-win game to avoid 0-3 while looking like the offense the Huskers were hyped up to be. For once, they kept their foot on the gas. Alonzo Moore and Cethan Carter converted scores and Nebraska didn’t need Jordan Westerkamp to move the chains. A depleted Minnesota defense had no answer for the Huskers all day. Without Cody Poock and De’Vondre Campbell, the Gophers struggled. If they’re without those two for considerable time, it could be a struggle for this unit to pick up the pieces.