Huskers hope to shake last-minute woes vs. Minnesota
Who: Nebraska vs. Minnesota
When: Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET
Where: TCF Bank Stadium, Minnesota
Spread: Minnesota -2.5
Matchup to watch: Tommy Armstrong vs. Minnesota secondary
Without Briean Boddy-Calhoun, the Gopher secondary is not at full strength. But it sure looked like it was last week against Purdue. The four Gopher takeaways showed that they still have playmakers on the back end that can make Armstrong pay. It hasn’t been the best start to B1G play for Armstrong after he was one of the nation’s most prolific passers. He’s a dismal 21-for-59 completing passes in two B1G games. That won’t work in Minnesota. Or anywhere. Armstrong is still erratic as a passer and appears to have regressed after his stellar start to the season. Jalen Myrick made it a long day for David Blough and he can certainly do the same for Armstrong.
Thing I’m excited to see: Nebraska’s execution late
Let’s just assume Nebraska is going to be playing in a close game. After all, five of the six Husker contests have been one-possession games. The thought of another nail-biter finish has to sound brutal for Nebraska. You have to imagine that Mike Riley is running constant two-minute drills in practice to remedy this unfathomable problem. To be 2-4 despite being tied or leading with 14 seconds left in all six games is awful, to say the least. It’s been a combination of missed tackles, not knowing plays, tentativeness running the football and breakdowns on every level. You can bet on the fact that the Huskers will find themselves battling down the stretch. Don’t be alarmed when you hear a collective groan from Lincoln.
Number to Remember: 2012
That was the last time Nebraska beat Minnesota. Considering the Gophers hadn’t beat the Huskers since 1960 before they got over the hump two years ago, that’s saying something. Husker fans consider this game to be a gimme. But in recent memory, it’s been anything but that. Despite the Gophers’ offensive struggles, they are the favorite in this one. Nebraska is the underdog that everyone has written off at 0-2. There are no more expectations for the Huskers to squash their northern neighbors. Veterans like Armstrong, Nate Gerry and Terrell Newby are all too familiar with stumbling against the Gophers. The Huskers should be set on ending a two-year losing streak, and even more importantly, avoiding 0-3.
Prediction: Nebraska 28, Minnesota 27
Call me crazy, but I can’t fathom the Huskers falling to 0-3 in B1G play. I do think Shannon Brooks and Rodney Smith pace the Gophers to another solid day on the ground. Still, for as porous as Nebraska’s pass defense is, I still can’t see Mitch Leidner dominating anyone with his arm right now. If he’s involved in this one, it’ll be with his legs. It’s tough to imagine any reason to believe the Huskers will prevail late, which is why this is purely a gut call. The bleeding finally ends in Minneapolis.