Minnesota Gophers (3-2) host Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-4) Week 7 Preview
The Minnesota Gophers are coming off a MUCH needed bye week as they return to Big Ten West play against a tough Nebraska team. Both teams have shown to play to the level of their opponent, so who knows what will happen in this matchup. The Gophers have won 3 out of the 4 games in this rivalry trophy game ($5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy) since PJ Fleck has come to Minnesota. On one hand, the Gophers have played tough against Ohio State, Colorado, and Purdue, but have played poorly against 2 MAC teams, including losing one of those. On the other side, Nebraska lost to Illinois to start the season, but then only lost by one score to Oklahoma, Michigan, and Michigan State... telling me they are just a team that doesn't know how to win and plays very much to their competition. I would expect this game to be low scoring and each team needing some key aspects to go well on offense in order to come out with a victory on Saturday.
Minnesota's top 2 running backs are out for the season (Ibrahim and Potts) and they'll have to look for the next hot hand to run the ball effectively. I don't see this being a problem with the success we have seen this season from the 2 freshman RBs (Irving and Thomas). Expect "Bucko" Irving and Ky Thomas to be the main running backs for the Gophers in this contest and I am confident they will both step up to the challenge. Tanner Morgan hasn't been the same Quarterback we remember in 2019, but he also had 2 NFL wide receivers to throw to that season. This Saturday feels like the first game that Morgan will have all four of his receivers actually playing in the game. Autman-Bell, Wright, Jackson, and Brown-Stephens should finally share the field together and a great receiving performance will be needed since the Gophers running game will come in technically unproven. We saw flashes of big plays from Morgan to Autman-Bell and Brown-Stephens in the Purdue game and now that we finally have all four WRs on the field, maybe Morgan and the passing offense can finally catch its stride. Minnesota's defense has played extremely well all season and I'm sure will continue to play well this Saturday. Nebraska's offense 100% goes through their QB, Adrian Martinez. He leads the team in passing and rushing yards and if the Gophers defense can keep him in the pocket, the pass rush and the stiff secondary of the Gophers should be able to hold off Martinez and the Nebraska attack.
I would expect this game to see lots of punts, a few turnovers, some key field goals, and a handful of explosive plays by both teams. The Gophers and Huskers each have solid defenses, so expect the final score to be on the lower side. The Gophers have the edge in special teams, while Nebraska's offense has the edge statistically. Almost half of Nebraska's points this season have come against Fordham and Northwestern, two very weak teams. Minnesota's defense has forced 9 turnovers in 5 games and are holding teams to 77 rushing yards per game. That doesn't bode well for Nebraska as they struggle offensively when their run game isn't performing well. This will be a close game throughout and my prediction is Minnesota will win at home 26-20. (Literally every site I looked up has Nebraska winning this matchup and all those people are a bunch of stupid idiots. Nebraska continues to be bad under Scott Frost and they still don't know how to win.)