Upon Further Review: Nebraska offers little test for unbeaten Gophers

BY Dave Heller • October 13, 2019

Entering Saturday, Minnesota hadn’t played an FBS team with a winning record (and one victory also came over an FCS), but that changed when the Gophers hosted Nebraska. This was supposed to be a test for Minnesota.

So much for that.

The Gophers dominated all three phases and easily dispatched the Cornhuskers 34-7. Nebraska got a touchdown late in the third quarter to preserve their streak of not being shutout to 301 games, but that was about the only highlight for the Huskers.

Yes, Nebraska was without quarterback Adrian Martinez, but judging how it played against Minnesota it wouldn’t have mattered.



Minnesota came out with a plan to run against Nebraska – and it worked, the Gophers gaining 322 yards on the ground.

Defensively, the Gophers held the Huskers to 299 yards – 136 of those coming on Nebraska’s final three drives with the game out of hand -- and recorded four sacks.

Special teams did Nebraska no favor either. JD Spielman muffed a couple of punts, including one for some reason he tried to field at his own 5-yard line, a fake punt on fourth down failed and a 26-yard punt gave Minnesota good field position; the Gophers would eventually score after the latter two miscues.

By that point the game was well in hand. Consider it extra credit on this test which the Gophers passed with flying colors.

Here's a recap of Saturday’s game:

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Minnesota used a three-headed monster to run all over Nebraska, but special consideration here goes to Mohamad Ibrahim. The sophomore hadn’t had a carry since the second game of the season due to a leg injury and had only one carry, for one yard, in the first quarter. But he was used often in the second quarter, getting seven rushes, including a 15-yard touchdown. He added two more scores in the third quarter, his first career three-touchdown game, and finished with 84 yards on 15 carries.




DON'T FORGET ABOUT ME

Minnesota had a number of defensive players who had strong games, but we’ll spotlight linebacker Kamal Martin, who had 15 tackles. He’s just the eighth Gopher since 2000 to have 15+ tackles in a game and the 11th time overall in that span. But of those 11, it’s just the fourth time it’s occurred in a Minnesota win, the last coming in 2014 (Damien Wilson, 15, in a 24-17 win over Northwestern).





THAT MOMENT

If Nebraska ever had a chance in this game it came in the first quarter after quarterback Noah Verdel hooked up with Spielman on a 51-yard pass play to the Minnesota 26. But the Gophers got sacks on the next two plays -- the first credited to three defenders and the other by Carter Coughlin -- to push the Huskers back 12 yards and, after a dropped pass, force a punt from the 38. Nebraska wouldn’t get past Minnesota’s 40 until late in the third quarter.

THIS NUMBER

7.3 – yards per play for Minnesota. The Gophers averaged 6.6 yards per carry and 16.0 yards per completion. This is the third game this season Minnesota has topped 7.0 yards per play; only once since 2000 have the Gophers had four such games -- in 2005. The Gophers have also done it in three consecutive games, which is the only time that’s occurred in that span.




THEY SAID IT

"We are one of the best teams I’ve been around, whatever that means. ... That’s a tough football team in there. That’s a mature football team." -- head coach P.J. Fleck

"Being a running back is tough, but it was fun tonight. We had fun tonight." -- running back Rodney Smith

"It was really fun. I had the best view in the house. Just giving these guys two more inches, they're going to make a 12-yard gain 50." -- quarterback Tanner Morgan on the running backs

"I thought we had a team that was ready to play. We got pushed around on both sides of the ball." -- Nebraska head coach Scott Frost

WHAT'S NEXT

Rutgers changed its head coach just five games into the season. It didn’t help. The Scarlet Knights were shut out for the third time this season Saturday in losing 35-0 at Indiana. Rutgers won its opener over UMass 40-21 and have scored 23 points in the five games, all losses, since. The Scarlet Knights visit Minnesota next Saturday in a 2:30 p.m. tilt.


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