The Gophers football team had been seeking a signature win. On Saturday, it finally happened.
David Cobb rushed 31 times for 138 yards, and Philip Nelson rushed for two touchdowns and passed for another, as the Gophers defeated No. 25 Nebraska 34-23 at TCF Bank Stadium.
An announced crowd of 49,995 was in attendance, and fans ran onto the field after the game. It was arguably the Gophers’ biggest victory since they won at then-No. 21 Michigan 23-20 on Oct. 8, 2005, under Glen Mason.
The Gophers (6-2, 2-2 Big Ten) became bowl eligible and defeated their first ranked opponent since they knocked off then-No. 24 Iowa in 2010. Minnesota snapped a 16-game losing streak against Nebraska, defeating the Cornhuskers for the first time since 1960.
Nebraska (5-2, 2-1) entered this game as 10-point favorites, but after falling behind 10-0 early, the Gophers led 17-13 at halftime.
Nelson scored on a one-yard sneak, and Chris Hawthorne added a 45-yard field goal, stretching the lead to 27-13.
Nebraska finally showed some signs of life late in the third quarter, when Taylor Martinez found tight end Sam Cotton for a three-yard touchdown pass. Nebraska kicker Pat Smith hit a 37-yard field goal with 9:26 remaining, trimming Minnesota’s lead to 27-23.
But the Gophers forced Nebraska to punt on its next possession, and caught a break when Sam Foltz shanked it, allowing Minnesota to take over at Nebraska’s 34-yard line. Nelson punctuated the victory with a one-yard touchdown run.
Offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover had talked this week about mixing in some new plays, and they used a variety of new ones throughout the game.
Mitch Leidner got the start at quarterback for the Gophers and led the team on a first-quarter touchdown drive, but Nelson took over for the rest of the game midway through the second quarter.