"The Call" -- Gophers vs. Nebraska

About the opponent

The Cornhuskers have ditched high preseason hopes and are just trying to get to six wins to make a bowl game. That won’t be easy, because they still must play No. 14 Penn State and No. 20 Iowa. The Sept. 16 loss to Northern Illinois led to athletic director Shawn Eichorst being fired, and third-year coach Mike Riley could be on his way out, too.

Player to watch

Former Eden Prairie standout JD Spielman has made a quick impact: a 99-yard kickoff return, a 200-yard receiving game, and 128.2 all-purpose yards per game.

Gophers offense vs. Huskers defense

This isn’t exactly Ali-Frazier. Minnesota ranks 12th in the Big Ten in total offense (319.2 yards per game), while Nebraska is 13th in total defense (400.7). Give the edge to the Gophers, who should be able to run the ball with Rodney Smith and gobble up the clock. Advantage: Gophers

Gophers defense vs. Huskers offense

Which Tanner Lee will we see: the QB who had a stretch of only one interception in four games, or the one who’s thrown four pick-sixes? Advantage: Even

Special teams

Spielman is a threat on kickoff returns, and Huskers kicker Drew Brown is 11-for-13 on field goals. The Gophers’ Ryan Santoso leads the Big Ten in punting (44.5-yard average), while Emmit Carpenter is 12-for-16 on field goals. Advantage: Nebraska

Intangibles

Neither team’s season has gone the way they’ve hoped, but the Gophers are home after two weeks on the road, and that should help. The Huskers are coming off a tough OT loss to Northwestern; their morale can’t be high. Advantage: Gophers

RJ’S PREDICTION

Nebraska .... 17

Minnesota ... 20

The Gophers get just enough ball-control offense to keep the Huskers off the field and grab a couple takeaways.