Nebraska 24, Gophers 17
The recap: Minnesota controlled the ball for nearly 19 minutes in the first half, building a 17-10 lead. But Tommy Armstrong fought through injuries and led two long touchdown drives. The Gophers’ running game stalled, and their hopes ended with a Mitch Leidner interception.
What was learned: Armstrong entered with a 51 percent completion percentage, but the Huskers used short screen passes to get him into a rhythm. He completed 70.4 percent (19 of 27) and added 61 rushing yards. Minnesota compounded the problem with poor tackling.
YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED:
• A key turning point came early fourth quarter, when Leidner hit Rashad Still with a 9-yard pass, setting up second-and-1 from the Nebraska 44. It was tied 17-17. Offensive coordinator Jay Johnson tried two runs, but Shannon Brooks lost a yard, and Rodney Smith was stopped a yard short on third-and-2.
“I think that kind of sums up our inconsistency in being able to run the ball,” coach Tracy Claeys said.
Minnesota punted, and Nebraska responded with the go-ahead, 13-play, 91-yard drive.
• The Gophers didn’t run once on their final drive. Leidner led them down the field with four completions. Tyler Johnson’s 25-yard reception moved the ball to the Nebraska 17, and the clock stopped briefly for a first down with 1:41 remaining.
Trailing by seven, Minnesota had one timeout remaining, but Claeys didn’t want to tap the brakes and halt the drive’s momentum. Leidner took the next snap with 1:35 remaining. He locked in on favorite target Drew Wolitarsky near the 5-yard line, and the ball was tipped for an interception.
“The clock was no part of it,” Claeys said. “We had plenty of time, and so we were just playing. Had [Nebraska] scrambling a little bit, moving the ball down the field. Kid made a good play and undercut the route and got it tipped up in the air.”
Asked if the up-tempo approach to the play concerned him, Claeys said: “Not at all. Next thing you know, if you slow it down, and you get it going, you aren’t going to have any time left, so we were just playing.”
UP NEXT: Northwestern
2:30 p.m., TCF Bank Stadium
TV: BTN. Radio: 100.3-FM
Records: Gophers 7-3, 4-3 Big Ten; Northwestern 5-5, 4-3
The skinny: The Wildcats turned their season around with a 38-31 win at Iowa on Oct. 1. They won their next two, over Michigan State and Indiana, before giving Ohio State all it could handle in a 24-20 loss in Columbus. After a two-touchdown loss to Wisconsin, Pat Fitzgerald’s team rebounded again Saturday with a 45-17 win at Purdue. Clayton Thorson passed for 352 yards and three touchdowns in that game. Northwestern, which is 3-1 on the road, needs one more win for bowl eligibility and finishes with Illinois on Nov. 26.