The Call: Gophers vs. No. 13 Nebraska

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 21, 2011 - 11:18 PM

The Cornhuskers haven't been a dominant force in their first Big Ten season, but they are 15-3 under Bo Pelini in the second half of the regular season.

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Running back Rex Burkhead leads a Nebraska offense that is averaging 246.8 rushing yards per game.

Photo: Dave Weaver, Associated Press

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GOPHERS OFFENSE VS. NEBRASKA DEFENSE

Russell Wilson and Braxton Miller exposed the Cornhuskers' difficulty in containing a mobile quarterback, so if MarQueis Gray's injured toe healed during the bye week, expect the Gophers to find ways to spring him outside with the ball. Still, the Gophers' inexperienced line figures to have big problems with Huskers pass-rushers, and the Gophers have been mistake-prone. Advantage: Nebraska

GOPHERS DEFENSE VS. NEBRASKA OFFENSE

Nebraska runs a modified option attack, with Taylor Martinez trying to get the defense leaning one way, then sending the ball the other. The sophomore QB and junior I-back Rex Burkhead give Nebraska two fearsome weapons. The Gophers have allowed 580 rushing yards in two Big Ten games, so expect Nebraska to keep the ball on the ground. Advantage: Nebraska

SPECIAL TEAMS

Nebraska freshman phenom Ameer Abdullah has seven returns of at least 35 yards already, one for a 100-yard touchdown. Punter Brett Maher is second in the conference at 47.3 yards per kick, and he's 11-for-13 on field goals. Advantage: Nebraska

INTANGIBLES

It's homecoming for the Gophers, and they've had a week off to prepare. Unfortunately for Minnesota, so have the Cornhuskers, and several thousand fans are expected to crowd TCF Bank Stadium, creating an unusual home-field effect. The Gophers have been outscored 103-17 in Big Ten games, so confidence shouldn't be a problem for Nebraska. The Gophers' best hope: Will Nebraska be thinking ahead to Michigan State? Advantage: Nebraska

PREDICTION

The Gophers have had one bad start after another this season, and the mistake-filled first quarter at Purdue was the worst yet. But if they avoid self-destructing, Gray is capable of getting the Gophers to the end zone. Still, Nebraska's superior size and experience is too much to overcome. Nebraska 41, Gophers 20

NUMBERS TO KNOW

111 Consecutive points scored by the Cornhuskers in the teams' past three meetings.

222 Points by Nebraska in six games, more than twice Minnesota's 108.

DON'T FORGET ABOUT ...

Duane Bennett Nebraska has allowed back-to-back 100-yard rushers, and Bennett will get plenty of carries.

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