GOPHERS OFFENSE VS. HUSKERS DEFENSE

Nebraska ranked 15th nationally in scoring defense (18.1) before the Ohio State game. Riley said the health of his linebackers improved over the week. The run defense is stout. Safety Nate Gerry is a difference-maker with four interceptions and seven tackles for a loss. Advantage: Nebraska

SPECIAL TEAMS

De’Mornay Pierson-El isn’t quite as explosive as he was in 2014, but he flipped momentum in the Oregon win with a 45-yard punt return. Advantage: Even

Player to watch

Nebraska senior QB Tommy Armstrong Jr. was knocked unconscious last week at Ohio State but is expected to play after clearing the concussion protocol. He had a full practice Thursday. This is a huge boost for the Cornhuskers.

THE OPPONENT

After a 7-0 start, Nebraska looked resilient at Wisconsin, outscoring the Badgers 10-0 in the fourth quarter to force overtime in an eventual loss. But the bottom fell out in the 62-3 loss at Ohio State. Nebraska needs to win its last three and have Wisconsin lose once to finish atop the Big Ten West.

GOPHERS DEFENSE VS. HUSKERS OFFENSE

Nebraska’s O-line was missing two starters at Ohio State but is reportedly back intact. Huskers completing just 49.2 percent of their passes. Armstrong has three TD passes, seven INTs in past five games. Nebraska hasn’t rushed for more than 160 yards over the past four games. Advantage: Gophers

INTANGIBLES

Nebraska fans are disappointed but far too nice to pout. Their passion is a big reason the Huskers have won 18 consecutive prime-time home games. Advantage: Nebraska

JOE’S PREDICTION

Nebraska: 24

Gophers: 17

Turnovers would be the difference, but Nebraska protects the ball better at home.