Good afternoon on a beautiful sunny but windy day in Lincoln, Neb., where the Gophers at 2:30 p.m. (BTN, 100.3-FM) will try to end a three-game losing streak against a desperate Nebraska team that at 0-6 is off to its worst start in program history and is on a 10-game skid dating to last year.
Gophers senior running back Shannon Brooks will not play and was not on trip to Lincoln. Brooks was arrested early Sunday morning after he allegedly assaulted his roommate. The roommate was not injured, and Brooks was released from Hennepin County jail on Monday afternoon. No charges were filed, though the Minneapolis City Attorney’s office continues its investigation, which is expected to be completed next week.
Coach P.J. Fleck revealed Tuesday that his plan before the arrest was to play Brooks against the Huskers, and Fleck said during his weekly TV show that Brooks would practice on Thursday. Brooks, who has more than 2,500 all-purpose yards in his career, missed the season’s first six games because of a torn ACL suffered just before spring practice. Fleck plans to play Brooks in four games so he can preserve a year of eligibility for 2019.
Winds are coming out of the north at 25 miles per hour with gusts to 33, so expect that to be a factor today, especially in the punting and kicking game. Emmit Carpenter’s limit on field goals in pregame warmups while kicking into the wind appeared to be about 45 yards.
For Nebraska, today’s game offers another chance to earn the first win of the season. The Huskers came close last week but blew a 10-point lead in the final 2:27 of the fourth quarter at Northwestern and lost 34-31 in overtime.
The Gophers’ 54-21 thrashing of Nebraska at TCF Bank Stadium last year didn’t sit well with the Huskers.
“Yeah, just thinking about what Minnesota did last year and their game plan against us last year and thinking about all of the things that went wrong in that game,’’ sophomore defensive back Dicaprio Bottle said. “That really just had me thinking that loss left a really bitter taste in our mouth. We didn't expect them to put up that many points on us at all, so we definitely keep that in our mind.
“Anybody that was in that game last year should feel the same way. They did run it up on us and it felt like they weren't going to stop,’’ Bottle added. “So, if we get that opportunity and we got them where we want them, we've just got to keep our foot on their necks and just crush their spirit. If we're in a dog fight, we've just got to keep fighting until the clock hits zero.’’
Senior running back Devine Ozigbo echoed those thoughts.
“You know they kind of ran it up. They scored a bunch of points, they didn’t hold off, which is what you except,’’ he said. “You don’t want teams to go easy on us. If we get opportunities, we’re going to do the best we can. Now we've got something to prove because Minnesota is a team that, they’re a tough team. They work hard in the Big Ten, they’re on our side so we just have to go out there and prove that we can beat this team on a regular basis.”