Good morning from Huntington Bank Stadium, where the Gophers face Nebraska in a game matching Big Ten West rivals at 11 a.m. (ESPN2, 100.3-FM). Minnesota (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) will try to win their second consecutive conference game after its Oct. 2 win at Purdue, while the Cornhuskers (3-4, 1-3) seek to end a two-game skid against Minnesota.
The Gophers enter today's game without their top two running backs, Mohamed Ibrahim and Trey Potts, who suffered season-ending injuries in the opener and at Purdue, respectively. The rushing load is expected to fall on a four-player committee of true freshman Mar'Keise "Bucky'' Irving, redshirt freshman Ky Thomas, sophomore Cam Wiley and junior Bryce Williams. Minnesota also had success against Purdue using quarterback Cole Kramer as a runner in the wildcat formation.
While the Gophers are a team that runs 71 percent of the time, they'll need their passing game to step up. They haven't surpassed 200 passing yards since the season opener, and they're averaging 141.8 yards per game, which ranks 124th among the 130 FBS programs.
The bye week gave top receiver Chris Autman-Bell a chance to rest his nagging ankle injury, and Dylan Wright returns to the lineup after missing the Purdue game because of a death in his family. However, the team's depth will be tested because sophomore receiver Daniel Jackson, whose 14 receptions lead the team, was not in uniform for the game.
On defense, the Gophers' challenge will be limiting Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez, who leads the Huskers in rushing, passing and scoring. His 314.9 yards of offense per game ranks 15th nationally, and he has accounted for 19 touchdowns (10 rushing, nine passing). Martinez is especially dangerous when he breaks contain, as evidenced by his two 70-plus-yard runs this season.