For Levi Falck, this week is the perfect time to take an old expression and turn it on its ear.
"If you can't join 'em, beat 'em.''
Falck, a senior wide receiver for Nebraska from Circle Pines, returns to Minnesota on Saturday to face the Gophers at Huntington Bank Stadium. The former Centennial High School standout will have no love lost for the opponent.
"I don't like Minnesota,'' Falck said during Tuesday's media session with Nebraska reporters. "I don't like Minnesota at all.''
Falck's disdain for the university dates back to his recruiting days. He was not recruited by the Gophers and only received brief interest from Minnesota for his baseball skills. He ended up at FCS level South Dakota, catching 70 passes for 774 yards and two touchdowns in 24 games with the Coyotes from 2017-19.
With his degree in kinesiology and sports science from South Dakota secured, Falck decided to take the graduate transfer route and considered the Gophers. "They kind of were iffy on that and backed out,'' he said.
Falck ended up at Nebraska, where he caught 13 passes for 122 yards and a TD in 2020. This year, he has nine catches for 119 yards, including three grabs for 31 yards and a TD in last week's 32-29 loss to Michigan.
He's not the only Minnesotan making a homecoming this week. Former Lakeville North standout Bryce Benhart, who was heavily recruited by the Gophers, is slated to start at right tackle for the Huskers.
"We're locker buddies; he's right next to me in the locker room,'' Falck said. "We always talk about how we don't like Minnesota and we've got to beat them.''
The 6-9, 330-pound Benhart started the season's first five games before being demoted the past two. A season-ending injury to left tackle Teddy Prochazka prompted the Huskers to shuffle their lineup, and Benhart worked his way back to a starting role.
"He works hard and is a competitor, so he's not going to be happy about getting demoted,'' Falck said. "On the field, you didn't see a step down. You saw him work maybe even harder, and he got better every single day.
"He's fired up just to be starting,'' Falck added, "and even more fired up to get a chance to beat our hometown.''