SCOUTING REPORT: GOPHERS vs NEBRASKA
Saturday: 6:30 p.m. TCF Bank Stadium (FS1, 100.3-FM)
A look at the Cornhuskers:
You knew it was a big game for Nebraska hosting Ohio State on Sept. 28 when ESPN’s College Gameday showed up, along with actress Gabrielle Union and husband and former NBA star Dwyane Wade. Wade’s former teammate LeBron James even placed a friendly bet on his Buckeyes. Of course, James won — in a big way with Ohio State’s 48-7 thrashing of the Cornhuskers. How would they regroup after blowing their first chance to shine in the national spotlight under second-year coach Scott Frost? It would’ve been chaos in Lincoln if Nebraska got upset the following week by struggling Northwestern. But the Cornhuskers escaped 13-10 after a 25-yard field goal as time expired. Quarterback Adrian Martinez and receiver JD Spielman returning to practice coming off injuries shows just how important the game against the Gophers is Saturday. ESPN Gameday won’t be there at TCF Bank Stadium, but the Cornhuskers will be looking to make a statement that the Ohio State loss was a fluke. Nebraska has an 8-4 record going back to their 53-28 win against Minnesota at home in 2018.
Who to watch: Nebraska wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson.
Getting Spielman back healthy Saturday would be key for Nebraska’s offense. The Eden Prairie product ranks third in the Big Ten with 410 yards receiving. But another breakout performance from Wan’Dale Robinson would really help put pressure on Minnesota’s defense. Robinson was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Monday for recording 167 yards of total offense, including a 42-yard touchdown run and career-best seven catches for 123 yards receiving. Robinson was a four-star all-purpose back recruit out of high school with scholarship offers from Alabama, Ohio State and Michigan. Gophers coach P.J. Fleck might not know which quarterback he’ll face, but he’s preparing to stop the player he compared to Purdue’s All-American Rondale Moore. “I don’t like to compare people who I don’t coach, but that’s what everybody is saying,” Fleck said. “He’s talented. Very tough to tackle in space.”
From the coach: Scott Frost
A decision that Frost regretted in Nebraska’s narrow win vs. Northwestern last week was playing true freshman quarterback Luke McCaffery for one play. After Martinez left the game with a leg injury near the end of the third quarter, Frost was forced to play backup Noah Vedral for the rest of the game. But Vedral’s helmet came off once. That meant he needed to be subbed out. In came McCaffrey, a former four-star recruit who Frost called a “special athlete.”
“It was unfortunate he was out there,” Frost told reporters this week. “He did a good job on his one play, but he’s got three more [games] to play this year.”
Frost clearly is thinking about the future by not burning a redshirt with his talented young signal caller. But will Saturday be the next game McCaffery plays more than one play?