– David Cobb was limping along the sideline Saturday, looking down furiously at his injured left leg. At that moment, the Gophers’ hopes of winning their first game in Nebraska since 1960 seemed awfully farfetched.

They had trailed the 21st-ranked Cornhuskers by 14 points at halftime. Cobb had just burst for a 17-yard touchdown but pulled his left hamstring in the process. If the Gophers were going to set up a showdown with Wisconsin for the Big Ten West title next week, they would have to do it without their most valuable player.

So the Gophers grabbed the lead in the fourth quarter following two long second-half touchdown drives, led by resilient quarterback Mitch Leidner. And when Nebraska came close to spoiling the visitors’ party, cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun made a game-saving play, sealing the 28-24 Gophers triumph before a stunned sellout crowd of 91,186 at Memorial Stadium.

The Gophers (8-3, 5-2 Big Ten) now indeed will play the Badgers next Saturday in Madison, Wis., with the West Division title and a trip to the conference championship game on the line. Wisconsin won 26-24 at Iowa.

“Nebraska is a great team. To come in here is difficult, but our kids — I don’t know,” coach Jerry Kill said after the Gophers’ first road victory over a ranked team since beating No. 6 Ohio State in October 2000. “I’d like to tell you how and why, but they’re a mentally tough group. We lose, in my opinion, one of the best backs in the nation, and our kids just stepped up.”

After the game, Cobb tweeted, “All is well! I’ll be ready to go next Saturday!”

That’s great news for the Gophers, but this victory at Nebraska showed they’re not just a one-man team.

Nebraska (8-3, 4-3) looked poised to win this one at halftime, after Randy Gregory blocked Ryan Santoso’s 30-yard field goal attempt and Nate Gerry returned it 85 yards for a touchdown. Instead of cutting Nebraska’s lead to 14-10, the Gophers suddenly trailed 21-7.

“We didn’t come in [at halftime] screaming or yelling or anything,” Kill said. “We thought we were playing pretty good. They just had a couple of breaks.”

Nebraska appeared to get another one when Cobb got injured on the run that trimmed the lead to 21-14.

“I wasn’t worried because we’ve got great running backs,” said Leidner, who passed for 135 yards and rushed 22 times for 111 yards and two touchdowns.

The Gophers had also lost Berkley Edwards to an unspecified injury after a second-quarter tackle. So it was up to Donnell Kirkwood (seven carries, 32 yards) and Rodrick Williams (three carries, 22 yards).

After Nebraska answered, stretching the lead to 24-14, the Gophers came right back down the field. On fourth-and-1 from the Nebraska 19, Kill called timeout and decided to go for it.

“At the end of the day, you’re on the road in Lincoln, Nebraska,” Kill said. “Hey, roll the dice a little bit. We had to have two scores. If it wouldn’t have worked, I would have had everybody in America telling me how stupid I was. Now, every once in a while they work.”

The Cornhuskers saw Williams, the Gophers’ short-yardage back, and jammed the middle. But Williams took the handoff and broke toward the right side, rumbling in for a 19-yard touchdown that made it 24-21.

The Gophers forced two more punts before Leidner led them on a 10-play, 80-yard drive. They caught a break when Leidner fumbled the ball right to left guard Zac Epping, who plowed forward for a 5-yard gain.

Leidner hit KJ Maye with a 38-yard strike and finished that drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. With 3:25 remaining, the Gophers had their first lead of the day.

Nebraska threatened to take the lead right back two minutes later. They had driven to the Gophers 30, and on third-and-9 Huskers quarterback Tommy Armstrong hit De’Mornay Pierson-El with a 28-yard pass to the 2.

The pass wasn’t going to count because Pierson-El was flagged for illegal touching after earlier stepping out of bounds. However, the result of the play turned out to be even better for the Gophers, as Boddy-Calhoun stripped the ball from the freshman’s hands.

“In Little League, my coach taught me that the play isn’t over until the ref blows the whistle,” Boddy-Calhoun said. “I’m always going to try to fight for the ball until the ref blows his whistle.”

Nebraska still had three timeouts, but Kirkwood sealed the victory with a 10-yard run on second down. Kirkwood said it didn’t take long to sink in that the Gophers will be heading to play for a division title.

“There won’t be any motivational speeches [next week],” Kill said. “I think we all know we’re battling for the Axe, we’re battling for the championship, we’re going to Madison. It doesn’t get better than that.”