Gophers replay Gophers 34, Nebraska 7
Running back Rodney Smith said Gophers coach P.J. Fleck showed the team clips of former NFL star Marshawn Lynch to inspire the team to establish the run against Nebraska. They did, amassing 322 rushing yards among Smith, Shannon Brooks and Mohamed Ibrahim. “We knew that we were going to have to run the ball in this weather,” Smith said. “… We as running backs just had to make people miss and run people over and over and over and over again.” The defense also stopped Nebraska, limiting the Cornhuskers to six of 16 third-down conversions and none of their four fourth-down tries.
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• Kamal Martin speaks on suspension: The senior linebacker spoke for the first time since a suspension for violating team rules that spanned last season’s bowl game and this year’s opener. “Just lessons learned,” he said. “You’ve got to change your best every single day, get better today than you were yesterday. And that’s what I’ve done since.”
• Sam Renner steps up: The senior defensive lineman has worked his way up from walk-on to starter, and he played his best game Saturday with four tackles, two pass breakups and a sack for a loss of 10 yards. Fleck said Renner has been the “anchor” of the defense with his ability to play many positions despite being undersized at 275 pounds. “He’s the guy you want with you when there’s crisis,” Fleck said.
• John Michael Schmitz starts: The sophomore earned his first start at center, as the offensive line shifted with right tackle Daniel Faalele out injured. Schmitz’s tenacity inspired the O-line to its best game of the season, allowing no sacks and helping the Gophers to 322 rushing yards. Fleck said on WCCO radio Sunday Faalele should return this week.
Up next: at Rutgers
2:30 p.m. Saturday
SHI Stadium (BTN)
The skinny: Rutgers hasn’t had a winning record since 2014, its first year in the Big Ten. And coach Chris Ash lost his job four games into this season after a 52-0 beating from Michigan. Ash managed only an 8-32 record since 2016. Former tight ends coach Nunzio Campanile is the interim coach and offensive coordinator, as Rutgers also fired former offensive coordinator John McNulty. Results haven’t been much better since. Rutgers is 1-5 and 0-4 in the Big Ten. The Scarlet Knights have allowed 216 points this year, scoring just 71.
Rutgers is coming off another shutout loss, 35-0 to Indiana. And its quarterback situation is dire. Freshman Johnny Langan was 5-for-13 for 1 yard against Indiana. That’s not a typo.