It took a bit of time, but the Nebraska Cornhuskers are once again back in the top-25 rankings for week nine. The Cornhuskers are now 5-1 on the season and could be a dark-horse contender at the moment to take away the Big Ten title from an Ohio State Buckeyes team that seemingly won it before the season began.
On the other side of the field, the Minnesota Golden Gophers are one game away from bowl eligibility after a huge upset win on the road against the Northwestern Wildcats. The most impressive thing about the win was that the Gophers won the game without head coach Jerry Kill on the sidelines — the coach took a leave of absence.
Nebraska has been without star quarterback Taylor Martinez for over a month now. The senior quarterback suffered a turf toe injury on Sept. 14 and he has yet to return to action, possibly missing this week’s game as well. Senior quarterback Ron Kellogg III has filled in during Martinez’s absence and played pretty well, passing for 352 yards and two touchdowns with a 75 percent completion rate. While Kenny Bell and Quincy Enunwa have had solid seasons thus far, they haven’t broken out like they would with one quarterback leading the offense instead of three. The Cornhuskers’ offense has thrived because of Ameer Abdullah and the run game. The junior running back has 816 yards and eight touchdowns for the 10th-ranked run offense in the nation.
Minnesota’s offense has not been nearly as impressive through the air as it would have hoped. Ranking 119th in the nation in passing yards per game, the Golden Gophers have been going back and forth between Mitch Leidner and Philip Nelson on the year as neither one has broken out and made a clear case as the top quarterback. Luckily for the Gophers, however, the run game has been solid, ranking 29th in the nation. David Cobb leads the attack with 477 yards and five touchdowns. One case for the freshman quarterback, Leidner, to start is that he can also run the ball, racking up 344 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
Defensively, the Golden Gophers rank 42nd in the nation in points allowed per game. While they rank in the top-50 in points allowed, they rank just 57th in yards allowed per game with just over 400. Nebraska has had a hard time figuring things out on the defensive side of the ball, ranking 34th in points against per game as well as 50th in yards against per game.
Nebraska will travel to Minnesota to take on the Golden Gophers at 12 p.m. EST on Saturday, Oct. 26. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN.
PREDICTION: Nebraska 31, Minnesota 30