This Big Ten matchup features many storylines for two teams who are still hoping for big things in the 2013 football season. Both the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Nebraska Cornhuskers have much to lose this week and much more to gain if they come out victorious.
For the Huskers, the stakes are simple. A victory would mean their quest for BCS relevance would continue, as would their hopes for a chance to represent the Legends division in a Big Ten Championship game. For the Gophers, the stakes are a bit different. There are no BCS hopes for the Gophers this season, but an astonishing victory over the Northwestern Wildcats showed the true resilience of a team that has overcame quite a bit this season.
The Gophers have been without their head coach Jerry Kill, who is suffering from seizures due to epilepsy. The Gophers have continued to battle after early losses this season. A win for the Gophers would bring their Big Ten record to 2-2, giving them hope for a good bowl game at season’s end.
The Golden Gophers will undoubtedly come out with a great amount of passion in front of a home crowd on Saturday. Although the team has been without coach Kill, he has made his presence felt by keeping constant contact with his team and staff, and even driving himself to last week’s game in Illinois.
Unfortunately, passion does not always translate into success on the field. It can lead to reckless play. This is something that the Gophers cannot afford to do against the Huskers this weekend. They may have gotten lucky against the Wildcats last week, but the Gophers should not expect luck to defeat the Huskers this weekend. The Huskers’ defense is too well coached and though they may bend, they will not break often.
The Gophers will stick to their rushing attack and will be well advised to do so. The Huskers will exploit the lack of an effective passing game by the Gophers, and it will result in turnovers. Fans should expect the Huskers to take away at least one interception in this week’s matchup. For those expecting this to be the deciding factor in this week’s game, they can think again. Expect the Huskers to turn the ball over in this week’s game.
With the return of Taylor Martinez, fans will potentially see five quarterbacks under center in Saturday’s game: Martinez, Tommy Armstrong and Ron Kellogg for the Huskers, and Philip Nelson and Mitch Leidner for the Gophers. With this many quarterbacks, there will be center-to-quarterback exchange issues as well as interceptions. Sloppy play will result in at least four turnovers total in the game.
Ultimately, this contest should result in a walk-away victory for the Cornhuskers. Expect the Blackshirts to turn in their best performance so far this season coming off of a great game against the Purdue Boilermakers and a bye week. Also, Ameer Ahbdullah and the running game should be a deciding factor for the Huskers, who are now without their best pass-protector Spencer Long for the remainder of the season.