In the third quarter, Minnesota pinned Nebraska on the 1 yard line. Nebraska promptly marched down the field and scored to take a 31-14 lead. In my mind, that was a microcosm of a game where Minnesota's injuries on defense finally affected the outcome of the game. The Gophers are too banged up on the defensive side of the ball to present a realistic challenge to a top offense. In Nebraska, Minnesota faced a team that had an excellent sense of what would and would not work against the Gophers.
Mitch Leidner started the game 17/19 with a Touchdown. Most of these completions were short passes, mainly screens to Maye and Wolitarsky. Still, if the Gophers had been able to put together any semblance of a run game, his performance would have been more than enough for a victory. Alas, that was an impossibility against Nebraska, who looked like the Blackshirts of old. He finished with over 300 yards passing, with one terrible interception at the end that Nebraska returned for a pick 6.
Let's talk about the line, or rather what passed for the line. This was the 6th starting line up in seven games for the Gophers. Derek Burns noted the importance of week to week consistency in our offensive line Q/A.
[C]onsistency from week to week is important. In my opinion an offensive lineman needs about 1-2 weeks of practice next to the same people to get a feel for how they combo block, trade off defenders, etc. Also, each week you prepare for the upcoming opponent's defensive schemes so it's important to get reps with the same people next to you against the defensive looks your going to see on Saturday so it isn't all brand new.
The inability to trade off defenders was a major problem throughout the game. The Gophers were constantly beat on stunts and run blitzes. Nebraska's defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage the entire game. Minnesota wants to define itself as a power running team, but that team has been absent against any competent rushing defense all year. That includes Kent State, which is sneaky good.
Finally, I do not understand the decision to kick the field goal and then go for the onside kick. The math does not make any sense, and it's another confusing decision by Jerry Kill and his staff.
Minnesota is now 1-2 in Big Ten play, chairless, and the schedule is unfavorable the rest of the way.