The Golden Gophers lose at home to Nebraska 25-48 giving up the most points since losing 0-58 at Michigan in 2011, Jerry Kill's first season. A balanced and complete offensive performance by the Cornhuskers that was capped by a couple interceptions as Minnesota tried to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter.
Nebraska has had their issues with putting teams away this season losing four games in the final seconds of the game. Today they did not fall victim to another end of game meltdown as they took the lead over the Golden Gophers, extended it and put them away. Behind 471 yards of total offense, the Cornhuskers were never really threatened, taking home the coveted $5 Bits of Broken Chair rivalry trophy.
Once again the Gophers are playing the game of plugging one hole only to find another one leaking. This week the offense looked fine putting up 366 yards of offense. K.J. Maye had 11 receptions for 94 yards and a rushing touchdown. Mitch Leidner threw for 301 yards completing 65% of his passes before two late picks sealed our fate. But it was the defense who really struggled to stop the Nebraska offense. All day the Gopher D was on their heels giving up 41 points (48 was the total but 7 of those was a late pick-six), 464 yards and long drives. Nebraska did not punt until the third quarter and only twice for the game.
The Gopher offense, which has struggled mightily this year early in games, took the opening kick off and marched down for a very precise and quick 0-7 lead. Leider goes 5/5 on the drive and finishes it off with a 24-yard pass to Eric Carter in the end zone. Nebraska's pass defense problems have been well-documented and it looked at though the Gopher offense would be able to move the ball this afternoon on the Black Shirts.
But from that point it was pretty much all Nebraska. They took the ball and in three plays scored on a 69-yard run by Terrell Newby to tie things up. Newby would end up with 116 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. Later in the quarter, following a Shannon Brooks fumble, the Huskers scored again in three plays. This time it was Tommy Armstrong Jr. finding Alonzo Moore for a 32-yard touchdown pass on third and 13. Now up 14-7, extended to 17-7 early in the second quarter.
Minnesota took the ball at this point and managed a very nice, 75-yard drive in eight plays to get back to within 3. But the defense couldn't stop Nebraska's answer as they also went 75 yards on eight plays to get back to a 10-point lead that they would take into halftime.
The third quarter's only score was a 99-yard, back-breaking drive by Nebraska to open things up to 31-14 after Armstrong hit Cethan Carter from 10 yards out to cap the drive. Now up 31-14, which then was pushed to 38-14 in the fourth quarter on Armstrong's third touchdown of the day. The Nebraska quarterback ended with a very nice day of 261 yards passing, 3 touchdowns and no turnovers.
Minnesota briefly made things interesting, scoring early in the fourth, converting a two-point conversion and forcing a Nebraska punt. But other than an odd decision to kick a field goal, down 16 points, the Gophers never came close to scoring again. Their final two possessions were interceptions as the offense was in desperation mode. No dramatic loss in the final minutes for Nebraska fans this week.
A very frustrating game for the Gophers. The defense was just out of position and on their heels all game long, allowing Nebraska to move the ball freely. In the end Jerry Kill did what he does which is weakly attempt to take the blame saying it was on him and he was out-coached today. He is accurate that Nebraska beat Minnesota both on the field and from the sidelines.
Bad game in what has been undoubtedly a disappointing season. More to come this week but tonight I suggest bourbon. Something barrel proof on this beautiful Fall evening. Enjoy the week off before Michigan comes to town.