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Minnesota Football-Nebraska Beats Minnesota 24-17

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NCAA Football: Minnesota at Nebraska Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota lost to Nebraska in Lincoln 24-17. Tommy Armstrong had an excellent second half to lead the Cornhuskers to victory. Minnesota had a chance to tie it, but Mitch Leidner threw a bad ball that was tipped and picked off at the 2 yard line. It was a bad pass, and will overshadow multiple great plays on the same drive. Minnesota’s defense had its worst effort of the season in the second half. With the loss, the Gophers are functionally, if not mathematically, eliminated from the West.

After an excellent first half, Jay Johnson reverted to bad habits from early in the season. Minnesota seemed listless on offense. The offensive line had problems all second half generating push against Nebraska. A fair amount of that is on the offensive play calling, which continued to press for runs against 8 and 9 man boxes even when quick passes to Wolitarsky and Still had been successful.

Rodney Smith was bottled up in the second half because his line could not open holes. That’s been the story all year with the line, and it continued tonight.

I’m not sure what happened to the Gophers’ tackling ability in the second half. Basic fundamentals deserted them on every Nebraska scoring drive. The Gophers needed to play a mistake free game to beat the Huskers, and on defense did anything but. Credit to Nebraska’s offensive play calling, which made the necessary adjustments to Sawvel’s game plan. The Cornhuskers were creative on offense and exploited the edges of Minnesota’s defense. Still, it was depressing to see the defense regress so much in the second half.