Minnesota overcame an early 10-point deficit to beat Nebraska 20-13 in Lincoln. It was a tale of two halves for both of these teams. Nebraska controlled the first two quarters and the script flipped with Minnesota dominating the final two behind 128 yards and 2 touchdowns from Mohamed Ibrahim. The Gophers scored 20 unanswered points in the second half to take the lead and improve to 6-3 on the season.
The Gopher offense was facing the worst defense in the Big Ten and in the first half, they were absolutely terrible by every measure. They managed -7 yards rushing (mostly due to 3 sacks), 31 total yards of offense and the ultimate measure of ZERO points. The offensive line struggled in all facets, Tanner Morgan was inaccurate, play-calling was suspect and receivers were dropping balls (this remained in the 2nd half as well).
There were drives that began to look promising but too many negative yardage plays that put the offense behind the sticks and killed any momentum. It was a total failure and 0-10 deficit for Minnesota at the half.
The second half opened with ESPN reporting that Morgan was not playing in the second half due to an undisclosed injury. Enter Athan Kaliakmanis to start the third quarter and the Gopher offense woke up. It was all three phases complementing each other to make the comeback.
After only 31 yards in the first half, the Gopher offense had 217 in the third quarter alone. They scored on 4 of their first 5 possessions. Ibrahim, who had 25 yards rushing at halftime, ran for 103. Kaliakmanis threw for 137 and rushed for 27 on three carries.
The defense did their part to shut down Nebraska as well. The Cornhuskers scored a touchdown on their opening drive and a field goal on their second. Their third drive was 6 plays for 19 yards.
Then the defense forced 6 consecutive three-and-outs.
It was 144 yards of offense and 10 points for Nebraska on those first three drives. It was 24 yards and an interception on their next six.
And don’t forget the special teams. Matthew Trickett was 2/2 on field goals, hitting from 47 and 49. Matthew Crawford had only 2 punts in the second half but both put Nebraska inside of their own 20.
From the Gopher's perspective, it was a really ugly first half. Followed by a second half of exactly what we expected.
We know what to expect from this defense, we know what to expect from Ibrahim. But there are now significant questions about what the Gophers will do at quarterback for the final four games of the season.
Up next is Northwestern at Huntington Bank stadium next week.