Nebraska is coming off of a very difficult loss at Wisconsin, and if they can't refocus and prepare for their next task versus Minnesota then the struggles will continue.
This week's game is a matchup of two top 25 teams, both coming off a loss. The difference; Minnesota feels better about their loss to Ohio State, and Nebraska, well we all know how that felt.
Here are five reasons Nebraska could lose to Minnesota.
Nebraska is coming off of their worst defensive performance under Bo Pelini and one of the program's worst ever. There was no hope in stopping Melvin Gordon and the Wisconsin rushing attack.
It won't get that much easier when David Cobb comes to town. Cobb has tallied over 1,300 rushing yards and has 11 touchdowns on the season.
There is no doubt what Minnesota wants to do. They will look to run the ball repeatedly and every now and again run the play action pass to a tight end to pick up a third and intermediate. If Nebraska struggles to stop the run again, it will be another long day.
Ball control is very important to a team like Minnesota. Minnesota is very good at keeping the ball and creating turnovers. Minnesota has turned the ball over 16 times this season, but has created 25 turnovers, which ranks 11th in the country.
We saw last week that Nebraska has issues with fumbling. Minnesota will look to exploit that as they have recovered 12 fumbles on the season to rank 8th nationally in that category.
Minnesota also ranks in the top 20 in interceptions. Overall, Minnesota is 12th in the country with an impressive .90 turnover margin. If Nebraska struggles to hold onto the ball again this week, the Golden Gophers have a chance to run away with the game.
We saw it last year in the game versus Minnesota. Minnesota wants to throw the ball to the tight ends as much as possible. When you have a quarterback like Mitch Leidner you are going to want to make it as easy on him as possible. Leidner is only completing 51% of his passes, and the majority of those are going to his trustworthy tight end Maxx Williams. Williams is the leading receiver for the Gophers with 25 receptions and 373 yards and might be the best tight end in the Big Ten. By themselves the numbers are not all that impressive, but seven of those 25 receptions have gone for touchdowns.
When Minnesota gets near the goal line and the opposition is expecting run, look for Minnesota to run a play action pass to Williams.
Minnesota Controls its destiny
Minnesota and Wisconsin both control their own destiny. Win out and you're in the Big Ten Championship game.
This Gopher team will be motivated to come into Lincoln and steal a victory. Minnesota wants to prove itself as a main contender for years to come in the West division, and beating Nebraska in Memorial Stadium will get them one step closer to a potential rematch with Ohio State.
Nebraska's lack of a passing game
Tommy Armstrong Jr. has lost all confidence. He is a very talented quarterback who has the ability and natural talent to become great. The issue is he lacks the self-confidence that a quarterback needs to become successful.
The problem is not all on Armstrong; his offensive line has been pathetic at times and gives him no protection. When you have a guy with no confidence and no time to make a play with his arm, you're going to have a week like he did last week. If the Gophers are able to get to Armstrong early in the game and ruin his confidence once more, look for another poor performance from this Nebraska offense.
Nebraska is favored to win this game, but I think the majority of Husker nation feels like Minnesota could very well come into Memorial and leave with a victory. If Nebraska can refocus after a very difficult loss then they should be able to take care of the Gophers, but if there is any hangover from a rough weekend the Gophers will make this a close game.