Minnesota comes to Lincoln, Nebraska Saturday night and both teams have a lot to prove. Minnesota because they face their first ranked team of the season. They only have two losses, but losing this game in Nebraska would derail the idea that the Gophers have scratched out their wins on quality opponents.
Nebraska only has two losses, but like Minnesota their two losses have come against their only high quality opponents this season. To lose this game against the Gophers would take away a lot of goodwill that Mike Riley has established in his second year the program.
Bottom line: both teams are looking for more confidence. That leads us to our first reason as to why our beloved Huskers will lose.
62 – 3.
That's a pretty heady score. That's the kind of score that leads to sports hangovers. I'm not talking about the type of hangover where your head hurts so you just get up and start drinking some more and then keep doing that day after day, but that analogy might fit here because hangovers are more about not allowing yourself to get back to being 100% while you're wallowing in self-pity. You feel bad about yourself and you should because you're a bad person.… Wait, I have digressed. Let's get back to football.
Both of these teams are slow starters. It will be important for Nebraska to keep an even keel and not allow bad things to happen early, such as last week when Tommy Armstrong threw a pick six on the third play of the game. If something that bad happens again this week, it will be easy for the Huskers to fall into a funk and start feeling bad about themselves. Just like you and your hangover.
You saw what happened when Nebraska was unable to get pressure on the opposing team's quarterback. JT Barrett stood in the backfield and had his pick of targets and ripped Nebraska’s secondary to shreds. Minnesota's quarterback Mitch Leidner isn't JT Barrett and he’s taken a lot of crap since Todd McShay declared him as a first round NFL draft pick. Despite the crap, Leidner can get on a streak and when he does he can be deadly. Nebraska has to make sure that the good Leidner doesn't show up on Saturday because if he does there will be trouble!
Consistency Of Purpose
Minnesota's offense is based on running the ball. They know this. The big hefty guys that make up their offensive line know this. The running backs they recruit know this. Nebraska knows it. The Gophers have had basically the same ground-based offense since Glen Mason (Tim
Webster Brewster doesn’t count; nobody knew what that guy was doing).
They’re not a team that tries to blow people away with pace and wing-zing. They’re what a lot of Nebraska fans want us to be, except they do it less talent. They want to wear you down, wear you out, and then dominate you late in the game.
Because they understand who they are, they don’t freak out as much. Memorial Stadium at night won’t have as much effect on them as we’d like to think.
Tommy Tommy Ryker Ryker
At the time of this writing we don't know whether or not Tommy Armstrong will be able to play against Minnesota. The best bet is that he won't because the potential severity of another head injury so soon after the one he had against Ohio State.
That leaves us with Ryker Fyfe. It isn't so much that Fyfe is more of a dropback passer, it's that his style would be quite a change from what Nebraska's offense has done successfully so far this season. You can practice for it during the week, but that's a pretty limited amount of time to get ready for a change of that level.
Will our coaches feel it’s necessary to throw the ball more with Ryker in at quarterback? I believe so. I believe that Danny Langsdorf’s true nature is tossing it around rather than running, and we’re just not prepared to that this season. That doesn’t bode well for a Husker win.
I usually don’t like to wimp out and include turnovers as one of the five reasons because turnovers are the reasons that you win and lose games all of the time.
In this case I think it's important to point out that Minnesota leads the Big Ten (third in the nation) in turnover margin at +12. If that doesn't get you to understand that the Gophers have a fairly decent defense I don't know what else to tell you.
Tommy Armstrong hasn't thrown the ball that well in the past few games. On the season he has 11 touchdowns to go with eight interceptions. Four of those eight interceptions have come in the last three games, six in the last four games. Early this season Nebraska was doing great in the turnover game; now not so much.
Bonus - Mitch Leidner’s Beard
Our quarterbacks don’t have beards. Mitch Leidner has a beard. It appears to be a very strong beard although you can’t tell a whole lot while he’s wearing the helmet. I cannot grow a beard (unless you consider the Ted Kaczynski look to be a strong beard, and I can’t even grow one as strong as him), and therefore feel inferior.
Mitch Leidner will destroy us with his lumberjacky beard.