MINNEAPOLIS – As the snow fell and the wind blew and October in the Big Ten West’s northernmost outpost delivered a night more befitting the holiday season than midseason, P.J. Fleck’s Minnesota team put a cold-weather beating on Nebraska.
The Golden Gophers, around whom much of the talk this week surrounded a talented set of wide receivers and a quarterback completing more than 70% of his passes, set the tone from the opening possession, when sixth-year running back Rodney Smith ripped off a 35-yard run right through the Husker defense on the game’s second snap.
Then he got 7 more. Then fifth-year senior Shannon Brooks rolled for 7 more. One play later, the Gophers had their first touchdown of the night.
This was the way it went for the home team, the one that showed up ready to rumble on the second-coldest October kickoff on record in TCF Bank Stadium’s 10-year history and delivered a 34-7 thumping to the visiting Huskers.
The loss dropped Nebraska to 4-3 this season and 2-2 in Big Ten play as the program hits the first of two bye weeks with significant work to do if it wants to gets anywhere near the division title picture and a strong test just to get to six wins and bowl qualification. Minnesota, meanwhile, is 6-0 overall, 3-0 in Big Ten play, tied with Wisconsin (6-0, 3-0) for the West lead.
The Huskers have given up a combined 82 points in their two Big Ten losses.
UM rolled up 220 of its 257 first-half yards – 110 for Smith, 73 for Brooks on just four carries and 33 and a touchdown for sophomore Mohamed Ibrahim – as the Gophers built a 14-0 halftime lead that felt at least double the margin.
Overall, Minnesota finished with 322 rushing yards.
Nebraska’s offense wasn’t totally without production in the opening 30 minutes with sophomore Noah Vedral at the helm and injured sophomore Adrian Martinez (left knee) in sweats on the sideline, but three opening drives stalled in Minnesota territory to turn early promise into repeated frustration.
First the Huskers petered out on downs after a 46-yard, game-opening march. On the second drive, a 51-yard catch-and-run from Vedral to junior JD Spielman was immediately followed by back-to-back sacks.
Then a block-in-the-back penalty on what would have been another eye-popping play from freshman Wan’Dale Robisnon turned first-and-goal at the 4 into second-and-22 at the 45. Two plays later, the Huskers punted.
Bad turned worse in the second quarter when Robinson went to the turf with an apparent left ankle injury. The dynamic rookie, who had won two Big Ten freshman of the week awards in the past three weeks, was helped to the medical tent on the NU sideline and then carted from there to the visiting locker room with about six minutes remaining before halftime.
Nebraska tried to shake the early third-quarter doldrums its faced the past month by coming out of the locker room and running plays against air at the end of intermission like it does before games start.
It …read more
Source:: Daily times