Less than two months separate us from the start of Nebraska football.
Year No. 3 of the Scott Frost campaign has fans in Lincoln excited. Hopefully, expectations are controlled after last season’s 5-7 finish.
The Cornhuskers bring back roughly 15 starters from the 2019 season. The loss of JD Spielman will hurt, but the continual pursuit of getting that true ‘Husker football culture back is well underway. In this 12-part series, we’ll be giving an early-season preview of each game.
To this point in our series, we have the Cornhuskers sitting at 7-4. On Thursday however, the Big Ten announced that it will play conference-only schedules. That would leave Nebraska at 4-4 at this point.
The 2020 season for Nebraska is set to conclude on Nov. 27 at home against Minnesota. The home team has won the last four games in the series. Last season in Minneapolis, the Golden Gophers beat Nebraska 34-7 en route to a top-10 finish and 11-win season.
Why Nebraska Will Win
A healthy Nebraska squad, unlike in 2019 against the Gophers, and a home match-up are big reasons to like the Huskers here. Minnesota lost five of its top six tacklers from 2019, and the Gophers return only four defensive starters. Minnesota is probably going to be in a lot of shootouts this upcoming year.
Also, the three-headed rotation at the running back position will no longer be a thing for Minnesota. It does return Mohamed Ibrahim, who is one of the better backs in the Big Ten. The loss of wide receiver Tyler Johnson is gonna be a bigger deal than most Gopher fans would think. The Golden Gophers return the entire starting offensive line, which should be enough for the Gophers to be dangerous. Expect a big letdown on the defensive side of the ball with the loss of All-American safety Antoine Winfield, Jr.
Why Minnesota Will Win
The Gophers’ offense is gonna be darn good. Quarterback Tanner Morgan is coming off of a big year and gets two of the better wideouts in the Big Ten returning in Rashod Bateman and Chris Autman-Bell. From watching Morgan’s film, he is gonna struggle without his safety outlet and route-running specialist in Tyler Johnson. The sloppy footwork at times and struggles under pressure might catch up with Morgan this year.
If Minnesota is to win this game, it will need a lot of offense and to create a few turnovers defensively. Without self-inflicted wounds, this should be a field day for the Nebraska offense.
The Huskers should have their way offensively in this game with an inexperienced Gopher defense. It’s easy to like the Huskers’ chances in this one, because of their secondary experience against the Minnesota passing attack. That should be the difference in the game here. The Huskers should be able to run up nearly 500 yards in this one.
Final Score: Nebraska 45 Minnesota 34
The projections had Nebraska finishing 8-4, but dropping non-conference games leaves the Cornhuskers at 5-4. That is still good for second in the Big Ten West behind Wisconsin. Assuming there are bowls, we pitted Nebraska against LSU in the Outback Bowl. That would set up a match-up between the Cornhuskers and their former head coach and current LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini.