Jerry Kill has been doing many things to bring the Minnesota Golden Gophers to prominence in the Big 10 and on a National level. In a process that has taken him several years, it appears that the Golden Gophers are rising to a level where they need to be respected and feared by their opposition. That level of play was evident on Saturday when the Golden Gophers were able to control the clock and have no turnovers against a difficult Nebraska team.
The game got started on the ground and the Gophers put themselves in a tough position when they gave up a 2 yard touchdown run to Ameer Abdullah to give Nebraska an early lead, but then Mitch Leidner was able to score from one yard out on their next drive to tie things back up. Nebraska has continually struggled in their passing attack this season but was able to retake the lead when Tommy Armstrong Jr. connected with De'Mornay Pierson-El from 18 yards out to take a 14-7 lead. Then possible top 5 pick in next year's draft, Randy Gregory, blocked a field goal for Minnesota and it was picked up by Nate Gerry and returned 85 yards for another Nebraska touchdown to give them a 2 touchdown advantage at the end of the first half. Usually with a lead like this it is rare to see a trailing team come back on the road, but Minnesota dug in their heels and knew what they needed to do in the second half.
It started with forcing Nebraska's offense to lose 15 yards on their opening drive of the second half while forcing a three and out. Most of those yards coming on a sack by Junior linebacker De'Vondre Campbell on third and 14. Then they got a healthy dose of David Cobb rushing the ball, which is a well known weakness for the Husker defense. David Cobb scored on their first offensive possession of the 2nd half to get the Gophers within a touchdown. Nebraska would follow that up with a 30 yard field goal by Drew Brown on their next possession to go up 24-14, but that would be it for the Huskers scoring on the day.
The Golden Gophers bounced right back though with more rushing on their next drive. It was completed by another rushing touchdown, this time by Rodrick Williams Jr. from 19 yards out. Minnesota would get the ball back again in the final quarter, starting after a touchback. On the first play, Leidner fumbled the ball, but it was recovered for Minnesota by Zac Epping. Leidner would control the ball better the rest of the drive. Scoring a rushing touchdown himself again from 2 yards out to give the Gophers their first lead of the game, 28-24.
Despite their best efforts, Nebraska just came up short on a comeback themselves. The game ended when De'Mornay Pierson-El would fumble the ball just a few yards from getting a touchdown himself. Fumbling at the Golden Gopher 2 yard line. But Briean Boddy-Calhoun forced and recovered the fumble and Minnesota just needed to run a few plays and got a first down and were able to run the clock out to get a well earned victory.
Next up for the Minnesota Golden Gophers (8-3, 5-2) is the game that will decide the Big 10 West. They will travel to Camp Randall Stadium to face the Wisconsin Badgers. Winner takes the Big 10 West and travels to Indianapolis for the Big 10 Championship. The Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-3, 4-3) will take on the Iowa Hawkeyes in Iowa City on Black Friday in the Heroes game.