MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – After flirting with danger in each of its first four games, Minnesota finally delivered the kind of complete performance expected from a team that owns one of the longer winning streaks in the country. The 25th-ranked Golden Gophers seek an eighth straight victory overall Saturday when they host a Nebraska team that could be without at least two of its most important offensive players.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1. LINE: Minnesota -7.5
Minnesota, which became the first program since 1985 to win four straight one-possession games to start the season, won those contests by a combined 20 points and needed to rally in the fourth quarter against a trio of non-Power 5 opponents before nearly giving up a late 21-point lead to a shorthanded Purdue team in the Big Ten opener. The Gophers gave up two defensive scores last week at home to Illinois but was otherwise dominant while churning out 332 yards on the ground en route to a 40-17 victory. Nebraska matched its win total from last season following its 13-10 win over Northwestern despite losing top receiver JD Spielman (knee) before halftime and quarterback Adrian Martinez (knee) in the third quarter. While coach Scott Frost said neither injury was serious, their status for this contest figures to remain in question until later in the week.
ABOUT NEBRASKA (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten)
Sophomore Noah Vedral took over for Martinez after he left the game on the final play of the third quarter and has handled first-team reps in practice while the Cornhuskers play the waiting game on Martinez. Wan'Dale Robinson was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week for the second time this season after leading Nebraska in rushing (seven carries for 44 yards) and receiving (seven catches for 123 yards) against Northwestern; his team-high 25 receptions are tied for the most by a true freshman in school history. Mohamed Barry became the 37th Nebraska player to amass 200 career tackles with eight stops versus the Wildcats and is vying to become only the sixth Cornhusker with back-to-back 100-tackle seasons.
ABOUT MINNESOTA (5-0, 2-0)
Rodney Smith, who ran for a career-high 211 yards against Illinois to post the best individual rushing effort by a Gopher since Laurence Maroney had 215 in 2005, ranks fourth in school history with 3,495 rushing yards and third in career all-purpose yards with 4,740. Sophomore quarterback Tanner Morgan ranks fourth in FBS in passing efficiency at 198.1, fifth in yards per attempt (11.3) and 17th in completion percentage (70.3); he is the first Minnesota quarterback since at least 1990 with three or more passing touchdowns in three consecutive games. Tyler Johnson has five receiving scores in the last three games to run his career total to 25, leaving him six shy of tying the school record.
1. Minnesota's 78 points through its first two Big Ten games are its most since 1986.
2. The Cornhuskers' 36 scrimmage plays of 20-plus yards rank second in the conference and 12th in the country.
3. The Gophers last week held a Big Ten opponent without an offensive touchdown for the first time since 2012.
PREDICTION: Minnesota 31, Nebraska 21