The Huskers got the win they’d been looking for Saturday on the road against Minnesota. Entering the game with a 2-4 record, and 0-2 in Big Ten play, Nebraska needed something to go right. Throughout most of Saturday’s game, things did go right for the Huskers en route to a 48-25 win over the Golden Gophers.
“One of our main issues coming into the game was answering the bell again,” said Head Coach Mike Riley. “Playing hard and making sure we were physically and mentally ready to go, on top of a lot of really tough defeats.”
But Nebraska started in a whole as Minnesota drove down the field to score on its first possession to start to the game. Trailing 7-0 early, the Husker offense answered the call by creating scoring chances on all five first half possessions.
The Huskers first score came on a 69-yard touchdown run by Terrell Newby. “They set up things good up front,” said Newby following the game. “It all starts with them. When they do their job I can do my job.” Newby finished the game with 116 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns.
Tommy Armstrong Jr. had an impressive day both on the ground and through the air. Armstrong threw for 261 yards on 18/26 pass attempts and three touchdown passes.
Riley pointed to the offensive balance as a key to victory for the Huskers, “The balance was, I think, a good picture of what this team will have to do to continue winning.” At one point in the game, Armstrong has 10 consecutive completions.
Defensively, Nebraska was challenged by a more potent passing attack from Minnesota than they’d shown throughout the season. Linebacker Josh Banderas said the Huskers were able to force Minnesota out of their comfort zone.
“Make them beat us with something that they’re not use to doing,” Banderas said. “They started doing some different things that we hadn’t seen before because they knew their base offense wasn’t working.”
The Huskers forced three turnovers in the game, its first turnovers forced since the Southern Miss game. As a team, Minnesota only rushed for 65 yards on 26 attempts. Gopher quarterback Mitch Leidner has success through the air, completing 26 passes for 301 yards. But when it counted, the Husker defense stiffened, intercepting passes on each of Minnesota’s final two possessions to close out the game.
“These kids have been through a ton of last second disappointment and it’s great to see the smiles and that their work paid off this week,” said Riley.
Nebraska returns to action next Saturday, hosting Northwestern at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.