Things have looked better for Scott Frost and the Nebraska Cornhuskers. While starting quarterback Adrian Martinez avoided a serious injury, his status for Saturday night’s road game at the Minnesota Gophers remains in question. Both he and wideout JD Spielman will be evaluated throughout the week before a determination is made.
Should the Huskers have to play without two of their stars, do they stand a chance against the unbeaten Gophers in their own house? Let’s take a closer look at the college football matchup.
When and Where: Nebraska at Minnesota
- Location: TCF Bank Stadium (Minneapolis)
- Date: 10/12/19 (Saturday)
- Time: 7:30 pm EST
- Coverage: Fox Sports 1
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Analyzing the matchup with no certainty on two of the Huskers’ big-time playmakers is still very much doable, but the truth is coming away with a win would be difficult even with both Martinez and Spielman at full strength. Still, to truly challenge for the Big Ten West division crown, Nebraska needs to show it can give the current leaders a run for their money.
Nebraska came into the season with a No. 24 preseason ranking in the AP Top 25 and the high expectations to match, but a floundering loss at Colorado and a supreme beating inside their own stadium at the hands of Ohio State tempered the excitement some. Despite a winning outcome, things didn’t get much better against Northwestern. Martinez was doing OK before he was knocked out on the final play of the third quarter, leaving Noah Vedral to heave the Huskers to a dramatic 13-10 win over the Wildcats with a last-second field goal.
Frost and Vedral both say they have confidence in the backup quarterback’s abilities going forward, but losing depth on the offensive line has proved troublesome for the Huskers offense — too troublesome to overcome this season, according to a consensus among contributors at SB Nation’s Nebraska page Corn Nation.
The Gophers spent some time in the early week preparing for the wintry conditions that could await them this weekend, projected to have temperatures fall to the upper 30s with both rain and snow possible. P.J. Fleck has gone as far as having his players dunk their hands in ice prior to series in practice.
Talk about dedication.
Minnesota might not necessarily need the frigid exposure considering where they call home, but Fleck isn’t taking any chances with his unbeaten team — even at home — after getting off to its best start since 2004. The Gophers whooped the Fighting Illini for homecoming and are neck and neck with Wisconsin for the Big Ten West lead. Fitting, then, that they’ll meet the Badgers for their regular-season finale.
Until then, though, the Gophers are looking to take another step forward after a defensive improvement. They restrained Illinois to just 17 points — a season-best for Minnesota’s defense — after allowing more than 30 points in each of their previous three matchups. Scouting around the conference, there almost couldn’t be a better next-step game for the defense than a battered Huskers offense.
Betting Odds & Trends
- Minnesota (-7.5) vs. Nebraska
- Over/Under: 49.5
*All odds are courtesy of Odds Shark
- 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games
- 8-4 SU in their last 12 games
- Total has gone OVER in 11 of their last 15 games against Big Ten opponents
- 7-0 SU in their last seven games
- 5-1 SU in their last 6 home games
- Total has gone UNDER in 6 of their last 9 games
Head to Head
- 2-1 ATS for Nebraska in last three meetings with Minnesota
- 5-2-1 O/U over 8 total matchups
- Nebraska has 34.0 ppg and Minnesota has 26.75 ppg over 8 meetings
Martinez or no Martinez, the Huskers are facing an uphill battling coming into Minneapolis. The Gophers are steadying their defense and have an offense coming off 487-yard outing, including a career-best 211 yards on 24 carries from Rodney Smith. Shannon Brooks didn’t make out so bad, either, with 111 yards on 16 carries. If together the Minnesota rushers do even half the damage, Nebraska’s up-and-down offense might not be able to keep up.
Pick: Take Minnesota to win, but don’t expect to cover the spread if the weather turns nasty. Take the under and save yourself some trouble.