Huskers run down the Gophers, set sights on sparkling Spartans
The 14 th ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers went to Minneapolis and took care of business beating the Minnesota Golden Gophers, 41-14 on Saturday. The game may have never been in serious doubt to begin with, but one play really effected the game early.
Nebraska drove to the Gopher’s 13 yard line during first quarter play leading 3-0, but faced a fourth and one. The Huskers put out the offense to get the first down, and that is just what they did, although on one of the most interesting plays perhaps college football has seen in a long while.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez went down the line on an option play and pitched the ball to freshmen running back Aaron Green who couldn’t handle it, with the ball skipping out of bounds. To many faithful football fans it would appear that Minnesota had stiffened, and could have gained some momentum.
After further review of the play the referees came to the conclusion first down Nebraska at the eleven yard line. Rule 7, Section 6, and article 4 of the rulebook reads if a backward pass bounces out of bounds, the ball is spotted where it left the field of play going to the “passing“ team. It appeared that Martinez’s pitch was ruled a backwards pass and therefore a live ball that skipped out at the eleven yard line giving the Huskers a first down.
One play later Martinez found fullback Tyler Legate in the flat for an eleven yard touchdown and the rout was on. Starting the second quarter, freshmen wide receiver Kenny Bell took a reverse 82 yards for a touchdown. Following a field goal the defense got on the board with an 11 yard fumble return for a touchdown by senior safety Austin Cassidy. Then just before half, junior running back Rex Burkehead capped a 73 yard drive with a 3 yard touchdown run pushing the halftime lead to 34-0. It didn’t change much after the intermission.
With or without that peculiar play it looked as if the Huskers were too strong, too fast, and too physical all game against the Gophers. The Huskers rolled up 515 total yards of offense on the day, and looked solid on defense.
Burkehead had another day on the job rushing 23 times for 117 yards and a touchdown. This marks the fourth time in five games that Burkehead has totaled over 100 yards rushing in a game. Martinez pitched in 52 yards rushing on ten carries. All three of the freshmen Husker running backs saw significant action with Braylon Heard leading the way totaling 42 yards on 7 carries. Ameer Abdullah chipped in 30 yards on 7 carries and Aaron Green gained 20 yards on 6 carries and scored a touchdown. The Huskers piled up 346 rushing yards on the day.
Martinez, minus some drops by receivers, looked sharp passing. He was 13 of 22 for 162 yards and the touchdown toss to Legate, with no interceptions. That was key for the Huskers offense all day not turning the ball over the entire game. Backup redshirt freshmen quarterback Brion Carnes got most of the fourth quarter, mostly handing the ball off, and did find fellow freshmen receiver Jamal Turner for a 7 yard gain on his only throw of the day.
With all the success offensively it was hard to notice the day the Nebraska defense was having. On the day the Gophers gained just 254 total yards of offense. The Husker defense forced countless three and outs, and the one turnover, turning that into points.
Gopher junior quarterback MarQuesis Gray was the most effective player for Minnesota. He was 9 of 18 passing for 122 yards. Gray did do some damage on the ground though, rushing 17 times for 67 yards and a touchdown. Senior running back Duane Bennett was the other Gopher to find the end zone. Bennett rushed 12 times for 55 yards.
Nebraska (6-1 and 2-1 in Big Ten play) now looks to a date with the red hot 11 th ranked Michigan State Spartans (6-1 and 3-0 in Big Ten play) for a tug at the Legends division lead. Minnesota (1-6 and 0-3 in Big Ten play) will look to take some steps in the right direction staying at home to face the Iowa Hawkeyes (5-2 and 2-1 in Big Ten Play).