June 18, 2024

Huskers still looking for first road win of the season

Nebraska Cornhuskers Football

Nebraska defensive end Ty Robinson (99) and linebacker Caleb Tannor (2) exit the field after a 30-22 loss to Illinois Saturday August 28, 2021 at Memorial Stadium. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

Nebraska hasn’t won a road game since defeating Rutgers in last year’s season finale.

Scott Frost’s team came up short at Illinois, Oklahoma and Michigan State. It’s been a frustrating process for Big Red Nation because the Huskers could’ve won all of those contests. Instead Nebraska been finding different ways to lose games. The late fourth quarter fumble by Adrian Martinez in last week’s loss to Michigan, is a perfect example of Nebraska’s shortcomings.

Still, Husker fans believe their team is growing stronger together with each game and is due for a road victory.

Now Nebraska (3-4) will travel to TCF Bank Stadium this Saturday to play Minnesota. Despite the Golden Gophers coming off a bye-week, Husker fans feel they’re catching them at the right time. That’s because Minnesota is down its’ top-two rushers with Mohamed Ibrahim and Treyvon Potts out for the season.

Regardless of the matter, P.J. Fleck has had enough time to make adjustments and add some wrinkles to his offense. Not to mention quarterback Tanner Morgan is one of the most experienced players in the Big Ten. Morgan will be asked to do a lot more against the Blackshirts, considering most of Minnesota’s rushing production is gone.

Up to this point Morgan has been nothing more than a game manager, with four touchdown passes and two interceptions through five games. However, the key matchup will be Nebraska’s offense against Minnesota’s defense.

The Golden Gophers have one of the Big Ten’s best defenses. The unit ranks 20th in the FBS in total defense and fifth against the run, allowing 77 rushing yards per game. So Frost should be expecting a dogfight on his hands, and points might be hard to come by, with both defenses dictating the flow of the game.

Silly penalties and fundamental mistakes will not get it done on the road. In order for the Huskers to come out successful, they’ll have to play one of their cleanest games of the season. Minnesota (3-2) will put pressure on Nebraska’s young offensive line. The Golden Gophers are fourth in the league with 13 sacks and will be relentless in their pursuit of putting Martinez to the turf.

Fleck’s team is good at protecting the ball and creating turnovers also. Minnesota ranks 20th in the FBS in turnover margin, while Nebraska is 82nd. Those are the stats that’ll matter once the smoke clears Saturday afternoon.

This is a game Nebraska can’t afford to lose. Frost needs his team to jump out to an early lead and keep the pedal to the metal the rest of the way. Close games in the fourth quarter have been a canker sore on the program under Frost. The Huskers lead the nation with 16 losses in one-possession games over the past four seasons.

That’s a narrative that must change. Frost is trying to lead his alma mater to its’ first winning season since 2016. The fans can see the Huskers are closing the gap and needs them to take that next step. Something has to give, considering Minnesota has won the last two meetings against Nebraska and three of the last four.

The Big Ten West is starting to take shape and this road clash will decide if Frost and the Huskers have truly turned the corner.