Nebraska came into Minnesota with a reputation of having a tendency to shoot itself in the foot. The Cornhuskers got on their plane back home having done little to shed that label.

At first, however, it looked like none of that would matter. The Gophers came out on fire. After stopping Nebraska on a three-and-out to open the game, Minnesota went on a 14-play, 61-yard touchdown drive.

The Gophers kept it up all half. The only possession Minnesota didn’t score on during the first two quarters was when it took two knees with under a minute left in the half.

A 21-9 lead – and getting the ball to open the third quarter – looked like it was insurmountable, especially if Minnesota could replicate its first-half success. It couldn’t.

On their first six drives of the second half, Minnesota gained just 67 yards on 22 plays (3.04 yards per play), unable to add to that 21 points on the scoreboard.

But fortunately for the Gophers, Nebraska ended up being Nebraska.

During the game, the Cornhuskers had a missed extra-point attempt and as well as a miss from 27 yards out (interestingly, the Nebraska kicker made one from 50), were unable to score from second-and-goal from the 2, killed a drive with a third-and-5 false start which ended with quarterback Adrian Martinez being pressured and throwing to no one on fourth-and-10 and Martinez drifting back 11 yards into his end zone only to be pressured into intentional grounding, resulting in a safety.

On the ensuing drive after the safety, just needing to run the ball, Minnesota did just that with Nebraska unable to stop the Gophers on a third-and-4 – Bryce Williams gaining six yards – and then let Williams break free for a 56-yard score, all but cementing the game.

Of course, it was exactly cemented as Minnesota let Nebraska march right down the field, going 75 yards in one minute to get back within a touchdown. But after recovering an onside kick, then it was over.

The 30-23 win might not be something for Minnesota to hang its hat on, but as we always say, there’s no such thing as a bad win. Just give Nebraska an assist on this W.

Here's a recap of Saturday’s game:


A big reason for Minnesota’s first-half success was wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell. He recorded nine catches for 100 yards and a touchdown – a great catch in the back of the end zone in which he caught a fade while being interfered with – in the first half. Nebraska limited Autman-Bell (as well as the rest of the Gophers offense) in the second half, but he still finished with a career-high 11 catches for 103 yards and the TD. It was the most receptions in a regular-season game for a Minnesota player wince Tyler Johnson had 11 in 2018 against … Nebraska. Overall, it’s the 13th time since 2000 in which a Gophers wideout had 10+ catches and Autman-Bell was the seventh to accomplish it, joining Rashod Bateman, Eric Decker (four times), Jared Ellerson, Johnson (three times), K.J. Maye (twice) and Logan Payne.


Coming off his best game of the season at Purdue, Esezi Otomewo had another impactful performance. The defensive lineman had four tackles with 1.5 tackles for loss, but it was his pressure of Martinez which might have been the play of the game. With Martinez retreating to the end zone in the fourth quarter, it was Otomeyo who was draped all over the quarterback and forced the game-changing safety.


Trailing by five, Nebraska had a prime opportunity to take the lead late in the third quarter. A short punt gave the Cornhuskers the ball at their own 47. Nebraska moved it down to the six then had second-and-goal at the 2. Jack Gibbens stopped Rahmir Johnson with a crushing hit for a one-yard gain. Still, the Huskers two shots – and just one yard needed -- to score. On third down, Martinez kept it and got close to the goal line but was stacked up by Mariano Sori-Marin and Jordan Howden. With the ball now maybe six inches away from paydirt, Nebraska tried a handoff to Jaquez Yant. The running back sort of stumbled as he ran to the left and was stopped short of the end zone by Tyler Nubin. On both plays, Martinez was in shotgun. How about just a simple QB sneak – twice if you had to? Welcome to football in 2021, I guess. But if you want to point to why Nebraska lost, this is it. (The Huskers got the ball with good field position after Minnesota couldn’t get a first down and had to punt but missed a chip-shot field-goal attempt. You can’t help but laugh.)



Quarterback Tanner Morgan hadn’t completed more than 14 passes in a game this season – and that was in the opener – and had reached double digits just one other time in the next four games (11 at Colorado). But he was in such a zone that he completed 16 consecutive passes – the only incompletion in his first 18 attempts was on his second throw when Dylan Wright dropped a ball after taking a hit over the middle – which extended into early in the third quarter. That mark of 16 straight set a school record. Morgan’s hot hand, unfortunately, cooled off after that, throwing back-to-back interceptions and having only three completions for a combined three yards the rest of the way.


"That is one of the best offenses in the Big Ten and they ended up with only 377 yards. They have been putting up 500 to 600 yards on other people. I saw resilience in the second half. I am not into bend don’t break, we just shut them down. At key moments, we shut them down. That fourth and goal stop was absolutely critical but that is ‘H.O.W.’ and our culture. They are bigger, stronger, faster or whatever they called us, that is fine. We are about culture. Period. We are about each other, for each other, love, F.A.M.I.L.Y. and that is what showed today. It wasn’t perfect, but it was 30-23 for the Golden Gophers and that is all that matters at the end of the day." -- head coach P.J. Fleck

"I am just grateful to have the trust in Tanner to throw that, no matter the play. It is also a type of mindset to come down with the ball. I know that I have to come down with the ball every time. I have seen the replay a couple of times and it was a cool catch, but we will go back to work tomorrow and get better." -- wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell on his touchdown catch

"We knew we had to go down and bow up. We knew they were going to try and run it in, and we just had to have some pride, blow our chests out and go make a play. But yeah, that was an awesome play. We got great push up front and made a great play." -- defensive lineman Nyles Pinckney on the goal-line stand

"We just wanted to score or go up, but we didn’t. Then the next time we’re down there, we get a fourth down, kick a field goal and we miss it. We just have to score. It is a game of stops and scores. We started to get some momentum and then we didn’t put the nail in the coffin.” -- Nebraska linebacker JoJo Domann


Minnesota stays at home next week to host 4-2 Maryland. The Terrapins, who were off this weekend, won their first four games before dropping their last two to top-10 teams Iowa and Ohio State, both of those being routs (51-14 and 66-17). Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa threw for 1,340 yards with 10 touchdowns and one interception (173.17 passer rating) in the victories and 436 yards with four TDs and seven INTs in the defeats (117.39 rating).