A mini-momentum boost for Minnesota just before halftime as the Gophers stuff Imani Cross at the goal-line to keep their deficit at 24-0.
Not much else has gone right for Minnesota, though.
Credit the Huskers, who’ve had forgettable first halves in Big Ten play. Not Saturday against Minnesota. Focused and sharp, Nebraska’s controlled this one from the start.
Quarterback Taylor Martinez has 221 yards through the air (17 of 23) against the nation’s seventh-ranked pass defense. Better yet, he’s turnover-free.
On the other side of the ball, the Blackshirts have controlled the line of scrimmage and have imposed their physical style of play on the outside. Minnesota has only 60 yards after two quarters and just four first downs (three on one possession).
The Gophers do get the football first to begin the second half. The first seven minutes of the third quarter will be important for a potential comeback. Nebraska better be ready.
>> Two well-timed play calls by offensive coordinator Tim Beck stuck out in the first half. Both were deep throws to Kenny Bell (one was a 36-yard score and the other went for 29 yards and set up an easy touchdown). Minnesota, selling out to stop the run and NU’s short passing game, got caught in single-coverage against Nebraska’s best receiver.
>> Nebraska’s defensive backs seems to be getting more and more aggressive in the passing game as the game unfolds. Minnesota needs to find a way to keep NU honest downfield. … Getting the ground game going would help, too. The Gophers have 20 yards on 10 carries (not counting a minus-10-yard sack).
>> Interesting formation by Nebraska on Cross’ second touchdown run. Offensive tackle Andrew Rodriguez lined up at fullback. There appeared to be a couple other offensive linemen in different positions (guard Spencer Long at tackle?), but I’d need a slow-mo replay to confirm that. … By the way, the Huskers tried something similar on the final play of the first half. Didn’t work. They were stopped as time ran out.
>> Junior Ciante Evans has played well so far. He has six unassisted tackles and a sack. He’s been credited with one pass breakup (which could have been intercepted).
>> Cornerback Andrew Green, who left the game in the first quarter, did return in the second. … Receiver Jamal Turner looked to be battling cramps at one point, but he was back out there after getting helped off the field.
>> Interesting decision by Bo Pelini early in the second quarter. Faced with a fourth-and-2 at the, he originally called on Brett Maher to attempt a 62-yard field goal (with the wind at his back). Pelini called a timeout, though. Chose to punt, instead.