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5 predictions for Nebraska football vs. Minnesota

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Jul 27, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Matt Rhule speaks to the media during the Big 10 football media day at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska football will play Minnesota on Thursday night and here are five predictions for the Huskers as well as a score.

Ever since the news broke last Black Friday that Matt Rhule was going to be the Nebraska football head coach, we have been waiting for the Huskers to take the field.

With the spring game as our only football since November, Nebraska football fans have endured a long wait for the 2023 season. Their wait for a winner has been even longer.

The hope is that Rhule will stop the suffering. That he will restore competence to one of the proudest programs in all of college football.

Nebraska has everything it needs to win. Maybe not three national titles in four years. But this program can win championships again. That’s probably not happening anytime soon.

But the journey of the 2023 Nebraska football team starts tonight and here are five predictions as well as a score for Nebraska vs. Minnesota.

It’s going to be a fourth-quarter game

Honestly, it’s hard to predict this game. We just don’t know what kind of impact Matt Rhule is going to have on this team. Maybe the turnaround will be quick. Sonny Dykes got TCU from 5-7 to the national title game.

Jim Harbaugh, when he went to Michigan, took the Wolverines from 5-7 and 10-3 in just one season and beat three ranked teams that first year. Rhule also struggled in the first season of his first two head coaching jobs in college football, so all paths are on the table.

What I do think is that tonight’s game will be close. Minnesota, when it wins, takes care of the ball, runs it well, and forces some turnovers. They also like to play time of possession.

Minnesota has won four straight games over the Huskers, but three were by seven points or less. Nebraska can win this game and it’s going to be close throughout. At least in my view.

Thomas Fidone catches a touchdown pass

Matt Rhule talked about how Thomas Fidone took over at key times in camp — in red zone periods and stuff like that. When the team needed a play, the freakish tight end found a way to make it.

Minnesota has been really good at defending the pass. At least it has been under P.J. Fleck and allowed just 185 yards per game through the air last season.

I can see the receivers having some struggles getting open, but a tight end like Fidone, is tough to match up against, especially with all the running I’m anticipating the Huskers will do.

Eventually, in the red zone, Jeff Sims will find his tight end for a touchdown.

Tristan Alvano will be money

You get the sense in talking to Tristan Alvano that he’s just one of those dudes. Yes, he had some struggles in camp, but there’s a reason Matt Rhule is putting faith in him.

Alvano was money in Lincoln Memorial Stadium last year when the state championship was on the line and I don’t see him being shaken by a Big Ten game, even on the road.

He told us, in an interview on the Husker Big Red Podcast, that he wants to continue the legacy of great kickers at Nebraska and I believe he’ll make all of his attempts on Thursday night, even a couple of field goals.

Lack of a pass rush will hurt the Huskers

Chief Borders is expected to start as the Jack linebacker. MJ Sherman is going to play too, as will Cameron Lenhardt on the defensive line.

Lenhardt has potential. Borders and Sherman do too, but Nebraska football doesn’t have a proven pass rusher on this roster. Guys can certainly emerge and the freshmen are talented.

But Minnesota is solid up front and the Gophers aren’t afraid to try to wear you down with the run game either. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t see the Huskers getting much pressure with four-man pass-rush packages.

Tony White will need to bring pressure and at some point, with all of the Gophers’ playmakers, that could lead to a big play or two. At any rate, I don’t think Nebraska is going to impact Athan Kaliakmanis as much as it will need to in order to win the game.

Jeff Sims scores with his legs

One of the things I like about Jeff Sims is the ability to run. He’s not a running quarterback. He’s a thrower but Sims can run the ball when needed and I think one of Nebraska’s two touchdowns on Thursday night will come via his scrambling.

Sims is dangerous because he does have an elite arm. He needs to improve his accuracy, but he can make any throw and is dangerous throwing on the run too.

It’s just a hunch, but I think he’ll run in a touchdown for the Huskers in his first start for Nebraska.

Nebraska football vs. Minnesota score prediction

I see both teams scoring two touchdowns. Yet, I think the Gophers find a way to kick one more field goal and escape with a hard-fought 23-20 win. Nebraska is capable of winning this game but Minnesota has the edge in terms of overall depth and it’s a team that doesn’t beat itself.

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Chris has worked in sports journalism since 2005 writing for multiple newspapers and websites such as the Bleacher Report and Fansided before starting Husker Big Red, A fan site for hardcore followers of the #Huskers offering articles, podcasts, videos and more exclusive content on all things Nebraska

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