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.
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.
Nebraska Football: Matt Rhule not afraid to play two quarterbacks
Nebraska football head coach Matt Rhule addressed the possibility of playing two quarterbacks for Saturday’s game against Louisiana Tech. It doesn’t exactly sound like he is opposed to doing that.
Jeff Sims was the starter for Nebraska for the first two games of the season. An ankle injury kept him out of last Saturday’s contest against Northern Illinois. Heinrich Haarberg filled in for Sims and played well, tallying three total touchdowns for the game.
There is little doubt that Sims was brought in to be the starting quarterback for Nebraska, especially with Casey Thompson’s departure. However, Sims struggles and Haarberg’s emergence last Saturday have certainly made things interesting. Haarberg looked in control of the offense. It didn’t always look the smoothest at times, but he made it work.
Rhule addressed the possibility of playing two quarterbacks when he met with the media on Thursday, as reported by KLNTV’s Lauren Michelson.
Matt Rhule talking quarterbacks…will either be Jeff Sims or Heinrich Haarberg starting on Saturday.
— Lauren Michelson (@LaurenMichelson) September 21, 2023
A positive development for Nebraska Football
This undoubtedly has to be music to the ears of the fans. It certainly is for me. Playing multiple guys was not something the previous coaching staff did, and it undoubtedly hurt everybody involved, including quarterback Adrian Martinez.
One of the biggest mistakes Scott Frost made on the field was hitching his proverbial wagon to Martinez. It doesn’t sound like Rhule is going to do that with Sims.
Of course, we will have to wait until Saturday to see if the headman is true to his word. It’s one thing to say it in a press conference. We saw Scott Frost do that for multiple seasons. It’s another thing to actually follow through and do it in a game, or looking at the bigger picture, throughout the course of the season.
It will be interesting to see what happens under center on Saturday. Will Nebraska football go with Sims? Alternatively, will they go with Haarberg, who led them to victory last Saturday? Time will tell, but at least Matt Rhule is keeping his options open.
Nebraska Football: Matt Rhule has health update on Jeff Sims
Nebraska football head coach Matt Rhule gave a positive prognosis on quarterback Jeff Sims Thursday afternoon. Rhule indicated that Sims had a good week of practice and that he was moving and throwing the football well.
Sims has had a difficult start to the 2023 season. He has tallied one touchdown and four interceptions, and has 220 passing yards in total. Fumbling has been an issue for him through the first two games as well. He has had difficulty handling snaps.
Quarterback Heinrich Haarberg played on Saturday, as Sims was dealing with an ankle injury. Haarberg threw for 198 yards and two touchdowns on 14-of-24 passes. He also rushed for 98 yards and a touchdown. He brought a dual-threat element to the table, similar to that of Sims.
"Jeff's had a good week of practice," Rhule said Thursday of the QB Sims. "Moved around well. Threw the ball around well. Coming off an injury like that I can't say that he's maybe 100 percent but you don't notice that there's anything wrong with him as he plays."
— Brian Christopherson (@Husker247BC) September 21, 2023
A positive development for Nebraska football
It’s certainly good to hear that Sims is healthy and has practiced well throughout the week. Whatever your opinion is of his play throughout the season, Nebraska football needs him to be healthy. Depth is a problem at the quarterback spot. Experience is lacking there as well.
Although Sims is struggling as a quarterback, there is no doubt he is a solid athlete. His ability to run the football has been his biggest strength so far this season. He has 158 rushing yards so far on the year, and has averaged 5.4 yards per carry. A 57-yard rush has been his longest of the season to this point. Nebraska has certainly made him a focal point of their running attack, as he has 29 carries on the year so far.
Nebraska football is in a welcome predicament with two quarterbacks who have the ability to start. The health of Sims is a positive, as Nebraska begins to enter the meat of their schedule. It will be interesting to see how the situation plays out.
3 keys to a victory for Nebraska football vs. Louisiana Tech
Nebraska football will be looking for a second straight win on Saturday and here are three keys against Louisiana Tech.
For the second week in a row, Nebraska football will be at home. It’s the second of three straight home games and the Huskers will be looking to take advantage of their incredible home-field advantage once again.
Before big bad Michigan comes to Lincoln on Sept. 30, Nebraska football will have a final non-conference game against Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs are 2-2 but have been really up and down in the second season under head coach Sonny Cumbie.
Louisiana Tech runs an air-raid offense but does have a couple of talented running backs. Quarterback Hank Bachmeier is a Boise State transfer but is questionable for the game on Saturday due to a shoulder injury.
The defense ranks 100th in scoring defense. Louisiana Tech is 63rd in scoring offense and while Nebraska football has its own question marks, such as who will start at quarterback? The Huskers are a 19-point favorite and here are three keys to a win on Saturday.
Keep stuffing the run
When you think of Louisiana Tech, you don’t necessarily think of a running team, but the Bulldogs average 5.1 yards per attempt and 181 yards per game on the ground. True freshman Keith Willis has 240 rushing yards and averages 7.3 yards per attempt. Tyre Shelton averages 10.2 yards per attempt and is also over 200 yards for the season.
But if there is one thing Nebraska football has excelled at it is run defense. The Huskers have held each of their opponents to fewer than 60 yards rushing. They also rank among college football’s top five in rushing yards per game (46.3) and rushing yards allowed per attempt (1.7).
If that continues on Saturday, I feel really good about Nebraska’s chances of winning without incident. Yet, if the Bulldogs can find success on the ground, things could get interesting.
Hit the quarterback, whoever it is
Whether it’s Bachmeier or Jack Turner who has thrown for 146 yards and a touchdown this season, as well as an interception, Nebraska football needs to hit the quarterback and it should have an easy time getting home.
Louisiana Tech ranks 110th in the FBS in terms of sacks allowed per game. The Bulldogs have allowed 11 total and that’s an average of 2.75 sacks per game. Nebraska football is in the top five in college football with 14 sacks total and 4.6 per game.
The Huskers have done a great job of getting pressure from different levels. Tony White has done a great job of creating blitzes and the defensive line is also winning one-on-ones.
This feels like a game where the Huskers shouldn’t have a problem getting four or five sacks, especially if Nebraska football is able to build a double-digit lead and pin its ears back.
Run the damn ball
It’s not ideal that Nebraska football lost two of its top three running backs to season-ending injuries, but the Huskers should be licking their chops this week.
Louisiana Tech is allowing 4.9 yards per rushing attempt which doesn’t bode well against a Nebraska ground game that is second in the Big Ten, ranked in the top 25 nationally, and averages 5.1 per rush.
Nebraska is getting 209 yards per game and the quarterbacks have been a big part of it. Whether Jeff Sims gets the start of Heinrich Haarberg, I expect plenty of quarterback runs again.
With Anthony Grant taking over as the bell cow, Nebraska is going to need to lean on its quarterbacks and even if Haarberg isn’t the starter, I want to see both utilized in the running game, because it has been one of the most effective parts of the offense through three games.
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