Nebraska football vs. Minnesota is now one day away and here are three keys for the Huskers coming away with a win.
It’s hard to believe but after the long wait, we are one day away from the return of Nebraska football. Not the Huskers returning to practice, or a spring game, or anything like that.
Real. Actual. Football.
Nebraska football travels to Minnesota on Thursday night for a nationally televised game. The Golden Gophers are a 7.5-point favorite right now and here are three keys for the Huskers if they want to leave Week 1 with a win.
Take care of the ball
Turnovers are the most important statistical indicator of winning and losing. Nebraska hasn’t had a positive turnover differential in years and never averaged less than 1.5 giveaways per game in the Frost era.
Minnesota has been the exact opposite of Nebraska. They force takeaways consistently and last season, the Gophers only turned it over an average of once per game, which has been the same over the past three seasons.
In the past four years, Minnesota has averaged 1.05 turnovers per game. Nebraska football has averaged 1.77 turnovers per game. That 0.72 turnovers per game is a massive difference.
If Minnesota has an advantage in the turnover battle, it will win the game. Nebraska has to be even or ahead in turnover margin and if the Huskers give it away more than once, it could doom their chances.
The money down
Minnesota was really good on third downs last season. The Gophers converted 52 percent of their attempts on offense while limiting opponents to 27 percent. Minnesota actually led the Big Ten in third-down defense and was among the top five nationally.
Winning on third down and taking care of the ball is a solid combination. It’s a big reason why Minnesota has won 29 games in its last three full seasons.
Simply put, Nebraska can’t convert 25 percent of its third downs and allow Minnesota to convert around 50. That’s a recipe for disaster. The Gophers love to control the ball and the clock. I don’t see their style changing much.
Yes, Minnesota has a new quarterback and one that’s pretty talented in Athan Kaliakmanis. But running back Sean Tyler will be the focal point of the offense and if he has a good day, the Gophers will likely have a bunch of third-and-shorts, which is where they thrive.
Nebraska can’t allow that. So it has to win on the early downs. It also has to find a way to convert some third downs, which is where Jeff Sims comes in.
Jeff Sims needs to have a great night
I’m not saying Jeff Sims needs to throw for 300 yards or anything. But he needs to avoid turnovers, pick up some first downs with his legs, and just be efficient. I feel like 24 points will win this game.
Minnesota might have some knowledge of the 3-3-5 defense after playing Syracuse in the bowl game, but Tony While will have some wrinkles. The personnel is also better. At least it should be and I think the Huskers defense is pretty solid.
I have a hard time seeing Minnesota score 30 for instance. This feels like a fairly low-scoring game. Both teams want to run the ball, and control the clock, but allow their quarterbacks opportunities to create explosive plays.
Minnesota has been great at that under Fleck. We have no idea what Nebraska is going to look like, but Sims is going to have to create some explosive plays with his arm and legs.
There’s been tons of hype surrounding the Huskers’ new starting quarterback and if they are going to notch an upset win, Sims will play a huge role in making that happen.
Nebraska Football could utilize two QBs vs. Michigan
Nebraska football head coach Matt Rhule gave an update in his press conference on Thursday with regards to the quarterback position. Rhule indicated that Jeff Sims is not 100%, but he has practiced all throughout the week. Heinrich Haarberg, who was also battling injuries following the last weekend’s game, practiced this week as well.
This is certainly encouraging as it relates to the health of the quarterbacks. For one, Sims is apparently progressing. It also means that Haarberg is at a point where he is not too bothered by his injury. This is reassuring, given that he has been a key part of the offense of the last couple weeks.
Nebraska football as a team is going to need both to be healthy on Saturday. Haarberg is the presumed starter, but it would be nice to add Sims in for his running ability in certain situations.
I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to the program using both quarterbacks. As a matter of fact, I think it’s a very smart play. It gives Nebraska football versatility at the position, and allows two explosive athletes to get their shot on the field.
Coach Rhule said Jeff Sims still isn’t 100% but has practiced all week along with Heinrich Haarberg. Says he could use both vs. Michigan. #Huskers
— Huskers Talk | 𝙉𝙚𝙗𝙧𝙖𝙨𝙠𝙖 𝙎𝙥𝙤𝙧𝙩𝙨 (@TalkHuskers) September 28, 2023
Nebraska football will need to have all hands-on deck against a rushing defense that is second in the conference with 80.5 yards allowed per game. They also have allowed only one rushing touchdown on the season. They rank second behind Nebraska with 2.8 yards allowed per carry. The bottom line is, Nebraska football is going to have their work cut out for them.
It will be interesting to see what happens with the quarterback situation on Saturday. Will we see both quarterbacks? Time will tell, but at least the room itself is restocked and somewhat healthy again. The Huskers have depth at the quarterback position and that is never a bad thing. How they utilize it will be interesting, as they look to get above. 500.
3 keys to an upset win for Nebraska football vs. Michigan
Is an upset possible for Nebraska football on Saturday? Here are three keys to pulling it off.
After a pair of confidence-building wins, Nebraska football will welcome No. 2 Michigan to Lincoln Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
It’s going to be a huge test. It’s also a major opportunity for Matt Rhule and company to score a defining win. I can’t even remember the last time Nebraska beat a team as good as Michigan. Probably since Eric Crouch caught that touchdown pass to beat Oklahoma.
Nebraska football has its work cut out for it. The Huskers are 17-point underdogs and this Michigan team is a juggernaut that’s won 16 consecutive Big Ten games.
J.J. McCarthy (QB) and Blake Corum, the running back, are Heisman candidates. Plus, the defense has only surrendered 23 points in four games leading all of college football in scoring defense.
It’s going to be a huge challenge but Nebraska isn’t a pushover. It’s the toughest game for Michigan so far and the Wolverines’ first road game.
If Nebraska wants to pull the upset, here are three keys to making it happen.
Contain Michigan’s run game
You might think that’s not possible, but in three of four games this season, Michigan has rushed for 200 yards or less. One reason for that is more throwing with McCarthy. The pass offense is better and games are also going quicker especially if you use a pace like Michigan or Nebraska.
Blake Corum is the bell cow but Donovan Edwards is dangerous. He had over 200 yards in the win against Ohio State last November.
Michigan’s offensive line has used a few different combinations and hasn’t been quite as good. Nebraska football also leads the Big Ten in rushing yards allowed. The Blackshirts surrender just 1.8 yards per rush and if they can limit Michigan’s ground game (150 yards or less), an upset becomes much more likely.
Nebraska football must win the turnover battle
You could list this as a key for just about every single game in college football this week. But Nebraska is at a disadvantage talent-wise compared to Michigan.
That’s nothing to be ashamed of. The Wolverines have about 20 players that could get drafted this April. Nebraska is a team with talent too — it actually ranks 26th in terms of blue-chip players (4-star recruits or higher) being on the roster.
But the Huskers are going to need some short fields or maybe even some points from the defense to pull this one off. A big return, some kind of play like that will need to happen.
McCarthy didn’t throw an interception in three of the four games for Michigan. Yet, against Bowling Green, he tossed three and if the Huskers could get 1-2, you’d have to like their chances of pulling the upset.
Heinrich Haarberg needs 100 yards rushing
Michigan hasn’t allowed a single team to run for 100 yards. Their run defense is spectacular but Haarberg will need to break a big run or two if the Huskers are going to have a shot.
That touchdown run against Louisiana Tech reminded me a little of T-Magic. Haarberg also has been fine throwing the ball. His arm isn’t elite. He also hasn’t thrown any interceptions.
Nebraska has been using more option principles and running QBs have given Michigan some struggles over the years. Haarberg isn’t a statue. He’s also a gamer and after two starts, he’s improving.
We’ll see if he can deliver on Saturday, but if Haarberg can run the way he did in his first two starts (a very big ask) Nebraska should have a shot to win on Saturday.
Nebraska Football flips local TE Eric Ingwerson after long pursuit
Nebraska football landed a commitment from 2024 tight end Eric Ingwerson on Wednesday, according to multiple media reports.
Ingwerson is the 128th overall athlete in the 2024 class, and the ninth overall player in the class from the state of Nebraska per the 247Sports composite rankings. He has a numerical rating of 86 overall.
This is a solid commitment for several reasons. For one, Nebraska football has been interested in him for quite a while. He received an offer from the program on April 11, and had him and for an official visit on June 16.
Ingwerson joins a tight end room that is already in good hands for 2024. Carter Nelson headlines the room, with Ian Flynt also part of the room as well.
It is also worth noting that Ingwerson played on the defensive side of football as a defensive lineman for Papillion-LaVista. He could definitely play the position for Nebraska, as he measures in at six-foot-seven, 235 pounds. There is the chance that he could play a different position other than tight end. However, his size makes him an intriguing option at the position itself.
There can also be the possibility that Nebraska football could be looking at him as an offensive lineman. The size is there. This staff knows how to develop offensive lineman. Ingwerson could fit well in the positional group.
Currently, the 2024 Nebraska football recruiting class ranks 23rd overall in the country per the 247Sports rankings. This class has a solid high school group, and Ingwerson certainly adds to that. The 2024 class has the potential to be a cornerstone class of Matt Rhule’s tenure.
Ingwerson will be an asset to Nebraska football, no matter what position he plays. Furthermore, this is a great flip by the program. Once again, they have shown the ability to identify a prospect they want, and pursue him until they land him. The staff has done a good job of being able to flip recruits. Ingwerson is certainly a part of that distinction.
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