Bradley Leeb-US PRESSWIRE
While Nebraska returns much of its potent offense and many key defensive contributors from last year’s team, the primary difference in this year’s matchup will come from Minnesota.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Gophers have a completely new look. Their offense in 2011 was completely based on the athleticism of former quarterback Marqueis Gray. Since converting him to a wide receiver, Minnesota has used Max Shortell and most recently Philip Nelson at quarterback.
Although Nelson will not show Nebraska the same big-play capability that Gray offered at the quarterback position, Nelson has proven that he also has some dual-threat capabilities.
Defensively, Minnesota is a much improved unit from 2011. After ranking 77th in total defense a year ago, the Gophers now own the 26th-ranked defense in the nation. But unfortunately for Minnesota, this is largely due to their pass defense. The Gophers’ 74th-ranked rush defense will more prominently be under fire against the run-happy Huskers.