Both the No. 24 Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Minnesota Golden Gophers have plenty to be happy about as they head into their Big Ten Legends clash Saturday.
Nebraska took the time to get healthy with a bye last week and may have starting quarterback Taylor Martinez back. Even without Martinez, the Cornhuskers have outscored their last three opponents by a combined total of 142-46.
Last week, the Golden Gophers managed to halt a two-game skid with an upset win on the road over Northwestern thanks to 179 rushing yards and a defense that was able to force three turnovers.
Now, the two teams with five victories apiece clash for position in the Legends division. Here is everything fans need to know.
When: Saturday, Oct. 26 at 12 p.m. ET
Where: TCF Bank Stadium , Minneapolis, Minn.
Live Stream: ESPN3
Betting Lines (via Vegas Insider)
- Over/Under: 51.5
- Spread: Nebraska (-10.5)
Cornhuskers Injury Report (via USA Today)
|Spencer Long||G||10/13/2013||Will miss the remainder of the season||Out||Knee|
|Jake Long||TE||10/22/2013||Questionable for Saturday's game against Minnesota||Questionable||Hamstring|
|Courtney Love||LB||08/26/2013||Expected to miss the entire season||Out||Hamstring|
|Taylor Martinez||QB||10/20/2013||Questionable for Saturday's game against Minnesota||Questionable||Foot/Turf toe|
|Jamal Turner||WR||10/20/2013||Questionable for Saturday's game against Minnesota||Questionable||Hamstring|
|Kevin Williams||DT||08/19/2013||Will miss the entire season||Out||Knee|
Golden Gophers Injury Report (via USA Today)
|Alex Bisch||TE||08/28/2013||Out indefinitely||Out||Foot|
|Briean Boddy-Calhoun||CB||09/11/2013||Will miss the remainder of the season||Out||Knee|
|Berkley Edwards||RB||10/20/2013||Questionable for Saturday's game against Nebraska||Questionable||Ankle|
|De'Niro Laster||LB||08/28/2013||Out indefinitely||Out||Knee|
|Chris Streveler||QB||10/20/2013||Questionable for Saturday's game against Nebraska||Questionable||Hand|
Can Minnesota Slow the Cornhuskers?
It seems the Cornhuskers are unstoppable offensively no matter who is under center.
Before his injury, Martinez completed over 66 percent of his passes for 528 yards, nine touchdowns and just one interception. Ron Kellogg III and Tommy Armstrong Jr. are no Martinez, but the offense did not miss a beat.
Much of the sustained offensive success can be attributed to running back Ameer Abdullah, who averages 7.2 yards per carry despite leading the team with 114 attempts. He has gained 816 yards and scored six times, while sophomore Imani Cross has chipped in with 330 yards and eight scores.
That's a lot for the Minnesota defense to digest in one week. To make things worse, the Golden Gophers do not have a strong idea of who will be the signal-caller of choice for Nebraska.
Minnesota's defense will decide the game.
As Andy Kendeigh of KETV Nebraska reports, all signs point toward the Cornhuskers having their star quarterback ready to go Saturday:
Taylor Martinez did practice yesterday with #huskers - Bo Pelini says he's optimistic taylor will be ready Saturday vs Minnesota— Andy Kendeigh (@AndyKendeigh7) October 21, 2013
If that's the case, Minnesota won't be pulling off any upsets this weekend.
Which team wins?
The Cornhuskers rank in the top 10 in points scored with an average of 42.7 per game—that's without their best quarterback under center for a chunk of the season. Minnesota will fail to have an answer for the ground game, and if Martinez plays, he'll be able to efficiently pick his way up and down the field.
Minnesota averages close to 30 points per game, but that's wishful thinking here, as a large portion of that average has come from favorable matchups (tough defenses such as Iowa and Michigan held the Golden Gophers to a combined 20 points).
One of these teams is simply superior to the other.
Final Score: Cornhuskers win 34-24.
Follow B/R's Chris Roling on Twitter for more news and analysis @Chris_Roling