Nebraska Cornhuskers Renew Old-School Rivalry with Minnesota Gophers

Mike WehlingAnalyst IOctober 18, 2011

LINCOLN, NE - OCTOBER 30: Coach Bo Pelini  leads his Nebraska Cornhusker football team on the field against the Missouri Tigers at Memorial Stadium on October 30, 2010 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska Defeated Missouri 31-17. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images

The Nebraska-Minnesota rivalry. 

Saying it doesn't exactly resurrect memories of epic games such as the Game of the Century versus Oklahoma, or the Flea Kicker against Missouri, or the Kick-Pick Six versus Colorado.  However, Nebraska has played Minnesota more than 50 times with games dating back to 1900, but they have not met since 1990.

Minnesota has played Nebraska more times than three of their Big Ten conference mates, Michigan State, Penn State and Ohio State.  For Nebraska, Minnesota is its most played Big Ten team, even beating out Iowa by 11 games.  The series was very one-sided for the first 37 games, as Minnesota dominated the series 29-6-2. 

Since 1963, the Huskers have reeled off 14 straight victories, including Nebraska's largest win margin over an opponent, winning 84-13.  The series abruptly ended in 1990, which may have had something to do with Nebraska winning the final eight games by an average of 51.5 to 4.25, and in the final game the Gophers only crossed the midfield twice the entire game.

After Nebraska was accepted into the Big Ten, they began to break up into divisions.  All of the Big Ten schools were to identify two schools they wanted to be associated with.  Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne said that he wanted to be with Iowa because of the border rivalry and Minnesota due to Nebraska's long history with the Gophers. (Osborne was also the Nebraska coach during the seven last games against Minnesota.)

Reportedly, the feeling was mutual from the Minnesota side.

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Does the Minnesota game have the chance to become a great rivalry?  Perhaps.  They share common history and both have multiple national championships (Minnesota has six while Nebraska has five). They also share the history of having the same defensive coordinator in Kevin Cosgrove, who was fired in 2007 by Nebraska and hired in 2009 by Minnesota and then fired in 2010.

However, the Golden Gophers are on down times right now, while Nebraska appears to be on the upswing.  They have gone a combined 17-33 from 2007 to 2010 and are currently 1-5. If the Huskers win on Saturday it will put the Gophers at 1-6 and they most likely won't make a bowl game. 

On the flip side, if Nebraska loses it will drop to 5-2, and frankly, if it can't beat Minnesota it probably doesn't deserve to go to a bowl game.  No offense Minnesota fans, but your team isn't doing too hot right now. 

Hopefully the Gophers can get back on the upswing.  They made a terrific hire in Jerry Kill, who has turned some abysmal programs into contenders over his career. I do hope they help him control his problem with seizures; it would be tragic to see his coaching career cut short.

This rivalry may never be the same as the Oklahoma, Missouri or Colorado rivalry—at least until Minnesota starts improving their football team.  One can always hope it will become a great rivalry to replace the ones left behind in the Big 12. 

I, for one, will enjoy the rivalry.  It's in a great city and not that hard to drive to, and I will be attending the game this Saturday. I am looking forward to a great time against an old-school rival.


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