5 Questions: Minnesota

Five questions about Minnesota are answered by Gopher Digest's Brice Marich.

1.) After a big road victory against Northwestern, where is the team's confidence at this point?

"I feel that this team's confidence is high right now. Many didn't give Minnesota a chance against Northwestern especially with it being on the road, but I think they opened up some eyes. The defense has been beaten up and gave up 42 points to Michigan their previous game, so to hold the Wildcat's explosive offense to 17 points was a huge step in building that confidence and showing that they can hold their own. Overall, this team is one step closer to making a bowl game and they can taste it."

2.) Do you get the sense that the team is playing at another level at the moment with Coach Kill's situation?

"I don't know if I would say that the team is performing at another level with Coach Kill's situation, but I would find it hard to believe that it isn't a something they don't use to motivate themselves even more. Coach Kill is not just a coach to these guys, but a father figure and they really look up to him. This veteran coaching staff has been together for a long time and has experience in dealing with tough situations. They trust one another and believe in what Coach Kill has been preaching to them all the time."

3.) What would a Nebraska victory do for the program in the short term?

"If the Gophers were able to pull off another big victory against a top tier like Nebraska, it would do wonders for the program. First thing, it would make Minnesota bowl eligible and allow to get better by getting those additional practices that further their progress towards the bowl game and in the future. The other major area it would affect would on the recruiting trail. It would show that Minnesota is on the rise and can compete with the best in the Big Ten. I think more recruits would be eager to learn about Minnesota if the Gophers came calling."

4.) Give us a player on both sides of the ball Nebraska needs to know about.

"A player that Nebraska fans need to know about on the offensive side of the ball is running back David Cobb. The junior running back carried the ball last week for 103 yards on 20 carries, which was his second 100 yard rushing game this season. The Gopher offense loves to ground and pound their opponents and eat the clock up. At 6-1, 225-pounds, he can do that and be a handle to deal with, but he also has sneaky speed to go with that power and size. On the defensive side of the ball, the man that you will hear about is future NFL draft pick, senior defensive tackle Rashede Hageman. The 6-6, 311-pound has been called a freak of an athlete and it showed with his first career interception when he picked off Northwestern quarterback Trevor Simien last week. He can be very disruptive up the middle and demands double teams. Both players can impact a game and will be ones to watch."

5.) Your score prediction and keys to the game.

"I have three keys to the game. First, create turnovers and get the high powered Cornhusker offense off the field, but also allow the Gopher offense possibly get some good field position. Second, time of possession meaning Minnesota will need to control the ball for the majority of the game to allow their defense a break and to not give the Cornhusker offense a lot of opportunities to work with. Lastly, Mitch Leidner or Phillip Nelson just will need to manage the game and not press. Last year, Nelson threw two interceptions and Nebraska could key in on stopping the Gopher run game with the passing game not being there. If Minnesota can accomplish all three keys in the game, then I could see the Gophers give Nebraska a tough time, but I don't think they will be able to stop the Cornhusker offense."

Prediction: Nebraska 38, Minnesota 17

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