Minneapolis, Minn. – For at least a day, Nebraska fans got a glimpse of what the Huskers’ offense can look like when in rhythm and balanced.
Junior quarterback Tommy Armstrong was 18-of-26 for 261 yards passing and Nebraska picked up 204 yards on the ground to blowout Minnesota, 48-25.
Nebraska coming into the contest had lost two straight games and was 2-4 on the season, their worst start since 1959. In all four losses, Nebraska was either tied or had a lead with under a minute left to play in the game.
“They came back after all those games and they stayed together as a team,” said head coach Mike Riley, in his first season. “So I hope we can keep that going. I’m really proud of them for that because that’s not easy for anybody, especially young people.”
Nebraska (3-4, 1-2) found themselves down early 7-0, after a nine play, 75-yard drive by Minnesota (4-3, 1-2) to start the game.
The Huskers only needed 1:22 to respond, after a 69-touchdown run by junior running back Terrell Newby, a career high. Newby finished the game with 116 yards on 13 carries, finding the end zone twice.
“I think that was a huge part of the game,” said Riley. “That was a big factor. Newby was really good today. He’s hurt, but I don’t know how badly. I don’t anything about it.”
Minnesota, who likes to run the football, was held to just 65 yards in the contest on 26 attempts.
“That’s huge. That’s the idea,” said defensive coordinator Mark Banker. “We forced Wisconsin into 50 throws. But at the same time, we need to continue to improve in the backend.”
Gopher head coach Jerry Killw as very complimenty of the Huskers' running defense after the game.
"The two big defensive tackles (Maliek Collins/Vincent Valentine) are really good football players," said Kill. "They sold out stopping the run."
Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner started the game 17-of-20 through the air, but was held in check during the fourth quarter – including two interceptions. Leidner finished the game with 301 yards passing on 26-of-40 attempts.
“Base package we are coming along coverage wise,” said Banker. “We will continue to work and tweak things and continue to try to put players in better positions.”
After struggling to force turnovers in Big Ten play, Nebraska managed to be +3 in the category on Saturday.
“Getting the turnovers was a big emphasis,” said Nebraska defensive end Greg McMullen, who said he hopes it opens up the floodgates.
After failing to hold to a lead against BYU, Wisconsin and almost blowing a game against Southern Miss, Nebraska managed to close out the Gophers with two late interceptions and a field goal which made it a three score game at the time.
"Playing this game, playing the last couple of weeks, the game's not over until it's absolutely over," said Nebraska receiver Jordan Westerkamp, who had a game high six receptions for 76 yards. "We knew how important it was. We had to get a drive. We had to get some points."
The Huskers return home next Saturday to take on Northwestern (5-2, 1-2) on the season.