Gophers stake double-digit comeback to beat Nebraska
Minnesota scored 20 unanswered points in the second half
LINCOLN, Neb. — The Gophers have found a knack for producing some of their biggest comeback wins at Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium.
Minnesota fell into a 10-0 hole in the first quarter Saturday but scored 20 unanswered points in the second half to secure a 20-13 win over the Cornhuskers.
The Gophers’ previous comeback from a double-digit deficit was in 2014, when they trailed Nebraska by 14 points but won 28-24. Cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun memorably stripped a Nebraska receiver near the goal line to aid that stunning win over the No. 21-ranked Cornhuskers.
With the victory, Minnesota (6-3, 3-3 Big Ten) became bowl eligible, while Nebraska (3-6, 2-4) lost its third straight game.
Minnesota’s defense allowed a touchdown on the opening drive, and Nebraska added a field goal on the second. But the Gophers’ defense responded, forcing punts on the Cornhuskers’ next six possessions. Cornerback Terell Smith intercepted Chubba Purdy, and Minnesota rallied with a healthy dose of Mo Ibrahim.
The Gophers offense couldn’t string anything together in the first half, but the tide turned after quarterback Tanner Morgan was knocked out of the game on the last play of the first half. Backup Athan Kaliakmanis aired it out with deep completions to Dylan Wright (38 yards) and Daniel Jackson (45 yards) to aid scoring drives.
Matthew Tricket made long field goals of 47 and 49 yards, and Ibrahim made a pair of two-yard touchdown runs.
On fourth and 10 in the fourth quarter, Nebraska receiver Marcus Washington hauled in a 32-yard completion that was reversed on review. Minnesota held Cornshukers to a 26-yard field goal to make it 20-13, their first points since the first quarter.
With less than three minutes left in the game, Minnesota’s offense faced a fourth and one from their own 46-yard line. Instead of going for it, Fleck decided to punt.
Nebraska got the ball back at their own 12-yard line with 2:25 remaining in the game. After a 31-yard gain to near midfield, Tyler Nubin had a pass breakup on fourth down.
Minnesota then took a knee to end the game.
The Gophers defense started Saturday flat-footed, missing two tackles and allowing running Anthony Grant to rush 36 yards in the first play of the game.
Purdy, who started with Casey Thompson injured, capped the opening drive with a 2-yard touchdown run to take a quick 7-0 lead.
After that 9-play drive, Nebraska put together an 11-play drive with Purdy rushing for first downs before settling for a 24-yard field goal to make it 10-0.
The Gophers defense responded, forcing three straight punts by getting pressure on Purdy in the pocket.
But all Minnesota’s offense did in the first half was punt. The Gophers had five total boots and didn’t gain more than 30 yards on a drive.
Tanner Morgan went 6 for 8, but two drops stifled drives — one from Brevyn Spann-Ford and one from Mike Brown Stephens. Dropped passes have become infectious; Minnesota pass-catchers had four drops versus Rutgers last week.
The Brown-Stephens drop was compounded by center John Michael Schmitz being flagged for illegal man downfield. They also couldn’t get out of their own way.
After Mo Ibrahim was stuffed on third and one, Fleck declined to go for it on fourth and one from their own 41-yard line. Ibrahim had been bottled up with only 18 yards on eight carries in the first half .
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