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Minnesota set to unleash rushing attack on Nebraska

Sportsnaut
Oct 29, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim (24) evades Rutgers Scarlet Knights defensive lineman Aaron Lewis (71) in the first quarter at Huntington Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten Conference’s second-best rushing attack could be in for a big day on Saturday against the league’s worst run defense when Minnesota visits Nebraska in a West Division battle in Lincoln, Neb.

Minnesota (5-3, 2-3) is averaging 222.8 yards per game on the ground, going for 253 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-0 home win over Rutgers last week. The bulk of that production came from senior Mohamed Ibrahim, who carried 36 times for 159 yards and three scores.

Nebraska (3-5, 2-3) allows an average of 190.1 rushing yards per game, with four opponents gaining over 200 yards on the ground this season. The Cornhuskers allowed 188 rushing yards in a 26-9 home loss Saturday to then-No. 17 Illinois.

An arm injury to Nebraska starting quarterback Casey Thompson during the Illinois game has made planning for this week’s contest difficult, Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck said.

“We don’t know which one they’re going to actually play,” Fleck said of Thompson and backups Chubba Purdy and Logan Smothers, each of whom attempted at least one pass vs. Illinois.

Whoever plays at quarterback for Nebraska likely will target junior Trey Palmer often. The LSU transfer has 48 catches for 782 yards and five TDs but was limited to one reception for a single yard against Illinois.

“There were just some plays we couldn’t get it to him,” said Nebraska interim coach Mickey Joseph, who is 2-3 since taking over for Scott Frost in September.

Besides Ibrahim, Minnesota’s offense is guided by senior quarterback Tanner Morgan. He threw for 200-plus yards in three of the first five games before a head injury against Illinois caused him to miss a 45-17 loss at then-No. 16 Penn State. In his return last week, he was 14 of 21 for 122 yards vs. Rutgers.

Minnesota has won the past three meetings against Nebraska — the past two by one score. A victory Saturday would make the Golden Gophers bowl eligible for the fourth time in five seasons.

–Field Level Media