The Nebraska Cornhuskers presented the Big 10 with some interesting news on Friday morning. According to Huskerjunction.com, Bo Pelini expects Taylor Martinez to be a game time decision on Saturday. It’s likely that Martinez will receive some time at the quarterback position, but it’s not clear if he will get the starting nod. Taylor Martinez has not played since September 14 loss to UCLA.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers have a chance to earn consecutive trips to the Big 10 championship games, but they must win out. It looks like the division will come down to a tie breaker once again. Thus a victory over Minnesota is must. Yet, the Golden Gophers are no slouch in the Legends division.
Even with the loss to UCLA, the Cornhuskers have all of their goals in front of them. Nebraska has seen the future with Tommy Armstrong at quarterback, but his time may be coming to an end in 2013. Taylor Martinez seems to be back from injury, and Nebraska will look to use his breakaway talent on Saturday. Depending on who the quarterback is, the Cornhusker offense can look completely different. Lately, Nebraska has used a very balanced attack while leaning on the power running game.
Defensively, the Huskers have gotten much better since week one. Yet, you never know when that 70 point defense will rear its ugly head. The “Blackshirts” need to stay focused from play to play. Minnesota will attempt to pound the ball with the running game, so controlling the running lanes will be the key. Nebraska should be able to dominate Minnesota’s passing game, and this is where they need to force turnovers.
The Golden Gophers excel in the running game. It’s especially true when you compare it to their aerial attack. The quarterbacks have accounted for more rushing touchdowns (8) than passing touchdowns (4). They’ve also thrown five interceptions. It’s clear that Minnesota is coming into the game ready to run the ball. They have to win first down repeatedly. Minnesota will also take some shots down field to loosen up the defensive backs.
Defensively, Minnesota must prepare for a two quarterback system. Their front seven is good against the run, but they struggle against the pass. The more big plays, they give up to the Huskers, the more the philosophy of the game changes. It will be important to slow the game down and turn it into a slugfest.
If Nebraska can control the line of scrimmage, they should have no problems with Minnesota. However, that’s a big if. Nebraska has to pull all stops to thwart the running game. If Taylor Martinez does find some playing time, we should see how well he’s doing with his turf toe injury. There will be some expectations of some big plays with his legs. Yet, he can’t force plays and have turnovers. That would be detrimental to Nebraska’s chances of winning.