The Gophers are taking a break this week after their two consecutive rivalry games against Iowa and Michigan.
Minnesota faces Nebraska Saturday and the Gophers will use what they learned from their losses the past two games.
“When you watched the game [against Michigan], there was a significant difference of two teams,” said head coach P.J. Fleck. “As I was very real with our team, I said, ‘that’s what a championship football team looks like.’”
Fleck reiterated that the two teams were different speed-wise, and they got whooped, he said. Fleck also said the parity on speed is better against Nebraska.
Nebraska and Minnesota began playing each other regularly again in 2011, and though it is not a traditional rivalry like Iowa or Michigan, it, along with the “$5 Bits of Broken Chair” trophy, can be for a good cause. The trophy is a symbol that sponsors fundraising for the Team Jack Foundation and University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.
“This program is about two things … it is about serving and giving,” Fleck said. “Anytime you have a rivalry that’s kind of been reborn or born from some type of charitable donation, or charitable event, that’s special.”
Nebraska is a threat through the air to Minnesota, and while the Gophers have managed to defend against the pass with their injured secondary, Fleck has had to prepare for the Cornhuskers’ receivers.
Wide receivers Stanley Morgan Jr. and J.D. Spielman are threats on the offense, and Fleck said they bring a lot of energy to the Cornhuskers’ offense. Spielman is also a native of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and is the son of Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman.
“We have to keep everybody [recruits] in the state,” Fleck said. “The people that come into this program have to understand that that’s what they want. They want to do something thats not been done in 50 years, [win a Big Ten Championship].”
Center Jared Weyler is not listed on the depth chart after he sustained an injury to the leg that kept him from three games earlier in the season.
Running back Shannon Brooks is not listed on the depth chart as well after not playing in the game against Michigan. The running backs on the depth chart are Rodney Smith as the starter, and Kobe McCrary listed second.