Gophers preparing for Martinez on Saturday

Taylor Martinez torched Minnesota last season with 308 passing yards.

Nate Gotlieb

Nebraska hasn’t announced whether senior quarterback Taylor Martinez will play Saturday against the Gophers.

But Minnesota is preparing as if he will play, acting head coach and defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys said Tuesday. And for good reason.

Martinez torched the Gophers for 308 passing yards and two touchdowns in Nebraska’s 38-14 win over Minnesota last season. He finished the year with 33 total touchdowns and earned All-Big Ten honors.

Martinez is a shifty quarterback who makes plays with his feet as well as his arm and has a knack for explosive plays.

“He’s as talented of a quarterback as we’ll play against in the Big Ten,” Claeys said.

Martinez hasn’t played since sustaining a turf toe injury during Nebraska’s 41-21 loss to UCLA on Sept. 14 but has practiced this week.

The Cornhuskers (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) are 3-0 without him but haven’t played a top-tier opponent since UCLA.

Tommy Armstrong Jr. has started in Martinez’s absence, but the redshirt freshman was benched in favor of senior Ron Kellogg III two weeks ago against Purdue.

Nebraska junior receiver Kenny Bell said Monday he’s optimistic Martinez will return this weekend but has “just as much faith” in Armstrong and Kellogg III.

Bell is part of a physical group of Nebraska receivers that could pose a threat to a depleted Gophers secondary.

Bell and senior receiver Quincy Enunwa have combined for 638 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns this season and have made several highlight-reel catches.

Claeys said he thinks there will be four or five jump-ball situations Saturday and said those situations will have a big impact on the game.

Claeys said Tuesday that junior cornerback Derrick Wells is “banged up a little bit.” In turn, senior safety Brock Vereen could again see time at cornerback after playing in that spot against Northwestern.

The Gophers will also have to contain junior running back Ameer Abdullah, who is averaging 7.2 yards per carry this season.

“It’s a cat-and-mouse game to try and keep them off-balance and not give up the big play,” Claeys said. “But with all their speed, that’s hard to do.”

Wayzata defensive lineman faces hometown team

Nebraska redshirt junior defensive tackle Tobi Okuyemi grew up in Maple Grove, Minn., and went to Wayzata High School.

He’ll face his hometown team for a third time Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.

Okuyemi said the Gophers recruited him, but he was “more comfortable” with Nebraska.

He became the Cornhuskers’ first Minnesotan in six years when he signed with them in 2010. He’s the only Minnesotan on their roster now.

The Okuyemi family still has ties to Minnesota as his dad, Dr. Kola Okuyemi, is the director of the University of Minnesota Medical School’s program in health disparities research.

But Tobi Okuyemi said his dad will be cheering for the Cornhuskers on Saturday.

Okuyemi graduated from Wayzata in 2010 and was a three-star defensive end, according to He’s appeared in just two games in his three seasons at Nebraska.