Halftime Report: Gophers 17 Nebraska 13

Jack Satzinger

All week, defensive coordinator and acting head coach Tracy Claeys said Nebraska has the fastest skill position players in the Big Ten. His thoughts came to fruition on the Huskers' first drive of the game that went for 69 yards on just six plays and ended with a touchdown. Needless to say, Nebraska's offense is explosive as Claeys forecasted. 

Minnesota's offense wasn't from the start. Its first drive went three and out as starting quarterback Mitch Leidner opted to tuck the ball on consecutive plays after no receivers were open. The Gophers punted the ball back to Nebraska, giving the Huskers great field position. 

But Minnesota's defense held the Huskers to a field goal after Theiren Cockran blindsided Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez, forcing a fumble.

Down 10-0, the Gophers' offense showed Claeys that they're plenty explosive, too. Minnesota went 75 yards over 13 plays, with the run game as its calling card. Leidner punched the ball in with a one-yard touchdown run, but an inordinate amount of Gophers rushed the ball on the drive. Running backs David Cobb and Donnell Kirkwood paced the run game while wide receivers Donovahn Jones and Derrick Engel took jet sweeps to add another wrinkle to Minnesota's young offense.

What happened next shows how good the Gophers' defense can be if Ra'Shede Hageman asserts his dominance. The 6-foot-6 defensive tackle got to Martinez on back-to-back plays to help force the Huskers to punt.

With the ball back in hand, Minnesota's offense systematically picked apart the Huskers with Philip Nelson under center in place of Leidner. Seven plays, 88 yards, ending with an acrobatic 33-yard touchdown catch by Engel.  The score came on 4th and 10 — personifying Minnesota's aggression in the face of no. 24 Nebraska. 

Minnesota leads 17-13 at the half. Last year, the Gophers trailed Nebraska 24-0 at the half. Minnesota has never led Nebraska in a game during Kill's tenure till now. They've never beaten a ranked opponent with Kill as coach, either.

Today could be the day, with Kill watching over his team from the coaches' box while on leave for epilepsy treatment.