In recent years, when the Gophers were stated to play the Nebraska Cornhuskers, it was safe to say that you could chalk the game up as a loss. On Saturday, the Gophers reversed that trend with a rare win over their Big Ten foes.
At 6-2 (2-2) the Gophers are officially contenders again in the Big Ten. The win versus Nebraska was the teams’ best and first signature win under head coach Jerry Kill. Kill has been absent from the team due to concerns with his health, leaving Tracy Claeys in charge. Kill has been up in the booth helping manage the games, but regardless of his absence on the sidelines, the Gophers are playing their most inspired football in years.
The solution to the Gophers recent success has been improving the red-zone offense. Quarterback Philip Nelson has been the answer to the Gophers prayers at the position. Nelson led numerous effective drives that resulted in touchdowns on Saturday, something that the Gophers were not able to do in their first few Big Ten games.
Nelson also uses speed to his advantage. Speed coped with accurate passes have made him a dynamic threat in the pocket.
The biggest hurdle for the Gophers offense in the coming weeks will be dealing with opposing defenses making it their mission to contain Nelson. The Gophers were unsure about who their future quarterback would be, making it difficult for opponents to put together a solid game plan. Now with Nelson as the official starter, teams will come in more prepared to try and stop him.
The Gophers last four games are all winnable. The focus has to be beating Indiana next week. With six wins, the Gophers are officially bowl eligible, but Kill set out for a season that was above average.
Minnesota is a surprise team thus far in the Big Ten. A lot of preseason projections put the Gophers at the bottom of the Big Ten, but the Gophers are continuing to prove the naysayers wrong each week. It’s great to see Gopher football be competitive again.