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Nebraska vs. Minnesota, 10.12

Nebraska's Wan’Dale Robinson (1) is helped off the field after a second-quarter injury against Minnesota on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.

RUNNING GAME (D)

Noah Vedral, starting at quarterback in place of injured Adrian Martinez, showed his talent as a runner on a 17-yard first-quarter dash that featured a couple of nice open-field moves. Nebraska, though, was largely anemic on the ground, averaging only 3.4 yards per carry in falling behind 14-0 at halftime. Minnesota established control in the trenches early on, and things didn't get much better for NU as the night progressed.

PASSING GAME (C)

Vedral found JD Spielman wide open for a 51-yard gain on Nebraska's second drive. But the march stalled as the Huskers allowed back-to-back sacks. Pass protection was lacking most of the night, with Vedral affected negatively by an issue that's held back Martinez this season. Give Minnesota credit for good defense on Nebraska's incomplete screen pass that stalled its first drive of the game.

AGAINST THE RUN (F)

Minnesota flexed early and often in this area, with Rodney Smith bolting 35 yards on the Gophers' second play from scrimmage. UM established a physical presence from the get-go. The Gophers pounded out 72 yards on the ground during the six-play, 80-yard drive in the second quarter that pushed their lead to 14-0. With snow flying, the Huskers had to know slowing the run would be critical. Their response was disappointing, to say the least.

AGAINST THE PASS (F)

On a windy and snowy night, Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan could rely mostly on the run game. But he still was effective passing when called upon. Nebraska's defense, needing a strong start to the second half, immediately allowed a 45-yard completion to Tyler Johnson, who was wide-open over the middle. The Huskers caught a break in the third quarter when Gopher tight end Jake Paulson, running wide open, dropped what would've been a surefire TD.

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SPECIAL TEAMS (D)

Nebraska just isn't showing much improvement in this area. Spielman had a 10-yard punt return late in the first quarter, but fumbled at the end of it (good job by the Huskers to pounce on it). He also muffed a punt in the third quarter, recovering it at the Huskers' 2-yard line. Isaac Armstrong appeared to hit a punt that would've pinned Minnesota inside its 5-yard line, but Jeramiah Stovall slipped before he was able to down the ball. On his next try, Armstrong's 47-yard punt pinned Gophers at their 8. But he also shanked a punt late in the third quarter.

GAME MANAGEMENT (D)

An illegal block in the back by Kanawai Noa erased a 32-yard gain by Wan'Dale Robinson that would've set up Nebraska at Minnesota's 4-yard line. With the Huskers having such a small margin for error, those type of penalties really stick out. Khalil Davis was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct late in the third quarter, his frustration with his team's performance perhaps getting the best of him.

PLAY-CALLING (C)

Nice call to get Spielman in the open for the 51-yard gain. We also liked the call for a fake punt early in the third quarter because Nebraska desperately needed a spark at the time, trailing 21-0. But tight end Austin Allen, who took the snap, was stopped short on the play.

OVERALL (F)

Scott Frost asked his players to pour whatever they had in the tank into this week, into this game. I didn't think the Huskers put forth that sort of effort. It was hard to watch at times. However, I did see plenty of hunger from the home team.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.

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Husker columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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