Gophers Miss Opportunity
October 17, 2015

As the afternoon sun set slowly in the west at TCF Bank Stadium, so sank the University of Minnesota football team in the West Division of the Big Ten Conference. The Nebraska Cornhuskers handed Minnesota a 48-25 loss before 54,062 frustrated fans and dropped the Gophers conference record to one win and two losses. A three-point favorite at the game’s start, the Gophers fell to a team that had been victimized in four previous games. Nebraska opponents had scored the winning points either on the final play or overtime. Not so this Saturday, as the Cornhuskers scored early and often to build a 31-14 lead going into the fourth quarter. Then, with three minutes gone in the period, DeMornay Pierson-El caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Tommy Armstrong, and the Gophers were cooked,

“We were outcoached and outplayed,” observed coach Jerry Kill after the game. “Armstrong executed well and kept us off-balance. Nebraska controlled the ball and the clock.

“Today we were outplayed in all three phases [offense, defense, and special teams] of the game.”

Had Minnesota been fortunate enough to win, it would have marked three straight over the Huskers, a stark contrast to previous encounters when Nebraska went 16-0 from 1963 to 2012, including an infamous 84-13 blowout. But before that previous period of Nebraska dominance, there were the 1940s, when the Gophers had a 10-game winning streak. In other words, Minnesota did not lose to the Cornhuskers in that decade, which produced scores of 61-7 in 1945 and 54-0 in 1943.

For Kill, the 48 points racked up by the Huskers were second only to the 58 scored by Michigan in the coach’s first year at Minnesota. Never before had an opponent scored more than 38 points on a Kill team at TCF Bank Stadium.

Nevertheless, the game had a promising start when Eric Carter caught a 24-yard touchdown pass from Mitch Leidner. The extra point made it 7-0. It was to be Minnesota’s only lead.

Minutes later, Nebraska’s Terrell Newby was off on a 69-yard TD romp, and score was tied. The Huskers went ahead when Alonzo Moore scored on a 32-yard touchdown pass from Armstrong that concluded scoring in the first period.

The score mounted to 17-7 as the result of a 45-yard Drew Brown field goal, but the Gophers countered with a seven-yard touchdown run by K.J. Maye. Nebraska then struck back with a nine-yard TD romp by Newby to make the halftime score Nebraska 24, Minnesota 14.

In the third quarter, Nebraska mounted a remarkable 10-play 99-yard touchdown drive capped by a 10-yard Armstrong pass to Cethan Carter in the end zone, and Minnesota was finished.

The Pierson-El touchdown grab in the end zone in the fourth quarter merely added icing to the Husker cake.

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