After a gut-wrenching loss to No. 8 Michigan last week, Nebraska (3-4, 1-3 in Big Ten) is in Minneapolis for a Big Ten West showdown against head coach PJ Fleck’s Minnesota Gophers (3-2, 1-1).
Kickoff is slated for 11 a.m. Here’s everything you need to know as game time approaches. The matchup is the Huskers’ eighth game in eight consecutive weeks, and their second-to-last road game for the 2021 season. Nebraska will have a bye week next, then host Purdue, which is playing at No. 2 Iowa this afternoon.
There were a couple notable absences in pregame warmups in backup offensive linemen Ethan Piper and Brant Banks. Piper, a Norfolk Catholic product, has played in five games this season with three starts at left guard. With Piper not available, Nouredin Nouili, the starting left guard, was working as a backup center but will start at guard also. Banks, who started at left tackle at Illinois, has been nursing a hand injury this season.
With Piper and Banks out, freshman lineman Henry Lutovsky is with the team in Minneapolis. It’s the first time this season the Crawfordsville, Iowa, native traveled with the Huskers.
On the quarterback front, four of the Husker signal callers made the trip, including Adrian Martinez, Logan Smothers, Matt Masker and Heinrich Haarberg. Haarberg, a true freshman from Kearney Catholic, is a notable travel roster addition. He didn’t travel to Michigan State, but did travel to Illinois for the season opener and Oklahoma. Travel rosters are allowed to be a bit larger for out-of-conference games.
More news and notes:
>> Nebraska will be playing with heavy hearts today. On Thursday, Husker defensive coordinator Erik Chinander’s father, Gene, passed away in a car accident.
>> It’s going to be chilly on the field. The temperature at kickoff will be right around 48 degrees and will gradually warm as the sun comes up. There won’t be much wind on the field, either, but flags atop Huntington Bank Stadium are blowing at about 15 miles per hour out of the west.
>> For the first time since the Michigan State game, Bryce Benhart will be in the starting lineup at right tackle. Benhart, as well as wideout Levi Falck, are returning to their home state to play against the Gophers.
>> Minnesota starting receiver Daniel Jackson wasn’t in warmups. That’s notable, because Jackson has started all five games this season and leads the team with 14 catches to go along with 155 yards and one touchdown.