Nebraska Football Know The Foe: Minnesota Golden Gophers

Matt Rhule doesn’t get an easy start in his first year at Nebraska. He has his first appearance as the head coach on the road against Minnesota.

The Thursday night matchup will be the first Big Ten game of the season and should set the tone for the season for both sides.

Here is a preview of the 2023 Minnesota Golden Gophers:

Know The Foe: Minnesota

Review of 2022

Before previewing 2023, let’s start with last season. 2022 was somewhat of a successful season for the Gophers, winning nine games and finishing fourth in the Big Ten West.

Minnesota was able to get big road victories against Michigan State, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. Despite this, losses to Purdue, Illinois, and Iowa would keep them out of the conference title game.

Senior quarterback Tanner Morgan started the first half of the season until getting injured in the Illinois game in week seven. Then here comes redshirt freshman Athan Kaliakmanis.

After a tough game in his first start at Penn State, Kaliakmanis would lead a comeback against Nebraska. Kaliakmanis started the last three games, winning two of three including a big win at Wisconsin.

In his last year at Minnesota, Mohamed Ibrahim led the Gophers’ offense with over 1600 yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground. Ibrahim became the career rushing leader for Minnesota in the final game of his college career in the Pinstripe Bowl against Syracuse.

The Gophers’ defense was very solid, finishing fourth in scoring defense in the country. The defense was led by linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin, who accumulated 88 total tackles over 13 games.

2023 Positional Outlook

Minnesota has to replace two four-year starters on offense with quarterback Tanner Morgan and running back Mohamed Ibrahim. Minnesota already has Morgan’s replacement on the roster with Kaliakmanis.

Minnesota went out into the portal and picked up senior running back Sean Tyler from Western Michigan. Tyler has two 1,000-yard seasons under his belt and will be a top option in the backfield. Senior Bryce Williams will also be an option for the Gophers.

The Gophers have the leading receiver from last season with junior Daniel Jackson returning for another season. They lost Mike Brown-Stephens and Dylan Wright to the transfer portal. To make up for that, they attacked the portal and landed transfers, senior Corey Crooms (Western Michigan) and junior Elijah Spencer (Charlotte). 

Defensively, Minnesota returns six starters from 2022. The defense will be headlined by sophomore linebacker Cody Lindenberg and senior safety Tyler Nubin. Both were top-five tacklers in 2022 and should be primed for a good 2023. 

What Will 2023 Entail for Minnesota?

With one of the most difficult schedules in the Big Ten, Minnesota will have to start strong. After the aforementioned matchup in week one, the Gophers take on Eastern Michigan before going on the road to Chapel Hill to take on North Carolina. 

Minnesota gets Michigan State, Michigan, and Ohio State as their East Division opponents, which is a tough get for them. 

2023 will be a tough season for Minnesota but with the potential of Kaliakmanis as a quarterback and deep wide receiver room, it could go well. 

Week 1 Matchup Preview

Before we get too ahead of ourselves, we got to get through Week 1 first. 

Minnesota has won the last four matchups between Nebraska but the last three have been decided by one score. Last season, Nebraska had the lead 10-0 going into the half but Minnesota held the Huskers to only three points in the second half. Kaliakmanis lead the comeback and the Gophers held off Nebraska 20-13 in Lincoln. 

Minnesota opens as a touchdown favorite to win “The $5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy” against the Huskers. 

Can Nebraska end the losing streak and Matt Rhule gets his first big win? We will find out on Thursday, Aug. 31 at 7:00 pm. 

Main Image: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

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