When the Big Ten West rivals play one other on Thursday night in Minneapolis, neither Minnesota nor Nebraska will have a cakewalk opponent to begin the 2023 campaign. Since the Cornhuskers’ insertion into the conference, these teams have faced off 12 times in a row. But given that both programmes underwent significant offseason modifications, that familiarity will be limited.
The former Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule was hired by Nebraska to take over for Scott Frost, and the Cornhuskers are hopeful he can pull off another significant turnaround like he did with Temple and Baylor before quitting the college game to try his luck in the NFL. The Gophers are breaking in a new offensive coordinator and replacing important players on both sides of the ball even though seventh-year coach P.J. Fleck is returning for Minnesota.
Including a 20-13 defensive struggle last season that featured 15 punts and just 567 combined yards, Minnesota has won the last four games in a row in the rivalry. However, supporters of offence should be encouraged about the possibility of greater action given that both sides have new offensive systems in place and that the game is expected to be played in ideal weather.
Three Big Ten teams will face off against one another in this game, which has a lot on the line. The Gophers would be able to exhale after a victory as they started one of the toughest schedules in the country. A victory for Nebraska would jump-start Rhule’s tenure and put the Cornhuskers on track to make their first bowl appearance since 2016.
Need to know the Kaliakmanis timing for the Nebraska-Minnesota game:
Tanner Morgan, the quarterback for Minnesota, is no longer eligible after six seasons there, five of which he spent as the primary or backup quarterback. Athan Kaliakmanis can now shine as a result. The “Greek Rifle,” a redshirt sophomore with a stingier defence than most on Minnesota’s schedule, completed 60 of 111 passes for 946 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions last season. Former four-star prospect Kaliakmanis has received high praise from Fleck and is anticipated to boost Minnesota’s quarterback ceiling as he adjusts to the permanent starting position.
After three inconsistent seasons with Georgia Tech, Jeff Sims, the quarterback for Nebraska, will have another opportunity to flourish. Sims emerged as a freshman in 2020, displaying promise for a struggling programme. Sims was unable to reach his full potential the previous two seasons due to injury and competition at the position.However, by 2023, incumbent Casey Thompson had transferred to FAU after the spring season, making him the undisputed starter and healthy. Sims has the opportunity to become the quarterback who returns Nebraska to relevance as Rhule’s term begins with two seasons of eligibility left.
New offensive schemes:
Matt Simon and Greg Harbaugh, Minnesota’s co-offensive coordinators, weren’t recently hired, but they now have more responsibility because Kirk Ciarrocca left for Rutgers. Simon joined the team in 2017, and Harbaugh is now in his third year working for Fleck. After the departure of workhorse running back Mo Ibrahim, who set multiple school records, they will be tasked with determining how to move the offence forward after it peaked in 2019 under Ciarrocca during an 11-2 season. Rhule and Marcus Satterfield worked together at Western Carolina in 2005, and Satterfield is the first-year offensive coordinator at Nebraska. But after preside over a South Carolina court, he must demonstrate that he is the right person for the job.
Prediction for Nebraska vs. Minnesota based on consensus odds from SportsLine
Since both teams had new coordinators and starting quarterbacks in addition to some new skill personnel, there wasn’t much pertinent tape available for the defensive staffs to examine before to this game. For a game that is anticipated to be played in excellent conditions, the offensive coordinators therefore have the edge of surprise. After Ibrahim’s departure, Minnesota in particular should have a season with fewer runs. The Gophers have subtly put together one of the top pass-catching groups in the Big Ten, and they ought to be eager to use it to help a game feature some offensive action.