CFB PREVIEW: Nebraska Cornhuskers v Minnesota Golden Gophers

By Rory Daniels

We’ve already previewed the headline event of Thursday night between Florida and Utah, but it’s not the only noteworthy game. A new-look Nebraska travels to take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Will the Cornhuskers be able to show renewed vigour as they push for a top-25 ranking? Can Minnesota survive the loss of some experienced players to the NFL? Here’s our preview…

Story so far…

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Matt Rhule’s tenure as Carolina Panthers head coach was disappointing, but his standing in College Football appears undiminished. Nebraska was one of many teams keen to secure Rhule as head coach for 2023. His previous success turning around Temple and Baylor should give Cornhusker fans confidence that a winning record can return to Lincoln.

PJ Fleck remains in charge at Minnesota, but he will enter this season having to find a way to replace two key offensive players. Quarterback Tanner Morgan and running back Mo Ibrahim graduated to the NFL and left big shoes to fill. The Gophers had a 9-4 season, with a bowl victory over Syracuse. It’s difficult to see them making a run at the conference title with such heavy hitters in the Big 10.

The Quarterbacks…

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Athan Kaliakmanis got his dress rehearsal as Minnesota’s starting QB last year when Tanner Morgan went down with a concussion. He showed promising signs, particularly in a 23-16 victory over Wisconsin in the regular season’s penultimate game. That day, he completed 29 out of 34 attempts for 319 passing yards and two touchdowns. The Gophers are in safe hands if he can achieve even half the success Morgan enjoyed.

Rhule has placed his faith in Georgia Tech transfer Jeff Sims at the quarterback position. There is plenty to get excited about with Sims, but he needs to turn the flashes into consistent success to help turn around the Cornhuskers fortunes. He has the size and athletic traits to be special, but a career completion rate of under 60% and a TD-to-interception ratio of 30:23 are concerning.

Prospects to watch…

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Quinton Newsome – Newsome appears to be the most talented player in the Cornhuskers secondary. He had eight pass breakups in 2022 and will be tested early on, having to cover the experienced Chris Autman-Bell for Minnesota.

Luke Reimer – You can expect senior linebacker Reimer to marshal this defense from the second level. He had 57 tackles last season, second most, despite missing games. His coverage grade of 77.8 is eye-catching, and his matchup with the prospect below will be intriguing.

Brevyn Spann-Ford – At 6’7, 270lbs, it’s no wonder that Brevyn Spann-Ford has enjoyed great success in the Gophers offense. He will be particularly valuable for an inexperienced quarterback. Now in his sixth year, he will be looking to improve on his touchdown number of 2 last year.

Tyler Nubin – Safety Tyler Nubin is one of the most well-rounded prospects at the position. In 2022, he had four interceptions, allowed a super-low NFL passer rating of 41.3 and achieved a run defense grade of 83.4. His experience and leadership will be vital for the Minnesota defense.


Minnesota is a seven-point favourite, and I think it will be difficult for Nebraska to hit the ground running on the road. Rhule should get Nebraska ticking, but the experience of this Gophers defense will make life tricky for Jeff Sims.

Nebraska 17-28 Minnesota

Mock Draft

Rory-Joe Daniels

Cfb contributor

formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at