Gophers, Huskers to meet in key Big Ten West matchup

Published 11:07 am Thursday, November 10, 2016

Minnesota (7-2, 4-2 Big Ten) at No. 21 Nebraska (7-2, 4-2, No. 19 CFP), 7:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network)

Line: Nebraska by 7.

Series record: Minnesota leads 31-23-2.

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What’s at stake

Here’s the long and short of the Big Ten West race for these teams: the Gophers must win out to reach the conference championship game, and the Huskers must win out and have Wisconsin lose one of its last three games.

Key matchup

Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong or Ryker Fyfe against Minnesota defense. The Gophers have been tough against the run, so Nebraska is going to have to get its passing game going. Armstrong has been in the concussion protocol, so his status is questionable. He and Fyfe have combined to complete just 39.7 percent of their passes with two TDs and seven interceptions over the last four games.

Players to watch

Minnesota: QB Mitch Leidner brought back the Gophers from a 10-point deficit in the third quarter to win in Lincoln in 2014, and he’ll need to be just as good in his return. Leidner hasn’t thrown a TD pass in his last four games.

Nebraska: Armstrong or Fyfe. Armstrong has struggled with his passing lately, and if he plays, it will be a week after he was knocked unconscious at Ohio State. Fyfe has not been impressive on the rare occasions he’s had to play a significant amount. He’s the same guy who threw four interceptions and lost a fumble in the loss at Purdue last year.

Facts & figures

If Armstrong plays, the game will match the Big Ten’s most experienced quarterbacks. Armstrong would be appearing in his 44th game and starting his 43rd. Leidner will be playing in his 44th game and starting his 38th. … Nebraska has won 18 straight night games in Lincoln since 2008. … Huskers WR Jordan Westerkamp has caught a pass in 33 straight games. Gophers WR Drew Wolitarsky has at least one catch in 22 games in a row. … Only 1972 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers had a longer streak, at 37 games. … Gophers lead the Big Ten and are third nationally in turnover margin at plus-12.