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NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Most Valuable Huskers Vs. Minnesota

By Huskerlocker @huskerlocker

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By James Stevenson


The Cornhuskers disposed of Minnesota with little drama as Nebraska dominated not only the field at TCF Bank Stadium, but also the stands. The Big Red didn’t face a challenge from the worst team in the Big Ten in their 41-14 win, but there were still multiple efforts which stood above the rest and deserve recognition.
Offensive MVP: The rout was on when redshirt freshman wide receiver Kenny Bell took a pitch on a reverse, then navigated down the sideline with perfect balance and speed for an 82-yard touchdown run. The scoring scamper was the longest touchdown run for a freshman in school history, and was Nebraska’s longest run since 2004. Bell also snagged four passes for 25 yards.
Defensive MVP: Aside from leading the team with six tackles, senior safety Austin Cassidy made the biggest play of the day for the defense-that-is-yet-to-receive-their-Blackshirts. When Minnesota quarterback MarQueis Gray fumbled at his own 20-yard line, Cassidy, in his attempt to recover the ball, accidentally kicked it nine yards to the Gopher 11-yard line before scooping it up and returning it for a defensive score.
Special Teams MVP: After looking at everything, from kickoffs, to field goals, to returners to that made tackles, there wasn’t a standout performance on special teams Saturday. Honorable mention to Brett Maher for scoring 10 points on two field goals and four PATs, but hard to give him the award after a rough day with his punting duties and missing a 52-yard kick in the third quarter.
Minnesota MVP: MarQueis Gray accounted for 189 of the Gophers’ 254 yards of offense. He threw for 122 yards, and his 67 yards on the ground included a 30-yard rush and a touchdown.
Workhorse: Despite being banged up during the bye week, junior I-back Rex Burkhead was still the workhorse for the Husker ground game. His fourth time breaking the century mark this season, Burkhead gained 117 yards on 23 carries and rushed for a touchdown,
12th Man: An announced crowd of 49,187 consisted of an estimated 25-30,000 Nebraska fans. Early in the game, the “Go Big Red” chants drowned out the Minnesota marching band. Husker fans neutralized the road advantage, creating more of a high school or scrimmage atmosphere.
Missing in Action: After the game, senior offensive tackle Jermarcus “Yoshi” Hardrick joked about several Husker players who found themselves stuck in a Minneapolis elevator on Friday.
That’s one plausible explanation as to why junior tight end Kyler Reed didn’t see the field on Saturday. One of Nebraska’s most dangerous deep threats, he was sorely missed when the Husker wide receiver corps dropped multiple deep passes from quarterback Taylor Martinez.
The Cornhuskers will need all of its offensive weapons against a salty Michigan State defense coming off of a historic win against Wisconsin.
Welcome Back: After not playing in nearly a month due to a leg infection, true freshman I-back Braylon Heard helped run out the clock, averaging six yards a carry on seven totes of the football with a long of 22 yards.
Follow James on Twitter: @jamesstevenson
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