The Matt Rhule era begins as the Nebraska Cornhuskers head to Minneapolis for an early Week One Big Ten showdown against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. This is a tale of two teams who had opposite results in 2022.
Nebraska made changes to their team after a 4-8 record, bringing in Rhule and new quarterback Jeff Sims to change the culture and bring the Cornhuskers back to previous glory. As for the Golden Gophers, head coach P.J. Fleck has his program trending up after a 9-4 record and a bowl win against Syracuse.
Nebraska vs. Minnesota Betting and DFS Preview
Minnesota -7.5, Nebraska +7.5
Minnesota -285, Nebraska +230
- Game time
8 p.m. EST
Huntington Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
- Predicted Weather at Kick
70 degrees, clear, winds south at 10 to 20 mph
- How to Watch
FuboTV, Fox, Fox Sports App
- How to Buy Tickets
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Top DFS Picks and Fantasy Plays
All values below come from FanDuel’s multi-team entries for the weekend. Looking to sign up for FanDuel? New customers bet $5 and get $200 in bonus bets guaranteed. Click here for more details.
Nebraska Depth Chart | Virginia Depth Chart
- QB Athan Kaliakmanis, Minnesota ($8,400)
- QB Jeff Sims, Nebraska ($7,700)
- RB Sean Tyler, Minnesota ($8,800)
- RB Anthony Grant, Nebraska ($7,200)
- RB Zach Evans, Minnesota ($6,000)
- RB Bryce Williams, Minnesota ($5,600)
- RB Gabe Ervin Jr., Nebraska ($5,200)
- WR Daniel Jackson, Minnesota ($8,000)
- WR Chris Autman-Bell, Minnesota ($7,000)
- WR Corey Crooms Jr., Minnesota ($6,400)
- WR Marcus Washington, Nebraska ($6,200)
- WR Elijah Spencer, Minnesota ($5,600)
- WR Billy Kemp IV, Nebraska ($5,200)
- WR Le’Meke Brockington, Minnesota ($5,100)
- TE Brevyn Spann-Ford, Minnesota ($5,900)
- TE Nate Boerkircher, Nebraska ($5,000)
Jeff Sims, QB
Nebraska’s new quarterback, Georgia Tech transfer Jeff Sims, would be a good place to start if fans are looking for a solid fantasy pick. His versatility with throwing the ball and using his legs to make plays makes him a threat. While he was with the Yellow Jackets who ran the ball more, he had a chance to show off the arm and prove to the Big Ten he can be one of the top quarterbacks in the conference.
Athan Kaliakmanis, QB
Minnesota’s signal-caller sophomore Athan Kaliakmanis is a bit of a risk as he started just five games as a freshman last season, completing only 54 percent of his passes with more interceptions (four) than touchdowns (three) thrown. He’s got similar traits to Sims as he can run it, and Minnesota fans can see some progression in year two, but Nebraska has seven returning starters on defense so it could be a challenge for the young quarterback.
Anthony Grant, RB
The Cornhuskers are in for a big year on the ground with running back Anthony Grant back after a 915-yard season last year. Minnesota’s defense was ranked 15th in the country in 2022 against the run, but only have four returning defenders on their unit. Grant ran for over 100 yards in four of his first five games last season, so Nebraska knows the game plan this season is to get Grant the ball often.
Brevyn Spann-Ford, TE
In terms of who to go after with receivers, the best-returning target on the field between the two teams is Minnesota’s tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford, after recording 497 yards and two touchdowns last season. Young quarterbacks love throwing to their security blankets in their tight ends, so Spann-Ford could get plenty of targets from Kaliakmanis.
Marcus Washington, WR
Looking at the wide receiver position in this game, Nebraska’s receiver Marcus Washington should also get targets. Washington gained 471 yards receiving and one touchdown last season, so Sims must throw it his way as one of the few experienced receivers on the roster.
Prediction for Nebraska vs. Minnesota
What seems like being under the radar, the Minnesota Golden Gophers have been middle of the pack in the Big Ten, averaging about seven wins a season under coach Fleck. Two straight seasons, the team has finished second in the Big Ten West Division, which will only get tougher with teams like Oregon and Washington joining the picture next season.
The strength of this team last season was defense, but as mentioned earlier, they only have four starters returning, so while they should still be the strength of this team, they aren’t the same unit from last year.
Nebraska will be more of a ground-and-pound offense with Grant and the Cornhuskers’ big and athletic offensive line. If Minnesota’s defensive line can win at the point of attack, they could very easily shut down the running game and force Sims to throw to win.
Minnesota’s key on offense is to lean on Western Michigan transfer running back Sean Tyler, who takes over for a team that was second in the Big Ten in rushing. Kaliakmanis has a superb arm and shows potential but needs a full year to develop with experience. He’s got the receivers in Daniel Jackson and tight end Spann-Ford to make some plays, but it won’t be perfect in this first game.
Speaking of won’t be perfect, Nebraska’s offensive operation may need time to gel with four starters back from last season’s squad. Grant is the key to getting the ball in his hands often, whether running or catching the football. There aren’t many pass catchers on the Cornhuskers who can make a difference outside of Washington, so the focus shifts to what Sims can do to create big plays for them.
The Cornhuskers have good stability and experience back on defense, as they could end up being the catalyst for this team early in the season. Their secondary has three of the four starters back, as they should be ready for their big jump. They have challenges against Minnesota’s playmakers, but if Nebraska can get pressure on Kaliakmanis early and often, this could be a nice performance for the defensive front.
Based on the performances of the team the last two seasons, Minnesota comes in as the favorites to win, and with good reason. Their defense continues to get better each season and has the potential to have a fun offense with young players. People shouldn’t sleep in Nebraska as this is a program that is hoping for a fast start to the season. How they end their season is a whole other story.
The ultimate element of this game is a faceoff against two great coaches, Coach Fleck and Coach Rhule. While Rhule might have suffered in the NFL the last few seasons, we can’t forget what he did for the Temple and Baylor football programs, transforming them into powerhouses before leaving them.
It may be too early to hop on the Rhule train, but ultimately, Nebraska brought Rhule in for a quick turnaround, and that’s exactly what he has done as a head coach in college.
Nebraska 24, Minnesota 20