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Greg Sharpe on Taylor Martinez’s Status, Minnesota Match-up for Nebraska Cornhuskers

Nebraska Cornhuskers
Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images

After a second, and final, bye week for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, there are no more rest stops in the 2013 regular season, as the Huskers head back to the field this weekend at Minnesota.

The game with the Gophers Saturday kicks off a stretch of six games against teams that, as of now, have winning records: Minnesota, Northwestern, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, and Iowa.

Taylor Martinez, Nebraska Cornhuskers vs UCLA Bruins
Eric Francis/Getty Images

The big question heading into the second half of the season is the health of quarterback Taylor Martinez, who has been battling a turf toe injury and hasn’t played since September 14th against UCLA.

Head coach Bo Pelini said this week that Martinez is ‘likely to play’ Saturday, but wouldn’t confirm whether or not he’s starting.

I asked the ‘Voice of the Cornhuskers’ Greg Sharpe about how the senior signal caller looked in practice this week:

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Southern Miss v Nebraska - Spencer Long (61)
Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images

One guy Nebraska will not have back is guard Spencer Long, who’s career, and a string of 33-straight starts, are over because of a left knee injury.

It’s obviously a big loss for this offensive line with six games to play in the regular season:

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While Nebraska (5-1) is the rested team in Saturday’s game at Minnesota, the Gophers (5-2) are the team with momentum, after a surprise win on the road last weekend at Northwestern:

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Minnesota has notched five wins with a rather unique offensive approach in 2013, getting it done by committee at quarterback and at running back.  In fact, as of Friday afternoon, the Gophers still hadn’t named a starting quarterback for Saturday morning’s game:

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On defense, tackle Ra’Shede Hageman is one of the top lineman in the Big Ten, and he had a big game at Northwestern last Saturday, knocking down three passes and grabbing an interception.

But behind him, the Gophers are banged up – especially in the secondary – where cornerback Derrick Wells and safety Cedric Thompson won’t start because of injuries:

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Minnesota v Nebraska 2012
LINCOLN, NE – NOVEMBER 17, 2012: Wide receiver Kenny Bell #80 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers tries to hold off linebacker Keanon Cooper #4 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers during their game at Memorial Stadium on November 17, 2012 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)

One of the best ways to neutralize another teams’ momentum is to jump out to a fast start, and that’s exactly what Nebraska has done against  Minnesota in their last two meetings, outscoring the Gophers 58-0 in the first half:

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This game kicks off a crucial stretch that finds the Huskers at Minnesota, at home with Northwestern, at Michigan, a home date with Michigan State, at Penn State, and at home with Iowa to end the regular season.

Those six games will reveal a lot about this Nebraska football team:

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One thing is certain: if Nebraska wins at Minnesota Saturday, the Huskers will notch their 6th win of the year, making them bowl eligible.  That would make 50 bowl appearances for Nebraska, something only Texas and Alabama have achieved in college football history:

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Kickoff in Minneapolis is Saturday at 11:00am.

You can listen to the game live on your home for Huskers football in the Sioux Empire, ESPN 99.1!

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