Aug 31, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Jeff Sims (7) runs the ball against the Minnesota Golden Gophers during the first quarter at Huntington Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota stuns Nebraska with late pick, field goal

Dragan Kesich nailed a 47-yard field goal as time expired, giving Minnesota a 13-10 comeback victory over Nebraska on Thursday night in a Big Ten Conference game in Minneapolis.

The contest was the season opener for both teams.

The winning kick was set up by a Tyler Nubin interception game, and he returned the ball to the Minnesota 49-yard line with 58 seconds remaining. That came less than two minutes after the Golden Gophers’ Daniel Jackson dragged a toe to haul in a 13-yard touchdown catch on fourth-and-10 with 2:32 left, tying the game at 10.

The loss spoiled the debut of Nebraska coach Matt Rhule, who got a quick indoctrination to the Cornhuskers’ penchant for losing one-score games under previous coach Scott Frost.

Kesich was 2 of 3 on the night, hitting from 34 yards early in the second quarter and missing from 54 yards out later in the period.

Nebraska took a 7-3 lead less than a minute into the second half. After Rahmir Johnson returned a kickoff 63 yards, Jeff Sims threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Alex Bullock. The score came on a botched trick play that saw Sims drop a throwback pass from Anthony Grant, recover and then find Bullock alone in the end zone.

Sims, a transfer from Georgia Tech, finished 11 of 19 for 114 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions, including one in the end zone just before halftime. He also ran for 91 yards on 19 carries, so he accounted for 205 of Nebraska’s 295 yards.

Jackson had nine catches for 68 yards and the TD, while Minnesota quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis threw for 196 yards, a touchdown and an interception on 24-of-44 passing. Minnesota, which was second in the Big Ten in rushing last season at more than 207 yards per game, was limited to 55 yards on the ground.

Nebraska plays a second consecutive road game to open the season, visiting former Big 12 rival Colorado on Sept. 9. Minnesota hosts Eastern Michigan on Sept. 9.

–Field Level Media

Georgia's Arik Gilbert (14) celebrates after making a touchdown catch during the G-Day spring game in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, April 16, 2022.

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Nebraska TE Arik Gilbert arrested on burglary charge

Nebraska tight end Arik Gilbert was arrested early Tuesday for suspicion of burglary in Lincoln, Neb., authorities said.

The former five-star recruit is a two-time transfer currently awaiting an NCAA eligibility ruling after previous stops at LSU (2020) and Georgia (2021-22).

Gilbert, 21, was arrested without incident and booked into the Lancaster County jail on a felony burglary charge, according to the Lincoln Police Department.

Officers responded to a burglary report about 2 a.m. local time and found the glass door to a liquor and vape store shattered.

They found Gilbert holding a bag containing more than $1,600 worth of stolen items, police said. Damage to the store was estimated at $650.

Gilbert was ranked by ESPN as the No. 6 overall recruit in the Class of 2020. He caught 35 passes for 368 yards and two touchdowns as a true freshman at LSU.

He transferred to Georgia and appeared in just two games for the Bulldogs, catching two passes for 16 yards and one touchdown last season.

Because Gilbert already used his one-time transfer exemption, he is waiting on a waiver from the NCAA in order to be eligible this season.

Nebraska opens the season Thursday night at Minnesota.

–Field Level Media

Jul 27, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA;  Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Matt Rhule speaks to the media during the Big 10 football media day at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Rhule era at Nebraska begins with test at Minnesota

The latest Nebraska reboot begins Thursday night when the Cornhuskers visit Minnesota to open the 2023 season in a Big Ten Conference game in Minneapolis.

Matt Rhule is the program’s fourth full-time head coach in the past decade, taking over for Scott Frost, who was fired midway through the 2022 campaign after going 16-31 in four-plus seasons. Rhule returned to college after two-plus years coaching the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, but he has experience in rebuilding collegiate programs with successful turnarounds at Temple and Baylor.

Nebraska is coming off a 4-8 season in 2022, one in which it lost five games by one score.

“We won’t know truly who we are until we play a game, and probably a couple games,” Rhule said. “I talk a little bit about getting to that first game and there being a messy front end. There’s also a messy front end to each season and a messy front end to a new coach.”

Minnesota went 9-4 last year and won five of its final six games, including a victory over Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl. The Golden Gophers have made bowl games in four of six seasons under P.J. Fleck, who is 44-27 with the school, and his three nine-win seasons are tied for second most in school history.

“We’ve gotten the most out of every football team we’ve been able to coach,” Fleck said.

Like many teams, Nebraska is overloaded with newcomers. The roster features 63 players who weren’t in Lincoln a year ago, including quarterback Jeff Sims, a transfer from Georgia Tech who is expected to start. Sims had more than 5,600 yards of total offense in three seasons with the Yellow Jackets, while Virginia transfer Billy Kemp IV’s 192 career receptions ranks sixth among active FBS receivers.

Minnesota’s changes are more subtle, and mostly within. Greg Harbaugh Jr., the tight ends coach, is now coaching quarterbacks and will be co-offensive coordinator, and his No. 1 will be redshirt sophomore Athan Kaliakmanis, who takes over for Tanner Morgan.

Kaliakmanis played in 11 games with five starts a year ago, while Western Michigan transfer Sean Tyler steps in as the main ball carrier after school career rushing leader Mohamed Ibrahim graduated.

–Field Level Media

Nebraska safety Myles Farmer carries the Heroes Trophy off the field after the Cornhuskers beat Iowa, 24-17, on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.

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Nebraska suspends DB Myles Farmer indefinitely

Nebraska defensive back and starter Myles Farmer has been suspended at the outset of fall camp for “simple things,” first-year head coach Matt Rhule announced Monday.

Farmer, the Cornhuskers’ second-leading tackler in 2022, is not on the team’s 120-man roster. Rhule said “the ball’s in his court” when asked about Farmer’s return to the team.

“It’s just kind of day-by-day,” Rhule told reporters. “I love Myles. He’s a competitive kid. It’s so hard when you have a new coach and there have different standards than you’re used to, so I get that.

“We’ve been patient with a lot of guys. We’ll see what happens with Myles,” Rhule added.

Farmer was suspended for the Michigan game after a DUI arrest last November. He subsequently pleaded no contest and was sentenced to seven days under house arrest.

Farmer recorded a career-high 73 tackles last season under former head coach Scott Frost and interim coach Mickey Joseph. He also recorded an interception in 11 games.

Rhule also announced that DL Brodie Tagaloa is likely out for the season after sustaining a knee injury, which required surgery, in a car accident two weeks ago. Also, Baylor transfer WR Josh Fleeks reported “significantly” overweight and will be held out until he cuts down, Rhule said.

Nebraska opens the season Aug. 31 at Minnesota.

–Field Level Media

Oct 1, 2022; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Fans participate in a light show at the end of the third quarter between the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Indiana Hoosiers at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Former Nebraska, CFL RB Dahrran Diedrick dies at 44

Former Nebraska and Canadian Football League running back Dahrran Diedrick died Saturday after a fight with cancer. He was 44.

Born in Jamaica and raised in Toronto, Diedrick played for the Cornhuskers from 1999-2002. He led the Big 12 with 1,299 rushing yards and scored 15 touchdowns in 2001, finishing his career with 2,745 rushing yards and 26 TDs in 47 games.

“It’s really sad,” former Nebraska coach Frank Solich said. “Great kid. Huge heart in everything he did. I enjoyed being around him. I enjoyed coaching him and I think the players enjoyed being around him. He was a warrior.”

Diedrick signed with the then-San Diego Chargers after going undrafted in 2003 and also spent time with the Green Bay Packers and the Washington franchise. He appeared in his only NFL game with Washington in 2004.

Diedrick won three Grey Cup titles during a 10-year CFL career with the Edmonton Eskimos, Montreal Alouettes and Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

“I won two championships with Dahrran and he was a very important piece of our team,” former Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo said. “He was always in a good mood and got along with everyone in our dressing room. He leaves us far too young.”

Diedrick was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma in 2014 and retired after that season. He rushed for 872 yards and six touchdowns in 130 career CFL regular season games.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the friends, family, and former coaches and teammates of Dahrran Diedrick during this difficult time,” CFL commisioner Randy Ambrosie tweeted. “Another life tragically cut short by cancer.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 23, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Former Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Neil Smith cheers on the fans at the drum before the start the AFC Divisional playoff football game against the Buffalo Bills at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska lands ATH Keelan Smith, son of legendary pass rusher Neil Smith

While Neil Smith is revving engines as the Kansas Motor Speedway’s NASCAR grand marshal on Sunday, his alma mater pushed the recruitment of three-star athlete Keelan Smith across the finish line.

Keelan Smith, a “hybrid” receiver who can play running back or tight end, committed to Nebraska and coach Matt Rhule on Friday. The Missouri native had 11 touchdowns as a junior last season and is expected to remain in the Class of 2024 rather than reclassify. At 6-3, 209, he’s viewed as a prospect at outside linebacker in addition to the offensive role.

Neil Smith’s college teammate, Danny Noonan, also has a son in the Huskers’ 2024 recruiting class: defensive end Maverick Noonan. Danny Noonan was the No. 12 pick in the 1987 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. He was a contract holdout, but overcame injuries to unseat Hall of Famer Randy White at defensive tackle.

Smith had offers from Missouri, Kansas and others but opted to join a Top 25 recruiting class that is even deeper on NFL bloodlines.

Linebacker Willis McGahee IV, son of the two-time Pro Bowl running back, is also in Rhule’s ’24 class.

Neil Smith played defensive tackle at Nebraska and was the No. 2 overall pick in the 1988 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. After registering 85.5 sacks in nine seasons with the Chiefs, he joined the division rival Denver Broncos and won back-to-back Super Bowl rings alongside John Elway. Smith retired after the 2000 season with 104.5 career sacks.

–Field Level Media

Oct 29, 2022; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Casey Thompson (11) passes against the Illinois Fighting Illini during the first quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska starting QB Casey Thompson enters portal

Casey Thompson, Nebraska’s starting quarterback in 2022, entered the transfer portal on Friday.

It is his second straight year in the portal. Last offseason, he chose the Huskers when he transferred from Texas.

As a graduate transfer, he has one remaining season of eligibility.

Thompson started 10 games last season for Nebraska, completing 63.1 percent of his passes for 2,407 yards with 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He added five rushing scores.

Offseason shoulder surgery limited him this spring, and Georgia Tech transfer Jeff Sims passed him on the depth chart. Injuries, most notably a dislocated and torn thumb at Texas, have plagued Thompson throughout his career.

At Texas (2018-21), Thompson played in 19 games with 10 starts, throwing for 2,422 yards and 30 touchdowns. In 2021, he had three games with five or more touchdowns.

In three seasons at Georgia Tech, Sims played in 24 games (23 starts) and threw for 4,464 yards with 30 touchdown passes and 23 interceptions. He added 1,152 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Dec 10, 2022; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA;  Nebraska Cornhuskers head football coach Matt Rhule talks to the crowd during halftime of the game against the Purdue Boilermakers in the first half at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Four-star LB Willis McGahee IV chooses Nebraska

Four-star linebacker Willis McGahee IV verbally committed to Nebraska on Saturday while in Lincoln to watch the school’s Red-White spring game, according to multiple reports.

McGahee is the 24th-ranked linebacker nationally, according to 247sports. He reportedly had 13 sacks as a junior last season.

McGahee is the son of former NFL running back Willis McGahee, a two-time Pro Bowl selection who rushed for 8,474 yards from 2004-13. McGahee was a college football star at Miami.

The younger McGahee has been playing at Miami Palmetto High but is transferring to Columbus High in Miami for his senior season.

Willis McGahee IV reportedly was sought by Auburn, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Rutgers, Tennessee, UCF and West Virginia.

Nebraska has a new coach in Matt Rhule, who previously was a college head coach at Temple and Baylor. He also had an NFL stint with the Carolina Panthers.

–Field Level Media

Oct 29, 2022; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers interim head coach Mickey Joseph looks to the sideline before the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Charges dropped against ex-Nebraska interim coach Mickey Joseph

Prosecutors dropped a domestic violence charge against former Nebraska interim football coach Mickey Joseph after his accuser refused to testify.

A Lancaster County (Neb.) Court judge dismissed the case Wednesday during a brief hearing.

According to the Lincoln Star Journal, the state had sought a court order last month to compel Joseph’s accuser to attend the hearing.

“Despite several attempts by the authorities in Arizona she was not able to be served. So at this time, I am moving to dismiss without prejudice at state’s costs,” said Erica Pruess, the deputy county attorney, at the hearing.

Pruess said the accuser sent an email to her and to Joseph’s attorney, Sean Brennan, last month “indicating she was not intending to testify in this case.”

Joseph, 55, was arrested on Nov. 30 on suspicion of choking and punching his accuser and pulling her hair during a dispute. He was released on bond the following day and ordered not to have contact with the woman, who apparently has gone to Arizona.

Nebraska ended his employment on Dec. 6.

The incident occurred just days after Matt Rhule was tabbed as Nebraska’s new coach.

Joseph became interim coach after Scott Frost was fired on Sept. 11 after a 45-42 home loss to Georgia Southern that dropped the team’s record to 1-2.

The Cornhuskers went 3-6 under Joseph to finish the season with a 4-8 record.

–Field Level Media

Oct 7, 2022; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA;  Nebraska Cornhuskers running back Anthony Grant (10) warms up before the game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at SHI Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska suspends leading rusher Anthony Grant

Nebraska has suspended running back Anthony Grant for the start of spring practice, new head coach Matt Rhule announced Monday.

Rhule said Grant, who led the Cornhuskers with 915 rushing yards in 2022, is dealing with off-the-field issues and needs to improve his academics to get back on the field.

“Working on academics and general things,” Rhule said. … “That will be day by day. Good kid. Just have to get him going in the right direction.

Grant carried the ball 218 times and scored six touchdowns in 12 games last season, adding 18 catches for 104 yards and earning an honorable-mention All-Big Ten selection.

It was Grant’s first season with the Cornhuskers after he played at Florida State (2018-19) and the New Mexico Military Institute (2020-21).

Rhule also said kick returner and receiver Tommi Hill has been suspended for unspecified reasons, while tight ends Chris Hickman and James Carnie and cornerback Tyreke Johnson have left the team.

The Cornhuskers finished 4-8 overall (3-6 in the Big Ten) last season under former head coach Scott Frost and interim coach Mickey Joseph.

–Field Level Media