Philip Nelson rushed for two touchdowns and passed for another, guiding Minnesota to a 34-23 upset Saturday of 25th-ranked Nebraska.
It was the first win over the Cornhuskers in 16 tries dating back to 1960.
"I think this victory says a lot about our kids," said acting Gophers coach Tracy Claeys. "We talked about how Nebraska had two weeks to prepare and we're not sure what we're going to see from the other team, and Nebraska came out right away and got after us."
But a maturing Gophers team showed its poise.
Nelson made all of his seven completions count, totaling 152 yards. He also carried the ball eight times for 55 yards, and he spun across the goal line from the 1 with 48 seconds left to seal the victory for the Gophers (6-2, 2-2 Big Ten).
"We kept telling the players that they are better than they think they are, and Northwestern brought out a little bit of confidence," said Claeys. "This win will bring out a lot of confidence in us."
David Cobb gained 138 yards on 31 rushes for the Gophers, who outgained the Huskers 271-189 on the ground.
"We were able to stay committed to the run," Claeys said. "There were some times when we didn't get more than a yard or two, but David Cobb had some great runs that gave us a big spark."
The defense also did its job against an offense that has been known to be explosive.
Taylor Martinez returned from a turf-toe injury that kept him out of the last three games for the Huskers (5-2, 2-1). He had only 16 yards rushing on eight attempts and 139 yards on 16-for-30 passing, plus one touchdown and one interception.
The Gophers became bowl-game eligible, but while the team celebrated its big win, this year's accomplishment felt different to both players and coaches.
"A year ago we celebrated the sixth win because it was late in the season," Claeys said. "We had Nebraska and Michigan State left a year ago, but now we have our sixth win in October and we can reset our goals. We're going to work hard and set out to do something better than what we have done in the past."
The Gophers will play Indiana next week in Bloomington, and then return home for games against Penn State and Wisconsin. They finish the regular season on the road against Michigan State.