Game Day: Nebraska vs. Michigan

Is No. 8 enough?

While Nebraska's offense has been shaky, reliable I-back Ameer Abdullah is the one sure thing. Will Abdullah's legs be enough to carry the Huskers — down two offensive linemen, including an All-America candidate — past a Michigan team with plenty to prove?

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2-Minute Drill by Jon Nyatawa

Nebraska rush offense vs. Michigan rush defense

Opponents have had little success running against the Wolverines, who allow just 105.1 rushing yards per game. The Huskers didn’t break many long runs in their last two games against Michigan, but they have averaged 4.6 yards per attempt. Ameer Abdullah has 1,108 rushing yards, the most through eight games by an NU I-back since 1994. Advantage: Nebraska

Nebraska pass offense vs. Michigan pass defense

Tommy Armstrong has six interceptions in his last two games, though he’s had to work with a depleted receiving corps. The Wolverines will likely zone blitz frequently, which could leave openings for tight ends to flash open up the seam or receivers to gain separation on crossing routes. NU can’t rely on that, though. Advantage: Michigan

Michigan rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

Nebraska has struggled to stop the run for three seasons, giving up 4.4 yards per carry since 2011. The Wolverines could try to mimic Minnesota’s downhill approach, or utilize the zone-read option. But they’ve been ineffective at both lately, opting to pass first to open up running lanes against Michigan State. Advantage: Nebraska

Michigan pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

At one point last week at Michigan State, the Wolverines had six offensive linemen on the field — and still gave up a sack. Their pass protection is in shambles, but having an elusive QB helps — Devin Gardner’s agility might scare Nebraska out of blitzing. Plus, he averages 9.8 yards per pass attempt, which ranks seventh best nationally. Advantage: Michigan

Special teams

Nebraska has recorded a touchback on 65.5 percent of its kickoffs, which ranks 11th nationally. And its net punting average (38.2) ranks fourth in the Big Ten. But the Huskers are also averaging just 3.4 yards per punt return, which is tied for ninth-worst in the country. Michigan, at 6.8, is not much better. Advantage: Michigan

Intangibles

The Wolverines are 19-0 at home under coach Brady Hoke but, facing plenty of scrutiny after a 29-6 loss to the Spartans, won’t carry the mentality of a favorite into Saturday’s game. Nebraska, meanwhile, still feels pressure to maintain control of its destiny, and the Huskers are riding high after last week’s miracle finish. Advantage: Nebraska

Key matchup: Michigan receiver Devin Funchess vs. Nebraska's defense

How do you match up against a 6-foot-5, 235-pounder who looks like a tight end but runs routes like a receiver? Could be up to the Huskers' linebackers. Maybe it's their safeties. Maybe this is a job for senior Stanley Jean-Baptiste. NU has been vulnerable against guys of Funchess' stature and skillset all year.

Nebraska wins if ...

It can limit the responsibilities for its quarterbacks, avoid turnovers and force a couple takeaways. The Huskers need a complete performance.

Michigan wins if ...

It finds a way to confuse and rattle NU’s inexperienced quarterback and offensive line. Also, establishing the ground game for once would help.

Our take

There may not be two teams in the conference more inconsistent than Nebraska and Michigan. While it may not make sense to pick an NU team recently dominated by Minnesota — which Michigan trounced — this is Big Ten football, where logic only applies if Ohio State is part of the conversation. We’re taking the Huskers.

Our prediction: Nebraska 28, Michigan 27

Live updates

 

Videos

Extras

Printable rosters

Looking for a handy reference guide that you can take to the game? Check out our two-page printable roster, sorted by jersey number and including height, weight, year in school, hometown and high school information. Click here »

Game notes

Check out a PDF of the game notes for the Nebraska-Michigan game provided by the Huskers athletic department. Click here »

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Listen: BRT Podcast

In this week’s edition of "The Big Red Today Podcast," Jon Nyatawa and Sam McKewon analyze the fallout from Nebraska’s surprising loss to Minnesota. Why couldn’t NU stop the Gophers’ plan? And what will future opponents take from last week and use against the Huskers going forward? The staff writers also try to determine what Nebraska’s offensive strategy will be going forward. Click here »

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Big Red Today coverage

Big Red Breakfast: Husker receivers in battle to cast the first stone

As Ameer Abdullah raced down the sideline on his 53-yard touchdown run Saturday against Rutgers, wide receivers Kenny Bell and Jordan Westerkamp ran toward the Nebraska bench, pointing.

They’d ...

Barfknecht: Terps hope forced rivalry becomes real rivalry

Amid Saturday’s pedestrian lineup of Big Ten football games — sorry for the redundancy — one matchup with a bit of a hook is Maryland (5-3, 2-2) at Penn State (4-3 ...

Shatel: Beck and Papuchis have good gigs, gifted rosters and roles as scapegoats

Let’s assume Ameer Abdullah will break Mike Rozier’s all-time Nebraska rushing record. Moderately safe assumption.

If Abdullah does it, he’ll be on par with Kenny Bell, who ...

Will Purdue have a new bag of tricks for Huskers?

LINCOLN — The final score didn’t convey it last season, but there were a few haunting moments for Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong in that 44-7 win over Purdue. And he ...

For lineman Lewis, Huskers a rock after Boulder

LINCOLN — Two years ago, Colorado was 1-7 after a 70-14 loss at Oregon, doomed to lose its next four games and headed for a second coaching change in three seasons ...

The Big Ten Roundup with Lee Barfknecht: Replay

Catch up on what World-Herald staff writer Lee Barfknecht had to say in Wednesday's "Big Ten Roundup" chat, tracking the latest news from around the conference.

Live Blog The ...

Purdue focuses defense on big plays — in the air

LINCOLN — Nebraska ranks in the middle of the Big Ten in passing offense, and sophomore quarterback Tommy Armstrong’s completion rate is equally modest at 54.5 percent.

But the ...

Purdue preview: Boilermakers rising alongside their offense

By the numbers

3-5: Overall record (1-3 in the Big Ten)

5.32: Offensive yards per play (T-87th nationally)

5.72: Defensive yards per play (80th)

-3: Turnover margin (T-93rd ...

McKewon: Husker running back commit garnering more attention

LINCOLN — Nebraska’s most talked-about commit for the 2015 class has been on several unofficial visits to campus since he committed in early February.

But Saturday will be New Orleans ...

Shatel: Playoff rankings set stage for month of mayhem

So this is the playoff, huh?

I’m intrigued.

So three of the top four are from the Southeastern Conference West division?

Check back next week, see how that goes ...

Nebraska football ranks fourth in graduation rate among Big Ten schools

The Nebraska football team had a Graduation Success Rate of 81 percent, the NCAA announced Tuesday. The ranking is fourth among Big Ten schools.

The GSR is an NCAA measurement ...

Husker Talk Live: Replay

Replay Tuesday's "Husker Talk Live" chat with staff writer Jon Nyatawa to track a discussion of the latest Husker headlines.

Live Blog Husker Talk Live: Noon

Big Ten notes: Struggling Hawkeye offense loses running back, wide receiver

Iowa’s offense, already stuck in a rut, revealed Tuesday it will have two fewer weapons to choose from.

Tailback LeShun Daniels was ruled out for the season with foot ...

Husker notes: Other Blackshirts benefit when Randy Gregory draws a crowd

LINCOLN — Defensive end Randy Gregory actually was triple-teamed a few times during Saturday’s game against Rutgers, though defensive coordinator John Papuchis isn’t sure how often that’ll happen ...

First College Football Playoff rankings put four from SEC West in top six

GRAPEVINE, Texas (AP) — The College Football Playoff selection committee has spoken — and it likes the SEC.

At least for now.

Mississippi State, Florida State, Auburn and Mississippi are the top ...

Barfknecht: Joel Stave’s return drives Badgers’ resurgence

You’re a football fan, I’m a football writer, and quarterback is the most important position in the game we follow. So when there is news about Big Ten ...

It’s no snap, but Huskers' Ryne Reeves is getting hang of playing center

LINCOLN — About once a week during the summer, junior Ryne Reeves met with the guy he’d be battling for playing time this fall.

Reeves had spent time at the ...

McKewon: Starting at No. 15 in playoff rankings, Huskers have a shot

LINCOLN — There’s a chance.

Before we address how the SEC continues to rule college football — including three of the top four spots in the initial College Football Playoff poll ...

Former Husker Slauson out for season with Chicago

On Monday, the Chicago Bears announced that former Nebraska offensive lineman Matt Slauson will miss the rest of the season.

The starting guard suffered a torn pectoral muscle on Sunday ...

Video: Bo Pelini, Husker players at weekly press conference

Bo Pelini and several Husker players addressed the media Monday as the team prepares for Purdue.

The Huskers say they're much fresher than they've been in the past ...

Lunch with Tom: Replay

Hungry for some sports chat? Join World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel at 10 a.m. for an early edition of “Lunch with Tom” to discuss Nebraska’s win over Rutgers and ...

Notes: Abdullah earns weekly honor for fourth time

LINCOLN — Perhaps the Big Ten offensive player of the week award should just stay on Ameer Abdullah’s dresser.

The Husker I-back won the honor for the fourth time this ...

Q&A with Husker defensive tackle Kevin Williams

The defensive tackle made his first career start against Rutgers, replacing Vincent Valentine. It capped a long road back for the junior from Holland, Ohio, who suffered a bad ankle ...

Abdullah is piling up honors

Nebraska senior I-back Ameer Abdullah was rewarded for his record-setting performance on Saturday against Rutgers with a slew of awards on Monday.

Abdullah racked up a school-record 341 all-purpose yards ...

Nyatawa: Staying sharp one detail NU is looking for

LINCOLN — There’s a troubling quirk within Nebraska’s game-day mentality that occasionally catches coach Bo Pelini’s attention, and could become costly down the road.

When the Huskers hold ...

South Carolinian’s first trip to NU: priceless

Greg Nicholson was so excited walking up to Memorial Stadium for the first time on Saturday, he was shaking.

“I tell you what, I know I had a lot of ...

Nebraska's Gerry is flourishing in return to safety

LINCOLN — The Nebraska coaching staff wasn’t going to get any argument from Nathan Gerry.

Gerry had filled a need last season at linebacker, which also gave him a chance ...

Fresher Huskers fortified for the November grind

LINCOLN — The grind of November — the final, firmest test of a college football team’s mental and physical toughness — sits on Nebraska’s doorstep.

But decisions made this summer by ...

Shatel: Playoff Committee lists won't alter flow of season

If there had been a college football playoff in 1971, the Big Eight would have had three teams in (Nebraska, Oklahoma and Colorado). Let’s see the SEC top that ...

Husker progress pleases coach Miles

Nebraska, still 20 days away from starting the basketball season, is progressing in practice at a rate that has pleased coach Tim Miles.

The Huskers scrimmaged Sunday against Kansas State ...