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.

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

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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 »

Recruiting updates

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Big Ten coverage

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Big Red Today coverage

Husker Talk Live: Replay

World-Herald staff writer Sam McKewon logged on Monday for a special edition of “Husker Talk Live.”

McKewon: Early Top 25 — Week 1 opponents Alabama, Florida State could meet again in playoff

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Mike Riley, Nebraska moved swiftly to bring in new defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, then keep him in Lincoln

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Mike Riley: Bowl game clinched former Husker defensive coordinator Mark Banker's dismissal

Mike Riley chose to not renew the contract of his longtime defensive coordinator — Mark Banker — after watching film of the Huskers' 38-24 loss to Tennessee in the Music City Bowl.

Video: Mike Riley introduces defensive coordinator Bob Diaco

Watch a replay of the Huskers' press conference as Mike Riley and Bob Diaco take to the podium to discuss Nebraska's new face in the defensive coordinator role.

D’s in his DNA: Bob Diaco relishes return to coordinator role; Mike Riley praises passion, scheme

Nebraska coach Mike Riley turned to Diaco after deciding to part ways with longtime coordinator Mark Banker, and Riley and Diaco appeared at an introductory press conference Friday to discuss the last 10 days and the future of the Husker…

Shatel: Mike Riley continues to change Husker culture, scores another win with Bob Diaco hire

New defensive coordinator Bob Diaco won the room. He won the press conference. And Mike Riley won. Again. He’s gone 6-7 and 9-4 in two seasons. But in the offseason Riley is a sparkling 2-0.

Recruiting: Tyjon Lindsey leads all Husker commits in final rankings, but highly-rated targets remain available

247Sports, Rivals and Scout have all released their final batch of rankings of the nation’s top college football prospects, and Tyjon Lindsey leads the way among Husker commits according to all four services.

McKewon: Billy Devaney's recruiting role grew with Huskers after key staff departure

As Nebraska football finishes its 2017 recruiting class and gears up to start the 2018 cycle, Ryan Gunderson’s departure from the player personnel department should not go unnoticed.

Nebraska set for battle with Iowa, LSU over tight end recruit Kurt Rafdal

Nebraska and Iowa — and possibly a SEC school — will square off for a tall, sure-handed tight end in the final weeks before signing day.

Bryan Reimers among six Husker walk-ons hauling in scholarships for spring semester

Nebraska gave scholarships to at least three Husker in-state walk-ons Wednesday: Fullback Luke McNitt, I-back Austin Rose and wideout Bryan Reimers.

Nebraska lands coveted 2018 athlete Eric Fuller, sets sights on teammates Joseph Lewis, Greg Johnson

Nebraska received on Wednesday a coveted commit from one of Los Angeles’ top talent hubs – for next year’s recruiting class. NU wouldn’t mind getting a few commits for the 2017 recruiting cycle from Los Angeles Hawkins High School. For…

New defensive coordinator Bob Diaco on why he chose Nebraska: 'Blackshirt defense, man, and Coach Riley'

Bob Diaco's first public comments as Nebraska's defensive coordinator underlined his passion for the new job, his new boss and returning to the Big Ten.

Recruiting: After Tyjon Lindsey's commitment to Nebraska, options abound at wide receiver

Nebraska got the biggest commit of the 2017 recruiting cycle on Saturday, when top 100 prospect Tyjon Lindsey flipped from Ohio State to the Huskers. But NU wideouts coach Keith Williams isn't done on the trail.

Recruiting: With one DB target announcing Thursday, Huskers set to host two others this weekend

Nebraska doesn’t have a defensive back committed to its 2017 recruiting class with two weeks left until national signing day, but the Huskers are about to host two of their top targets, and another is set to announce his commitment…

Shatel: Huskers are embracing change with Bob Diaco hire

Take a closer look at the game and you see that staff turnover is commonplace in big-time college football. Some head coaches replace an assistant every season. That wasn’t the Nebraska way, not the old Nebraska way. But then, that…

Lincoln East OL Chris Walker commits to Nebraska, flipping from Wyoming

For a second straight recruiting cycle, Nebraska snagged an in-state commitment just before signing day — flipping a prospect from Wyoming.

Coach who worked with Bob Diaco gives him high marks

Nebraska has been trying to get back to the Big Ten championship game since 2012. Bob Elliott thinks Bob Diaco can help it get there as the new defensive coordinator.

McKewon: Two key Husker pieces add up to one big week for Mike Riley

Should the Mike Riley era at Nebraska turn out to be a big winner, the last seven days might be remembered as the Riley Rally.

Recruiting: Tyjon Lindsey picks the Huskers days after decommitting from Ohio State, becomes NU’s highest-rated commit

Saturday was a big day for Nebraska football with the Huskers landing a commitment from four-star wide receiver Tyjon Lindsey.

A ‘different breed’ comes to Lincoln: Bob Diaco brings 3-4 scheme, top-level experience to NU’s coordinator post

As he built one of the best defenses in the nation, Bob Diaco would arrive before dawn at Notre Dame’s football offices and usually be one of the last to leave. He loved the film room, and wanted his players…

McKewon: Five quick takes on Tyjon Lindsey's commitment to Nebraska

Four-star wide receiver Tyjon Lindsey announced on Saturday that he was committing to Nebraska, days after he dropped his commitment to Ohio State. World-Herald staff writer Sam McKewon has five quick thoughts on what landing Lindsey means for the Huskers.

It's official: Nebraska names Bob Diaco its new defensive coordinator

Nebraska officially announced Bob Diaco as its defensive coordinator Saturday, three days after coach Mike Riley dismissed his longtime coordinator, Mark Banker. The World-Herald had reported the expected move on Friday night.

Coaching with energy: Mentors, former teammates say Bob Diaco has the same personality on sideline that he had on field

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Shatel: With the NFL's Chargers bolting San Diego, some of one’s youth is taken away

You always remember your first time. Mine was on Oct. 2, 1966. My father and I drove down from Escondido, California, about 30 miles to Balboa Stadium, in the middle of gorgeous Balboa Park near downtown San Diego.

Former Nebraska defensive coordinator Mark Banker talks about departure, being fired over the phone

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Recruiting: Top Nebraska DT target Damion Daniels down to three, set for signing day announcement

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Recruiting: Huskers open contact period visiting with top targets, longtime commits

Not only did the Huskers visit with some of their top targets — players they want to add before national signing day — but they also checked on recruits they’ve had committed for months.

Huskers to name ex-Irish aide Bob Diaco as defensive coordinator, replacing Mark Banker

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Nebraska targeting defensive coordinator with experience in 3-4 scheme; Bob Diaco a candidate

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