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

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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 »

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Big Red Today coverage

Shatel: In a tale of two halves, Nebraska winds up celebrating — and that’s a good thing

EVANSTON, Ill. — There was a celebration going on down there in the corner of Ryan Field. What was up?

Nebraska players jogged off the field and their fans were waiting ...

From the sidelines: Husker fans take over; McDermott on video board

EVANSTON, Ill. — As they did two years ago, Nebraska fans showed up in force and raised the noise level Saturday at Ryan Field.

More than half the crowd of 47 ...

Second half sees Wildcats wobble

EVANSTON, Ill. — If Nebraska’s 38-17 victory over Northwestern is viewed as a tale of two halves, the second part is one Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald hopes never has a ...

Chatelain: Tim Beck’s new weapon is catching on

EVANSTON, Ill. — Frank Solich called the play “Black 41 Flash Reverse.” Tim Beck just called it “Texas.”

"Because Tommy’s from Texas," Beck told me.

The Husker offensive coordinator installed ...

Quarter by quarter: Nebraska 38, Northwestern 17

World-Herald staff writers Sam McKewon and Jon Nyatawa recap the key plays in each quarter of Nebraska's win over Northwestern.

* * *

First quarter

Kenny Bell: The Nebraska wideout is healthy ...

Tracking the Husker offense, defense

World-Herald staff writer Rich Kaipust takes a look at Nebraska's effort on both sides of the ball during the Huskers' 38-17 win over Northwestern.

* * *

Tracking the offense

The game ...

Nebraska-Northwestern: Five things we learned, don't know

Five things we learned and five things we still don’t know coming out of Saturday's Nebraska-Northwestern football game.

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Five things we learned

1. Nebraska found innovative ways to ...

Pelini praises Armstrong’s leadership after Huskers surge in the second half

EVANSTON, Ill. — With raucous “Go Big Red!” cheers echoing throughout a Ryan Field overrun with Nebraska fans, and the Huskers in a kneel-down victory formation, quarterback Tommy Armstrong sat on ...

Husker Talk Live: Postgame replay

Replay the "Husker Talk Live" postgame chat with World-Herald staff writer Jon Nyatawa to track the discussion following the Nebraska-Northwestern game.

Live Blog Husker Talk Live: Game Day

Video: Husker postgame press conference

Replay the Husker postgame press conference with coach Bo Pelini and Husker I-back Ameer Abdullah.

* * * 

Video: Bo Pelini after Northwestern

Video: Ameer Abdullah after Northwestern

Video: Tommy Armstrong after Northwestern

Notes: Abdullah finds his footing, moves up NU’s career charts

EVANSTON, Ill. — It was probably a long seven quarters of sledding for Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah, but in his brief postgame interview, he didn’t let on too much ...

After O-line tweaks, Husker run game breaks open

EVANSTON, Ill. — Jake Cotton said Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck didn’t come into the locker room with a bunch of new ideas at halftime Saturday night, nor did Cotton ...

Bo Pelini's job becomes topic in NU Board of Regents campaign

Election Guide: Everything you need, including candidate bios, World-Herald coverage, the latest campaign ads and links to registration forms.

* * *

The campaign for the only contested University of Nebraska Board of ...

Big Red Breakfast: Husker coaches hit recruiting hard in break

Nebraska assistant Ross Els said the Huskers staff used the bye week to do more than reflect on the Oct. 4 loss at Michigan State.

It allowed for useful recruiting ...

McKewon: Berringer film not fancy, but impactful

“It was just fun to meet him, and it was just great to meet him, too.”

That line, spoken by a grade-school kid in Nebraska, is from BTN’s new ...

Barfknecht: Rutgers' Nova moving forward with Friedgen guiding

If the Big Ten had football awards for newcomer of the year and comeback player of the year, Rutgers would have top candidates for both entering Saturday’s game at ...

Hold onto your seat: Northwestern has been tough for Huskers

LINCOLN — From downtown Chicago, get on Lakeshore Drive and head north, past all of the tony parks and Lake Michigan harbors, north until Sheridan Road, which winds toward the one ...

Shatel: Chicago area is first stop on train as Huskers look to pick up steam

CHICAGO — All aboard the Red Line.

Today they will hop down the stairwells and stand in line for a $10 round trip ticket. They’ll get on at Lake, Grand ...

Huskers to open 2018 football season against Akron

Nebraska completed its 2018 nonconference football schedule on Thursday, adding a home game against the University of Akron.

The Huskers will open the season against the Zips on Sept. 1 ...

Taariq Allen looks to answer bell again for NU

LINCOLN — Taariq Allen remembers all of the good stuff from when Nebraska visited Northwestern two years ago.

The red. The comeback. The win.

And the catch.

Allen was seven games ...

Notes: With Carter out, Nebraska seeks tight end production

LINCOLN — Playing without its top tight end, Nebraska could call on several players to contribute in that role Saturday, coach Bo Pelini said after Thursday’s practice.

Sophomore Cethan Carter ...

Husker secondary looking to take away big plays from opponents

LINCOLN — Too often this year, Daniel Davie and the Nebraska defensive backs have cued up the game tape to the start of each big passing play allowed and quickly identified ...

The Roundup with Lee Barfknecht: Replay

Replay Wednesday's "Big Ten Roundup" chat with World-Herald staff writer Lee Barfknecht to track the discussion the latest headlines from around the conference.

Live Blog The Roundup with Lee ...

Northwestern preview: Wildcats bring methodical offense

By the numbers

3-3: Overall record (2-1 Big Ten)

4.71: Offensive yards per play (T-116th nationally)

4.90: Defensive yards per play (31st)

+6: Turnover margin (T-14th)

44.0 ...

All this Hail Mary talk? Jordan Westerkamp would prefer to just drop it

LINCOLN — Yes, it comes up most weeks, but especially this one.

And, so far, every time he’s spoken to Ron Kellogg since it happened, sophomore Nebraska receiver Jordan Westerkamp ...

Husker notes: Tommy Armstrong says red zone vital against Wildcats

Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong said finishing drives will be important Saturday night against Northwestern, which is one of the Big Ten leaders in red-zone defense.

On 19 total trips inside ...

Wildcat D looks to stuff Husker running game

LINCOLN — Northwestern trailed by seven points in the fourth quarter and needed a stop last week. It was no secret how Minnesota would try to run out the clock.

The ...

Husker Talk Live: Replay

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

Live Blog Husker Talk Live: Noon

Barfknecht: Big Ten's first half 
saw good, bad and ugly

Amazingly, we’ve already hit the midpoint of the college football regular season. That makes it time for some Big Ten midseason notables:

Best coach: 
Urban Meyer, Ohio State

Love ...

Big Ten notes: Hawkeyes still trying to find team’s identity

Halfway through the regular season, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said he’s still not sure what to make of his 5-1 team. And that doesn’t surprise him.

“We’re ...