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

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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

All the recruits: How the Huskers' 2018 commits fared in high school games this week (Aug. 18)

A player-by-player look at how all 10 of Nebraska's 2018 recruits performed, individually and as a team, during games played during Nebraska's bye week.

McKewon: Husker defensive coordinator Bob Diaco has a plan, and the Blackshirts have a new vibe

Camp Feel Good. That’s the Huskers’ training camp in 2017. The players walk with a collective pep, which is odd for the August grind. Whether it lasts into the season remains to be seen, but Bob Diaco has jolted the…

Competition suits Nebraska tight ends to a tee with each Husker battling to start

Time spent on tee boxes and greens this summer is starting to help the Husker tight ends. The summer camaraderie is spilling onto the football field as Jack Stoll, Connor Ketter, Tyler Hoppes and the rest compete for the starting…

Shatel: Former Husker Adam Carriker has lots to offer in new career path

Adam Carriker will appear on Omaha.com and “The Bottom Line,” offering opinions on Nebraska football, breaking down games, answering fans’ questions and posting video reaction after games. If you haven’t ever heard him, you’re going to love him.

Recruiting: Wait winding down for Nebraska commit Cameron Jurgens

It's been more than two years since Cameron Jurgens committed to Nebraska, and the time is fast approaching when he'll officially become a Husker.

Husker redshirt freshman receiver JD Spielman ready for test after months of study

Fake it till you make it. The motto flashed through JD Spielman’s mind often during his first 12 months as a college football player. So far, there has been more pretending than the speedy wide receiver cares to admit.

WR Manuel Allen dumps Nebraska, another chapter in Huskers' receiver recruiting drama

Nebraska's 2018 recruiting class got smaller Thursday evening when Corona (Calif.) Centennial wide receiver Manuel Allen announced on Twitter he was decommiting from NU and flipping to Louisville.

Husker notes: Freshman receiver Tyjon Lindsey proves to be fast learner; New looks for offensive line

A big play at Nebraska’s Thursday practice pitted two top-100 recruits against each other.

Huskers' Dicaprio Bootle pushing for big role; small corner likes ‘beating up receivers’

He’s not a tall cornerback. He’s not built like a safety. Dicaprio Bootle is one of the smaller scholarship players on Nebraska’s 2017 roster, which lists him at 5-foot-10, 185 pounds. The height seems a little generous.

Recruiting: Nebraska pursuing several 500-mile radius defensive targets for its 2018 class

The Huskers have recently offered a pair of defensive recruits from bordering states, continuing a push to close out the class on that side of the ball with targets from within the 500-mile radius.

Husker notes: Bray says linebackers are making strides; Freedom’s role in new defense and more

If and when Nebraska needs depth at linebacker, Trent Bray is more confident than ever in maintaining quality. The NU linebackers coach said Tuesday that the “4” part of Bob Diaco’s 3-4 defense has made noticeable strides in the last…

Recruiting: Nebraska extends scholarship offer to Iowa's No. 1-rated recruit

Nebraska made an entry Monday night into the recruitment of consensus four-star John Waggoner. He's the top-ranked recruit in Iowa, according to all the major recruiting services.

Barfknecht: After standout season, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley is only getting better

Note to Big Ten defensive coordinators: Don’t read this column at meal time. Maybe don’t peruse it at all, so you can dodge the queasy feeling that comes with figuring out ways to slow down Penn State running back Saquon…

NU punter Caleb Lightbourn years ahead of last season, responding to approach of new Husker coaches

Lightbourn’s reality changed in the spring, when new defensive coordinator Bob Diaco said he would coach punters directly. For Diaco, every detail makes a difference.

Shatel: A head-to-toe NU volleyball indoctrination; If he plays, no mop-up time for freshman QB Gebbia

It’s no secret Nebraska volleyball stands out from the other Husker sports. There are reasons for that. I might have found another one.

Speedy junior Mikale Wilbon having ‘very good camp’ in four-way battle for Husker running back job

Already having established himself as Nebraska’s fastest running back, Mikale Wilbon has been working to earn another title before the Sept. 2 opener against Arkansas State.

McKewon: With Adidas deal and coming Big Ten windfall, A.D. Shawn Eichorst has vision for Huskers’ future

Nebraska just got three times as much money and Adidas apparel per year at a time when the Big Ten’s full share is about to kick in. How did Shawn Eichorst pull that off?

Husker sophomore Mohamed Barry works to master inside linebacker role so instincts take over

With a chance to make significant contributions in Nebraska’s new 3-4 defense, Mohamed Barry has been fine-tuning two areas of his game.

Intensity of Huskers’ youthful but experienced defensive staff rubs off on players

Mike Riley has never worked with a group of defensive assistants this young. All played college football in the not-so-distant past. All are well-regarded recruiters eager to meet prospects. In the months that the staff has been together, team workouts…

Husker notes: Young Huskers exuding confidence as Nebraska takes step forward with Saturday's scrimmage

Coach Mike Riley said NU worked on third-down, red zone and “high red zone” plays — those start around the opponents’ 40-yard line — and mixed in a few drives. Unlike Thursday, when the offense struggled at times to deal…

Mike Riley 'real impressed' with Tristan Gebbia as true freshman makes case to be Huskers' backup QB

While playing as a true freshman wouldn’t be “the best thing for him,” quarterback Tristan Gebbia has impressed coaches so much during the first half of training camp that they’d consider pulling his redshirt if needed.

Nebraska chancellor expects Huskers will never host Friday night football game

At the University of Nebraska Board of Regents meeting Friday, UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green told regents he'd been talking with the Big Ten, which created the Friday night TV package with Fox Sports 1, and does not think NU will…

TBL: Husker commit Cameron Brown done with recruiting, says Nebraska feels like home

Cameron Brown made one commitment to Nebraska that only lasted a month, so now that he has rejoined the Huskers' 2018 recruiting class, is he going to stick this time?

NU regents approve 11-year, $128 million deal to keep Huskers with Adidas

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln will stay in an exclusive contract with Adidas and will get more than $128 million in cash and goods over 11 years.

Injuries to wide receivers put Huskers in 'bit of a bind,' Mike Riley says

Nebraska wants to open up its passing playbook this season, and NU coaches believe Tanner Lee is the quarterback who can do it. But NU is running low on healthy scholarship receivers who can catch Lee’s passes.

Husker freshmen Patrick O'Brien and Tristan Gebbia 'very close' in battle for No. 2 QB spot

Nebraska knows Tanner Lee is its starting quarterback. Offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf hedged Thursday on which backup — between Patrick O’Brien and Tristan Gebbia — is No. 2.

Barfknecht: Injured Wisconsin linebacker Jack Cichy knows underdog role all too well

Sometimes, real life interrupts the best plans of football coaches and columnists. Big Ten West Division favorite Wisconsin got a real-life slap in the face Thursday with news that All-America candidate Jack Cichy is out for the season with a…

Husker notes: Devine Ozigbo’s improved diet pays off; Progress made ‘day by day’

Devine Ozigbo has looked slim and trim this training camp. He’s stayed in the weight room, which has helped, but most importantly, he said, he stayed in Lincoln instead of going home to Sachse, Texas, over the summer.

Shatel: NU assistant Trent Bray’s choice to stay in Lincoln shows Diaco Effect isn’t limited to players

We’re expecting a Diaco Effect this season. That’s why the defensive guru was hired. It’s on his résumé. It’s in his voice. It’s in his coaching. Impact. How long will it take for Diaco to have that impact? Good question.

NU's John Parrella, Blackshirts seeking defensive line depth through versatility behind an established first unit

DaiShon Neal insists he doesn’t get excited for games. Yes, he knows it sounds funny coming from a redshirt sophomore with two career tackles.