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

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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 Ten coverage

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Big Red Today coverage

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TBL: Reese Leitao explains his decision to commit to Nebraska

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Video: Mike Riley, Tommy Armstrong, Jordan Westerkamp and others talk Fresno State

Replay Monday's weekly Husker athletics press conference with Nebraska volleyball coach John Cook, football coach Mike Riley and select Husker athletes.

Q&A: Husker starting fullback Luke McNitt

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Husker notes: Decision won’t affect Armstrong’s approach; Langsdorf to coach games from press box

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McKewon: Huskers have 10 numbers to meet or exceed in order to succeed

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Shatel: For Tommy Armstrong, leader of an NU winner
 would be much better title than ‘captain’

We begin this football season with a bumper sticker. “Captains are chosen. Leaders are born.” Tommie Frazier could not have said it better. Tommy Armstrong said it just perfectly on Monday.

Barfknecht's Big Ten rankings, Aug. 29

World-Herald staff writer Lee Barfknecht ranks the Big Ten football teams, as published in The World-Herald on Aug. 29.

All the recruits: How the Huskers' 2017 commits fared in high school games this week (Aug. 27)

A player-by-player look at how all 14 of Nebraska's 2017 recruits performed, individually and as a team, during games played leading up to the the weekend of Nebraska's Sept. 3 matchup with Fresno State.

Shatel: Crystal ball sees cracks, but happier number for Huskers — nine wins

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Barfknecht: History says Huskers must get tough at the top (administration, too) to return to the peak

When is somebody in charge at One Memorial Stadium Drive going to throw open a window and scream, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” instead of tweeting mushy motivational sayings? Nebraska has long achieved…

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X’s, O’s and fewer Oh-No's: Coordinators see reason for optimism with this season’s Huskers

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Livingston: Our machine doesn’t need to work, but Mike Riley’s does

We had the machine built to symbolize the considerable efforts underway at Nebraska to retool the once powerful Big Red Machine.

Game-by-game predictions of the Huskers' 2016 schedule

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Mike Riley meets weekly with Shawn Eichorst, says he’s never had more contact with a boss

It makes sense the two have a close relationship. Shawn Eichorst’s success is intertwined, to some degree, with Mike Riley’s success.

In 24/7/365 world of Husker recruiting, machine hums through two-a-days

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Billy Devaney taps decades of NFL experience to help evaluate talent, tweak Husker operation

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Key players: Huskers providing the spark to fire on all cylinders

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Mike Riley helped get satellite camps off ground

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Shatel: As walls to communication fall, no audience is captive

The game was glorious in the ’70s, ’80s and most of the ’90s. Oh, cheating and paranoia have always been in Saturday’s Game. But the game also had an innocence about it, full of color, wacky characters and storytelling.

The World-Herald preseason Top 25, Heisman favorites

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