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 »

Recruiting updates

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Big Red Today coverage

Watch live: Husker postgame press conference

Log on after the Nebraska-Minnesota game for live video of the Husker postgame press conference with coach Bo Pelini and select Husker players.

Gophers rally as Husker offense goes quiet in second half

LINCOLN — Nebraska couldn't hold a 14-point Senior Day lead on Saturday, allowing Minnesota to score the go-ahead touchdown with three minutes left before coming up just short on the ...

Husker Talk Live: Postgame chat

Join staff writer Jon Nyatawa for a postgame edition of the "Husker Talk Live" chat one hour after the final whistle of the Nebraska-Minnesota game to discuss the matchup.

Live ...

Barfknecht: Two weeks remain, and the West is still wild

After all the things written about the Big Ten’s ability to screw up scheduling, regardless of sport, you’ve got to like that it lucked out on these final ...

Well-grounded Gophers: Kill’s group can trip up teams with talent

LINCOLN — Ohio State had Minnesota down 14-0 and 31-14 at different points last Saturday, and history might have suggested that the Big Ten bully with all of the talent and ...

Shatel: You — yes, you, Husker fans — must bounce back, too

Hey, good morning. Yes, you with the Nebraska football tickets.

You getting up at 7 a.m. to load up the car? Got the heavy coat, the gloves, the hat ...

Patience pays off for Husker senior Joey Felici

LINCOLN — Answering the questions was always awkward for Joey Felici.

The Nebraska walk-on had made it into just one football game — very briefly against Idaho State in 2012 — through four ...

Husker notes: Pelini proud of nephew Mark’s commitment to program

LINCOLN — Coach Bo Pelini’s not sure how he’ll react the moment Saturday that his nephew Mark is honored as part of Nebraska’s senior day festivities.

The senior ...

Husker seniors focused on win, won’t get lost in moment

LINCOLN — Save the nostalgia for after the season. Nebraska’s seniors are approaching Saturday’s home finale focused solely on getting a win.

There will be a day when the ...

Gophers powering way into Big Ten West picture

LINCOLN — Melvin Gordon has speed. Ameer Abdullah has moves. Indiana’s Tevin Coleman has a little of both.

The fourth guy on the Big Ten’s Mount Rushmore of 2014 ...

Kenny Bell: Getting wrapped up in scores and statistics 'will make you miserable'

LINCOLN — As important as it might be for the Nebraska seniors to go out with a bang on Saturday, receiver Kenny Bell has tried to remind them — and the rest ...

Minnesota preview: Blue-collar personality fits Gophers

By the numbers

7-3: Overall record (4-2 in the Big Ten)

5.48: Offensive yards per play (74th)

5.04: Defensive yards per play (28th)

+9: Turnover margin (T-11th)

47 ...

Husker notes: Callers get blunt on Pelini’s radio show; Salute for seniors

LINCOLN — Nebraska football coach Bo Pelini offered a matter-of-fact response Wednesday night on the radio show “Sports Nightly” to a caller questioning whether the Husker program was going in the ...

Huskers identify issues that snowballed vs. Wisconsin

LINCOLN — There actually were a few snaps when the Nebraska defense did everything right at Wisconsin, and highlighting them could prove to be quite valuable come Saturday.

That’s the ...

Nebraska drops to 23 in College Football Playoff rankings

Nebraska fell seven spots in the College Football Playoff rankings after losing to Wisconsin on Saturday.

The Huskers, ranked 16th last week, tumbled to 23rd this week. NU was tied ...

Husker Talk Live: Replay

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

Live Blog Husker Talk Live: Noon

Notes: Badgers, Gophers in control of Big Ten West

Two teams in the Big Ten West Division still control their destiny to get to Indianapolis for the Dec. 6 league championship game.

Nebraska isn’t among them.

The Huskers ...

Notes: Papuchis, players make call for some to shed their Blackshirts

LINCOLN — The number of Blackshirts has been cut in half, but it’s somewhat unclear how long that will last.

Of the 15 players initially awarded the black practice jerseys ...

Barfknecht: Abdullah no lock to make loaded All-B1G backfield

Let’s take today’s midweek run through Big Ten football in three quick steps.

1. Nebraska I-back Ameer Abdullah entered October with legitimate hope to earn first-team All-America honors ...

McKewon: It’s not just about wins; it's about 'game control'

LINCOLN — One day, when Nebraska’s good enough to be in the hunt for a College Football Playoff spot, Husker fans will get to worry about game control.

For now ...

Huskers can’t let one game define them, Tim Beck says

LINCOLN — Tommy Armstrong didn’t want to look back at Wisconsin on Tuesday, and Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck took the same approach when asked about the confidence of his ...

Lunch with Tom: Replay

Hungry for some sports chat? Join the “Lunch with Tom” chat at 10 a.m. as World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel discusses Nebraska’s loss to Wisconsin and more.

Live Blog ...

Video: Bo Pelini at weekly Husker football press conference

Replay video of Bo Pelini and select Huskers addressing the media as the team comes off the Wisconsin loss and prepares to face Minnesota. 

Coach Bo Pelini

Cornerback Josh Mitchell ...

Chatelain: In puzzling trend, Huskers in good shape before 'flips' — then flop

We remember the embarrassing endings. The low-hanging heads. The long stares. The fourth quarters that go on forever.

Blowout losses in the biggest games have stained Nebraska’s time in ...

Nebraska-Iowa game will be shown at 11 a.m.

Nebraska’s Nov. 28 football game at Iowa will kick off at 11 a.m.

The game will be nationally televised by ABC.

The Huskers are 8-2 and 4-2 in ...

Nebraska players are trying to shrug off bad defeat

LINCOLN — Nebraska captain Jake Cotton spoke up at a meeting Sunday to remind his teammates that one blowout loss doesn’t define the makeup or the character of this group ...

Big Red’s big-game blues nothing new in Pelini era, and program is frustrated

LINCOLN — Upset. Embarrassed. Mad. Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said Monday that Husker football players expressed all three emotions as they watched game film after NU’s disastrous 59-24 collapse at ...

Notes: Westerkamp considered Minnesota out of high school

Jordan Westerkamp knows a little about Nebraska’s next opponent, because Minnesota was one of the schools he visited coming out of Lombard, Illinois.

“I was always high on Minnesota ...

College football polls show Huskers little forgiveness

Nebraska dropped in both the AP and Coaches poll rankings in week 13 after losing 59-24 to Wisconsin on Saturday.

In the AP Top 25 poll the Huskers dropped to ...

Barfknecht's Big Ten Rankings, Nov. 17

World-Herald staff writer Lee Barfknecht ranks the Big Ten Conference football teams, as published in The World-Herald on Nov. 17.

* * *

1. Ohio State (9-1, 6-0)

Last week: beat Minnesota 31-24 ...