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 »

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Big Red Today coverage

Nebraskan publishes book on George Flippin, NU's first black football player

STROMSBURG, Neb. — Last Saturday, Stromsburg resident Kathy Nelson released her new book titled “More than Football: George Flippin’s Stromsburg Years,” which focuses on former Nebraska football player George Flippin ...

Reducing turnovers takes hold on Huskers

LINCOLN — Knock on wood. Cross your fingers.

Nebraska football has cut way down on its turnovers.

The program that gave away the football like free holiday hams for most of ...

McKewon: Huskers revved up, ready for 2016 class

LINCOLN — If Nebraska football recruiting were a race car, it rubbed the wall a few times in the early days of the Bo Pelini era and faced a tight turn ...

The Big Ten Roundup with Lee Barfknecht: Replay

Replay Wednesday's "The Big Ten Roundup" chat with staff writer Lee Barfknecht to track the latest news from around the conference.

Live Blog The Roundup with Lee Barfknecht: Noon

Scarlet Knights say Big Ten success within reach

LINCOLN — Two leaders on the Rutgers football team attributed a big 56-17 loss at Ohio State to the small stuff.

“We made little mistakes, and them being the team that ...

Husker notes: Nebraska wary of deep ball from Rutgers

LINCOLN — Rutgers’ ability to attack downfield through the air certainly concerns Nebraska as it prepares a game plan for the new conference foe.

Defensive coordinator John Papuchis said he thinks ...

Shatel: Handing out Blackshirts? Bo Pelini made them earn it

LINCOLN — It took about 51 days, or seven games, for the fabled Nebraska Blackshirts to make their first appearance in the players’ lockers.

Apparently that wasn’t a problem.

“I ...

Husker Sam Foltz appreciating punting’s finer points

LINCOLN — It’s the most common statistic associated with punters, but hardly right there on the mind of Nebraska’s Sam Foltz.

What’s your punting average after seven games ...

Rutgers preview: QB Gary Nova, Knights hit wall in league play

By the numbers

5-2: Overall record (1-2 in the Big Ten)

6.32: Offensive yards per play (32nd nationally)

6.28: Defensive yards per play (107th nationally)

-4: Turnover margin ...

Big Ten notes: Gophers' kicker has big leg, big frame

If you haven’t seen Minnesota try a place kick this season, that isn’t a defensive end lining up the boot.

Ryan Santoso, at 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds, hardly ...

Barfknecht: Purdue’s turnaround on right track under Darrell Hazell

This isn’t a worst-to-first story, but Purdue football has made greater gains in Year Two under coach Darrell Hazell than expected.

The Boilermakers, who have a bye this week ...

Husker notes: Maliek Collins, Randy Gregory catch eye of Rutgers coach Kyle Flood

LINCOLN — Rutgers faced arguably the Big Ten’s best defensive line last week at Ohio State. The Buckeyes won the battle decidedly, holding the Scarlet Knights to 149 yards rushing ...

Husker defense back in black, and aiming to keep it that way

LINCOLN — Each Husker has his own way of relishing the moment that he spots the black practice jersey in his locker, but each one knows how fleeting this sense of ...

They said it: Rutgers coach Kyle Flood on Ameer Abdullah and 'tremendous challenge' of playing Nebraska

Here's a transcript of comments from Rutger's head coach Kyle Flood on Monday at his weekly press conference.

KYLE FLOOD: Good morning. It's an exciting weekend for ...

Video: Husker football weekly press conference

Husker coach Bo Pelini and several players addressed the media Monday as the team prepares to take on Rutgers.

Coach Bo Pelini

Receiver/returner De’mornay Pierson-El

Defensive end Greg ...

Lunch with Tom: Replay

Hungry for some sports chat? Join World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel at 10 a.m. for an early edition of “Lunch with Tom” to discuss Nebraska’s matchup with Rutgers and ...

Q&A with Husker defensive end Greg McMullen

The sophomore has continued his solid first season as a starting defensive end for the Huskers. Through seven games, the 6-foot-3, 280-pounder from Akron, Ohio, has 24 tackles, 2½ sacks ...

Notes: Nebraska prepares for morning game after five straight at night

LINCOLN — The night owls will get a brunch kickoff.

After five straight games with kickoff times of 6:30 p.m. or later, Nebraska will have its first 11 a ...

Price earns time, finds rhythm against Wildcats

LINCOLN — Givens Price understood why Nebraska assistant coach John Garrison didn’t call on his backup offensive linemen at Michigan State, even though that was part of the plan.

Price ...

McKewon: Husker defense feasting on third downs

LINCOLN — Defensive end Greg McMullen calls it “time to hunt.” Safety Nate Gerry opts for “time to eat.”

Either way, Nebraska’s defense this season has had a feast on ...

Armstrong’s ‘happy medium’ results in job well done

LINCOLN — Tommy Armstrong looked back at his clunky first half at Northwestern and said after the game that he knew what caused his slow start.

He was thinking too much ...

Shatel: Red-faced over seeing Doug McDermott in purple? Silly

People have asked what I thought about Doug McDermott’s video at the Northwestern game. Well, I thought he looked good in purple.

» This story is so much fun, I ...

Nebraska moves up 3 spots in Top 25 polls

Nebraska is up three spots in the AP Top 25 poll following the team's 38-17 win over Northwestern. They Huskers are now No. 16 in the AP poll.

The ...

Barfknecht: Iowa running out of answers

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The Iowa football team is well-schooled on how to handle the media after games.

Following wins, the Hawkeyes deflect the spotlight, credit teammates and observe that more ...

Notes: Price, Kondolo make most of their time vs. Wildcats

After not playing in Nebraska’s loss at Michigan State, juniors Givens Price and Chongo Kondolo had a conversation about what they could do to find their way on the ...

Husker defensive tackle Williams already looking forward to Rutgers

LINCOLN — Moments after enjoying his best performance as a Husker, defensive tackle Kevin Williams was ready to talk about next week.

The back-up lineman tallied 2 1/2 sacks in ...

McKewon: Second-half dominance gives Huskers momentum

SITTING AT THE GATE (AGAIN) AT O’HARE AIRPORT — You really haven’t lived until you’ve put in a token 15 minutes of waiting in a small, packed plane ...

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 ...