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 Red Today coverage

NU assistant John Garrison says Huskers ready to soften up Miami 'space-eaters'

Nebraska assistant coach John Garrison minced few words Friday when discussing what his offensive line would be up against Saturday night.

NU will see some size across the line with ...

NU Regents OK change worth $21 million to Huskers' marketing contract

LINCOLN — Nebraska’s athletic department will make $21 million more on its multimedia rights in the next six years under a renegotiated contract.

The University of Nebraska Board of Regents ...

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If the rapture had come Jan. 3, 1995, nobody in Nebraska would’ve objected. 

Four other undefeated NU teams have claimed national championships. None brought so much satisfaction to the ...

Husker kicker Mauro Bondi totals motorcycle, breaks collarbone in crash

LINCOLN — Nebraska junior kicker Mauro Bondi suffered a broken collarbone and was hospitalized Thursday night after losing control of his motorcycle in north Lincoln, police said.

Bondi, transported to Bryan ...

Things to do before Nebraska faces Miami

Don’t wait until Saturday evening to arrive in Lincoln for Nebraska’s 7 p.m. game with Miami.

There’s lots of activities planned for earlier in the day ...

Barfknecht: Not many games, but Miami-Nebraska has had enough ups and downs for a book

Miami and Nebraska have a complicated relationship when it comes to football.

The highs and lows they have handed each other are about as high and low as you can ...

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The Big Ten has been beaten up nationally — and rightfully so — for its football ineptitude so far this season.

The numbers are gruesome: 1-10 against Power Five foes, with the ...

Stage fright or fight? Forget the big name, NU must lock in against Miami

LINCOLN — Josh Kalu flashed a smile as big and bright as the lights that will shine down on Memorial Stadium Saturday night.

A true freshman, just 19 years old, Kalu ...

Shatel: It’s not much like the old days, 
but for Huskers, it could be a start

LINCOLN — Well, that was some Orange Bowl parade of memories.

We knew this would happen. We knew this week would bring out all the old, dusty scrapbooks and photos. And ...

Renegotiated marketing contract means $21 million more for NU athletic department

Nebraska’s athletic department will make $21 million more on its multimedia rights over the next six years under a renegotiated contract.

The University of Nebraska Board of Regents will ...

Notes: Knee injury sidelines Burtch for season

LINCOLN — Just when it appeared that Nebraska junior Sam Burtch was ready to return to the lineup, the reserve receiver suffered an injury that will end his season.

Coach Bo ...

McKewon: Blowout win showcases North’s O-line, including Husker recruit Decker

When you have a big, physical offensive line — at any level of football — there comes a point where you put away the fancy and try on the fierce.

Late in ...

Small at first, Barron Miles a big part of Nebraska's ’94 title

LINCOLN — One of the key cogs in Nebraska’s 1994 national title machine didn’t initially want his teammates to see him lift weights.

Cornerback Barron Miles, 5-foot-9 and 145 ...

The Roundup with Lee Barfknecht: Replay

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

Live Blog The Roundup with Lee Barfknecht: Noon

Husker notes: Vincent Valentine looks for sack total to grow against Hurricanes

LINCOLN — It was a relentless effort that led to Nebraska’s four sacks in Saturday’s 55-19 win over Fresno State, defensive tackle Vincent Valentine said.

Now, he said, the ...

Miami notes: 1984 Orange Bowl a fond memory for assistant coach Ark Kehoe

LINCOLN — The Miami assistant coach who’s been on the Hurricanes’ staff for all five of the program’s national championships says the 1984 Orange Bowl win over Nebraska remains ...

Who’s No. 13? Husker walk-on Lane Hovey getting recognized at receiver

LINCOLN — The Lane Hovey do-it-yourself story began long before the receiver ever started climbing the Nebraska football depth chart or got the call Saturday night to help the Huskers at ...

Shatel: History with Miami helped shape Huskers' future

Four days until Miami. And I’m looking for a hat.

This is not just any lid. It’s a white felt baseball hat, snow white, with an orange and ...

Husker Talk Live: Replay

Replay Tuesday's “Husker Talk Live” chat with World-Herald staff writer Sam McKewon to track the discussion of the latest Husker headlines.

Live Blog Husker Talk Live: Noon

Husker notes: Newcomer Joe Keels says things finally starting to click

LINCOLN — Nebraska defensive end Joe Keels admits that his learning curve over the last nine months has been steep.

A 6-foot-3, 250-pound four-star signee from Highland (Kansas) Community College, Keels ...

Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah, Miami’s Duke Johnson focus 
on beating defenses, not each other

LINCOLN — So many of their handoffs start the same, with a convoy of defenders converging on them, stuffing seemingly every conceivable escape route.

But just when the swarming tacklers seem ...

Big Ten notes: Wisconsin coach sees progress from QB Joel Stave

Joel Stave, Wisconsin’s starting quarterback in 2013, still hasn’t taken a snap this season after developing a mental block passing the ball. That condition, similar to the yips ...

Barfknecht: Hawkeyes' offensive problems start with the play-caller

Iowa football coaches, players and fans seem puzzled by the struggles through three games to move the ball, particularly on the ground.

The Hawkeyes have eight returning offensive starters. Among ...

Highlights: Bo Pelini, Huskers press conference

Watch Monday's press conference with Nebraska volleyball coach John Cook, football coach Bo Pelini and Husker football players.

Bo Pelini

Volleyball coach John Cook

Ameer Abdullah

Tommy Armstrong

Corey ...

Lunch with Tom: Replay

Hungry for some sports chat? Replay Monday's “Lunch with Tom’’ featuring columnist Tom Shatel.

Live Blog Lunch with Tom: 10 a.m.

Q&A with Husker quarterback Ryker Fyfe

The backup quarterback notched his first career touchdown pass at Fresno State, connecting with Christian Bailey on a 10-yard throw in the fourth quarter. The sophomore from Grand Island has ...

Nyatawa: Extra attention to special teams paying off

LINCOLN — Nebraska’s dramatic improvement in the punt return game goes well beyond the elusive and instinctive freshman fielding the football.

That is an observation not meant to discount the ...

Nebraska secondary rushes to 
pass challenge

LINCOLN — The passes kept coming Saturday night, and Josh Mitchell and Daniel Davie kept working.

Neither cared for it to stop, either.

The Nebraska starting cornerbacks spend an awful lot ...

Notes: Huskers catching up on sleep since end of Fresno State victory

In the moments after a 55-19 win over Fresno State, Nebraska players planned for an all-night chat fest on the charter flight home from Lincoln. Forget the consequences!

Yeah, that ...