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?

READ MORE »

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 »

On social media

Check out the Big Red Today page on Facebook to discuss the latest news with the top Husker fans, and follow us on Twitter to get instant updates and analysis whenever news breaks.

BRT app

iPhone and Android users, get your Husker updates on the go by downloading our free Big Red Today app from the App Store and the Google Play store. Omaha.com/BRTapp and Omaha.com/android

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

Visit the Big Red Today recruiting page to find the latest updates on potential future Huskers, including player cards for those athletes already committed. Click here »

Email alerts

Sign up for the Big Red Today email newsletter to get the Husker news, analysis, daily headlines and more delivered to your inbox. Click here »

Big Ten coverage

Look for additional updates on our Big Ten page to get the best coverage of the conference from both The World-Herald and some of the best writers from across the country. Click here »

Big Red Today coverage

Barfknecht: A Big Ten top-heavy in East Division could help Huskers

The Big Ten enters the season riding a wave of glad tidings not heard in more than a decade. For a league beaten up as badly as this one has ...

McKewon: New Husker defensive coordinator can bank on taking flak

LINCOLN — In the midst of his best season at Nebraska, in the bowels of Baylor’s poor excuse for a former stadium, Bo Pelini sat at a table better fit ...

Barfknecht's Big Ten Rankings, Aug. 31

World-Herald staff writer Lee Barfknecht ranks the Big Ten football teams, as published in The World-Herald on Aug. 31.

* * *

1. Ohio State

This week: at Virginia Tech, 7 p.m ...

Capsules: Big Ten West preview

With Nebraska and Wisconsin bringing in new coaching staffs, Minnesota has a chance to take the Big Ten West title. Where do the rest of the teams fall? Lee Barfknecht ...

The pursuit of happiness: Predicting Nebraska's 2015 schedule

Uh-oh. Woo-hoo!

It all depends on how you look at the first year of the Mike Riley era. The coach is making significant enough changes to the offense for some ...

Meet the 2015 Nebraska defense and special teams

Meet the Husker defensive players and see how each position group stacks up in the Big Ten.

* * *

Defensive linemen

Big Ten rank: 4

Latest word: The new system’s attacking ...

Capsules: Big Ten East preview

Defending champion Ohio State should be at the top of the Big Ten East heap again. Where do the rest of the teams fall? Lee Barfknecht previews the division.

* * *

1 ...

Dickson: Pluses and minuses of playing for a nice coach

Almost as soon as new Nebraska coach/super swell guy Mike Riley arrived in Lincoln, the debate began. Is he too nice? Will the advantages of playing for what seems ...

Barfknecht: From butter to bulls, college coaches bring quirks to motivation techniques

When you swap stories about the quirks, motivations and methods of college football coaches, two tales quickly come to mind.

One involves pats of butter; the second, a castrated bull ...

Meet the 2015 Nebraska offense

Meet the Husker offensive players and see how each position group stacks up in the Big Ten.

* * *

QUARTERBACKS

Big Ten rank: 6

Latest word: It would be hard to underestimate ...

Top 25: Big Ten, Big 12 both in for big year in 2015

World-Herald writers again compiled a top 25 list for the upcoming season, and a funny thing happened. The Big Ten occupied two of the top four spots.

It may not ...

When coaching comes into play, trust goes a long way, management experts say

Forget the personality. It’s all about trust.

That’s the conclusion reached by two local experts in the field of leadership when they were asked to assess the possible ...

College football coaches rarely punch out as they seek ways to clock opposition

LINCOLN — The 1977 football season was the first test for Dan McCarney. Or maybe the warning sign.

All through his playing career he realized that his coaches worked hard. He ...

Livingston: Mike Riley’s demeanor is and has been one that players, fans are drawn to

Allow me to take you back to Sept. 25, 2008.

Top-ranked USC, almost exactly a year after pillaging Memorial Stadium — the beginning of the end of the Bill Callahan era ...

Chatelain: Osborne era was grand contradiction of nasty on field, nice off it

Game day temperatures at Memorial Stadium were either 90 degrees or 30 degrees. Nothing in between. At least that’s the way I remember it growing up.

My family had ...

Husker Q&A: Defensive end Jack Gangwish

The 6-foot-2, 295-pound senior from Wood River has emerged as one of the team leaders. Now one of NU’s co-captains, Gangwish gained valuable experience at the end of 2014 ...

Husker notes: NU 'practiced hard;' full contact at practice rare during season

Does Riley have an overall good feel for where his first Husker team is at heading into Saturday’s home game with BYU? Maybe, he said, on “some of those ...

Mike Riley says Husker running game should be versatile

LINCOLN — Nebraska coach Mike Riley has made an assortment of comments about the Huskers’ rushing attack throughout fall camp, but Saturday, a week before the first game of the season ...

Husker quarterback Tommy Armstrong’s work wins Mike Riley’s praise

LINCOLN — It’s hard to say how Tommy Armstrong’s first season will go in the Mike Riley offense, but Riley said Saturday that the Nebraska junior quarterback has done ...

McKewon: Huskers' recruiting influence dwindling in Omaha

A few weeks before 2015 signing day, new Nebraska director of player personnel Ryan Gunderson sat in a meeting room with several NU football beat reporters and doubled down on ...

Barfknecht: Well-grounded Mitch Leidner is ready to pilot Gophers

At the Manning Passing Academy, you’d think the star attractions would be the three quarterbacks for whom the retreat is named.

Archie Manning, who retired in 1984, was a ...

Shatel: Husker season prediction comes with some positive thinking

Attention, everyone. This is the column where I pin the tail on the Nebraska season prediction. But this year, just for you, I’ve got something better.

A slogan.

Positive ...

Illinois fires coach Tim Beckman for player mistreatment allegations

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Illinois abruptly fired coach Tim Beckman one week before the start of the season Friday after an investigation of player mistreatment allegations revealed he had meddled in ...

'Out of this world' recruiting effort helps Iowa land Omaha South's Noah Fant

Noah Fant spent much of the last six months knee-deep in the recruiting process. The Omaha South athlete — the most highly recruited football player in the state — did his homework ...

Q&A with Nebraska center Ryne Reeves

The 6-foot-3, 300-pound senior from Crete has earned the starting center spot for his final campaign with the Huskers after battling through a series of injuries, including a knee injury ...

Former Husker Helu is back from injury and seeking a role in Oakland

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — With a starting running back who has just 82 career carries, the Oakland Raiders know they will likely have to count on some of their backups to ...

Defensive tackle Vincent Valentine likes NU's attacking scheme

LINCOLN — Having the freedom to push his way around the line of scrimmage and blow things up has made the sometimes tedious days of fall camp more fun for Nebraska ...

NU defensive coordinator Banker plans to rotate defensive ends

Despite the lack of experience behind starters Greg McMullen and Jack Gangwish, defensive coordinator Mark Banker fully intends to have some kind of rotation at defensive end this fall.

“We ...

Three Huskers in 'real close battle' for safety spot

Sophomore Kieron Williams has apparently inserted himself into the conversation for the second starting safety spot after a strong week of practice.

Defensive coordinator Mark Banker said Williams has improved ...

Husker offensive coordinator Langsdorf may call plays from sideline

Nebraska coach Mike Riley said Thursday night that he’s strongly considering the idea of having offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf call plays from the sideline this fall.

That’s been ...