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

 

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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

Visit yields no new Husker commits but fortifies Davis twins’ pledge

LINCOLN — No new commits immediately came out of the biggest recruiting weekend of new Nebraska coach Mike Riley’s tenure, but the event hit a crucial mark in impressing two ...

Ameer Abdullah named MVP as North wins Senior Bowl

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah wanted to leave an impression on more than just the NFL watchers at the Senior Bowl.

Abdullah rushed for 73 yards and added ...

Husker commit Christian Gaylord had a change of coaches, not a change of heart

BALDWIN CITY, Kan. — Christian Gaylord was in church the morning Bo Pelini was fired at Nebraska. By the time he left, Texas, Missouri and Louisville had already called.

Texas Tech ...

Longtime Husker assistant Ron Brown lands at Youngstown State with Bo Pelini

LINCOLN — Ron Brown said nothing was off limits recently when he realized that he wouldn’t be retained on the Nebraska coaching staff and he had to ponder his future ...

Concerns over height don’t worry Abdullah

LINCOLN — The measurables didn’t lie as players were checked in at the Senior Bowl, and Ameer Abdullah was tagged with an official height that will be a source of ...

Visit will let targets build rapport with entire Husker staff

LINCOLN — As Nebraska football’s new coaching staff prepares for its biggest recruiting weekend of its still-young tenure, the goal is clear: The Huskers want players who committed during the ...

McKewon: A refreshing view on recruiting for Nebraska

LINCOLN — Nebraska’s new coaching staff may not recruit any more elite prospects than the old one did.

For one thing, the old bunch wasn’t exactly bad at it ...

Huskers announce new receivers coach, officially completing 9-person coaching staff

LINCOLN — Nebraska announced Wednesday the hiring of new wide receivers coach Keith Williams, completing head coach Mike Riley’s staff.

The Huskers’ finalized defensive staff consists of coordinator Mark Banker ...

The Big Ten Roundup with Lee Barfknecht: Replay

Replay Wednesday's "Big Ten Roundup" chat with World-Herald staff writer Lee Barfknecht to see his take on the latest news from around the conference.

Also, check out our Big ...

NU’s recruiting aim: Protect its turf, invade everything nearby

LINCOLN — Nebraska’s top two internal recruiting strategists don’t want to see Husker players practicing and preparing week after week for opposing stars with ties to this region.

“You ...

Husker Talk Live: Replay

Replay Tuesday's "Husker Talk Live" chat with staff writer Rich Kaipust to track the latest Nebraska football headlines and more.

Live Blog Husker Talk Live: Noon

Live Blog Husker ...

Huskers' hire of Tulane assistant a big hit with prized recruit

LINCOLN — The man poised to round out Mike Riley’s Nebraska coaching staff has an affinity for one-liners.

Or, at least, Keith Williams had one at Tulane, where he coached ...

Come fall, Husker scholarships will cover players’ personal expenses

Beginning this fall, football players, basketball players and some other athletes at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are slated to receive an estimated $3,600 allowance for personal expenses — the result ...

McKewon: Ex-Husker’s son solid on Ohio State pledge

Whatever effort three top programs — Nebraska, Oklahoma and Michigan — made to try to make Athens (Ohio) quarterback Joe Burrow waver from his commitment to Ohio State, they appear to have ...

Banker's plan: Keep Husker defense simple and fast

LINCOLN — Fast is furious. Fast is player-friendly.

When Mark Banker’s defense was really humming at Oregon State, he says, his players didn’t think too much — but they ran ...

Ex-Husker Anderson, UNK’s Manhart set for Collegiate Bowl

Former Nebraska linebacker Zaire Anderson is set to play Saturday in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Los Angeles.

The game will kick off at 3 p.m. CST on ESPN2 ...

New Husker assistant Read makes kicking teams feel special

LINCOLN — Mike Riley understands that his philosophy about coaching special teams isn’t the norm in college football. But then, he says, Bruce Read makes you think about things a ...

New Huskers assistants to be paid more than Pelini's staff

LINCOLN — Nebraska is still one assistant short of a full coaching staff, but the group’s total salary already exceeds the pool allotted for the previous regime.

The Huskers are ...

No rest for Cooper as he eyes an NFL future

LINCOLN — Corey Cooper went from San Diego to Dallas to St. Petersburg in the last three weeks, basically forfeiting any time off after Nebraska finished its football season in the ...

Carl Pelini says he inquired about coaching job at Bellevue East

Carl Pelini said Thursday that Bellevue East was one of the three high school football jobs he was interested in pursuing, but the school’s athletic director said he couldn ...

Father/coach tops on Bray’s list of mentors

LINCOLN — When measuring the depth of Trent Bray’s football knowledge and experience, don’t let the number 32 deceive you.

Nebraska’s new linebacker coach is a young man ...

Notes: Riley says decision coming soon on WRs coach

Nebraska’s Mike Riley is still looking for a wide receiver coach, but he said Thursday he conducted four interviews this week and plans to announce a decision soon.

Riley ...

New Husker coach Mike Riley says recruiting goal is to 'own this state'

As the NCAA recruiting dead period lifted Thursday and Nebraska staffers spread out around the country, Husker head coach Mike Riley made the short but important drive up Interstate 80 ...

Offensive lineman Jalin Barnett commits to Nebraska

LINCOLN — The highest-rated commit in Nebraska’s 2015 recruiting class isn’t exactly a late bloomer.

When Jalin Barnett’s grandma Charlotte asked Lawton High School coach Randy Breeze for ...

Aurora class reaches out to Rex Burkhead, Hollywood to complete school project

It took nearly a year, but now we know.

Rex Burkhead of Nebraska and Cincinnati Bengals football fame can roll his tongue, has small ears and long arms and, unfortunately ...

Charlton Warren ‘wore two hats’ amid Husker transition

LINCOLN — Hook yourself up to a stress-tester, then put yourself in Charlton Warren’s place.

After nine years in a secure gig as an assistant coach at his alma mater ...

World-Herald’s Lee Barfknecht installed as FWAA president

DALLAS — The World-Herald’s Lee Barfknecht has been installed as the new president of the Football Writers Association of America.

The 1,400-member organization, in its 75th year, works to ...

Huskers No. 26 in final college football coaches poll, 28th in AP

The Nebraska football team just missed the cut in the final college football Top 25 coaches poll.

The Huskers finished 26th in the coaches poll, receiving 79 votes in the ...

Husker Talk Live: Replay

Replay Tuesday's “Husker Talk Live” chat with staff writer Jon Nyatawa to track the latest Nebraska football headlines and more.

Live Blog Husker Talk Live: Noon

Barfknecht: Meyer happy to see Big Ten make progress on gridiron

DALLAS — The day after Ohio State claimed a rare Big Ten football national championship, Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer tried to drum up some renewed respect for the league, but with ...