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.

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 »

Recruiting updates

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Big Ten coverage

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Big Red Today coverage

Pick Six Podcast: Is Husker hoops an attractive job? And a spring football update

World-Herald staff writers Sam McKewon and Chris Heady tackle the hottest Husker headlines in the latest episode of the Pick Six Podcast.

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Minnesota’s offense, which started eight freshmen in its bowl win over Georgia Tech, averaged 5.68 yards per play last season, ranking ninth in the Big Ten. That’s UM’s highest average in a decade.

Former Husker Brent Qvale re-signs with New York Jets

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Former Husker Ameer Abdullah re-signs with Minnesota Vikings

Former Husker running back Ameer Abdullah re-signed with the Minnesota Vikings on Monday.

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Monday Rewind: Older, wiser, more urgent Husker defenders set good tone in spring camp

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Tony Tuioti offers three Husker football scholarships to Hawaiian three-star prospects

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Husker safety Deontai Williams learning to play smart, while 'putting his pads on people'

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JoJo Domann is finally healthy and Husker coaches are ready to use Cinco's versatility

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Former Nebraska running back Greg Bell transferring to San Diego State

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Husker notes: Defensive line finds 'alpha males' in Daniels brothers; Defense creates pass rush

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Husker practice report: Defense creating turnovers; Jovan Dewitt discusses battle with cancer

If the first two weeks of spring practices are any indication, Nebraska's defense has some playmakers.

Carriker Chronicles: What Husker fans can expect from the Huskers' D-line during spring football

On Wednesday's episode, Adam Carriker previews the Blackshirts' defensive line personnel for spring football, reasonable expectations for the group and much more.

Cancer can't keep Husker assistant Jovan Dewitt off the practice field

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Recruiting: Iowa D-line commit Logan Jones lands Husker offer

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Huskers have a new group of leaders up front. This spring they're finding their voice

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Video: Nebraska spring football practice, March 11

Videos include an interview with Scott Frost, a recap of the the practice by Sam McKewon and Evan Bland and an update on Maurice Washington.

Husker notes: Jaylin Bradley makes most of opportunity; Mike Williams vies for starting spot

Circumstances are aligning for Jaylin Bradley to prove himself. Now coaches are anxious to find out if the running back can.

Husker tight ends need to be a receiving threat. This is how they'll make that happen

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Husker QB coach Mario Verduzco lauds Luke McCaffrey's early progress, Adrian Martinez's velocity

So far, so good for true freshman quarterback Luke McCaffrey. Nebraska quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco said McCaffrey, an early enrollee, has done well in spring practices to pick up the offense.

Husker practice report: Nebraska ahead of last year, but competition heavy on offense

Scott Frost doesn't even want to say the Oklahoma word. But the drill Nebraska threw out in front of the media Monday morning did look a whole lot like the infamous Oklahoma drill.

Timeline details Maurice Washington investigation and when Nebraska became aware of it

This timeline of events in the Maurice Washington investigation is based on allegations outlined in court documents, investigator reports and officials' statements.

Sights and sounds from Nebraska football spring practice, March 11

Nebraska was in full pads for its fourth practice of the spring Monday morning. The media were allowed inside practice for the first 30 minutes. Here's what we saw.

Carriker Chronicles: My favorite game in Husker history while skiing down a mountain

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Husker RB Maurice Washington self-surrenders in California, court date set for April

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