The match up in Ann Arbor on Saturday features two teams that have not played to their potential to this point in the season. The Michigan football team will play host to Nebraska. Both teams enter the game at 6-2 overall, with Michigan at 2-2 in Big Ten play and Nebraska at 3-1. The game will kickoff at 3:30 p.m. on ABC on Saturday.
The teams will enter the game on opposite ends of the spectrum. Michigan will look to rebound after its embarrassing defeat at the hands of rival Michigan State last week. Nebraska hopes to use its last second win over Northwestern as fuel for its remaining games.
Keys to the game
The Michigan offense as a whole has been anything but consistent this season. After running for negative yards against MSU, the offense will need to step up and run the ball effectively against Nebraska. The woes on the offensive line have cost Michigan two games and made things interesting in a few others.
(AP Photo/Al Goldis)
The good news is that Nebraska doesn’t defend the run very well at all. They rank 82nd in the nation, allowing 182.6 yards per game. Northwestern ran the ball for 245 yards in its loss to the Huskers last week.
Michigan has handed the ball to Fitzgerald Toussaint on the majority of its running plays. Toussaint was really slowed down last week, and has really not run the ball well in many games this year. Devin Gardner has been the team’s most effective runner, which was something the team wanted to avoid this year. I still believe that a lot of the struggles in the running game has to do with the offensive line, but it wouldn’t hurt to give Derrick Green a few more carries just to change things up.
The game could be very well decided by the way Michigan runs the ball. Units for both teams have struggled this season, so there’s no clear indication as to who has the upper-hand.
The Nebraska offense took a hit when they announced that its starting quarterback Taylor Martinez would not play against the Wolverines. Ron Kellogg III and Tommy Armstrong Jr will fill in for the injured Martinez. The duo split time in its win against Northwestern, where Kellogg launched a 49 yard touchdown pass at the end of regulation to give Nebraska the win.
Armstrong threw for 173 yards and a touchdown, and added 69 yards and a score on the ground. He also threw three interceptions in the contest. Kellogg completed seven of his 13 passes for 103 yards and a score and a pick. The way these two play in Martinez’s absence will play a big factor int he outcome of the game.
The Huskers will rely on its biggest offensive weapon, Ameer Abdullah who has run for 1,108 yards and six touchdowns this year. He comes into the contest confident, even engaging in some smack talk before this weekend’s game.
(AP Photo/Al Goldis)
“Honestly, I’m not a big fan of Michigan,” said Abdullah during a press conference this week. “Nothing would make me happier to go up there and shut them up.”
The Michigan defense should use these words to fuel themselves to stop Abdullah and the Huskers. The defense held up fairly well against Michigan State last week before allowing a couple long scores late in the game. All in all, they have been fairly consistent this year, especially at stopping the run.
The return of Jake Ryan the past couple weeks has given Michigan a boost, and the young guys in the secondary are becoming more experienced every week. The secondary still proves to be the defense’s weakness, as they have allowed teams to throw the ball all over them at times. I remember countless occasions in the MSU game where if Blake Countess or Raymon Taylor would have turned around, it would have been an easy pick.
All things considered, the defense isn’t to blame for Michigan’s struggles so far this year. If they remain its consistency, I think the Wolverines can win this one.
Michigan is desperate for a win and Nebraska looks to maintain its high coming off of an exciting win. Neither team has played exceptionally well this year, so this game could be very interesting to watch. This game could turn into a shootout, with both offenses flourishing.
The Wolverines will get back to actually being able to gain positive rushing yards and Fitz will put together a respectable, but not spectacular game. Maybe 90 or so yards and a score. Gardner will run for nearly 100 yards as well, and Derrick Green will punch in a couple short touchdown runs. Nebraska’s defense will allow a couple long completions as Jeremy Gallon and Devin Funchess will give them fits.
For Nebraska, the backup quarterback duo will perform well in place of Martinez, but will throw a couple costly interceptions. Abdullah will be limited to under 100 yards, but will score twice. The Michigan secondary will allow its fair share of yardage and a pair of touchdowns.
After putting all of that together, Michigan will come out on top 38-28.
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