Meaningful games in November, something we’ve been missing around here for awhile.
Sure it would take an even more than typical Sparty meltdown for Michigan to find itself in Indy the first weekend in December; but a 10-2 record and perfect 8-0 home record for the first time in the 132 years of Michigan Football are on the table. Even the biggest Maize and Blue homers would have had a hard time fathoming that happening in August.
The second most famous Big 10 coach named Bo brings Big Red to Ann Arbor for the first time in nearly half a century. Like most of the Big 10, Nebraska has been Jekyll and Hyde this year. Dominant in a 24-3 drubbing of MSU, and seemingly pedestrian in a blow out loss to Wisconsin and a tight loss to an average Northwestern team. The two biggest keys in my mind will be maintaining gap responsibility on defense against a formidable option attack, and red zone conversions on offense.
What was unstoppable until a meaningless kneel down against Minnesota, Michigan’s red zone efficiency has been anything but in the games following.
Michigan should have relative success running the football, as Nebraska is terribly beat up along the defensive line, with Jared Crick, a preseason All American, out with a pectoral tear. Out side of Dennard (no, not Denard) in the secondary, Nebraska has a quite average secondary, so I expect Al Borges to mix in some short passes, and hope they can turn into big plays.
Like Denard, Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez is explosive, yet struggles similarly in the passing game. Denard at this stage is a probably better passer overall, but its a pretty even matchup.
I expect Michigan to employ a similar defensive scheme to what has been used against them all year, stack the box, and try to make Martinez beat you with his arm. 4-5 weeks ago, I’d say that still would be dangerous. But the emergence of Blake Countess as a very good corner, and the improvement J.T. Floyd showed last week in Champaign, makes me think that’s the best strategy. Nebraska will try to lull you to sleep with their option, waiting for you to miss an assignment and turn a 3 yard gain into a 60 yard touchdown. While Desmond Morgan, Brennen Beyer, Jake Ryan, Jibreel Black and Frank Clark have shown flashes of stardom in their young careers, asking freshmen and sophomores to play sound gap football every play is a lot to ask. Nebraska will have some big plays.
Michigan will have more, however. Wolverines 28 Big Red Corn Cobs 24