The Michigan Wolverines are at a high point in the season after easily defeating Western Michigan and SMU the past two weeks.
The offense still seems to be stagnant at times because of play calling and offensive line play. Likewise, the defense has been far from the immaculate group many thought they would be as they have struggled to shut down the passing game (SMU’s performance last week and Notre Dame in the first half). So although there may be a resurgence of confidence, this Big Ten opener is one that should concern Michigan fans.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers are a much better team than their 0-2 record shows.
Yes, they lost to Troy last week at home in embarrassing fashion, but they have the potential to compete for the Big Ten East. They missed starting quarterback Adrian Martinez in the final moments of the Colorado loss, and against Troy all together. Martinez is a very special dual-threat quarterback. Martinez threw for 187 yards and ran for another 117 in their loss to Colorado.
Martinez is similar to Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush with his ability to scramble from a collapsing pocket, and the Wolverines defense struggled to slow him down in the first half.
The difference is Scott Frost seems to run quite a bit more option plays, something Martinez excels at. If the Wolverines cannot enforce outside contain on the option plays and when Martinez rolls out of the pocket, they could be in some serious trouble Saturday.
Although he will be a game-time decision, it seems Martinez will be back in action on Saturday. We will see how he plays off the injury, and if he is at full strength. The Michigan defense is also much better than the Colorado defense Martinez saw two weeks ago.
The Nebraska fan base is huge and show up to games, even on the road. To show just how large it is, Memorial Stadium (Nebraska’s home field) has been sold out for 362 straight games, a record that dates back to 1962. It is safe to say that they will be in attendance in Ann Arbor as well on Saturday.
This game’s importance can come across many levels. A victory to open the Big Ten schedule will boost confidence in all of the players on the team, especially because Nebraska has been receiving a ton of attention as of late because of the hiring of Scott Frost. Along with that, the Cornhuskers are historically one of the best teams in college football, including a No. 6 ranking in all time win percentage. Although they may no longer live up to that standard, it is still a big game against one of the most prestigious programs in college football history.
The final reason I believe this would be a big win for the Wolverines is because of Scott Frost. Think whatever you may about Frost, but he is a damn good coach. Whether it is valid or not, he has received a ton of media attention in the return to his alma mater this season. Comparisons have been stark with Jim Harbaugh and his ability to “save the program”.
If Michigan can come into this game and enforce their will against the Cornhuskers at home, it will speak volumes to how the rest of the season will look. The play-calling on both sides of the ball will be crucial to the success of the team as we move forward.
If we truly have not seen over half of Michigan’s offensive playbook, this could be the game to unleash Shea Patterson and company. This could be a statement victory at home.
Would you consider a win on Saturday a big win?
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