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When adversity hit, Michigan didn’t flinch at Nebraska

The Wolverines stepped up big time last weekend.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Nebraska Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan Wolverines faced their most difficult challenge of the season on Saturday and looked adversity straight in the eyes. It looked like Michigan could run away with things against the Nebraska Cornhuskers after taking a comfortable 13-0 lead into halftime. Things changed quickly late in the third quarter when Nebraska scored 15 points in less than two minutes. Michigan went into the fourth quarter trailing for the first time all season and the Huskers had all the momentum. So what did Michigan do?

They embraced one of their mantras of the season: don’t flinch.

“One of our things is don’t flinch,” defensive end Braiden McGregor said. “That’s the big thing that we always talk about in the locker room. This team’s different, we don’t flinch. When something doesn’t go our way we’re all going to rally together — we’re just never going to stop. Nebraska, that game really showed that we just don’t stop no matter what. We’re going to go until the end. That’s the main thing about us, we just won’t stop.”

Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara said after the game Saturday night he thinks past Michigan teams wouldn’t have won the game, and head coach Jim Harbaugh understood what he meant.

“I know exactly where Cade’s coming from,” Harbaugh said. “Probably more so comparing this team to last year’s team. Last year was pretty darn thin when it was all said and done in terms of who really thought it was in their best interest to play football or not based on a worldwide pandemic.”

In past years, Michigan certainly has been on the losing side of games like the one played Saturday. In close games like that, it can be easy to look back at plays that could’ve been made to win the game, and in the past there have been instances when those plays weren’t made. On Saturday, Michigan made a lot of those winning plays.

“(Brad Hawkins) made one of those incredible types of plays in the game at Nebraska, being able to rip the fumble out and go get it,” Harbaugh said. “That was an incredible play. As incredible as Dax Hill’s interception, Mike Sainristil’s catch, Hassan Haskins leaping over a would-be tackler.”

We have now reached the halfway point of the season, and the bye week, with Michigan sitting at 6-0 and ranked No. 8 in the country. The back half of the schedule is certainly more daunting, as the Wolverines face three teams currently ranked in the top 10. Handling adversity like they did Saturday night will be key for the remaining tests on the schedule.