What. A. Game.
Lots of drama. Lots of ups and downs. Many twist and turns. Lead changes. Turnovers. Replay reviews. Michigan’s game at Nebraska had it all.
Here are takeaways from Michigan’s 32-29 win against Nebraska.
Nebraska’s offense pushes Michigan’s defense to its limit
This was the toughest test Michigan’s defense has had this season, and the best quarterback they’ve faced in Adrian Martinez.
Nebraska had a creative plan of attack on offense that had Michigan playing tentative as the game wore on. After shutting Nebraska out in the first half and heading to the locker room with a 13-0 lead, the Cornhuskers executed at a high clip in quarters three and four.
Martinez threw for 3 touchdown passes, 1 INT, 291 yards passing, and also picked up a rushing touchdown. While Martinez rushed for just 38 yards, he kept Michigan’s defense off balance with the play-action fake, where he was lethal in the second half. Lapses in coverage, late substitutions, and flat-footedness facing the option all were issues that Michigan had in this one.
While this wasn’t Michigan’s finest hour on defense, they still got the job done when they had to. The last two possessions for Nebraska’s offense ended with a fumble and a turnover on downs. Michigan buckled down, and they get credit there.
The leadership of players like Aidan Hutchinson and Josh Ross will be angry about the yardage they gave up and the points Nebraska put up in the second half — no complacency from this group. Hutchinson will be the first to deflect any praise for the unit and say what he’s said before — “we haven’t done a damn thing.”
The heart of Hassan Haskins deserves praise
It wasn’t easy rushing in this one, both Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins had to work for what they got. Corum rushed for 89 yards and a much needed 29-yard touchdown, but Haskins made the play of the night, and also had two tough rushing TDs along the goal-line.
Haskins at one point hurdled a defender in the open field and had a 50-yard gain that put Michigan in field goal range. This was not only a highlight reel play, but one of the best hurdles you’ll see a running back land and keep on chugging.
McNamara is serviceable once again
McNamara went 22-of-38 for 255 yards and 1 INT. The stats weren’t flashy, he missed some intermediate throws, he missed some deep ones, but he still moved the chains enough to put Michigan in positions to get touchdowns and field goals. The quarterback play must get better from McNamara, but we’ve seen far worse play in recent history. McNamara isn’t a turnover machine, he rarely takes a sack, and he is a leader on this 2021 Michigan Football team.
It’s still hard to say where McNamara’s ceiling is, perhaps he’s already reached it. Or perhaps he can continue to grow as a leader, be more consistent throwing deep, and sharpen his skills all around.
J.J. McCarthy isn’t going away and will continue to nip at McNamara. McCarthy wants to see the field more, and he may have the skills to see the field a lot more, all of that remains to be seen. McNamara has the trust of the locker room and his teammates, and that goes a long way. Even so, at some point we are going to need to see a lights out game from McNamara, four quarters of execution and domination.
A round of applause for Jake Moody
Kicker Jake Moody was needed once again, and he came through repeatedly once again. Michigan needed Moody to convert all four of his, and that’s precisely what happened. Moody is now 14-of-15 on the season and looks like he has NFL potential if he can keep this up the entire season.
A lot of people wouldn’t have guessed Michigan would still be undefeated in mid-October — that their starting QB would have 1 INT, that their running back duo is one of the best in college football, that the defense has life and creativity despite some blunders.
Playing on the road isn’t easy, and Michigan passed tests in back-to-back weeks in hostile environments. Football isn’t easy, it isn’t pretty, and some times it’s just about escaping with a win. That’s what happened at Nebraska.
Nerbaska’s team is fighting this year, they were competitive against Oklahoma and Michigan State, the same remained true against Michigan. Nebraska has a creative offense with a dangerous quarterback, and Michigan can only learn from the mistakes they made during a night in Nebraska where they still came out victorious.