For the first time all season long, the Michigan Wolverines will kickoff at 3:30 p.m. They welcome in the Nebraska Cornhuskers to the Big House in what should be a relatively easy game before the final two games of the season against Illinois and Ohio State.
The Maize n Brew staff got together to answer some questions and throw out some predictions ahead of tomorrow’s game.
It took a second-half surge for the Wolverines to defeat Rutgers last Saturday. If you looked at just the box score, you would’ve never thought Michigan was losing at halftime. What was the main factor for that first half result?
Von Lozon: I think there were a few things against Michigan on Saturday, but the main thing being the team having to go on the road and play a night game after what transpired the week prior after the MSU game. Was the team fully ready (mentally, specifically) to go out and play another game just seven days after what happened? It sure didn’t look like it in the first half of the game, but the team was able to get it together and dominate the last 30 minutes of football.
Andrew Bailey: Emotional hangover. Following the big win against a rival and then what transpired in the tunnel, U-M’s high came crashing down to a low by kickoff. Like you or I hungover at the office on a Monday morning, once you get through lunch, it’s smooth sailing. Michigan needed halftime to refocus and lock-in to just being themselves again, and once they did that, they dominated.
Jared Stormer: One missed assignment on the punt block. If you take that one play away, it is 14-10 good guys at the half and that would be about par for the course this season after two quarters. At this point we should be ashamed of ourselves for allowing nerves to set in when we are tight at the half — second-half Michigan has been the best team in the country all season.
Dan Plocher: Special teams. Which hasn’t been an issue all year so I don’t think it will continue. Overall, Michigan came out flat, but the blocked punt and two missed field goals are so uncharacteristic of this team. That was a 13-point swing in the first half. We are looking at that game a whole lot differently if that punt gets off and if Moody was money.
Zach Breininger: Rutgers’ want-to. They played like a team with nothing to lose and channeled their aggression into a physical plan of attack that caught Michigan by surprise.
Now Michigan turns its attention to this weekend’s opponent — the Nebraska Cornhuskers. They have been on and off since firing Scott Frost, but have looked slightly better overall since then. What scares you the most about this Nebraska team?
Von Lozon: The fact that this team is really trying to prove something. The players on this team want to show they are better than they are thought of, and interim head coach Mickey Joseph is interviewing on the job. The motivation is there for this Nebraska team. It probably won’t be enough to keep the game close, but you can never truly count out a team that is rallying together and playing to prove something.
Andrew Bailey: Scott Frost is no longer running the program.
Jared Stormer: I guess, pride? Their defense is No. 108 against the run, coming in just ahead of UMass — and now they go on the road to face a pair of running backs that just each went over 100 against a top-40 rush defense. This just isn’t a Nebraska team built to upset Michigan on the road, especially with uncertainty at quarterback with Casey Thompson likely out. Only thing that could scare me is Nebraska playing like this is their Super Bowl for interim coach Mickey Joseph, but pride isn’t taking down the Wolverines at home.
Dan Plocher: They have nothing to lose. Nebraska’s season is all but over, and they are barely hanging on to bowl eligibility. A loss to Michigan would effectively end their season. In the meantime, Michigan is in the top-four of the College Football Playoff for the first time this season and has a looming matchup with Ohio State. The Wolverines have all the pressure on their shoulders while the Huskers can play freely.
Zach Breininger: I’ll probably jinx it but if I’m being honest, not much. Anthony Grant is a top-notch running back, Trey Palmer is a legitimate NFL wideout, and their tight ends are monstrous. But they’ve never been able to play up to their potential or piece together a strategy to utilize all that talent. Therefore, I doubt they’ll be able to do that in the Big House.
After carrying the ball 34 total times in the non-conference, Blake Corum has been a heavy part of Michigan’s offense in Big Ten play, averaging 27.5 rushes per game. Even though he is in pursuit of a Heisman Trophy, would you prefer he rest up a bit this week (still get some touches but not as much) so he’s fully ready for Illinois and Ohio State?
Von Lozon: I would give him a bit of a breather, but in the sense that he doesn’t carry the rock 20+ times. I would give him around 15 touches total and let Donovan Edwards and CJ Stokes/Tavi Dunlap get more run this week. Nebraska is a dumpster fire at the moment and this game could be over quick. I would be more than okay giving Corum a lighter workload this week so he can be fully prepared for the challenges ahead.
Andrew Bailey: Let’s just keep the carries close to 20. The next two-game stretch post-Nebraska may require 30+ touches from Corum, so we will need him at his best. That said, if U-M needs him against Nebraska, you have to do what it takes to win because that is what is the most important.
Jared Stormer: Several weeks ago I was pushing rest and a reduced workload, but that was before CJ Stroud and Hendon Hooker came back down to earth. Corum’s Heisman chances are very real and that is an opportunity so rare you almost have to go for it.
Dan Plocher: No. Corum is in a groove right now and this offense runs with him. They should do nothing out of the ordinary that might throw this team off in the next few weeks. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The only caveat is if Michigan gets a big lead (which they should), I’m fine with Corum heading to the sidelines a little early. Outside of that, nothing in the regular game plan should change.
Zach Breininger: He needs to. Every hit Blake took last week had me wincing. Plus, Michigan really needs to work out the kinks in the passing game.
Give me one bold prediction for the game.
Von Lozon: Nothing bold I’ve said has come true this season — I guess I was TECHNICALLY correct last week saying an offensive, defensive and special teams touchdown would be scored...I just didn’t think Rutgers would get the hardest one! For this game, I will say Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards go for 100+ yards again, and CJ Stokes runs for 50+. Another dominating rush attack is coming up.
Andrew Bailey: Edwards goes for 200+ total yards.
Jared Stormer: It finally happens: J.J. will connect on a deep shot to a receiver. My gut is telling me it will be to Andrel Anthony, but I will certainly claim credit no matter who it is.
Dan Plocher: Michigan allows less than 100 yards in the first three quarters. Their one-dimensional play propels the Wolverines to their biggest blowout in Big Ten play, similar to their beat down of Maryland just before the Ohio State game last year.
Zach Breininger: I’ll go back to my “bold” prediction last week: J.J. throws for 200+ yards. I need to see it again to believe we even have a remote shot at a natty.
The final score will be...
Von Lozon: I think this game could be over by halftime. With Casey Thompson likely not playing for Nebraska, I think things are going to be tough for the Cornhuskers. I’ll take Michigan in another blowout, 48-10.
Andrew Bailey: U-M wins, 41-10.
Jared Stormer: 38-10, Michigan.
Dan Plocher: Michigan- 59-7. Nebraska’s only touchdown comes in garbage time with the reserves on a drive where they surpass 100 yards on the day.
Zach Breininger: 49-14, Michigan. Michigan runs the air out of the ball and Nebraska has no answers for it. This time, however, the Wolverines will piece together a true four-quarter beatdown.