On a cold, snowy November afternoon at the Big House in Ann Arbor, the Michigan Wolverines did the bare minimum to beat an injury-ridden Nebraska Cornhuskers team. From start to finish it was apparent the Wolverines were the much better team. This game wasn’t sexy, but Michigan put up 412 yards of offense and ran through one of the bottom feeders of the Big Ten en route to an easy 34-3 win.
No team is perfect, and that includes this Michigan squad. The connection between J.J. McCarthy and his receivers is still developing despite being 10 games in. Michigan opened it up and let McCarthy take some shots, but they just did not connect. That’s why McCarthy’s efficiency was a little lower in the first half throwing just 6-of-13 with 91 yards and a touchdown. These aren’t bad numbers, just not as eye-popping as they could have been. It could have been the weather or the lights, or just not having things locked in on routes, but far too many balls coming out of McCarthy’s hand were hitting the turf.
However, he did find Ronnie Bell in the second quarter to put the Wolverines up by two scores:
Fun fact: Ronnie Bell's first career TD, in 2018, came against Nebraska.— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) November 12, 2022
He just caught another one vs. the Huskers.@Ronnieb_8 x @UMichFootball pic.twitter.com/mTdzyf0dPE
The running game was dominant against a bad Nebraska defense. Michigan’s offensive line was manhandling the Huskers' front, and Corum was off to a great start. He was past the century mark in the first half and delivered body blows all night to the Huskers. At the end of the game, the Heisman hopeful had 28 carries for 162 yards and this touchdown:
We see this every single week. @UMichFootball's @blake_corum finds the end zone for the 10th straight week. pic.twitter.com/xEIfwYbA9y— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) November 12, 2022
Nebraska’s gameplan was just like Michigan’s: slow and steady. But, Michigan’s defense was just better. The Huskers had only 104 total yards and five first downs in the first half despite more than 13 minutes of possession. In the second half, they totaled just 43 total yards. There was no urgency from Nebraska and its staff throughout the game.
It was almost like both sides just decided to run the ball and milk the clock out. Nebraska was down to its third quarterback after an injury to backup Chubba Purdy. An injury to offensive coordinator Mark Whipple in the second quarter likely contributed to the vanilla play-calling, but it felt like the Huskers conceded before halftime and just wanted to go home.
At the end of the day, Michigan simply took care of business. The Wolverines had more than 10 minutes of possession in the third quarter and a majority of that came on a 10-play, 65-yard drive that saw four different running backs carry the football. Donovan Edwards was limited in this game, so Blake Corum, C.J. Stokes, Tavierre Dunlap and Isaiah Gash all ran the ball in the third quarter. J.J. McCarthy capped off the drive, getting to the pylon almost untouched for a touchdown:
Everyone probably thought Blake Corum would get the ball.@UMichFootball QB @jjmccarthy09 kept it for the TD. pic.twitter.com/EvjXGUvqMv— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) November 12, 2022
Nebraska’s defense limited any big plays as Michigan had only three plays of more than 20 yards. The problem was it allowed 5.4 yards per carry to the Michigan running game. Unless the Wolverines were throwing on every down, they were almost never behind the sticks in this one.
A long Michigan third-quarter drive ended rather strangely. Ronnie Bell made a routine catch and then worked some magic. He kept his feet in bounds, delivered a bow to a defender, and then fumbled the ball as he was reaching for the end zone. Luckily, Andrel Anthony was there to recover for a bizarre touchdown that put the Wolverines up 31-3.
Here's a crazy play.— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) November 12, 2022
The result, after review: @UMichFootball TD. pic.twitter.com/hoaPsgqwJ6
There was an injury scare for Mike Morris as he got hit in the leg by a teammate. Thankfully, he jogged off the field and was walking around on the sideline afterward. That sparked Jim Harbaugh to bring in a bunch of backups on the ensuing Michigan drive. Davis Warren was in at quarterback. Leon Franklin, Dunlap and Gash got a few carries. True freshman Tyler Morris had a reception. The final drive was capped off with a 43-yard field goal from Jake Moody.
In the end, the Wolverines stayed healthy and did the job to beat the Cornhuskers. Now, they shift focus to the Illinois Fighting Illini, who dropped a thriller to Purdue for a second consecutive loss on their resume.