The Michigan Wolverines are entering Saturday’s contest as a huge, 29.5-point favorite against an embattled Nebraska Cornhuskers team.
The Cornhuskers will be without starting safety Myles Farmer after being suspended for driving under the influence. And to make matters worse, Nebraska’s quarterback situation is up in the air. Starter Casey Thompson is nursing an injury and may not be available for the game. In the event he can’t suit up, the quarterback will either be Chubba Purdy — who started Nebraska’s last game against Minnesota — or sophomore Logan Smothers, who has limited experience.
Pertaining to Michigan in Nebraska’s weekly press conference, interim head coach Mickey Joseph discussed the Wolverines in two main lights — how to motivate his Cornhuskers despite being a big underdog, and Jim Harbaugh’s football philosophy.
When asked how he’ll motivate the Cornhuskers as a heavy underdog, Joseph emphasized his team will need to play complementary football for the full 60 minutes.
“Talk to them about their good plays. Talk to them about playing 60 minutes,” he said. “We didn’t play 60 minutes this last game. And talk to them [about] complementing the offense, defense and special teams. We gotta work together and gotta do a better job as a coaching staff trying to get them to be successful.
“Never been an underdog like that. It means they [Vegas] think they’re four-touchdown better than you. But you still got to kick the ball off. You gotta play 60 minutes. But we’re not gonna back down. These kids won’t do that, these coaches won’t do that.”
When asked about the Michigan Wolverines and Harbaugh directly, Joseph was highly complimentary of his upcoming opponent.
“[Michigan] is a very good football team,” he said. “You see talent across the board and I think they’re gonna be the best team we face this year, talent-wise. But they are well-coached — Harbaugh does a really good job. They’re a tough team. They do a lot in the run game, they do a lot on defense, they gotta a high IQ football team and they’re an older football team. So you’re dealing with a really good, solid football team this week.
“I think he’s [Harbaugh] done a great job — he’s got a really strong football team because he’s a good football coach. And he preaches toughness. And they’re tough. You can watch it on film; they’re a tough football team.”
The reason they are such a tough football team, according to Joseph, is because of the way Harbaugh has built the team to be successful in a tough conference like the Big Ten.
“I think that’s how you gotta build you football team in this conference,” Joseph said. “You gotta be able to run the ball, you gotta be able to stop the run, and I think he’s done a really good job at that. He started that at Stanford, went to the 49ers, and then to Michigan. He’s got a really good philosophy and understands what he wants to do. And he’s been successful with it. Take your hat off to him.”
It’s clear this Nebraska football team has its proverbial back against the wall. Without several key starters and a core identity to rely on, Joseph has his hands full in keeping Nebraska motivated and competitive against the Wolverines.
But that’s when some teams are the most dangerous — when they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. We’ll see how well Joseph and his Cornhuskers weather the storm this Saturday at 3:30 p.m.