Nebraska Preview 2011

The #17 Nebraska Cornhuskers come to The Big House for the first time since 1962 when they won 25-13, and challenge the #20 Michigan Wolverines; both teams are 8-2 on the season and 4-2 in the Big Ten. Michigan leads the rivalry with 3 wins, 2 losses and a tie. In the last meeting in 2005, unranked Nebraska defeated Michigan, 32-28 in the Alamo Bowl, and in 1985 #5 Michigan defeated the #8 Cornhuskers, 27-23 in the Fiesta Bowl. The game promises to be a nailbiter, and the winner probably gets an Outback Bowl invitation. Michigan is favored at home by 2.5 points. Bo returns to The Big House for the first time since 1989; it will be the first time the former Buckeye Captain Bo Pelini comes to play Michigan since he lost 18-28 as a player in Bo Schembechler's last year as Michigan's head coach.

The Cornhuskers are led on offense by Sophomore Quarterback Taylor Martinez has run for 768 yards and 9 TDs, and passed for 10 more TDs with 57.7% accuracy in their traditional option attack. As a team, the Cornhuskers average 5 yards per carry, 3 rushing TDs per game, 233 yards in rushing offense and 33 points per game; they rank #13 nationally in rushing offense and #3 in the Big Ten in scoring offense. Nebraska has fumbled 25 times, but only lost the ball 7 times on those fumbles. Junior I-Back Rex Burkhead has run for 1072 yards and 14 TDs, and has 15 receptions for another 2 TDs so far in 10 games. Redshirt Freshman Kenny Bell has 23 receptions for 2 TDs, and has run for another TD. It will be tough to corral and contain those three. The offensive line is led by Seniors Marcel Jones, Mike Caputo and Jemarcus (Yoshi) Hardrick at Right Tackle, Center and Left Tackle. Sophomores Andrew Rodriquez and Spencer Long man Left and Right Guard. They are a typical big, strong and tough Cornhusker offensive line who blow defenders off the ball so the option is successful. Hardrick has been nursing a sore ankle, and Rodriquez didn't make the trip to Penn State. Junior Seung Hoon Choi and Sophomore Jeremiah Sirles are backups seeing more playing time. Junior Tight End Ben Cotton and Junior Fullback Tyler Legate also contribute in blocking. Other receivers that contribute on offense include: Senior Brandon Kinnie, Freshman Jamal Turner, Sophomore Quincy Enunwa and Junior Tight End Kyler Reed. Burkhead's backup is Freshman Ameer Abdullah. This team has a 3rd down conversion percentage of 45%, and on 4th down, they are 58%

Nebraska's defense is led by Senior WILL Linebacker Lavonte David; he has 97 tackles, 7 for loss including 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, 2 quarterback hits, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Junior MIKE Linebacker Will Compton has 64 tackles. Junior Sean Fisher is the BUCK Outside Linebacker. The Defensive Line is led by Junior Defensive End Cameron Meredith; he has 5 sacks and 6 quarterback hits along with 43 tackles. Redshirt Freshman Chase Rome has replaced All-American Jared Crick at Defensive Tackle. Junior Baker Steinkuhler is the other Defensive Tackle, and Sophomore Jason Ankrah is the other defensive end. Junior Eric Martin and Senior Terrence Moore will also see action on the line. In the backfield, the Huskers are led by Junior Safety Daimion Stafford; he has 63 tackles and 7 pass break ups. Senior Safety Austin Cassidy has 56 tackles, 4 pass break ups and 2 interceptions. Sophomore Stanley Jean-Baptiste is one corner and Senior Alfonzo Dennard is the other corner. Senior Lance Thorell is the DIME. Sophomore Ciante Evans and Junior P.J. Smith will also see action in the backfield. This group is excellent on cover ranking #21 nationally in pass defense and #29 in pass efficiency defense. In the red zone, they are 91% efficient in scoring, but only 66% for TDs.

Special Teams are excellent for the Huskers. Their kickoff specialist, Ameer Abdullah, averages 31 yards per return ranking him 5th nationally; he also averages 9 yards per punt return as well. Their field goal, kickoff, punter and placekicker, Brett Maher, is 16 of 19 including a 50 yarder and all three misses have been on kicks over 50 yards. He averages 67.4 yards per kickoff and has 17 touchbacks in 60 attempts. He averages 45.4 yards per punt with 18 of 41 attempts downed inside the 20. Maher will surely be kicking on Sundays in the NFL soon; he is the best kicker and punter in the Big Ten and one of the best nationally. Nebraska is ranked #3 in the Big Ten in kickoff coverage. We aren't going to gain advantage from special teams, but we can only hope to negate any possible Nebraska advantage by having a great game ourselves.

Defending the Cornhusker option attack will be quite a challenge for our defense. Nebraska has demonstrated they can come from behind when they overcame a 27-6 deficit with 3:02 left in the 3rd quarter against a tough Ohio State defense to win 34-27. The Cornhuskers couldn't overcome losing two fumbles and a 9 minute Northwestern time of possession advantage losing 28-25 when the Wildcats rolled to 468 total yards offensively. They manhandled a tough Spartan team, 24-3 in a low scoring, defensive struggle just as they did against Penn State last week, 17-14. If they get the lead, they have demonstrated they play solid defense to defend the lead. This is a strong, physical Nebraska team that makes few mistakes and forces their opponents into many mistakes. We will have to play our best game of the season on both sides of the ball to have a chance to win. Our best defense will be to have our offense clicking, running the football effectively, and by maintaining time of possession advantage, limiting Cornhusker possession time and converting red zone opportunities. The Nebraska defense is strong, but not as dominating as the Spartan or Illini defense. Just like last week, the first team to 20 points will probably win this one. Go Blue!!!

Michigan 21 Nebraska 20

Brady Hoke Press Conference on November 16

Greg Mattison Press Conference on November 15

Al Borges Press Conference on November 15

Brady Hoke Press Conference on November 14

Ryan VanBergen Press Conference on November 14

Game Notes for Nebraska (Nebraska Game Notes for Michigan)