|This story originally published on CollegeFootballNews.com|
Nebraska at Michigan
By Pete Fiutak
- I’ll say this and no one will ever believe me; Michigan would be 9-2 right now with Rich Rodriguez as the head coach, too.
- Denard Robinson might be the star of the show, and he ran well and didn’t show any real ill-effects from his wrist problem, but Fitzgerald Toussaint has established himself as the guy to build the offense around. He’ll do for Michigan what Ronnie Hillman has been for San Diego State.
- The Nebraska offense has to at least have the threat of a passing game. Taylor Martinez connected on a couple of big plays, but Michigan’s secondary was never tested. That’s fine in a close game, but once the Wolverine offense started to open things up, the Huskers were dead.
- Considering what Nebraska does and the type of offense it runs, punter Brett Maher has been a star. He pinned Michigan deep a few times and rolled out a big bomb on the way to averaging 46 yards per kick.
- Are the Wolverines in the hunt for an at-large BCS bid? 16th in the BCS rankings, they’ll finish in the top 12 if they’re 10-2 with a win over Ohio State next week, the Fiesta and Orange would LOVE to make an offer. If Houston slips up along the way, it could happen.
By Richard Cirminiello
Anything but special.
Nebraska might have to rename its kicking game after the not-so-special teams embarrassed itself in Ann Arbor. Hey, the Huskers might not have won this game versus Michigan anyway, but John Papuchis’ crew made sure of it by repeatedly tanking in the second half with fumbles, blocks and untimely penalties. This wound up being a lopsided affair that likely would have been far more competitive down the stretch had the special teamers not played their worst game of the season.
On the Wolverines’ side of things, the personnel is virtually the same as 2010, but it’s remarkable how much different this program is than a year ago. It’s more physical and fundamentally-sound, particularly on D, a direct product of the jobs being done by head coach Brady Hoke and defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. Hoke may not have been the first choice of the administration, but he’s going to wind up being the best choice for a team that’s back on track much sooner than anyone expected. How far has Michigan come in a short period of time? How about a win over Ohio State away from being in the mix for an at-large BCS berth? Two Big Ten could get bids, the championship game winner in Indianapolis on Dec. 3, and the next most desirable option. The Wolverines have an excellent chance of being that latter team, especially as the number of members with no more than two losses dwindles.
By Matt Zemek
-- You could save a lot of ink, time and breath by getting to the heart of the matter: Bo Pelini coaches Nebraska, Brady Hoke coaches Michigan.
-- Denard Robinson decided to run the ball when lanes developed. He didn’t bail out on pass plays in the pocket, but when an opportunity to run presented itself, Denard turned on the jets. It’s not an idle coincidence that Michigan’s offense looked particularly good on Saturday.
-- Michigan is an incomplete team with Rich Rodriguez’s parts being shoehorned into a more traditional Michigan style. Yet, Brady Hoke has his team at 9-2, with a chance for an at-large BCS bowl bid. Everything that’s transpired this season in Ann Arbor points to a long and fruitful career for Hoke, a man who appears ready to make Michigan the Michigan of Bo and Lloyd, the Michigan the locals expect to cheer on autumnal Saturdays.
-- It’s not too early to say this: Nebraska’s 2012 season will hinge on the degree of improvement it receives from the quarterback position. Sure, that’s an obvious statement to make, but this blowout didn’t exactly lend itself to particularly subtle analytical angles, either.
By: Barrett Sallee
Follow me on Twitter: @BarrettSallee
- Nebraska, maybe you just aren't cut out for the Big Ten. For the first time since 2008 - Bo Pellini's first season - the Cornhuskers have given up 40 or more points twice in one season. Both of times this season were against Big Ten opponents, which aren't exactly known to be the most potent offenses in the land. That won't cut it.
- Denard Robinson with a big game late in the season? If he can ever put together a full season, he would absolutely be Heisman-worthy.
- Speaking of which, with all of the craziness going on in the world of college football, Michigan could sneak into a BCS at-large spot. Any BCS bowl that gets to feature Denard Robinson in promos for a month will be very thankful.
- One stat I like to look at following blowouts is yard per pass - even with two teams using running quarterbacks. Nebraska won that battle 9.5-5.3 against Michigan. That'll do it every time.
- I know Taylor Martinez is flashy, has the T-Magic nickname and fills highlight reels from time-to-time. But maybe it’s time to move in another direction, Nebraska. I’ll take substance over style any day.
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN
- It’s official, and obvious --this Michigan team is much better than last year. Yes, it has won more games up until this point already, but the Wolverines had yet to prove that they could beat a solid, physical team to turn the corner towards better things, and had been a bit of a product of a weak front-end schedule. Nebraska fits the mold of the teams the Wolverines have struggled with somewhat, and Michigan, though not entirely back, appears to be on its way.
- On that same note, let’s not forget that Michigan will have had eight games at home this year. The issues of beating physically imposing teams on the road still exists (at MSU and at Iowa this year). That trend will need to change next year to continue the ascent back to significant relevance.
- How different would this game have been without the turnovers and mistakes by Nebraska? We’ll never know, but it’s a shame that both teams didn’t play their best in the first ever Big Ten matchup of these storied programs. Michigan looked impressive, but Nebraska provided some gasoline to the towering inferno that this game was.
- It would be interesting to see how Nebraska fared in the Big Twelve this year. Though its doubtful the coaching staff and players would ever admit it, it’s likely that the ‘Huskers have found the sledding in the Big Ten + two tougher than they thought. It’s a physical grind, and the week to week styles of play are more varied than the majority of the leagues out there.
- The offensive experiment of blending Denard Robinson into the game plan is over. The Michigan coaching staff has made it evident that at least the majority of the maize and blue colored eggs are in the QB’s basket. The Wolverines best chance of winning is with Robinson being the centerpiece of the offense, as he was in this one. Period.
- How disappointing has the Cornhusker defense been this year? It’s been a barely visible shadow of its old Big Twelve self.
- In order for Nebraska to plant its flag on being one of the contenders in the Big Ten on a consistent basis, it is going to have to figure some way to get some down the field passing plays more often.
- You can’t help but wonder how Rich Rodriguez would have fared at the helm of this year’s Wolverine ship. It was clearly sinking, but how much of what’s going on in Ann Arbor is a product of a new regime, and how much is simply a product of a more experienced team? You still gotta believe that defensive coordinator Greg Mattison has a lot to do with the turnaround.
- Both teams are now dead in the division and conference title race. With Michigan State’s win, it holds the tie-breaker over Michigan, and Nebraksa’s loss has shut the door on it’s chances as well. Congrats to Sparty on earning a spot in the first ever Big Ten Championship Game by way of clinching the Legends division.
- Still, Michigan still has a shot at an at-large BCS game. Remarkable considering where the program was under Rich Rod--apparently coaching does matter.
- Off to the rivalry of all rivalries for Michigan next Saturday. It will be looking to end a seven year losing streak against its Darth Vadar--Ohio State. You have to like the chances of the winged helmets to take flight this time, but then again....history has been hard to predict in The Game.
By Terry Johnson
- In a week where many people called for him to give way to Devin Gardner as the starter, Denard Robinson played well and erased any signs of a potential QB controversy. Robinson went 11 of 18 for 180 yards and 2 TDs. In addition, he ran for 83 yards and 2 TDs.
- Despite the ringing endorsement from the ESPN commentators, the Wolverines will have a very hard time getting an at-large berth into the BCS. Archrival Michigan State’s blowout over Indiana eliminated Michigan from the Legends division championship, which essentially ended any hopes of an at-large bid. However, with plenty of football left to play, nothing seems impossible.
- As well as Robinson and the offense played, the game ball goes to the Wolverine defense. The much maligned, oft criticized unit turned it up a notch today. Michigan held the Nebraska offense to a season-low 251 yards, and limited Taylor Martinez to only 9 of 23 passing. In addition, they forced three Cornhusker fumbles. Not a bad performance against the Big Ten’s fourth best offense.
- When will coaches start to put a greater emphasis on special teams? This momentum of this game turned on a special teams gaffe by Nebraska. While it did not appear that Wil Richards hit Michigan punter Will Hagerup (a great name for a punter), he did take a poor angle, which resulted in a roughing the kicker penalty. As a result of the penalty Michigan’s drive continued, resulting in a TD that gave the Wolverines an insurmountable 21-point lead.
- Even with the loss today, the Cornhuskers have plenty to play for. With a win over Iowa and a win in the bowl game, Nebraska would have its third straight ten-win season. The Huskers have not accomplished that feat since the 1999-2001 seasons, when Frank Solich had just taken the reins.