MONDAY Tale of the Tape: Neb "O" vs. U-M "D"

In 2005 the Cornhuskers opened the season 4-0, then went 1-4 on October, and finally rebounded to finish the regular season with two wins -- most importantly, a season-ending 30-3 victory at Big 12 North champ Colorado. The Nebraska offense is a pass first affair, as the Huskers finished second in the Big 12 in pass offense, but dead last in rushing offense. Here is how the Husker offense and the Wolverine defense stack up statistically in all major statistical catagories.

The Nebraska season went as follows:

In 2004, Head Coach Bill Callahan's first season, Nebraska finished 5-6, getting shut out of a bowl for the first time in 40 years. In 2005 the Cornhuskers opened the season 4-0, beating Maine 25-7, Wake Forest 31-3, Pitt 7-6 and Iowa State 27-20 (2 overtimes). But in October the Husker-wheels came off: there was a home loss to Texas Tech (34-31), and after a 23-14 win over hapless Baylor, three more consecutive losses at Missouri (41-24), at home to Oklahoma (31-24) and at Kansas 40-15. After 9 games the Cornhusters were only averaging 20.2 points a game. However, the Huskers revamped their offensive line -- and they rebounded to finish the regular season with two wins, 27-25 over Kansas State, and, most importantly, a season-ending 30-3 victory at Big 12 North champ Colorado.

The Nebraska Offense vs. the Michigan Defense:

On offense Nebraska runs a 'west coast' offense similar to Michigan, with a similar 6-2, 210-drop-back quarterback -- and both teams passed more than ran in '05 perhaps more due to necessity than design. At quarterback, 6-2, 210-lb. junior Zac Taylor had a steady/consistent first season as a starter, passing for 2,486 yards (a school record) and 16 touchdowns (2,087 yards and 15 TD's in conference play ... finishing 2nd in the conference at 260.9 ypg). His favorite target is 6-2, 200-lb. RS Fr. Nate Swift (6th in conference play with 5.25 catches per game for a 5th place 76.2 yards per game). At running back, 5-6, 200-lb. fifth-year senior Cory Ross had a combined 1,105 rushing and receiving yards (including a school-RB-record 40 receptions). Freshman RB Marlon Lucky (6-0, 210-lbs.) also got significant carries late in the season.

Somewhat similarly to the situation at Michigan this season, the 2005 Nebraska offense line was decimated by injuries. Starting left tackle Cornealius Fuamatu-Thomas went out for the season due to shoulder surgery and starting right tackle Seppo Evwaraye struggled to play with a stress fracture in his foot. In addition, All-conferencce TE Matt Herina missed the whole season due to shoulder surgery. Consequently, the Nebraska rushing offense suffered as well -- it was late the the season when Nebraska shuffled the O-Line, inserting two new tackles, 6-7 FS Frosh Lyndon Murtha and 340-lb. Fr. Matt Slauson, and a new guard, and, not coincidentally, the Huskers rebounded.

CONFERENCE STATISTICS(Conference gmaes only)
For the season (conference games only) Nebraska Offense and Michigan Defense finished:
(significant stats in ITALLICS)

-- Nebraska: 7th in scoring at 25.1 ppg (1st: Texas at 50.6)
-- Michigan: 4th in scoring defense at 22.2 ppg

-- Nebraska: 8th in total offense at 339.0 ypg (Texas 1st at 519.9)
-- Michigan: 3rd in total defense at 379.4 ypg

-- Nebraska: 2nd in passing offense at 265.8 ypg
-- Michigan: 5th in pass defense at 233.5 ypg

-- Nebraska: 5th in passing efficiency at 123.9
-- Michigan: 4th in pass defense efficiency at 119.5

-- Nebraska: 12th in rushing offense at 73.1 ypg
-- Michigan: 4th in rushing defense at 145.9 ypg

-- Nebraska: 5th in 1st downs at 20.0 per game
-- Michigan: 3rd in opponents 1st downs at 20.0 per game

-- Nebraska: 4th in red zone offense at 86.2%
-- Michigan: 9th in red zone defense at 86.2%

-- Nebraska: 5th in 3rd down conversions at 36.4%
-- Michigan: 4th in 3rd down opp. conversions at 39.3%

-- Nebraska: 8th in sacks allowed at 3.25 per game
-- Michigan: 6th in sacks (conf. play): 1.5 per game

-- Nebraska: 5th in time of possession at 30:37
-- Michigan: 4th in time of possession at 30:34

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