A game about match-ups

The game of football is all about matchups. Teams key on these matchups to get advantages. As a fan of the game, you could focus on some of the matchups that could determine the game at hand and that you could see somewhere down the line.

There is little doubt that the Husker Nation saw a little glimpse of what might be against Colorado. That game though, was a little over a month ago when the Alamo Bowl will come along and another starting linebacker has gone down to an injury.

While many will wait and wonder what the time off might mean to this team and running this offense, I have already begun to think about the matchups that will be featured in the game this week.

Nebraska's defensive line versus Michigan's offensive line

To me this is the marquee match-up of the game this week. Nebraska's strength in their defense lies within the defensive line. They are an active group that will get stunted and line up in different alignments to try and get tot he quarterback.

The problem is in this game is that Nebraska hasn't seen an offensive line like they will see from Michigan. They are huge. They are mobile. Nebraska is going to have to mix it up to get to Henne.

Nebraska might be able to exploit a chip in the armor though Wednesday night. One of their top offensive lineman, Jake Long, is suffering from an ankle injury that will require surgery. Long will be facing Adam Carriker and Jay Moore with some dabbing of Barry Turner at the rush end position.

The Huskers could see an advantage here to trying to get after Henne through Long. On top of Long being hurt, look for problems if freshman Kevin Grady gets to block one of the Nebraska defensive ends one on one.

Michigan's running backs versus Nebraska's linebackers

Michigan may or may not have the services of running back Mike Hart for the football game a little this week. That may mean that Michigan could have to go with freshman Kevin Grady.

Michigan may still hold an advantage here to Nebraska's piece-meal linebacker corps. No other group for Nebraska has had the type of injuries that the linebackers have had to endure.

Besides losing Steve Octavien and Stewart Bradley during the regular season for the rest of the year; Nebraska will now be without Bo Ruud to a broken arm.

The Huskers have named Lance Brandenburgh the starter at WILL, but there will be an obvious drop-off in speed from Ruud to Brandenburgh as there seemingly was with the loss of Octavien and Bradley.

This has been and will continue to be the achilles heel for the team this year. You might look for some different looks here for Nebraska with Barry Turner to SAM and with McKeon to WILL and Philip Dillard playing MIKE.

Chad Henne, Jason Avant, Tim Massaquoi versus the Nebraska secondary

Eeek, this could be a real problem for Nebraska. Nebraska will face a big, three-headed monster from Michigan in Henne, Avant and Massaquoi.

The Nebraska secondary hasn't been the strength of the defense this year and has been susceptible to the big play. The secondary has relied heavily on the pressure created by the line and the linebackers to help out in pass coverage.

Like I stated previously, the matchup against the Michigan offensive line may feature a possible mis-match in Nebraska's favor, but overall Michigan should have an advantage here with Adam Stenavich, Matt Lentz and Leo Henige all being healthy.

The bottom line is that Nebraska will need to cause some problems up-front and in the secondary versus Michigan to stop a very potent offense. An offense that averaged nearly 400 yards per game. Don't forget the name Steve Breaston either Husker fans. He had over 1,000 yards receiving this year too.

Nebraska offensive line versus the Michigan defensive line

Nebraska's woes with injuries on the offensive line only comes in second to their health issues at linebacker. The opening day starters of Seppo Evwaraye and Cornelius Thomas missed most of the second half of the season to injury.

Enter true freshman Matt Slauson and redshirt freshman Lydon Murtha.

Both have picked up the role of being the starter at their positions much better than some expected. Additionally, Chris Patrick has at least allowed for some rotation at the tackle position.

Overall, the Michigan defensive line is very good and very big. Gabe Watson at defensive tackle may be the best defensive lineman that Nebraska has seen all year and will be lining up against Nebraska's guards and center who haven't been too consistent all year.

Beyond the talent that Michigan has on their defensive line, look for Michigan to take a page from Oklahoma and try and confuse the Nebraska offensive line and bring pressure to rattle Nebraska's passing game.

Tale of the Tape

Michigan is by far the more talented team here and they should be. Nebraska is only in it's second year changing over to the West Coast offense, but put together enough wins to get them a matchup with Michigan in the Alamo Bowl.

The problem here is going toe-to-toe with Michigan. Nebraska has very few advantages when it comes to the match ups, but they match ups will be fun to watch.

The key to the game for both teams is Michigan's offensive line versus the defensive line from Nebraska. If Michigan can protect Henne then Michigan should walk through Nebraska. But, if Coach Cosgrove and the Blackshirts start giving Henne some pressure it will help out the secondary and not allow Henne to find Avant, Massaquoi and Breaston.

Nebraska is at least poised to match up well in stopping the run considering Michigan's injury there to Hart and the possibility of playing against a freshman.

It is the matchup of Michigan's defense though against Nebraska's offense which gives them a decisive advantage and Nebraska will need to spark their offense with consistent play, no turnovers and big plays.

Michigan is going to be more than a handful for Nebraska, but there are possibilities to exploit the Wolverines.

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