Boy, did this suck.
I could go into more detail, but the bottom line is that this game absolutely sucked. The defense played less horrific than the offense, which was less horrific than the special teams. And after Nebraska's third conference loss of the season, Nebraska looks even further away from being back than they have in recent years. It's not so much that the Huskers lost to Michigan, but rather by how much. It's one thing to get blown out by a top tier opponent...it's another to get creamed by a middle-of-the-pack team ranked below you in the rankings.
And with that comes lots of questions about the direction of the program. I don't necessarily need to get answers now, but there out to be a lot of soul searching after the Iowa game. For this week, the goal has to be to defeat Iowa. Beat Iowa, and a New Years Day bowl likely awaits the Huskers. Lose, and suddenly the heat goes on underneath Bo Pelini's chair.QB: Taylor Martinez didn't lose this game...but he didn't win it either. He wasn't the biggest problem out there on the field, but he's not blameless either. Errant option pitch on the Huskers first series. Running out of bounds on 1st and 20 for a 7 yard loss when he could have thrown the ball away and save the yards. And while his receivers are primarily at fault for all of the drops, perhaps a little better touch might help those guys out. That being said, I think Martinez did more to try and win the game than most anybody else on the offense. That's probably damning with faint praise. Grade: C
RB: Rex Burkhead only carried the ball 10 times. That wasn't by design...or by intent. Nebraska simply couldn't sustain any sort of drive. I did see a couple of nice runs by Ameer Abdullah...and that zone read/option pitch from Burkhead to Abdullah impressed Urban Meyer. Would have impressed me more if the Huskers would have scored more. Grade: Incomplete.
WR: Drops, drops, drops. Where do I start? First of all, I think Nebraska really, really, REALLY missed Ben Cotton out there today in terms of blocking. And maybe trying to catch the ball as well. Jamal Turner saw a little more action today, but got a substitution infraction for forgetting to leave the field. That type of error probably explains why his playing time has been so limited as of late. Which is too bad, because goodness knows, this offense could use a playmaker other than Burkhead and Martinez. Grade: D-
OL: Michigan defense is stout, especially up front...and the offensive line couldn't create much of any push. Mike Martin ate Mike Caputo's lunch all day. Offensive line play has been a concern throughout Bo Pelini's time in Lincoln, and while it got better earlier this season, it's become an issue once again. One thing I'd like to see is more rotation here; I understand wanting to have your best players on the field, but when things aren't working, bringing someone else in couldn't hurt. And let's make one thing clear: after four years, this coaching staff owns problems like this. Grade: F
DL: I'm probably contrarian on this, but I think the defensive line didn't play that poorly. Could they have gotten more pressure on Denard Robinson? Probably...but I think they didn't want Robinson to scramble for yardage... And judging from some of Robinson's throws, encouraging him to throw seemed to be a good strategy. Grade: C+
LB: Let's give Lavonte David credit here; he was all over the field today. Maybe he wasn't always in the right spot...but he was always out there. Even on the blocked punt, there he was, picking up the ball and trying to get the first down. Will Compton also had a solid game for the most part, with some key stops in the third quarter before leaving with an injury. Grade: B+
Secondary: I think the tone for the game was set on the third play of the game when Ciante Evans dropped an interception of Robinson. And by my informal count, there were at least 3 or four others... Don't you imagine if Nebraska makes those interceptions, the game would have been a little different? Woulda, coulda, shoulda. But that doesn't explain the blown coverage on Martavious Odoms... and don't get me started about Lance Thorell. Grade: D
Special Teams: Well, Brett Maher did kick a 51 yard field goal...but that was pretty much it. Considering how well Kenny Bell and Tim Marlowe did on kickoff returns, why not put Jamal Turner back there? It would be a way to get his playmaking ability on the field... and it would be hard to see how he could be any worse. Normally I don't rank special teams, but this week is an exception because the special teams were anything but special. Grade: 0
Coaching: I liked the quadruple option zone read play; when Urban Meyer is impressed, you know you did something good. But in the end, it's up to the coaches to make sure the team is prepared to play --- and once again, it wasn't. I'm still curious why players struggling on the field don't get replaced. Why not play Tyler Moore or Brent Qvale more? What about Jeremiah Sirles? And when the game is out of hand, why not give Brion Carnes some snaps? Grade: D
Overall: F Another egg laid on a national stage. I believe in Bo Pelini, but I think that Nebraska should be further along in year four.
Elsewhere in College Football on "F-Bomb Saturday"
Why "F-Bomb Saturday"? Ask Lee Corso, who dropped one during GameDay...and it pretty much describes the day.
Iowa State: A+ Paul Rhoads is "SO PROUD" of you again.
Baylor: A+ If you are looking for Heisman candidates, please consider Robert Griffin III. Even if you aren't, reconsider.
Southern Cal: A Who'd have thunk it? Oh yes... I did. From Friday: " Every week, something weird happens in college football. It's something you can't explain...but it happens. Southern Cal 38, Oregon 35." Insert joke about blind squirrel here.
Clemson: F Back to your hole.
SEC: D+ So now the SEC is being rewarded for playing like crap against teams like the Citadel, Georgia Southern, and the Citadel? Uh no thank you.