Two weeks, two mobile quarterbacks essentially neutralized. Glass half-empty people will point out that Denard Robinson missed over half the game with an injury. Of course, they fail to denote that Robinson only accounted for 101 yards to that point, and that Nebraska had the edge in total offense at that point. You really have to stretch things to "time of possession" to find anything to hang your hat on that Michigan had any sort of control on this game.
Without Denard Robinson, Michigan had to turn to redshirt freshman Russell Bellomy at quarterback. The Blackshirts were able to turn up the heat from that point, preferring to attack the young quarterback as opposed to contain the mobile threat. And that's what Pelini defenses love to do; pressure quarterbacks and dare them to throw. The Huskers now have the inside track to win the Big Ten's west division, and finish the season with four less mobile quarterbacks: Andrew Maxwell (-57 yards rushing this season), Minnesota's Phillip Nelson (104 yards rushing), Matt McGloin (-13 yards rushing), and James Vandenberg (-35 yards rushing).
That means the end of this season likely comes down to Nebraska fixing their own problems; play solid football in November, and a trip to Indianapolis and a Big Ten title are all waiting to be seized. With that, here's the report card; as always, your comments and feedback are more than welcome below. Tell me what you saw on television; you get one perspective in the stadium, but without some of the instant replays, I'm not sure what I missed.
QB: Taylor Martinez did what he needed to do against a stout Michigan defense. By all reports, Martinez's knee was down before he fumbled while being bent over backwards just before halftime. He didn't get enough loft on his pass intended for Tim Marlowe while scrambling and was intercepted on the opening drive of the second half. But that's the aggressive play that Martinez has been making as of late. You hate the turnovers...but more often than not, Martinez usually makes something happen. Consider the alternative, folks. What was amazing to me is that Martinez apparently was injured on that second quarter injury, then gave us that second half performance. Grade: B
RB: Ameer Abdullah wasn't able to find much room up the middle, but sure found room on the sweep around the end. (Oh, and if anybody who wants to bring up the Robinson injury to explain away the Nebraska victory, respond with two words: Rex Burkhead.) Speaking of Nebraska backs who didn't play, where was Braylon Heard? We saw a little of Imani Cross...and really would have liked to have seen him carry the ball once after the P.J. Smith interception. Grade: B+
WR: The biggest misfire of the game for me from the receivers was Jamal Turner losing the ball in the lights on third and goal on that same series. Kenny Bell's touchdown catch probably would go on most receivers' highlight reels...except that there isn't room on Bell's reel anymore. Grade: A-
OL: I'll forgive the lack of inside running room; Michigan's defense has been stout against the run this season, ranking second in conference games. Better news was the relatively good pass protection. But center Justin Jackson has to quit flinging knuckle balls back to Martinez out of the shotgun. Grade: B-
DL: Once Robinson left the game, the defensive line was able to stop playing pat-a-cake with the Michigan offensive line and attack. Baker Steinkuhler broke free and forced Bellomy to throw an interception to Daimion Stafford, and Eric Martin was literally tackled multiple times. Nice to see Chase Rome get back on the field, even if it was due to injury. Grade: A
LB: What a game, and it's amazing that Will Compton was almost an afterthought. Sean Fisher had two tackles for loss, and David Santos led the team in tackles. Even Alonzo Whaley played really well. Fisher played quite a bit of middle linebacker last night, so Nebraska might be really set at linebacker next year if Fisher gets a sixth year of eligibility due to his past injuries. Grade: A
Secondary: Yay, Interceptions! Last week, they dropped several...this week, they converted. P. J. Smith's probably was a lucky bounce, but Daimion Stafford's was a great leap. Stanley Jean-Baptiste's leap was even better. Yay! Plus-1 in turnovers! Actually, everybody (other than Andrew Green) in the secondary seemed to play well, and let's credit Terry Joseph for rebuilding the secondary. Tight coverage enabled the front seven to wreak havoc up front. Grade: A+
Overall: A- Looking for a complete game performance from Nebraska? You got one. Critics who were looking for an opportunity to bury Pelini and the Huskers will have to wait for another week.
Elsewhere around Memorial Stadium
Officials: F What in the name of Dan Beebe was going on with this group of officials? Michigan fans found it curious as well. Let's be clear; up until yesterday, Nebraska was it's own worst enemy with the yellow hanky this season...but yesterday, there were too many head scratching calls out there.
Crowd: B If recruitniks wanted a big game atmosphere to help sell recruits, they didn't get it. It wasn't a bad crowd, but it wasn't particularly loud. I'll blame on the cold... people wear gloves and put their hands in their pockets to stay warm. And let that be a note to folks who don't attend games, yet want the Big Ten to play night games in November.
50 Year Sellout Towel: F After I got in the gate, I realized I didn't have get my "50 Year Sellout Towel". So I started looking around. They were nowhere to be found. As I went into the stands, I saw a handful of people with them, and mostly in the student section. Maybe they only intended to distribute 10,000 or so...but if so, don't announce that everybody is going to get one.
Elsewhere Around College Football
Notre Dame: A I haven't believed in the Irish so far this season. You've sold me; the Irish are for real this season.
Iowa: F The more things change, the more things stay the same. Even in the Big Ten, the Black and Gold team that shows up on our schedule after Thanksgiving wallows in mediocrity.
Colorado: 0 Mediocre actually would look pretty appealing in Boulder nowadays.
"Resume" Voters Who Criticized Alabama Last Week: 0 Still not convinced?
Kansas State: A Yes, the Wildcats are real as well.
Purdue: F Are the Boilers even trying anymore?
Illinois: F Does anybody even care?