The latest in a string of BIG GAMES for the Huskers is Saturday night’s throwdown with the Michigan Wolverines which marks Jim Harbaugh’s first trip to Lincoln and Michigan’s first since 2012. Like Michigan St., the Wolverines have followed a disappointing Covid season with a 5-0 start.
They come into Lincoln for the Huskers’ third consecutive night game after what seemed like approximately 37 consecutive years of 11am kickoffs. From our perspective, we feel primed yet again for THAT big victory, but what’s on the minds of the Wolverines whose dreams are suddenly a little bigger than they were Sept 1st?
For thought on that and more, Trevor Woods of Maize n Brew was kind enough to answer some of our questions about the big game. Thanks much, Trevor, and good to have Michigan back on the schedule even if the words may not be as kind for few hours Saturday night.
Let’s get right to it:
Let’s get the Harbaugh question out of the way first. Is he actually on any kind of hot seat? Warm? (Not including Covid 2020, I figure that season is one big hall pass.) But in your opinion, is anything close to majority of the fan base think there’s a better option? (Just want to hear it from someone outside of this state – we’re going through it for the 3rd time in my lifetime)
That talk has died down drastically since the 5-0 start. After finishing 2-4 last season, fans were quite angry --- but Harbaugh revamped his coaching staff, brought in young coaches on both side of the ball and it seems like it has made all the difference in the world. Harbaugh isn’t on any hot seat.
The Wolverines have been ground-heavy in their offensive attack through 5 games rushing at about a 70-30 split, however the yards have come tougher in the last two games. Do you expect the attack to balance out more in Lincoln or will Michigan still try to establish the running game and keep the total passes under 20?
I think Michigan will pass over 20 times. The combination of starter Cade McNamara and backup QB J.J. McCarthy (who is receiving more playing time) have been quite efficient overall and the passing game has some juice. Players such as Cornelius Johnson, Roman Wilson, and Daylen Baldwin are above average wide outs and Michigan’s threats in the passing game extend beyond that trio.
Make no mistake, Michigan will run the ball, they may even run it a lot, but Michigan will take their shots deep.
Like Nebraska, Michigan’s defense has improved greatly this season. Was there a major factor in the turnaround this season or is there a feeling like some signs and flashes had been there and it’s all finally coming together?
Defensive coordinator Don Brown was fired, Baltimore Ravens linebackers coach Mike Macdonald replaced him — the scheme on D is ore multiple and creative this year and the players have bought in. It’s hard to guess what the defense is doing because they run so many formations, and blitz from wide array of angles. The balance of man and zone coverage has been stellar, as has the move to a more 3-4 centric scheme with stand up edge rushers.
Besides Aidan Hutchinson and Blake Corum, who are two names – one from offense and one from defense – Husker fans will remember after this game?
On defense, take note of safety Dax Hill. He knocked Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz out of the game with a vicious sack, and also had an interception. Hill could wind up being a highly sought after NFL prospect.
Prediction time – season version: after the 5-0 start, how do you see the rest of the season playing out? The East looks to be up for grabs and quite few scenarios are on the table for you guys. What do the last 7 games and the post-season hold for you?
Nobody knows and that’s the beauty of it. Michigan has a lot of tough tasks ahead and we will find out more after Saturday. They could run the table, they could lose two or three games.
Prediction time – game version: when that last gun sounds, what final will be shining up on the scoreboard in Lincoln? Is Michigan even a little bit afraid?
I wouldn’t say Michigan is afraid, but they’re aware of what Adrian Martinez can do, aware that the Nebraska defense has some life to it. Even so, I think Michigan is the better team and contains Martinez enough. 35-20 Michigan.