October 9, 2021. Nebraska took over with 3:00 left tied 29-29 with Michigan. They were 3-3 and after trailing 13-0 at the half, had come back to outscore the Wolverines 29-16 in the 2nd half. Three plays and a questionable Adrian Martinez fumble later, everything began going straight to hell. Nebraska is 3-12 since that play and Michigan is setting up for a second straight trip to the CFP.
What a difference a year makes.
Despite some close losses, the Huskers entered last year’s game with some confidence. This year? Michigan opened as -29 1⁄2 point favorites and it has since risen to -31 with Casey Thompson out for the second straight game. Should Chubba Purdy inexplicably be granted another start with any warning, it will shoot up further. The Huskers D has been scrappy but another diet of three and outs would be asking too much.
With a potential blood bath looming, what is going through the minds of Wolverines fans? This week, David Woelkers of Michigan’s Maize ‘n’ Brew was gracious enough to answer our questions. He added his recommendation for our next head coach, gave his thoughts on what went wrong for Frost and what turned things around for the Wolverines, suggested the best place in Ann Arbor to get a sammich and may or may not have predicted a Husker upset! Read on:
We’ve been getting some wonderful answers, so I’ll pose this question to you now – who should Nebraska hire as their next full-time head coach?
If Nebraska can drag Lance Leipold away from Kansas, he’s as sure fire a candidate as anyone out there. Matt Rhule might’ve been a dumpster fire at Carolina but he had chops at Baylor, so I don’t think he’d be a bad choice.
Outside of those two, I heard Mike Riley had a pretty good season in the USFL this year...
Despite JJ McCarthy taking over for Cade McNamara, the Wolverines have an offense which crusty old Husker fans in RUN THE DAMN BALL t-shirts can get behind, keeping it on the ground around 62% of the time. Blake Corum with over 1000 yards, 16 rushing TD’s to lead the nation and averaging 6 YPC has been lethal. Nebraska, however, has done a decent if not spectacular job the last two weeks with Chase Brown and Mohamed Ibrahim holding them both to 4.7 and 4.0 YPC respectively. If the Huskers can slow Corum down (big if, admittedly), does Harbaugh have enough confidence in McCarthy to let him air it out?
At this point, I don’t know if I’d call it a question of confidence in JJ — I honestly think it’s more just Jim Harbaugh being deadset in his way of approaching the offense. That’s not to say McCarthy doesn’t have some issues; his improvements in passing deep have only really been going from wide incompletions to kinda close incompletions. But the play calling isn’t really favorable towards passing even if McCarthy could drop a dime in his receiver’s lap.
Michigan and Nebraska had very similar arcs in their coaching stories one year apart with both agreeing to a pay cut when on the hot seat. Patience paid off in spades for the Wolverines, but bit the Huskers squarely in our Big Red asses. What major reason or reasons turned things around for you guys?
As stubborn as Harbaugh is about most things, he isn’t oblivious to the writing on the wall. I don’t think the same could be said of Scott Frost.
At least from the outside looking in, Frost seemed more likely to blame his players’ effort than he was to ever look in a mirror. While Harbaugh can certainly get defensive at times about his decision making, he at least has a track record of ultimately changing things that don’t work. Last year specifically, it was overhauling the defense from Don Brown’s all out blitz approach to a multiple scheme implemented by Mike McDonald and now carried on by Jesse Minter.
I’ve been through Ann Arbor a couple times in my travels and it really is a gorgeous college town. For Husker peeps making the trip, what would you recommend in the way of local places to eat and drink (and drink and drink and drink) that a visiting fan should absolutely not miss dropping in on this weekend?
If you’re willing to spend 20 bucks on a single sandwich, Zingerman’s is as good as everyone says it is. The place that has the adoration of students and townies alike though is Mr. Spots on South State Street. I don’t know how they do it, but they make the best cheesesteak you can get outside of Philly. Bar wise, the best places are on South University Drive. My personal preference is Good Time Charley’s, but you can’t go wrong with Brown Jug or The Blue Leprechaun either.
Prediction time: With Casey Thompson just confirmed out and Michigan favored by 31, what do you have for the final score? If Chubba Purdy gets the start, the Wolverine defense has to be drooling and thinking shutout. Seven hells, is it wrong of me to start drinking now? OK, I have to see what’s stashed in my bottom desk drawer. Go ahead and make your pick…
If you’ve watched any Michigan football this year, you know that first halves aren’t their bread and butter, but the second half adjustments seemingly turn them into an unkillable monster. For that reason, I’m gonna say the score at halftime is probably in the ballpark of 17-13, but the final score will be closer to 52-13.