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October 26, 2012

Staff Predictions: Michigan at Nebraska

Last we saw Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini before his coaching career took off, he was a bit actor running Steve Buscemi's character through the wood chipper in Fargo. Today he's the defensive minded head coach of a football team that doesn't seem too interested in playing defense.



Fortunately for Nebraska, they've got an offense that allows it to keep pace with teams while the defense gives up yards in chunks. Quarterback Taylor Martinez leads the Big Ten in passing efficiency and seems to have improved. While he's not "skipping stones" as Wisconsin defensive end David Gilbert rudely insinuated before losing in Lincoln, there are still times he looks like 1968 Olympian Carol Frost throwing the shot-put.

To sum up - we're obviously not all that impressed with the Cornhuskers.

That said, winning in Lincoln is a daunting task, especially at night in front of a crowd that's been waiting since last Saturday around 6:45 for this one. They raced to their red RVs quickly following a win at Northwestern to claim their parking spots, anxious to see the Cornhuskers' avenge a 45-17 loss in Ann Arbor last year they thought was much closer than the score indicated, but really wasn't.

Should the Wolverines win this one, though, they'll have earned it - and grabbed complete control in the Big Ten's Legends Division.

Congratulations to last week's winner. This week's receives the admiration of his colleagues and the right to coach third base for the Detroit Tigers in tomorrow night's World Series Game Three.

The picks:

Chris Balas: This isn't a Tom Osborne Nebraska team - more a Frank Solich/Bill Callahan/Bo Pelini blend that, at times, plays contact optional football.

Expect offensive coordinator Al Borges to turn Denard Robinson loose a bit more in this one - whether that's good or bad will dictate the outcome.

Michigan 31, Nebraska 23

John Borton: Nebraska holds every intangible imaginable in this one. The Cornhuskers are playing at home, at night, a 45-17 beating at The Big House still ringing in their husk-stuffed earholes, against an opponent fresh off an emotion-draining win over a major rival.

Michigan has a defense.

Michigan 27, Nebraska 24

Michael Spath: Elliott Mealer could hear us laugh and saw us roll our eyes as he made mention of the Michigan catchphrase for 2012 - 'every week is a championship game' - but the players have bought in and that's why this Saturday, following an emotionally-charged win over Michigan State, there will be no letdown for the Maize and Blue. The offense can and will play better than it did a week ago, and the defense is poised to contain Nebraska's vaunted offense.

Michigan 34, Nebraska 20

Tim Sullivan: I came into the week expecting to pick against Michigan, but after reviewing Nebraska's game against Northwestern (a team I believe to be consistently overvalued by people who "just really like" Pat Fitzgerald - even if he hasn't accomplished much his predecessors didn't set the stage for), I get the feeling they're the same team as last year. Sure, Taylor Martinez can throw a bit better, but not enough to be a major threat unless U-M is gashed on the ground.

We've seen Michigan get better against the run week after week, and I have to imagine they'll be able to stymie that offense. On the other side of the ball, Michigan had tough slogs against Notre Dame and Michigan State, but this defense isn't in that stratosphere. Denard Robinson gets loose, and U-M gets enough to win, and makes the score look nicer with a late TD.

Michigan 28, Nebraska 16

Andy Reid: Talking about the atmosphere he's expecting at Nebraska's Memorial Stadium, Michigan senior defensive tackle William Campbell said, "They don't have anything down there but their college football."

Well, that's not true. Nebraska is also home to the National Arbor Day Foundation headquarters. The state also lays claim to the world's largest porch swing, big enough to hold 18 full-grown adults. If you pass Hasting, Neb. on your way to Lincoln, you can also visit the grave of Andy The Footless Goose.

OK, I'm starting to see what Campbell was talking about. And Nebraskans are going to be mighty disappointed Saturday night.

Michigan 31, Nebraska 27

Kevin Minor: Nebraska undoubtedly has an explosive offense, which leads the Big Ten with 41.6 points scored per game, but will be battling a Michigan defense that has yielded only 23 points in three conference contests (7.7 points per game).

On the contrary, the Wolverines have struggled offensively, but are fortunately butting heads with a Husker defense that has been utterly abysmal in allowing 39.3 points per conference game this year.

The Wolverines should be able to exploit NU, and redshirt junior running back Fitzgerald Toussaint will have a big performance against a Black Shirt defense that is yielding 187.9 rush yards per game to help U-M control the clock, and the game.

Michigan 31, Nebraska 20


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