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November 9, 2013

Michigan keys to victory and HOL staff predictions

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - After an emotional victory over Northwestern last week, Nebraska will try to keep things going today at Michigan.

The Wolverines are trying to bounce back after a blowout loss to rival Michigan State last week in East Lansing. As things get closer to kickoff, here are today's keys to victory for Nebraska over Michigan. The Wolverines currently sit as a 7 point favorite over the Huskers.

Win on early downs

A big part of Nebraska's success on both offense and defense builds around winning on early downs. Particularly with NU's defense it will be important to not let Michigan's offense keep them off-balance on early downs.

With Nebraska offense, they need to keep freshman quarterback Tommy Armstrong in favorable situations and not let Michigan's defense control the tempo of the Husker offense.

Armstrong: blitz vs. bluff

Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison is licking his chops this week to go at Armstrong. Mattison is the master of disguising pressure and confusing quarterbacks before the snap.

It will be important for Armstrong to be able to read and recognize Mattison's blitz calls vs. his bluff blitz calls. These are the type of plays where turnovers happen. After throwing four interceptions last week, NU can't expect to win in Ann Arbor with a day like that on Saturday.

The QB run game

In order for Nebraska's offense to get the balance they desire, they need another big day from Armstrong in the zone read and option game.

Last week against Northwestern Armstrong gave NU more than enough in the run game, and they're going to need that type of performance today so Michigan can't put all their focus on running back Ameer Abdullah.

Limit Michigan's explosive plays

Michigan is not a "dink and dunk" drive the field offense. They rely heavily on the big play, and it will be important for Nebraska to make them earn everything they get.

Coming into Saturday the Wolverines have 44 plays of 20 yards or more, and wide receiver Jeremy Gallon and quarterback Devin Gardner are the best big play threat combo in the Big Ten. Garnder will try to find Gallon deep and test NU's safeties. It will be important for the Huskers not to bite on any play fakes.

Make an early statement

Any time you go on the road playing in front of over 100,000 people it's important to strike first. When you look at Michigan going into this game the confidence of both their team and fan base is shaken after a rough showing against Michigan State.

There's a real chance for the Huskers to strike early and put the Wolverines against the wall. If Nebraska can do that they will have a great chance to win this game.

Callahan's weekly predictions

If this game was in Lincoln I'd pick the Huskers to win, but the home field with a freshman starting at quarterback for Nebraska in front of a 110,000 people, along with Hoke's 19-0 record at home are hard things to pick against. This should be a four quarter game, and I think both teams are pretty equal, but the intangible will be the home field.

Michigan 35 Nebraska 27
Wisconsin 37 BYU 27
Minnesota 27 Penn State 23
Iowa 30 Purdue 13
Texas Tech 37 Kansas State 31
Alabama 27 LSU 23

Season Record: 34-14 overall; 27-21 vs. points

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