Yes, Michigan's Team 133 would like to be in control of its own destiny, head coach Brady Hoke said Monday. The Wolverines remain tied with Nebraska in the Legends Division, but a head to head loss in Lincoln means U-M still needs help from either Minnesota or Iowa to have a shot at the Big Ten title game.
Nobody in the locker room, however, seems to give it a thought when the Cornhuskers continue to come up with fortunate bounces and victories.
"They've done a great job," Hoke said. "I never hear anything but 'who's next?' who the opponent is. They know we've got to take care of ourselves. To achieve greatness, you've got to put yourself in position and take care of your business to do that.
"You want to be able to control things you can do, but we do control what we can do. That's why Iowa is so significant."
The Hawkeyes have struggled to a 4-6 record this season, but Hoke sees plenty of potential in the Hawkeyes.
"I know they still run the plays they run, do a great job of blocking them," he said. "Both backs are very capable guys, and James Vandenberg is really a good quarterback. He gave us a lot of fits last year, especially on critical downs. Last year he was only 4 of 12 on third down, and I would think in my mind it would be a lot worse than that."
Senior quarterback Denard Robinson remains day to day with an arm injury, and Hoke again refused to elaborate when asked if he might play.
"He's on the headset. He was trying to get one of the receivers lined up the other day," Hoke said. "Devin Gardner comes off, and they had a conversation. I know late in the game when we needed to get the stop offensively, he was talking to every guy on the offense about keeping them going.
"Anytime a guy cant finish the way they'd like to because of injury or whatever, you're disappointed for them, not just Denard. They are all our sons."
There were a few things that went wrong on Northwestern's kick return for touchdown that came back on a holding call, Hoke said.
"No. 1, you've got to cross face some blocks and we didn't do it on the backside," he said. "We tell them to cross their face, go butt side. We didn't do that. They blocked it decently well. We had a safety in position who needs to be more aggressive on it - lot of different things."
Hoke wouldn't share what they'd do for the seniors in preparation for their last game at the Big House, but he did say it was a special group.
"Just how they come to work every day, how they are as people," he said. "Will Campbell, his approach to the game [is how he's grown]. "You see that in guys who become juniors and seniors. Their focus, mindset, how they prepare, leadership - there's a comfort zone a guy gets because he's been through it and the struggles."
Freshman Dennis Norfleet was in for Jeremy Gallon on a few punt returns due to Gallon's tender ankle, but not at the end. Gallon's 23-yard return gave Michigan a chance.
"Gallon had kind of boo-booed himself up last week. We were just trying to give him a little rest," Hoke said. "We have a lot of faith and trust in him, and he felt good."
Fifth-year senior linebacker Kenny Demens made two of the game's biggest plays in overtime with tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage on third and fourth down.
"The one on the quarterback draw, he did a nice job coming back," Hoke said. "It really was forced nicely from the outside. The guy bubbled it for a minute, then only had a certain area to go. Kenny did a nice job with that.
"On the last play of the game, No. 1, Greg Mattison really gave them something a little different. I think we had run it one other time in the game. When we ran it, it was Trevor Simiean in at quarterback. We gave them a different look, three 'backers in the box. Jibreel Black did exactly what he was supposed to do in forcing the A gap and getting penetration.
"There was only one other way the running back could run the ball. He had to cut it right back into Kenny. Kenny obviously made a terrific tackle and was in the place he should have been. The good thing on the outside of the perimeter, the pitch man was taken care of. Jordan Kovacs was exactly where he needed to be. The quarterback, we had two guys on him."
The linebackers continue to make progress, Hoke said.
"The rotation of the guys has been positive," he said. "Kenny's been productive. Jake Ryan obviously has been pretty productive. As a group, they're very solid."
Freshman end Mario Ojemudia is progressing from his injury. Redshirt frosh Antonio Poole "is coming along," Hoke added, after suffering a season ending injury before the season.
"He's not running or anything yet, but he's doing some conditioning, alternate lifting a lot in the weight room, biking, those kinds of things."