Michigan Wolverines Football: Nebraska's Scott Frost On 'Opportunity To Test Ourselves' Against Michigan
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Nebraska's Scott Frost On 'Opportunity To Test Ourselves' Against Michigan

Nebraska has not posted a winning record in any of fourth-year head coach Scott Frost's seasons at the helm, but the Huskers will have a chance this year, after rebounding from an embarrassing season-opening loss at Illinois to win three out of the next five.

The Huskers have played like a different bunch over the last five weeks, beating Fordham (52-7), Buffalo (28-3) and Northwestern (56-7), and hanging in tough during road losses to No. 6 Oklahoma (23-16) and No. 11 Michigan State (23-20, OT).

Frost and Co. know what kind of opportunity they have with No. 9 Michigan heading to Lincoln for a Saturday night showdown.

“We have talked about it," Frost said of the matchup and what's at stake. "Right now it feels like we are down to three two-game seasons. We have two more games here before the bye week. We have to do the best we can and then we will recover, and then we have two and then we have another bye week.

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Nebraska Cornhuskers Football Coach Scott Frost
Scott Frost has a 15-23 record while coaching Nebraska Cornhuskers football. (USA TODAY Sports Images)

"We still have the opportunity to do something really special this year against some really good opponents. We have to go compete. The guys do not have to be told about the opportunity that is there for them.”

Frost expects a raucous environment at Memorial Stadium and hopes it gives his team an edge.

“I thought Saturday [against Northwestern] was probably the best atmosphere I have seen," Frost said. "I appreciate the fans for that. I think this one could be good or even better. We need noise. We need help. I hope the fans are as excited as we are.”

A win would mark the first victory over a ranked opponent in Frost's tenure and a chance to stay alive in the Big Ten West title race. The moment being so significant is also a product of the challenge that the Huskers are presented with.

In Frost's first season coaching the program in 2018, the Huskers trailed by 39 points at halftime and were blown out by Jim Harbaugh's Wolverines in Ann Arbor, 56-10, but the head man believes his program has grown since then and can prove it with a win Saturday.

“I guess we’ll find out," Frost said after being asked how much improvement they've made in the three years since. "I thought they had a phenomenal team and that they were going to win the league after they went out there. They kicked our butt and we were out-manned in probably nearly every position. We didn’t have much of a chance in that game.

"They have another good team that's very similar to that one. We get an opportunity to test ourselves against a really good team.”

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Michigan ranks sixth nationally in scoring defense, yielding just 12.8 points per game, and 14th in total defense, allowing only 285.8 yards per contest. The Maize and Blue sacked Wisconsin's quarterbacks six times last week and have one of the top edge defenders in the country in junior defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, who poses a big threat to a Husker offensive line that gives up three sacks per game, tied for the 17th-worst mark in the sport.

“Those guys cause havoc," Frost said. "They're hard to block. You go to try and block them outside and then they beat you to the inside. They’re tough to protect against. I think their middle linebacker is really good, too. They’re good across the board, but their edge guys are the guys that really create problems and play for them — and we've definitely got to have a plan for them."

The Maize and Blue will look to get to junior quarterback Adrian Martinez, but he's elusive. Not counting sacks, Martinez has rushed for 518 yards on 63 attempts (8.2 yards per carry), with nine touchdowns (according to PFF). Twenty-one of Martinez's carries have come on scrambles out of the pocket — where he's at his most dangerous — which have gone for 341 yards and two scores.

“They have put up some good numbers," Martinez said of Michigan's defense. "They are a good unit. Fast. Physical. They are going to bring it. I know that is something they pride themselves on. We are ready for the challenge."

The Huskers have recently run more of the triple-option, which gave Northwestern fits last week. Frost trusts Martinez to handle the ball and make the right reads.

“He has come a long way," the coach said. "I like it for the fact that he gets an opportunity to get the ball in his hands without just calling one play for him. He can avoid hits that way. One of the best parts about Saturday, he only got tackled a couple times. Keeping him on his feet is a big part of our success.”

Nebraska Linebacker On Michigan Football's Run Game: 'Bring It On'

Michigan's offensive identity has largely revolved around running the ball, with the Wolverines touting the No. 7 rushing offense in the country at 255 yards per game. While they were a bit more balanced against Wisconsin, rushing 44 times compared to 30 passes, the Wolverines have averaged just 19 pass attempts per contest.

The Huskers know they're going up against a run-heavy attack that is capable of making big plays, with 11 runs of 20-plus yards on the year, which is tied for 11th nationally.

"Bring it on," senior outside linebacker JoJo Domann said. "We understand that. They have big guys up front. They have talent. They have skilled positions. They have good coaches. They are a good program. We are up for the challenge. We understand what it is going to take from us to be ready to perform at a high level.

"That is what this week is about. Back to the fundamentals. Your talent is the floor, but your character is the ceiling in any program. We just have to continue to do the right things on and off the field, let the result take care of itself.”

“That is about how it is every Big Ten game," senior defensive tackle Ben Stille added. "That is what you signed up for, that is why you came here. We are ready for that. I think that will be on the D-line, I think that will be on both sides up front. That is how it is in Big Ten football, not much different than any other week.”

Nebraska has allowed just 15.5 points (13th nationally) and 122.2 rushing yards (44th) per game this season.


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