Nebraska and Michigan will be a B1G Rivalry
The Cornhuskers and Wolverines look to stay alive in the Big Ten Legends race.
By: Patrick Snow | 11/16/11, 3:46 PM EST
Nebraska and Michigan stand at 8-2 overall and 4-2 in the Big Ten, and the Cornhuskers still have an outside chance in the Legends division if they can win in Ann Arbor and wait for Michigan State to lose in its final two games. Technically, the Wolverines could still win the division if the Spartans lost both of their final two, but that’s very unlikely with Indiana and Northwestern left on the MSU schedule. Nebraska and Michigan split in their last two meetings — bowl games after the 1985 and 2005 seasons — and have not played in the regular season since 1962. Both traditional college football powers have exciting running quarterbacks in NU’s Taylor Martinez and UM’s Denard Robinson, and Saturday’s game should begin an exciting Big Ten rivalry for years to come.
Who wins: Nebraska at Michigan?
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
This is probably one of the toughest games of the week to predict and I’ve probably gone back and forth on my pick a couple of times. I’m going to take Nebraska to win a close game in Ann Arbor. Michigan has been solid all year against the run, which makes it important for Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez to have a good day through the air to open up rushing lanes for running back Rex Burkhead. If Martinez struggles, the Cornhuskers are going to be in trouble. Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson has been banged up, but is expected to play. One bit of positive news for the Wolverines has been the play of running back Fitzgerald Toussaint. With his emergence, there’s less pressure on Robinson to produce on the ground. Considering both teams are relatively equal, winning the turnover battle is going to be crucial in this game. The Wolverines and Cornhuskers are still in the mix to play for the Big Ten title. However, a loss on Saturday will likely end their hopes of winning the Legends Division.
Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden)
The question surrounding Michigan's 2011 Big Ten title aspirations has always been the line of scrimmage. Can the hog mollies in the trenches hold their own against the bigger, more physical teams in the conference — e.g., Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Iowa? Despite dramatically improved line-of-scrimmage play, Michigan has not beaten a team that is strong at the point of attack all season (with the possible exception of the Notre Dame miracle). The Huskers power rushing attack, led by the wildly underrated Rex Burkhead, will lean heavily on the Wolverines' D-line that allowed Marcus Coker (132 yards, 2 TD) and Edwin Baker (167 yards, TD) to run wild in its two losses. Nebraska wins the first of what should be many memorable divisional battles between the Big Red and the Maize and Blue.
Hail to the Victors. Michigan will knock off Nebraska at the Big House this weekend. Tied for second in the Legends Division, these two teams are eerily similar — both enter with an 8–2 overall record, 4–2 mark in the Big Ten, exciting dual-threat quarterbacks (U-M's Denard Robinson and NU's Taylor Martinez) and run-oriented offenses ranked 12th (NU's 232.7 ypg) and 13th (U-M's 231.3 ypg) in the nation in rushing, respectively. Coming off a wrist injury, Robinson will need to be in top form in order for the Wolverines to continue their unbeaten (6–0) record this season at Michigan Stadium. In U-M's two losses this year, at Michigan State (28–14) and at Iowa (24-16), Robinson has completed a combined 42.6 percent of his passes and averaged a paltry 159 passing yards, 49 rushing yards and two total TDs per game. In the seven wins Robinson has started this season, he has completed 57.0 percent of his passes and averaged 185 passing yards, 110 rushing yards and three total TDs per game. As he has been his entire career, Denard X. will be the X-factor on Saturday against the Blackshirt defense.
Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
This is a tough game to pick, but I’ll go with Michigan to win a close one at home over Nebraska. Neither team has a particularly strong run defense this season, but the Wolverines’ group seems slightly stronger. The Huskers have struggled with dual-threat quarterbacks this year, and UM’s Denard Robinson should have a big day if healthy. If Robinson’s wrist becomes an issue, then advantage Nebraska, but I think D-Rob and the suddenly productive Fitzgerald Toussaint will prevail over the NU running duo of Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead. With the Huskers having to travel for a second straight Saturday, I’ll take the Wolverines at home, 27-24.
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