Saturday, October 27, 2012
Instant analysis: Nebraska 23, Michigan 9
By Adam Rittenberg
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Three weeks after getting blown out at Ohio State, Nebraska has rallied to take control of the Legends division. The Huskers beat a Michigan team playing without star quarterback Denard Robinson in the second half, receiving big performances from their defense and enough offense from Taylor Martinez and Co.
It was over when: We didn't know it at the time, but Michigan had very little chance to win after Robinson aggravated a right elbow injury late in the second quarter. He did not return and backup Russell Bellomy misfired on his first 11 pass attempts and threw three interceptions. Nebraska officially put it away when Ameer Abdullah scored from 12 yards out on a nice cutback run to put the Huskers up two touchdowns with 10:19 to play.
Gameball goes to: Nebraska running back Abdullah. While several defenders stepped up for the Huskers, Abdullah provided the boost Nebraska needed on offense as it played without star senior Rex Burkhead (knee). Abdullah showed tremendous quickness and vision, racking up 101 rush yards and a touchdown on 24 carries.
Stat of the game: Michigan failed to score a touchdown for the second consecutive game. The Wolverines last reached the end zone on a Thomas Rawls run with 6:01 left in their 45-0 win against Illinois on Oct. 13.
What Michigan learned: As good as the Wolverines are on defense, they can't win without Robinson, at least not now. Robinson accounts for too much of the offense and too much of the game plan. Bellomy was put in a tough spot but looked completely overmatched against an aggressive Nebraska defense. If Robinson is out for an extended period, Michigan will have a tough time remaining in the division race.
What Nebraska learned: The Blackshirts are starting to show up against spread offenses. After keeping Northwestern at bay, Nebraska's defense held Michigan in check, even before Robinson's injury. The Huskers still make too many mistakes, but they seemed to have turned a corner since the Ohio State debacle, and Martinez has played well the past two games. The Big Ten is up for grabs, and Nebraska might be right there to take it.
What it means: Nebraska and Michigan are tied atop the Legends division at 3-1, but the Huskers hold the all-important head-to-head tiebreaker. Bo Pelini's team can take a huge step toward locking up the division next week as it visits Michigan State, which has dropped three games at home this season. Michigan, meanwhile, must hope Nebraska falters at least once in order to get to Indianapolis.