Nebraska picked up a big road win in the final minutes at Northwestern last week and now welcome Michigan and Denard Robinson to Lincoln for the first time in 101 years with first place in the division on the line in the Big Ten.
Like Nebraska, Michigan also picked up a last second win in their game last week when they got a Brendan Gibbons field goal with seconds remaining on the clock to down in-state rival Michigan State.
Each team has had their fair share of ups and downs in the first half of the season, but knows they must play their best football down the stretch to advance to the conference championship game for a right to the Rose Bowl.
All attention Saturday will be on both team’s dual-threat quarterbacks. Taylor Martinez is the focal point of the offense for Nebraska and Robinson is one of the best rushing quarterbacks to grace the fields in college football history, and can reach the 1,000 rushing mark on the season with 100 yards Saturday night.
Nebraska was riding high in their first year in the conference heading into the meeting between the two royalties in college football with an 8-2 record, but left Ann Arbor 8-3 following a 45-17 drubbing at the hands of the Wolverines.
What can spell trouble for Nebraska’s top ranked rushing attack and scoring offense in the Big Ten is that Rex Burkhead may be held out after aggravating a knee injury at Northwestern, and Michigan boasts a top ten total defense.
Greg Mattison has done a yeoman’s effort putting together a defense that ranks fourth in pass defense and 16th in points allowed per game and since the season opening loss to Alabama, the Wolverines defense has showed their teeth and are limiting teams to less than ten points a contest and have done ever better in conference limiting opponents to just under eight points a game.
Martinez struggled mightily in the loss last year in the Big House, and will likely be without Burkhead, but Ameer Abdullah can fill in admirably for Burkhead, and I think Nebraska will be able to crack the Michigan defense.
To me the real question is which Robinson shows up.
The one that gives opposing defenses fits and makes scintillating runs into the end zone that take the breath away from everyone in the stands, or the one that sails passes over the heads of his would-be receivers and can’t hit water if he fell out of a boat.
Michigan is 1-2 on the road this season and Robinson has thrown six interceptions to just two passing touchdowns in those three games, but at home he has thrown for seven and three in four games.
The stats should have me leaning toward taking Nebraska in a tight one, but I think Robinson and the Michigan defense have what it takes to edge Nebraska and for the second week in a row will do so with a last second field goal.
Michigan wins 23-21
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Patrick is a diehard Chicago sports and an avid college football fan, and host of “The Wake-up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com airing live on Wednesday mornings from 8-10. View his show’s website here.