The Michigan Wolverines were looking to keep their Big Ten title hopes alive with a win at home over the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Saturday. They were also looking to rebound from a tough loss against the Michigan State Spartans last week.
The Wolverines’ offense struggled last week against a tough Spartan defense, but that was nothing new for them. Their offense has struggled for most of the season. The offensive line cannot get into a rhythm because coach Brady Hoke keeps switching it up, which in turn causes problems for quarterback Devin Gardner because he does not have any protection and is continually pressured by opposing defenses.
It also does not help Gardner that the running game cannot get going and he essentially has to be that for them, as well as fronting their passing game.
Those same offensive struggles continued against the Cornhuskers. The Wolverines were held to just three points in the first half. They could not get into the end zone until the third quarter, when receiver Devin Funchess caught a touchdown pass from Gardner. The Wolverines took their first lead on a 40-yard field goal with 8:08 left in the game, but then allowed the Cornhuskers to convert on fourth down on their ensuing drive, which was a 75-yard drive that resulted in the game-winning touchdown.
Gardner was continually pressured, completing just 18 of 27 pass attempts for 196 yards and the one touchdown to Funchess. The Michigan running game was nonexistent once again. They registered negative rushing yardage for the second week in a row with -21 yards. Most of that came from the pressure that was put on Gardner that resulted in negative yardage. He had -32 rushing yards.
The Michigan running backs, Derrick Green and Fitzgerald Toussaint, could not get anything going and combined for 17 rushing yards. The Cornhuskers’ defense held the Wolverines’ offense to just 175 total yards. This was Michigan’s first home loss in 20 games under Hoke. Their hopes of winning a Big Ten title are gone as well for the first time since 2004.
It does not look as if Michigan is going to solve their offensive issues anytime soon. They just need to finish out their season as best they can and hope they can get into a decent bowl game. Maybe next season holds more hope for the Wolverines.