Friday, November 18, 2011

Michigan can make statement against Nebraska

The weather figures to be raw when Michigan welcomes Nebraska to the Big House on Saturday for the teams' first meeting in Big Ten play, and seventh overall.
It could be precisely the kind of November-in-the-upper-Midwest setting in which Michigan has thrived over the years, in seasons when the Wolverines would pounce on, say, Purdue, Illinois or Ohio State to stamp itself an elite team.
Windy. Chilly. Cloudy. Perfect for tough-guy football.
Is Michigan up to the challenge?
The Wolverines have not had a Big Ten game this meaningful in a long time, perhaps not since the November 2006 clash with Ohio State, when OSU and U-M were ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the country.
Nebraska is 4-2 in the Big Ten, 8-2 overall, the same records as U-M.
The Cornhuskers, who won at Penn State last week, are ranked No. 17 in the writers poll, No. 16 in the coaches poll. Michigan is ranked No. 20 and 18, respectively.
After three disappointing seasons during Rich Rodriguez's tenure as coach, Michigan is poised to snare an attractive bowl invitation, provided the Wolverines can defeat the Cornhuskers, or Ohio State next week, or both teams.
Michigan allowed 37 rushing yards at Illinois last week, a performance that rekindled memories of when defense was a U-M staple.
Can Michigan continue its habit of fourth-quarter surges behind quarterback Denard Robinson?
Coach Brady Hoke's Wolverines have outscored opponents 97-35 in fourth quarters this season.
They might need that kind of late-game edge to subdue the Cornhuskers.


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