Preview: Michigan at Nebraska

Preview: Michigan at Nebraska

October 8, 2021
Adrian Martinez

Michigan is #7 in rushing offense (255 yards/game) and #12 in yards per carry (5.57) despite not running the ball very well the past couple weeks against Rutgers and Wisconsin. Last week Michigan managed just 112 rushing yards on 2.55 yards per attempt, and that was a game in which Michigan did not suffer any sacks. Nebraska is #44 in rushing defense and allowing 3.67 yards per carry, which is a middling #54 nationally. While they allowed FCS Fordham to average 4.61 yards per carry, the Cornhuskers buckled down and held Michigan State to just 71 yards and 2.37 yards a pop a couple weeks ago. Sophomore inside linebacker Luke Reimer (6’1″, 225) is their leading tackler with 51, while sophomore outside linebacker Garrett Nelson (6’3″, 245) leads with 8.0 tackles for loss.
Advantage: Michigan

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Michigan is #111 in passing yardage (181.8 yards/game) but #16 in passing efficiency. They don’t throw much, but their overall numbers are good. There have been rumors about wide receiver Roman Wilson being injured, but he is supposed to be available after an upper body injury. Quarterback Cade McNamara is completing 61.7% of his passes with 5 passing touchdowns; he has 0 turnovers and has only been sacked 1 time this season. Leading receiver Cornelius Johnson averages 24.5 yards per catch and has 3 touchdowns on just 10 total receptions. Defensive, Nebraska is #43 (199.8 yards allowed/game) and #38 in passing efficiency defense, allowing 6 touchdowns but making 5 interceptions. The leading interceptor is senior safety Deontai Williams (6’1″, 205) with 2 picks. They’re tied for #60 in sacks, led by Nelson (2.5) and outside linebackers JoJo Domann (6’1″, 230) and Pheldarius Payne (6’3″, 260) with 2.0 each. Michigan probably won’t throw a ton, but they should be fairly productive when they do chuck it.
Advantage: Michigan

Michigan is #33 in rush defense (115.2 yards allowed/game) and #31 in yards allowed per carry (3.31). Middle linebacker Josh Ross leads the team with 32 tackles, but the team doesn’t make tackles for loss at a very hgih rate (#77 nationally with 5.4 per game); even that number is boosted by the sacks generated by Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo. Schematically, Nebraska’s offense is what I wish Michigan’s was in regard to its motions, formations, personnel usage, etc. Of course, Michigan doesn’t have the right quarterback to do the stuff Nebraska is doing with Taylor Martinez. But this offense with Michigan-level players could be a lot of fun to watch. Nebraska has run for 235.5 yards per game, which is #14 nationally, and they average 4.94 yards per carry, which is #33. Martinez runs the ball a lot (80 times so far) for 5.15 yards per carry and has 9 touchdowns on the season. The running backs are just so-so and look better since Martinez draws so much attention. Lead back Rahmir Johnson (5’10”, 185), a freshman, has yet to top 100 yards on the season (a high of 76 yards) and averages 4.2 yards per attempt.
Advantage: Nebraska

Michigan is #16 in passing defense (170.6 yards allowed/game) and #27 in passing efficiency defense. Hutchinson has 5.5 sacks and Ojabo has 3.5, and those two lead a squad that is #37 nationally in sacks. On the back end, Michigan’s cornerbacks have allowed some short passes but have generally disallowed long completions, and safety Daxton Hill has had some hit-or-miss trends. He covers well but still gets beat downfield at times; however, he’s also great at coming up on underneath routes and putting pressure on the quarterback when called upon. Nebraska is rearranging its offensive line this week, which may not be a great thing when going up against Hutchinson and Ojabo. They are #121 in sacks allowed (3.0 per game) even though Martinez has great speed and quickness to get away. Sometimes the line just collapses and he has nowhere to go. The Cornhuskers are #39 in passing offense (266.5 yards/game) and #25 in passing efficiency. Martinez is completing 66.7% of his throws for 9.8 yards per attempt, 6 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Senior wide receiver Samori Toure (6’3″, 190) has caught 23 passes for 483 yards and 3 touchdowns, and he has topped 100 yards three separate times. If Michigan’s pass rush can confuse the refurbished offensive line, this is advantage Michigan, but I think the Wolverines are going to give up a couple big plays.
Advantage: Nebraska


  • Nebraska players offered by Michigan include: OL Bryce Benhart, DT Ru’Quan Buckley, S Marquel Dismuke, TE Thomas Fidone, WR Kamonte Grimes, S Tyreke Johnson, WR Omar Manning, WR Oliver Martin, RB Markese Stepp, CB Cam Taylor-Britt
  • Nebraska players from the State of Michigan include: DT Ru’Quan Buckley (Godwin Heights), LB Chris Kolarevic (Traverse City St. Francis), LS Camden Witucki (Grand Blanc)
  • Nebraska WR Oliver Martin started off his career at Michigan, transferred to his home state school Iowa, and then transferred to Nebraska


  • Michigan beat Nebraska 56-10 in 2018
  • WR Ronnie Bell’s first career catch was a 56-yard touchdown from Dylan McCaffrey
  • FB Ben Mason ran 6 times for 18 yards and 3 touchdowns
  • Nebraska QB Adrian Martinez completed 7/15 passes for 22 yards and 1 interception


  • Michigan 34, Nebraska 28

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