“We wanted to earn it”.
That was the common quote throughout the week for Nebraska’s defense. In the end, they did.
Nebraska held Michigan to just three field goals and holding their potent offense to just 188 total yards in a 23-9 win.
With the win, Nebraska takes the lead in the Legends Division of the Big Ten conference and regain an identity seemingly lost two weeks ago… Blackshirts.
“It feels good right now”, defensive end Eric Martin says while wearing his Blackshirt during post-game interviews. “It gave us motivation”.
Martin finished the night with six tackles and a sack, his 9th of the year.
The biggest story of the game came in the second quarter. Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson would go down with a hand injury following a first down run to the Nebraska 8-yard line. He would try on several occasions to get his hand moving again and throw a football.
Frustrated and wearing his coat for the rest of the second half, he would not return to the game. Robinson finished 6-11 in passing for 55 yards and rushing for 46 yards.
With Robinson out of the game, Michigan’s offense became anemic without their offensive leader. Russell Bellomy stepped in for Robinson, Nebraska’s defense went from containment to blitzing packages – and licking their chops.
Nebraska would hold Michigan to only 52 total yards of offense in the second half and scored 10 points off three interceptions from P.J. Smith, Damion Stafford and Stanley Jean-Baptist.
Dropped interceptions plagued Nebraska all season long. It was something they worked at all week in practice (push-ups or laps for each drop) – and it paid off.
“For a while there, I was thinking we didn’t have anyone on the defense who could catch after last week with the five drops”. Head coach Bo Pelini says.
Pelini had high praises for David Santos (10 tackles) and Sean Fisher (7 tackles), saying they both played well. Overall, he called the defensive performance a good team effort.
“That’s a good offense, it stresses you in a lot of different ways. Even when Denard was in there, I thought we played well. I thought we did a good job of containing him”.
On the offensive side of the ball, Pelini called the performance inconsistent.
I thought we left some points out there”, Pelini says. “At times, we looked really good. At times, we had some missed opportunities”.
Both Pelini and offensive coordinator Tim Beck credited quarterback Taylor Martinez (14-24 passing for 166 yards, one touchdown and one interception) for controlling the tempo of the offense and game management. The speed of the game caught Michigan’s tout defense off guard on several occasions, including Martinez’s 32-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Kenny Bell in the second quarter.
“We really used our tempos to our advantage. You can’t do that if the quarterback’s not able to handle it and manage it the right way”.
Penalties have been a problem all season for the Huskers, tonight was no different. Eight penalties for 104 yards, including two 30-yard penalties of pass interference and unsportsmanlike conduct in the third quarter… leading to a Michigan field goal.
Robinson was not the only one with injury. Nebraska Redshirt freshman Taariq Allen went down on the opening kickoff with an apparent right leg injury. He was helped up, carted off the field and did not return. Beck had no status update on Allen after the game.
The focus turns to Michigan State, something that’s also plague Nebraska in the past. After a big win and Blackshirts being passed out, the team will look to avoid another let-down in year’s past. When asked how this team will prevent that, Ciante Evan’s answer was simple – work hard and stay focused. huskersmichiganrecap