Some Nebraska fans still think their team was better back in 1997. I am not one of those fans. You may remember that year when Michigan and Nebraska both went undefeated but in the end it was Michigan who was crowned national champs, much to the dismay of Cornhusker Nation. I remember all the Nebraska fans back then saying that Crouch, Buckhalter, Wistrom and Mike Brown were better than Griese, Tai Streets, Dhani Jones and Heisman trophy winner Charles Woodson. I wish those two could have squared off in one final game that year, man that would have been epic.
So that little flashback brings us to Saturday in Ann Arbor where there will be, oh ya know, just a shade under 110,000 fans clad in maize and blue looking for a big W. Both of these teams still have an outside shot at playing in the inaugural Big Ten Championship game but would need help from Indiana who travel to East Lansing to face the Spartans at noon on Saturday. Michigan would actually need Sparty to lose both their remaining games while winning out to make it based on their current tiebreaker situation. The Huskers who have the tiebreaker over Michigan State would need just one loss from the current Legend Division leaders while winning out to progress to the conference title game.
If you know Michigan you know that if Denard Robinson makes plays the Wolverines usually have the edge and can sometimes kick it into another gear when he’s really on. On the other hand though when teams can stop him from breaking those big elusive runs Michigan more often than not looks no better than mediocre on offense. Bo Pelini (Ohio State graduate) knows this all too well “”He can beat you and do a lot of different things. This guy, you watch him on film, he’s fun to watch. I won’t get a lot of sleep this week. There are times he’ll make three, four, five guys miss on a play.” If the Huskers defense can quiet the crowd early with a few big plays, look for them to capitalize on those types of momentum shifts on the road in a hostile environment.
For Nebraska their story is eerily similar in regards to their own talented quarterback Taylor Martinez. The sophomore from Corona, California has generated almost 2,500 total yards so far this year when you combine his passing and rushing numbers. Last week in a game where all eyes were on him at Penn State he played well enough to win and limited his mistakes against a really tough Nittany Lion defense. Look for a heavy dose of the run when Nebraska has the ball to set up some designed shots down the field against what most could consider to be a weak Michigan secondary.
Late in the year it’s all about winning the tough games against conference rivals. Brady Hoke and Bo Pelini are certainly going to be gunning for this one with only two to play. Even though this rivalry is new after Nebraska’s recent addition to the Big Ten, fans like myself and others who are old enough to remember will be harkening back to the late 90′s when these two teams were at the top of their game. I still think Michigan would have beat that Cornhusker team and there’s nothing you can say to change my mind.