With the Michigan Wolverines and Nebraska Cornhuskers both coming off of dramatic victories in Big Ten play, this Saturday's matchup will be made all the more interesting to see which team can respond the quickest.
A victory in this one is crucial to both teams' Big Ten conference championship hopes. The Huskers sit just one game behind the Wolverines in the Legends division, which means this is a critical tiebreaker game for both teams.
Here is a closer look at these teams who both have lethal dual-threat quarterbacks in what should be a thrilling conference showdown.
Where: Memorial Stadium, Lincoln
When: Saturday, October 27 at 8 p.m. ET
Watch: ESPN 2
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Betting Line (via OddsShark): Nebraska -2.5
This line makes sense because Michigan's seniors finally beat their bitter rivals Michigan State for the first time in their careers in Week 8. It will likely be easier for the Huskers to return home after a hard-fought road win than for the Wolverines to travel after such a sentimental win in the Big House.
Michigan Injury Report
Brandon Moore, TE (knee) QUESTIONABLE—the senior tight end started the year on top of the depth chart but has missed the past five games. His status for the Cornhuskers game remains up in the air.
Nebraska injury Report
Chase Rome, DT (head) QUESTIONABLE—After departing the team earlier in the season, Rome returned. He didn't play last week at Northwestern, however, because of the injury.
According to ESPN's Adam Rittenberg, senior running back Rex Burkhead is also questionable after aggravating a left knee injury in the Northwestern game.
(Note: Injury information other than the status of Burkhead was found via USA TODAY)
BCS/Top 25 Poll Implications
Michigan crept their way back into the BCS at No. 22 with the victory over the Spartans. Meanwhile, the Huskers are receiving votes for the Top 25 in the new AP poll. So there are ramifications in the rankings as well as the Big Ten championship race.
What They're Saying
Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press captured a quote by Wolverines center Elliott Mealer on Monday, which indicated that Brady Hoke's team literally has their eyes on the prize:
Going into meetings every day, there’s a picture of the Big Ten trophy. It’s a reminder. It may be redundant for (the public), but for us, we love thinking about it, and we have to think about it if, at the end of this season, we’ve accomplished our goal.
Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini said he believes the Huskers can run the table for the rest of the season as long as they play "clean football," according to a report by Herb Gould of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Neither team seems short on confidence, both dismissing any notions of a letdown this weekend.
Nebraska Player to Watch: RB Ameer Abdullah
In filling in for Burkhead, the sophomore running back has performed admirably, rushing for nearly six yards per carry and seven touchdowns. Abdullah will need to continue producing to open up the passing game.
Considering the Wolverines held Michigan State running back Le'Veon Bell to just 2.6 yards per carry, a great game by Abdullah becomes all the more important.
If he can't anchor the potent Husker ground game to keep the Michigan offense off the field, it could be a long day in Lincoln for the home team.
Michigan Player to Watch: QB Denard Robinson
It's impossible not to think of the senior quarterback when thinking of the Michigan Wolverines football program these days. With his unique career continuing to wind to a close, Robinson still has plenty to prove and a bid at a second Big Ten title at stake.
As stellar as the Michigan defense has been for the most part, the team goes as Robinson goes. He must become more consistent with his footwork as a means to improve his accuracy. But with the type of running ability he has, it often doesn't matter whether he has his feet set in the pocket. The threat of the run alone keeps defenses honest enough.
Nebraska gives up nearly 188 yards per game on the ground, which should lead to another huge day for Robinson in that regard. Expect yet another electrifying performance from Shoelace.
Key Matchup: Taylor Martinez vs. Michigan's secondary
The sophomore signal-caller has improved by leaps and bounds as a passer from his first season. Martinez is now the most efficient quarterback in the Big Ten, but he will encounter his sternest test of 2012 in facing the Wolverines.
Senior safety Jordan Kovacs leads an intelligent defensive backfield that is ranked in the top five in the nation against the pass.
It will be up to Martinez to continue making good decisions when he puts the ball in the air. The game plan should center more around the ground game anyway, which is the true strength of this Husker team. That said, critical errors must be avoided against an opportunistic Michigan secondary.
This will be among the most thrilling games of the year, but on the road, Michigan will lose control of their own destiny. It will be a high-scoring affair, but Martinez and Co. will make a statement by holding on to win at home and proving they belong in the Top 25 conversation.
Final score: Nebraska 35, Michigan 34
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