Another Big Ten matchup is on the menu this weekend, and it will feature two dual-threat quarterbacks once again.
What a shocker, right?
Denard Robinson will lead his 5-2 Michigan Wolverines, a team that has won three straight, into Memorial Stadium to take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers. There will be a lot on the line in this matchup, as the winner will become the front-runner to walk away with the Legends Division, which will guarantee a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game.
The good news for Wolverine fans is that Robinson is a quarterback that won't be stopped in this matchup, giving Michigan a huge advantage heading into it.
The formula to stopping the senior quarterback is real simple: Load up the box, keep containment on the outside, force him to beat you with his arm and make him pay with a vicious hit every time he tries to hurt you with his legs. This is what Alabama did in the season opener, it is what Michigan State was able to do throughout his career and it is what Notre Dame did earlier in the season.
And while that sounds simple, it really hasn't been for the other teams that have played Robinson. It especially won't be an easy task for a team that has had trouble against dual-threat quarterbacks in the past, such as Nebraska, the team Robinson will feast on this weekend.
UCLA freshman quarterback Brett Hundley was able to rush for 55 yards against the Cornhuskers, including a 20-yard run in just his second career start. Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller managed to rush for 186 yards against this defense a couple of weeks ago, which is now his new career high.
The truth is that the Cornhuskers haven't been great at stopping the run, which is bad news when facing an elusive athlete such as Robinson. Nebraska currently ranks 10th in the Big Ten, allowing 187 yards on the ground. It has also allowed 11 runs of over 20 yards, is allowing over four yards a carry and has allowed at least 140 rushing yards in five of the first seven games.
Robinson has not been the same quarterback that started the season throwing four combined interceptions in the first three games. He has only thrown one interception in the last three games and has been on a tear running the football, looking more like the quarterback everyone grew to love over the years.
He has 900 rushing yards through the first seven games and is averaging over seven yards a carry, which is the highest in his four-year career. He has been held to under 100 rushing yards in just three of the first seven games but has followed each of those performances with a triple-digit rushing performance. That is bad news for Nebraska, considering Robinson was held to just 96 yards on the ground against Michigan State last week.
Who wins the Big Ten showdown?
In last year’s game against Nebraska, Robinson finished with one of his best performances of the year. Sure, he only had 86 rushing yards, but he finished the game completing 61 percent of his passes and producing four touchdowns in the victory over the Cornhuskers.
Robinson hasn't been consistent at all throwing the football this season, but he has turned to his legs to bail out his team and himself like he has done throughout his career. He is finding the holes in the offensive line and taking advantage of defenses that aren't remaining disciplined.
After all, remaining disciplined and knowing your assignment is the key to slowing Robinson down. Just ask Nick Saban (according to Andrew Gribble of AL.com):
You got to be very disciplined any time you play a quarterback that can move between the tackles. Saban said. Everybody has to be disciplined as far as their responsibility. The guy's already a fantastic athlete, so if you're not doing the right thing, you have no chance to succeed. Even if you do it exactly right, it still may be a challenge. Everybody's got to play with great effort, great intensity, great toughness and everybody's got to play team defense when you play against guys like this.
Robinson was able to have an effective game against a more athletic defense in Michigan State last week, a unit that released the blueprint on how to stop the electrifying signal-caller. He should be able to work his magic against a less talented unit and a team that has had trouble in stopping running quarterbacks all season long.
Note: All stats come from cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted.