Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
While Nebraska’s schedule sets up well, the toughest test of the year will be facing Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich. After Denard Robinson’s injury in Lincoln, Neb. last year, Michigan basically handed the quarterback ropes to Devin Gardner for the remainder of the season. Gardner produced, in amazing fashion. With an entire off-season as the starter to prepare, look for Michigan’s offense to be a sight to behold—rivaling if not surpassing Nebraska’s offense in 2013.
The Michigan-Nebraska game should have a lot of national attention, with the potential for an undefeated Nebraska team to face an undefeated or one-loss Michigan team. It will be a surprise if both teams aren’t in the Top 15, if not the Top 10, in the national polls.
We’ve seen how Nebraska has fared recently in such high-profile games away from Memorial Stadium. Wisconsin in 2011. Michigan in 2011. The Capital One Bowl against South Carolina. Ohio State in 2012. The B1G title game against Wisconsin. The Capital One Bowl against Georgia.
Also, remember that Nebraska’s 10-win season last year had some white-knuckle moments. NU needed miracle comebacks against Wisconsin, Northwestern and Michigan State to salvage victories. While those were exciting, those chickens eventually come home to roost. How many times have we seen a team win all the close games one season, then lose all the heartbreakers the following season?
So if we assume a loss to Michigan, and one other loss (perhaps to Penn State on the road or Northwestern at home) in conference, Nebraska ends the season at 10-2 and 6-2 in the Legends Division. Pretty good, right?
Take a look at Michigan's schedule. Assuming a Nebraska win, Michigan would have to finish the conference season 5-3 for Nebraska to make a return trip to Indianapolis. The Wolverines get the Buckeyes at home, but at this point you’d still have to make Ohio State the favorite.
But Michigan’s home schedule also includes Minnesota, Indiana and Iowa, which should all be wins. Its road schedule is a little hairier, with trips to Penn State, Michigan State and Northwestern. Even so, with Devin Gardner starting, I don’t see more than one loss in that group. That leaves Michigan at 6-2 in the division, and beating Nebraska on a tiebreaker.
So at 10-2 after the regular season, missing the B1G title game and preparing for a bowl game, look for Nebraska to break its string of four-loss seasons under Bo Pelini in 2013—just not quite in the way that most Children of the Corn were hoping for.
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