Redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong will make his fifth start as the Huskers' quarterback on Saturday versus the Michigan Wolverines.
In Monday's press conference, head coach Bo Pelini confirmed veteran quarterback Taylor Martinez is still recovering from a series of injuries.
Still no timetable from Bo on a Taylor Martinez return. Add an abdominal strain to his list of injuries. He's out this week.— Mitch Sherman (@mitchsherman) November 4, 2013
With Martinez out, Armstrong will face his biggest challenge yet.
Nebraska travels to The Big House for Saturday's matchup with Michigan.
Armstrong's first start on the road versus Purdue had a few stumbling blocks. Since then, the redshirt freshman has been productive but has also made it clear he is still learning.
Against Northwestern, for example, Armstrong struggled in the passing game. He threw three interceptions, which was his second game to do so.
One of those interceptions was late in the fourth quarter. It could have easily cost the Huskers a win.
Armstrong has the opportunity to turn that all around.
Offensive coordinator Tim Beck is confident. “Tommy didn’t play sharp in the passing game, but he did some really good things in the course of the game,” Beck said, via the Lincoln Journal Star.
Despite some mistakes, Beck is right. Armstrong has had plenty of solid moments in his time as starting quarterback.
However, Michigan will be a different challenge for the redshirt freshman. It will also be a statement game.
The Wolverines come into the matchup after a 29-6 loss to Michigan State.
While the offensive side of Michigan's game struggled, the Wolverine defense held its own. This is an area Armstrong will have to be ready for.
Michigan cornerback Raymond Taylor will be particularly challenging for Armstrong.
Versus Michigan State, Taylor had 12 tackles, an interception and a pass breakup. With Armstrong struggling with interceptions, Taylor could wreak havoc on the young quarterback.
It will require composure. Armstrong has shown he can stay calm under pressure in plenty of situations.
The Big House will obviously be different, however Armstrong has the opportunity to show he can handle it.
Michigan is currently a 6.5 point favorite over Nebraska. Head coach Brady Hoke has also never lost at home in his time as the Wolverines' head coach.
The last time Nebraska stepped into The Big House, the Huskers fell 45-17 at the hands of Michigan. Last season, the Huskers redeemed that loss by winning 23-9 at home.
Will Tommy Armstrong lead the Huskers to a win at The Big House?
One benefit is that the Huskers are currently first in the Big Ten in pass efficiency.
If Armstrong can remember that he is a factor in that and stay calm in the face of adversity, it could be a big game for the young quarterback.
Ultimately, Armstrong still has a lot to prove. While every game prior to now has set him up for success, the Michigan matchup will determine a lot.
If Armstrong can help lead the Huskers to a win in Ann Arbor, the argument for him to be the permanent starter would weigh heavy in his favor. It would also put the Nebraska quarterback position in a good spot going forward.
Saturday's success obviously relies on more than just Armstrong.
Penalties will need to be avoided from the Husker offensive line. Against Northwestern, the fourth quarter had far too many penalties that put Armstrong in a bad spot on multiple occasions.
Against Michigan, the whole Husker offense must work to keep the penalties at a minimum. By doing so, it only sets Armstrong up to be as successful as he can be.
Plus, eliminating second down-and-24s will keep pressure off Armstrong, potentially keeping unnecessary interceptions from being thrown.
All in all, Michigan will be a test for Armstrong. It won't be an easy one either.
However, if the redshirt freshman can fight through it, a statement will be made.