On a cold, snowy November afternoon at the Big House in Ann Arbor, the Michigan Wolverines did what it took to beat an injury-plagued Nebraska Cornhuskers team. From start to finish it was clear that the Wolverines were the much better team. That play wasn’t sexy, but Michigan put on 412 yards of offense and ran through one of the Big Ten’s bottom feeders en route to an easy 34-3 win.
No team is perfect, and that includes this Michigan squad. The connection between JJ McCarthy and his receivers is still developing despite 10 games having passed. Michigan opened them up and let McCarthy take some shots, but they just didn’t connect. Because of this, McCarthy’s efficiency was a bit off in the first half, when he threw for 91 yards and a touchdown just 6-of-13. Those aren’t bad numbers, just not as noticeable as they could have been. It could have been the weather or the lights or just things not being locked down on the courses, but far too many balls coming out of McCarthy’s hand hit the turf.
However, he found Ronnie Bell in the second quarter to take the Wolverines two points higher:
The running game was dominant against a poor Nebraska defense. Michigan’s offensive line abused the Huskers’ front, and Corum was off to a great start. He was past the century mark in the first half and body punched the Huskers all night. By the end of the game, the Heisman hopeful had 28 carries for 162 yards and this touchdown:
Nebraska’s game plan was just like Michigan’s: slow and steady. But Michigan’s defense was just better. The Huskers had just 104 yards and five first downs in the first half despite having more than 13 minutes of possession. In the second half, they totaled just 43 yards. There was no urgency from Nebraska and its staff throughout the game.
It was almost as if both sides decided to run the ball and milk out the clock. Nebraska was down to its third quarterback after backup Chubba Purdy was injured. An injury to offensive coordinator Mark Whipple in the second quarter likely contributed to vanilla play calling, but it felt like the Huskers conceded before halftime and just wanted to go home.
At the end of the day, Michigan was just going about its business. The Wolverines had more than 10 minutes of possession in the third quarter, and much of that came from a 10-play, 65-yard drive that featured four different running backs carrying the football. Donovan Edwards was limited in that game, leaving Blake Corum, CJ Stokes, Tavierre Dunlap and Isaiah Gash all running for the ball in the third quarter. JJ McCarthy completed the drive and reached the pylon almost untouched for a touchdown:
Nebraska’s defense limited all big plays as Michigan only had three plays of 20+ yards. The problem was that it allowed 5.4 yards per carry to current play in Michigan. If the Wolverines weren’t throwing every down, they were almost never behind the sticks in this one.
A long third-quarter ride in Michigan ended rather oddly. Ronnie Bell made a routine catch and then cast some magic. He kept his feet in check, bowing to a defender and then fumbling the ball as he reached into the end zone. Luckily, Andrel Anthony was there to recover for a bizarre touchdown that gave the Wolverines a 31-3 lead.
There was an injury scare for Mike Morris when he was hit in the leg by a teammate. Luckily, he jogged off the field and then walked around the sidelines. That prompted Jim Harbaugh to bring a number of backups with him on the subsequent Michigan ride. Davis Warren was with the quarterback. Leon Franklin, Dunlap and Gash got some carries. True freshman Tyler Morris had a reception. The last drive was crowned with a 43-yard field goal from Jake Moody.
In the end, the Wolverines stayed healthy and did the job of beating the Cornhuskers. Now they’re shifting focus to the Illinois Fighting Illini, who dropped a thriller against Purdue to earn a second straight loss on their resume.