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Noon Kickoff: Michigan vs. Nebraska

It’s fun to focus on the two high-profile quarterbacks, but both are equally hit or miss. The key should be the two gentlemen in the backfield with them. Rex Burkhead has been a tank for Nebraska, consistently grinding out yardage against even the Big Ten’s toughest run defenses. Fitzgerald Toussaint, finally healthy, has been the explosive back Michigan has been looking for the past few weeks, going for more than 170 yards two of the past three weeks.

Greg Mattison has Michigan back to playing Michigan defense, except for the part about not bothering to game-plan for the spread offense because it’s for twinks and communists. This year, Michigan is 40th in yards allowed per play. Last year, they were 98th. As we mentioned yesterday, Michigan’s red zone performance may be another pivotal factor. Michigan has scored just 73 percent of the time in the red zone against Big Ten opponents and a touchdown just 52 percent of the time.

Smart Football’s SRS tends to correlate well with the betting lines. It would have Michigan as a 4.5 point favorite.

There’s some history between Michigan and Nebraska. The teams shared the 1997 title (though a Michigan would point out Michigan won the only trophy both teams were eligible to win). They also faced off in the 2005 Alamo Bowl. This play still drives me nuts. If Tyler Ecker looks over his shoulder and pitches it to Stevie Breaston running behind him, that’s a touchdown.

[Photo via Getty]

 

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