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3 Thoughts on Nebraska’s 32-29 Loss to Michigan

October 09, 2021

Disconcerting signals? Joint possessions?

Nebraska-Michigan got weird late into Saturday night. But an Adrian Martinez fumble with under two minutes remaining in a tied game all but sealed a wild Husker loss as Jake Moody kicked a 39-yard field goal to seal Michigan’s 32-29 win at Memorial Stadium. Michigan, ranked No. 9, stays unbeaten at 6-0, 3-0 in Big Ten play.

Nebraska (3-4, 1-3 in Big Ten) is headed to Minneapolis next Saturday to play Minnesota (3-2, 1-1). The Gophers will be coming off a bye week and were idle on Saturday.

These three thoughts will have nothing to do with the officiating. That’s for you to discuss with friends over a cold one. Without further ado, here are three thoughts:

Frost called a heck of a game

Not much went right offensively following that opening nine-play, 78-yard drive, didt it? The rest of the first half resulted in 19 plays for just 55 yards. Like Frost said on Thursday, the team that fell behind and had to pass probably wasn’t in a good spot—but he was wrong. His offense had answers when it needed them, and the pass was a big part of it. The Huskers threw for over 250 yards in the game.

First, Nebraska snuck in a 46-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Adrian Martinez to Austin Allen on a nice fake run that cut the deficit to 13-7 in the third. When Michigan answered with a touchdown, Frost’s offense did, too, with a clever 41-yard pass from Martinez to Rahmir Johnson to put the put the Wolverine lead to 19-14.

After Deontai Williams picked off Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara, the Wolverines trailed for the first time this season when Martinez lobbed a pass to Levi Falck, who sprinted into the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown. Nebraska then retook the lead when Martinez ran for a 5-yard score to put his team on top 29-26.

Nebraska outscored Michigan 22-6 in the third. Frost drew up some awesome plays that worked against a really good defense. Give credit where credit is due.

Good on Frost to go on fourth-and-2 from the 3

Nebraska was faced with a fourth-and-2 from the Michigan 3-yard line on its first drive of the game. Frost decided to go for it instead of taking an easy three points, but didn’t get it as Martinez was stoned by safety Brad Hawkins for a loss of 1 yard and a turnover on downs.

Frost’s decision to go for it will be debated, especially when it came early in a game where points were going to come at a premium. Hindsight is 20/20 of course, but it was the correct call to try pounding your way into the end zone for six—let me explain.

This was a massive game in Frost’s tenure in Lincoln. A top-10 opponent was in your house. It was a chance to make a statement. To send a message. To be aggressive. Memorial Stadium would’ve erupted and the moment would’ve punched Michigan and Jim Harbaugh right in the mouth.

If you’re Nebraska, you go for it in that situation. If you don’t get it, your defense that’s been playing lights out has a Michigan offense on its own 4-yard line.

Now, I will say this: the Husker offense needs to be more diverse in the red zone and on the goal line.

Damion Daniels is having the season of his life, and Cam Taylor-Britt had his best game

Nebraska’s big nose tackle, Damion Daniels, is incredibly important to this program and defense, and he had a hell of a game Saturday night when everyone knew there was going to be a war in the trenches.

In the first quarter, Daniels fought through a block and made a one-armed tackle on one of the best running backs in the Big Ten, Blake Corum. Then in the second quarter, he helped turn a 10-0 Husker deficit into 6-0 when he changed the original path of Michigan’s left guard on a goal-line run, which resulted McNamara tripping and touching his knee on the turf before he could hand the ball off to running back Hassan Haskins. Michigan had to settle for a field goal after that, keeping it a one-score game instead of two.

As for Taylor-Britt, he had three pass breakups, one of which saved a touchdown in the first half. He also covered a ton of ground while tracking down Corum on a third-down screen play that would’ve gotten big yardage. Taylor-Britt has been up and down this season, but on Saturday night he had his best game.

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