Nebraska vs. Michigan: Huskers Open as Underdogs Against Wolverines
Photo Credit: Rick Osentoski - USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska vs. Michigan: Huskers Open as Underdogs Against Wolverines

September 17, 2018

Nebraska opened as an 18-point underdog for its Sept. 22 trip to Ann Arbor to face No. 19 Michigan.

The Huskers (0-2) are coming off a 24-19 home loss to Troy and will be looking to avoid the first 0-3 start since 1945.

Michigan, on the other hand, is 2-1 and has outscored its last two opponents 94-23. The Wolverines opened the season with a 24-17 loss on the road against a ranked Notre Dame team but have rebounded nicely since.

After throwing it 36 times in the opener, the Wolverines have attempted 36 total passes in the two games since. Against Western Michigan and SMU, Michigan has run for 505 yards and five scores at a 6.7 yards-per-carry average. The Wolverines had 58 rushing yards on 33 attempts in the opener.

Nebraska hasn't started its season the way it hoped under new head coach Scott Frost, but the upcoming Big Ten opener presents an opportunity to right the ship. A win would be the first against a ranked opponent since Sept. 17, 2016, and the first such win on the road since Nov. 12, 2011. 

Despite the start, the coaching staff still thinks Nebraska is on the right track. The Husker offense ranks third in the conference in rushing yards per game and fifth in total offense. The biggest question mark leading into the game will be the health of quarterback Adrian Martinez, the engine that made that offense work in Week 1. 

Martinez missed Saturday's game against Troy and though the Huskers still put up 364 yards of offense with backup sophomore Andrew Bunch, things didn't look the same. Martinez was a game-time decision leading into the game and will likely have his status updated during Frost's weekly press conference on Monday. 

After Saturday's game, Frost said Martinez wasn't ready.

"He actually looked really good in warmups, but we were just worried about it," Frost said. "Look, he’s going to be here a long time, and our decision will be made based on his long-term health more than anything. That wasn’t an option.”

With the Huskers' backs now against a wall, Frost was asked if his group is the kind to fight back against adversity.

“When I got here, I heard that last year that’s not what happened. This year, that’s not the sense I get from them. The sense I get from them is they want to be great. The effort they’ve been giving us leads me to believe they want to be great," he said. "We have a tough game next week, and this will get worse before it gets better but it’s always darkest before the dawn. I know where this is going, so I want every guy in that locker room to be on board.” 

The Wolverines rank fourth in the Big Ten in scoring defense (15.7 points a game), sixth in run defense (121.7 yards a game), third in pass defense (154.7 yards a game) and ninth in turnover margin (even). They rank third in the conference in scoring offense (37 points) but Nebraska is averaging more total offense a game.

The meeting will be the 10th all-time between the two programs, with the all-time record standing at 4-4-1. The last time Nebraska played Michigan on the road, it beat the Wolverines 17-13 in 2013. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. CT. The game will be carried on FS1.

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