No. 3 Michigan’s win probability started at 96.9% and never dropped below 96% on Saturday en route to a 34-3 win over the Huskers in Ann Arbor. There was no game-changing or even game-sealing play, it was simply all Wolverines from start to finish.
With that in mind, we’re going a different direction with this week’s Play of the Game and highlighting the play of a young Husker with a potentially bright future who left everything he had on the field on Saturday.
Ernest Hausmann’s sack is this week’s Play of the Game.
Nebraska went into halftime trailing 17-3 after a late field goal from the Wolverines, still within striking distance if the offense had been able to, well, do anything at all. The Wolverines got the ball first in the third quarter with a chance to stretch the lead to three scores.
Michigan methodically moved the ball down the field, running on six of its first seven plays and gaining a total of 31 yards down to the Nebraska 48-yard line. Then the Wolverines turned to the passing game on second down as J.J. McCarthy failed to connect with Ronnie Bell.
That set up a third-and-5. Michigan sent out 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end, three wide receivers) and Nebraska responded with its package featuring one defensive lineman, three edge rushers, two linebackers and five defensive backs. Michigan lined up with two pass catchers to either side of the formation and Nebraska had seven defenders at the line of scrimmage.
On the snap, McCarthy dropped back looking to pass. The offensive line held up for the most part, though Garrett Nelson did start to break through, and McCarthy bailed from the pocket and rolled out to his left. Nebraska initially sent six rushers, but Hausmann bailed to drop back in coverage in the flat.
With Quinton Newsome and Malcolm Hartzog covering the two receivers on the left side of the field, Hausmann decided to abandon the flat and rush McCarthy once again as the quarterback crossed the hash marks. Hausmann showed excellent closing speed, grabbing on to McCarthy around the legs as he tried to avoid the rush and pulling him down for his first career sack.
The loss of 3 knocked the Wolverines back to the 41-yard line and forced a punt.
Unfortunately, the Huskers had to punt the ball right back and Michigan capitalized on that possession with a touchdown, then added 10 more points in the fourth quarter as the Husker offense continued to struggle.
However, Hausmann tied Luke Reimer for the game-high in tackles with 10, eight of which were solo. He had 26 total tackles in his first nine games including 12 solo.
This season has been a bit of a roller coaster ride for Hausmann. He played just nine snaps on defense in the opener, then started the next two games against North Dakota and Georgia Southern in place of Nick Henrich. With Henrich back for the Oklahoma game, Hausmann returned to the bench, playing 19 snaps on defense. He didn’t play on defense at all the next two weeks then was second in snaps while coming off the bench against Purdue because of injuries to Henrich and Luke Reimer. He’s now started the last three games.
“It’s one of the things you have to go through and learn though as the season goes through,” Hausmann said. “As I have more time, more plays and snaps, you gain that confidence each time.”
Hausmann has made plenty of mistakes this season and has had his fair share of missed run fits and missed tackles, but he’s also a true freshman who’s been thrown into the fire on a struggling defense and has flashed the athleticism that intrigued the coaching staff. The in-state product out of Columbus wasn’t the most highly-touted of Nebraska’s 2022 recruits, but he’s made an impact in year one.
“It means a lot to play for this team, this program, this coaching staff,” Hausmann said. “We all put a lot of work in this offseason, through this year. Just being able to represent Nebraska and this program means a lot to me.”
There wasn’t a lot to get excited about in Nebraska’s loss at the Big House, but Ernest Hausmann’s performance qualified, and that’s why his third-quarter sack is this week’s Play of the Game.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.