By the Numbers: Game 6 @ Nebraska

2021_04_UM20_Rutgers13_0-23

LAST WEEK RECAP

The players, coaches, and even the fan base are starting to believe in Michigan as a B1G Ten East contender after the Wolverines traveled to Madison and schooled the Badgers 38-17

NEXT UP: @ Nebraska: 22nd, 13.5
PREGAME SP+: U-M by 3.6, Michigan Win Probability 58%

The SP+ model and the Vegas betting lines have converged in Week 6 in regard to Michigan.  There is only a 0.1 point difference in the spread, and a 1 point difference in the O/U total projection.  This spread is narrowed significantly by an adjustment for home field advantage.  We’ll see if Michigan can stay sharp on the road for the second consecutive week.  

Michigan Offense (26th) vs. Nebraska Defense (20th) 

The Wolverines are coming off another clean performance against the SP+ #3 defense from Wisconsin.  The Nebraska “black shirt” defense continues to improve, and manages to keep the Cornhuskers in every game they play.  

Michigan will have to deploy a balanced game plan, but I expect Josh Gattis to start the game by testing the interior of Nebraska’s defense.  The onus will be on the Michigan offensive line to create movement against their DL, and on Cade McNamara to make the correct reads and accurate throws on RPO opportunities behind the linebackers.

Michigan Defense (8th) vs. Nebraska Offense (34th)

On paper, the Michigan defense appears to have another significant advantage over Nebraska’s offensive unit.  One particularly lopsided match up will be on the edges of the line of scrimmage.  Aidan Hutchinson, David Ojabo, and the rest of the “Reapers” who play OLB for the  Wolverines will be too much to handle for the Huskers’ offensive tackles.  That means Scott Frost will be leaning heavily on plays that get the ball out of QB Adrian Martinez’ hands quickly as possible.  

More importantly, I think Nebraska will be extremely dependent on Martinez’ legs to move the ball by running option plays.  Surely Michigan is reviewing the film of Noah Vedral causing problems in the 2nd half of the Rutgers game.  Getting a healthy Josh Ross back into the center of the defense to make the calls and pick up formation tendencies will be a huge boost against Frost’s QB run game.

PREDICTION:  The dynamic of this game is very similar to last week as Michigan prepped for a trip to Madison.  You can add in the challenge of sitting around in a hotel all day waiting for a night game.  The atmosphere and crowd will be much more jacked up for this one.  Also, Adrian Martinez presents a much more dangerous dual threat challenge than Graham Mertz last week.   However, Martinez is prone to taking risks with the ball, and making turnover-worthy mistakes multiple times per game.  

Michigan will also leverage a clear advantage in special teams in this game.  Nebraska dropped their game against MSU specifically because of poor punting and punt coverage.  With all that said, the single largest reason that  I am much more confident that Michigan can bring their best performance on the road is the strength of the player leadership on this team makes a significant difference.  Nebraska’s penchant for making critical errors, and my confidence in Michigan’s ability to stay laser focused in the face of adversity make this feel like another multiple score victory for the Wolverines.

Michigan 33 Nebraska 13 (PRESEASON Michigan 42 Nebraska 23)

MICHIGAN RESUME UPDATE (10/3/21), 5-0

  • SP+ Overall: 8th (same), 19.7
  • SP+ Offense: 26th (↓9), 34.4
  • SP+ Defense: 8th (same), 15.3
  • SP+ Special Teams: 3rd (↑6), 0.6

AP Poll: 9th (↑5), 1,053

Coaches’ Poll: 8th (↑6), 1,125

CFP Rank: N/A

U-M Resume after Game #5

About Clint Derringer

@clint_derringer on Twitter U-M B.A. Sport Management & Communications ‘05 U-M M.S. Program & Project Management ‘18