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November 19, 2011

Michigan keys to victory and HOL staff predictions

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - For the second week in a row Nebraska will take their show on the road in front of over 100,000 people.

After a 17-14 win at Penn State last week, the Huskers are trying to make it a November road sweep at Michigan later today.

As things get closer to kickoff, here are today's keys to victory for Nebraska over the Wolverines. NU enters today's game as a 3 point underdog. It's only the second time all year the Huskers have been an underdog this season.

Keep containment on Robinson

This one is pretty obvious for Nebraska. If the Huskers can limit Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson and not let him run wild on them, they have a very good chance to win this game.

I expect NU to keep their defensive ends at home like they did at Virginia Tech against Tyrod Taylor in 2009. If they can keep Robinson in the pocket and make him be a traditional passer that's their best chance of slowing him down.

If Robinson is able to freelance and create plays outside the pocket downfield, he'll be able to find more big plays in coverage breakdowns.

Limit Toussaint's runs

In last week's win at Illinois, Michigan running back Fitzgerald Toussaint had 27 carries for 192 yards and a touchdown.

So much emphasis has been placed on stopping Robinson, but the last few weeks Toussaint has been the workhorse who's carried the Wolverines to victory.

Nebraska needs to limit Toussaint early and be aware of his abilities to cause problems if they don't keep an eye on him.

Execute the option

Michigan has really only seen one team run the option at them this year and that was Northwestern. I think the Huskers have a real advantage in this area because nobody has attacked them with the option in the manner they will.

You are seeing Martinez get more and more comfortable with his reads and pitches. It's taken a whole year for him to get there, but he's finally got the confidence you want to see when running the option.

If the Huskers can run the option successfully today against Michigan, you have to think it will open up several other things in their offense.

Eliminate the drops

The last two weeks Nebraska's wide receivers have dropped eight passes. The bottom line is that number is way too high, especially since most of those drops have come on key money downs.

All week NU's wide receivers have stayed after practice to catch extra balls. They know it's going to be tough to win today if they have three or four drops against Michigan.

Play with swagger

I think it's important you see Nebraska's defense continue to play with confidence and swagger against this Michigan offense.

The Wolverines have only seen one great defense this season when they lost to Michigan State. The Spartans got in Michigan's head early and completely shut them down.

If Lavonte David and Alfonzo Dennard can make some plays early, you have to think it's going to spark things for the Blackshirts today.

Callahan's weekly predictions

This game is really a toss-up, but I like the fact Nebraska knows the stakes they are playing for. I also don't think Robinson is the same quarterback he was early on in the season. I'll take the Huskers today to win in Ann Arbor as an underdog.

Nebraska 27 Michigan 23
Iowa 31 Purdue 30
Ohio State 17 Penn State 9

Season Record: 17-13 overall; 16-14 vs. points



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