ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Michigan is looking to play a full 60 minutes of dominant football this weekend against Nebraska after a string of games that stayed close until after the half.
You’ve probably seen this stat by now: Michigan has outscored opponents 100-3 in the second halves of its last four games.
The Indiana game was tied 10-10 at the half, Penn State was only down two points, Michigan State stayed within six, and Rutgers even took a lead into the break.
But in all four instances, Michigan responded emphatically after halftime, most recently outscoring Rutgers 38-0.
This weekend, the Wolverines are hosting a Nebraska team that has lost three games in a row and will be without its starting quarterback. Casey Thompson has thrown for 2,023 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions this season, so his absence is a major loss for the Cornhuskers.
Coming in as a 31-point favorite, Michigan is hoping to make a statement before finishing the regular season against two teams ranked in the College Football Playoff committee’s top 25: No. 21 Illinois and No. 2 Ohio State.
Despite the weak non-conference schedule and a couple of close halftime scores, the Wolverines have risen to No. 3 in the poll. They’re one of only four undefeated teams in the nation and trying to improve to 10-0 for the first time since 2006.
Last season, Michigan got a scare at Nebraska and escaped with a three-point win. This year, the Cornhuskers come into Ann Arbor with their bowl hopes hanging by a thread.
Nebraska fired head coach Scott Frost after a 1-2 start to the season and has since lost four of six games. With a defense that allows 4.51 yards per rush (99th nationally) and 7 yards per pass attempt (55th), Nebraska is sure to see a heavy dose of Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards on Saturday.
Offensively, even with Thompson, the Cornhuskers ranked 39th in yards per pass attempt and 83rd in yards per carry. Either Chubba Purdy or Logan Smothers will have a chance to inject some life into that group against a Michigan defense that ranks third against both the run and the pass (in terms of yards per attempt).
Jim Harbaugh has his team competing for a playoff spot late into November for the fourth time in eight seasons. While the last few weekends have seen contenders such as Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma State, and Tennessee falter, the Wolverines keep winning and climbing the rankings.
Everyone has their eyes on the Nov. 26 matchup with Ohio State, but first, Michigan wants to prove it can look like a championship contender for two halves, not just one.