ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Michigan football picked up another businesslike victory over the weekend, physically dominating Nebraska in all phases of the game.
Nobody is talking about the Nebraska-Michigan game because, well, there isn’t much to talk about. The Wolverines only completed eight passes for 129 yards, didn’t have many explosive plays, and performed as expected on defense.
Michigan scored seven points in the first and third quarters and 10 points in the second and fourth quarters while slowly squeezing the life out of the Cornhuskers.
Blake Corum rushed for 162 yards, but never gained more than 12 on a single carry. While flashier teams around the country were throwing for huge yardage totals, Jim Harbaugh awarded 15 carries to the trio of C.J. Stokes, Tavierre Dunlap, and Isaiah Gash.
Is it fair to say this was a boring game? I think so. But that doesn’t mean it should go unappreciated.
Michigan’s defense nearly pitched a shutout: One roughing the passer penalty allowed Nebraska to get into field goal range in the second quarter, and that was it.
The Cornhuskers fans at Michigan Stadium had very little to cheer about, as a Casey Thompson-less offense managed just 2.6 yards per rush, 3.7 yards per pass, and 146 yards of total offense.
Excluding sacks, Michigan ran the ball 46 times for 272 yards -- an average of 5.9 per carry. It’s the same recipe this team rode to the College Football Playoff last year, and the one Harbaugh will rely on to try to make a return trip next month.
Michigan approached Saturday like a team that knew Nebraska had no chance. From the opening kick, Nebraska’s backup quarterbacks were overmatched, and the Wolverines had no problem handing the ball off to Corum over and over for as long as it worked.
Turns out, it worked the whole time.
Michigan scored on six of nine drives without even pretending to open the playbook. Whether it was Corum, Stokes, Dunlap, or Gash, the Wolverines were content to hand the ball off and keep the clock moving.
For all of Nebraska’s issues, it’s still a respected Big Ten brand. For Michigan to win so easily and effortlessly -- well, it says a lot about the current state of both programs.
Nebraska isn’t supposed to be out-gained by 266 yards, or lose the first down battle 27-8, or get blown out by 31 points against an opponent that openly gave up on passing the ball.
This is what Michigan did to Penn State last month, and to Michigan State two weeks ago, and to Rutgers in the second half. It’s not sexy. It’s old-fashioned dominance in all three phases of the game.
Everyone wants to fast forward to the Ohio State game on Nov. 26, but in the meantime, what Michigan is doing against the rest of the conference is pretty special.