In a battle of what many thought were the two best Legends Division teams on paper, Michigan is set to host Nebraska on Saturday afternoon on national television. Michigan State has raced ahead of these teams in the division race, but there's more than just pride on the line -- especially for Nebraska.
The Huskers will be without Taylor Martinez yet again, as he was ruled out early in the week due to lingering toe issues (and let's be clear -- it's virtually impossible to play Nebraska's brand of QB with bad turf toe). As such, freshman Tommy Armstrong gets the call again, and while Armstrong wasn't the QB who led the Huskers back on that miracle hail mary drive (that was third-stringer Ron Kellogg III), he's the quarterback of the future in Lincoln.
Rankings and records: Michigan and Nebraska have both tumbled out of the Top 25 in recent weeks. Michigan sits at 6-2 (2-2) on the year, while Nebraska is 6-2 (3-1). Michigan holds a 4-3-1 all-time lead in the series, but it's 2-2 in games played in the last 50 years, including a split of two bowl games.
Vegas: Michigan is a 7-point favorite, according to OddsShark.com. The over/under opened at 57.5.
Weather: It's Michigan in November, so don't be surprised to hear the weather should be in the 40s, overcast with a chance of rain. Even if it stays dry, there should be a stiff breeze from the south all day.
Three names to know
As mentioned above, Nebraska is going back to Tommy Armstrong at quarterback as Taylor Martinez continues to heal from the foot injury that has dogged him throughout his senior season. Armstrong is still a freshman and still terribly raw as a passer, but he has exhibited flashes of brilliance in the option game and continues to improve week to week.
Michigan defensive end Jake Ryan is still rounding back into form after suffering an offseason ACL tear. He's still rotating in, but the more Michigan can get him on the field, the better, especially with an athlete like Armstrong trying to come off that corner.
When Michigan's got the ball, keep an eye on WR Jeremy Gallon, who has dominated in the Wolverine passing attack this season, logging 50 catches, 898 yards and seven scores on the year. Gallon won't floor anyone with his size at 5'8, but he's lethally agile, especially in the open field, and should have no problems transitioning to a slot role in the NFL.
Two things at stake
In the Big Ten, there's a pretty substantial drop-off in bowl quality from the Outback (third pick) to the tandem of the Buffalo Wild Wings and Gator bowls (sharing the fourth and fifth pick), and both Nebraska and Michigan are right on the cusp of that Outback spot. Whoever loses this game will still only have three losses, but that might be enough to push that team onto the third tier of Big Ten bowls.
In terms of the Big Ten Championship, Michigan is virtually out of that race, as it needs to win out and have Michigan State lose out. That's technically possible, but not plausible. Meanwhile, Nebraska still controls its own destiny, as it sits only a game behind the Spartans with the two teams yet to play. Nebraska has to win this game first, though, otherwise it'll also need a Sparty collapse down the stretch.
How to witness
TV: This game kicks off at 3:30 ET (2:30 Central, Nebraska's time) on ABC nationwide. Sean McDonough, Chris Spielman and Shannon Spake are on the call.
Radio: The Michigan Sports Network radio stations are here (scroll down), and Nebraska fans can listen to their team on the Husker Sports Network. As with all Michigan home games, this game will be on Sirius/XM as well.
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