NCAA Football

Three Nebraska players to watch against Michigan

It’s the 10th game of the season for the Michigan Wolverines this weekend as they host the Nebraska Cornhuskers at the Big House.

Nebraska has completely missed expectations yet again this year. They took a step in the right direction by firing Scott Frost just three weeks into the season after a loss to Georgia Southern. They’ve been 2-4 since then, including three straight losses to Purdue, Illinois and Minnesota. They have to win to be eligible for the bowl.

That means this week against Michigan, the Huskers are playing for their lives. Unfortunately, it looks like they will be without quarterback, Texas Transfer Casey Thompson, due to an injury. There are still some diamonds in the rough on the Nebraska roster and if they want to keep things close, the following players will have to stand out.

RB Anthony Grant

The Big Ten is full of great running backs, and Anthony Grant is certainly in that conversation. He is in the top five in the conference in yards (858) and attempts (177). The downfall is that he is averaging just 4.8 yards per carry.

Junior is the focal point on offense, especially without Thompson in the center. Last week, Grant had 21 carries for 115 yards, the best day he’s had since his Week 4 win over Indiana. He will need a special performance against one of the best defenders in the country to keep this game close.

Grant is a really physical back that wears you out during a ball game. See this playthrough in the Rutgers game:

He’s a stocky 1.75m, 90kg back who has made a difference in every game the Huskers have kept close.

Michigan’s physique up front is like nothing the Huskers have seen this season, and the Wolverines should be able to make him a non-factor in this game. But if they don’t, this game might get closer than it should.

WR Trey Palmer

In any game that’s been a shootout this season, wide receiver Trey Palmer was the guy the Cornhuskers picked. If Michigan slows Grant down in the running game, expect Palmer to get a ton of targets.

In the loss to Purdue a few weeks ago, Palmer put in video game numbers with eight touches for 297 total yards and two touchdowns. For the year, he accounts for a third of Nebraska’s receptions and yards. We’ve all seen these Michigan corners burned in the deep ball over the past few weeks, and Palmer is the guy to watch in that department:

Since Purdue’s game, an emphasis has been placed on the Cornhuskers wideout, as he has only had six receptions for 38 yards in the last two games. A new quarterback won’t help in Palmer’s case. Still, he’s a guy Michigan will have to slow down to secure victory.

Edge Garrett Nelson

Rutgers brought physicality up front last Saturday by passing down and JJ McCarthy took a beating for it. If there’s one guy in this Nebraska defense who can keep that up, it’s junior Garrett Nelson.

Nelson is the heart and soul of their defense. In Nebraska’s three wins this season, the Husker’s top runner has had a combined 22 tackles and all of his 4.5 sacks. The problem is that he hasn’t kept up that production consistently. Those 22 winning tackles equate to half of his tackles this season. In his six losses, he has a total of 23 tackles.

Michigan’s offensive tackles have been hit this season, and left tackle Ryan Hayes just lost last week against Rutgers. Jeffrey Persi was excellent at the relief and may have to do it again against another talented runner if Hayes isn’t ready to return.

A pass block recovery game is slated for the Wolverines and they will need to show they can tighten things up before heading to Columbus in a few weeks. A strong performance against Nebraska will help build some pre-game confidence.

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