No game to this point of the season has had as big of an impact as we are about to witness in Lincoln, Nebraska. This game has major bowl implications, as the winner puts itself in prime position to play for the Big Ten Championship and compete for a spot in the Rose Bowl.
The Cornhuskers have one loss in conference play right now and will be looking to add a blemish to Michigan's perfect conference mark.
Here are the keys to the game.
The Wolverines are looking very strong heading into this key match up, especially on defense, allowing less than 10 points per game against conference foes. Taylor Martinez and company will bring a lot to the table to challenge that.
1. Score Early
Yes, last week was the biggest win of the season for Michigan. But it was all field goals, and that's not very mainstream for a team featuring a player like Denard Robinson. My suggestion: learn the hipster ways and go against the flow of last week.
And they need to come early. Our Wolverines are a second half team, but that doesn't mean we need to consistently throw unhealthy amounts of stress on fans and coaches. Scoring early will take that weight off the chest and allow this offense to really open back up against a less-than-average Nebraska defense.
2. Focus On Martinez
First of all, this should be a key to the game for any team that has to line up on the other side of Taylor Martinez. Let's get that out of the way. Second of all, it will be especially important this week because RB Rex Burkhead is questionable right now. So you have to assume that, even if he sees time on the field, he won't be 100%.
Through the past couple of weeks, the Michigan defense has done an exceptional job of keying on the X-factor. Against Illinois, it was Nathan Scheelhaase. Last week against Michigan State, it was Le'Veon Bell. Now the threatening eyes of Jake Ryan and Jordan Kovacs need to turn their attention to Taylor Martinez.
Stop Martinez; stop Nebraska.
The Cornhuskers desperately need a win over Michigan in order to establish some confidence heading forward. If it were to all end today, Michigan would represent the Legends Division in Indianapolis, and Nebraska would wait at home to be selected by a bowl.
1. Limit Big Plays
When I say "big plays" I'm not necessarily talking about an 80-yard pass for a touchdown. I'm talking about the third down conversions and the sacks and big punt returns and so on. The plays that swing momentum before the score.
It's been a trademark of this football team under Brady Hoke to constantly come up with a timely anything that drastically changed the course of the game. For the Wolverines, those plays usually come on the defensive end, but we've seen it both ways.
If you allow the Wolverines to consistently make big plays, you take the crowd right out of the factor, and that's your first advantage as the home team!
2. Use Ameer Abdullah
I don't know about any of you, but I certainly wouldn't want to guide a one-headed monster against the Michigan defense. I'm trusting Bo Pelini feels the same way. That meaning -- use the weapons around Taylor Martinez to attack what is arguably the best defense in the Big Ten.
As I mentioned above, Rex Burkhead is questionable. Big hit for the Cornhuskers. But they have this one RB named Ameer Abdullah, and he's having a nice season for Nebraska. With 615 rushing yards, Abdullah leads the Cornhuskers in that category, and he needs to be an outlet for Martinez in this game.
I was surprised to see Michigan labeled an underdog in this one. Fortunately, I'm a little more sane in my thinking. I'll take the Maize and Blue, 24-14. Remember, I'm perfect so far.