ANN ARBOR, MI - NOVEMBER 19: Denard Robinson #16 of the Michigan Wolverines celebrates a 45-17 victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Michigan Stadium on November 19, 2011 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Michigan Vs. Nebraska: Wolverines Blow Out Cornhuskers, 45-17

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Michigan Vs. Nebraska Final Score: Wolverines Dominate In 45-17 Win

Eleven games into the season, the Michigan Wolverines put together the type of performance that Brady Hoke and his coaching staff has surely wanted to see all year long.

Michigan dominated on both sides of the ball, a dual effort that resulted in a surprisingly dominating 45-17 win over Nebraska at Michigan Stadium on Saturday.

Denard Robinson threw for two touchdowns and ran for another pair, while racking up 263 yards of total offense. Michigan’s quarterback looked like the sort of double threat that many hoped he could be all season. Overall, Robinson completed 11-of-18 passes for 179 yards, while throwing an interception in the second quarter. He also rushed for 84 yards on 23 carries, which was important against strong Nebraska pass coverage.

The Wolverines moved the ball well on the ground, too. Fitzgerald Toussaint continued his breakout season, rushing for 134 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries. Several times, Toussaint made Nebraska defenders look silly with sharp cuts to change direction. He also showed strong balance, staying upright after taking some hard hits.

But the most impressive aspect of Michigan’s win was the performance of its defense.

Quoting Lou Holtz is probably never a good way to go, but as he said during halftime of the ESPN telecast, if Rich Rodriguez had this kind of defense, he’d still be the head coach of Michigan. Of course, he never came close to putting together a good defensive staff or roster, which is one of the major reasons he’s an analyst for CBS College Sports this year.

Greg Mattison’s defensive game plan worked wonderfully against the Nebraska offense, with well-timed blitzes that rattled Taylor Martinez throughout the game. But the Michigan defensive line also deserves most of the credit for pushing hard off the line of scrimmage, giving the Cornhuskers little room to run.

Nebraska compiled 256 yards of total offense on the day. Rex Burkhead, who rushed for 130 yards against a presumably better Michigan State defense, managed only 36 on nine carries. Martinez added 51 yards.

Michigan was also helped by excellent play on special teams.

The Wolverines recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half, eventually converting that into a touchdown and 24-10 lead. A fake field goal on a 4th-and-2 from the Nebraska 6-yard line resulted in a first down. Robinson ran for a one-yard touchdown on the next play. Michigan recovered another fumble on a kickoff early in the fourth quarter, but weren’t able to capitalize on that Nebraska mistake.

With the win, Michigan improves its record to 9-2. Beating Nebraska also helped Michigan State to clinch the Legends Division championship and a bid in the Big Ten’s championship game. Up next for the Wolverines is Ohio State to close out the season..


Michigan Vs. Nebraska Score: Wolverines Lead 31-17 After 3rd Quarter

Michigan looked to have its game versus Nebraska well in hand as the third quarter neared its end. However, a cleverly designed triple-option play in which quarterback Taylor Martinez handed off to tailback Rex Burkhead, who then pitched the ball to a trailing Ameer Abdullah, resulted in a touchdown that drew the Cornhuskers to a two-touchdown deficit.

The Wolverines lead the Cornhuskers 31-17 after three quarters of play in Ann Arbor.

Michigan scored two touchdowns in the third quarter. After Nebraska fumbled the second-half opening kickoff, the Wolverines ran off an eight-play drive completed by a one-yard scoring run by Denard Robinson to extend the lead to 24-10.

The Wolverines’ special teams made another big play on the following possession by Nebraska, blocking a punt by Brett Maher and recovering the ball at the 50-yard line. Five plays later, Michigan moved the ball to the Nebraska 6-yard line.

It looked like Michigan would have to settle for a field goal after failing to covert a 3rd-and-1. But the Wolverines called a fake field goal and Drew Dileo ran for five yards and a first down. On the next play, Robinson rushed for a one-yard touchdown and a 31-10 lead.

But Nebraska’s score just before the end of the quarter kept them in the game, but a two-touchdown lead looks pretty strong for Michigan as the fourth quarter begins. The Wolverines have the ball as the final 15 minutes begin.


Michigan Vs. Nebraska Score: Wolverines' Defense Helps Establish 17-10 Halftime Lead

Michigan fans have to be happy with the effort of their team’s defense in the first half against Nebraska.

The Cornhuskers have accumulated only 125 yards of total offense and 60 yards rushing against a strong Wolverines defensive effort. Nebraska only got five first downs in the first half and was 0-for-5 on third down.

Quarterback Taylor Martinez hasn’t had much room to run against Michigan’s front seven, along with well-timed blitzes called by defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. Overall, Martinez has rushed for 35 yards on eight carries. Perhaps more impressive is holding Rex Burkhead – who ran over the Michigan State defense a few weeks ago – to only four yards on four carries.

Michigan’s secondary has also done a nice job covering downfield, giving Martinez nowhere to throw the football. He’s completed 3-of-7 passes for 65 yards and a touchdown. But 54 of those yards came on one play, a 54-yard scoring pass to Brandon Kinnie that cut the Wolverines’ lead to 10-7 late in the first quarter.

On the offensive side, Denard Robinson has moved the ball effectively against the Nebraska defense. Robinson has struggled a bit in the passing game, due largely to excellent coverage by the Cornhuskers’ secondary. In the first half, he completed 6-of-11 passes for 98 yards and a touchdown, along with one interception.

Robinson has been more of a threat running the ball, as offensive coordinator Al Borges has called for more designed option runs. But perhaps more encouraging is that Robinson has tucked the ball in and run on several plays when he had no open receivers to throw to. Overall, he’s rushed for 76 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Fitzgerald Toussaint has added 51 yards on 13 carries.

Nebraska will get the ball to begin the second half.


Michigan Vs. Nebraska Score: Wolverines Lead 10-7 After 1st Quarter

A 42-yard Brandon Gibbons field goal is the difference between Michigan and Nebraska after the first quarter in Ann Arbor.

Gibbons’ field goal — a career-long kick for him — capped off what initially looked like another touchdown drive for the Wolverines, who were moving the ball well on the ground. But Nebraska had excellent coverage on a pass play, and Denard Robinson was sacked while trying to find an open receiver, moving the ball back to the Cornhuskers’ 25-yard line.

Robinson has been a dual threat thus far, completing 4-of-7 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown. The score came on a six-yard pass to Jeremy Gallon. Robinson has also rushed for 44 yards on six carries. Perhaps most encouraging is that he’s run on a couple of plays when no receiver was open.

Nebraska cut Michigan’s 10-0 lead to 10-7 late in the quarter on a 54-yard touchdown pass from Taylor Martinez to tight end Brandon Kinnie. Play-action drew in the safeties and linebackers, leaving Kinnie in single coverage. The much bigger Kinnie mowed over cornerback J.T. Floyd and he trotted in for an easy score.

Michigan has the ball to begin the second quarter, starting from their 23-yard line.

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