Each Thursday, WolverineNation will take a look at five storylines for the Wolverines heading into Saturday's game. And this weekend, as the Wolverines hit the road to take on Nebraska, it’ll be a battle of teams fighting at the top of the Legends Division.
1. Denard Robinson making smart decisions. Robinson has played a few smart games in a row, so we’ll see if that trend continues against Nebraska. The Wolverines played it pretty conservative against Michigan State and with the Cornhuskers defense giving up more than 350 yards a game (seventh in the Big Ten) Michigan could allow Robinson to take a few more shots down field this game, though it might not be necessary for the win.
2. Playing on the road. The Sea of Red creates an intense and interesting atmosphere in Memorial Stadium. It should be the most hostile environment the Wolverines have played in so far this season. Noise will be a factor and the Wolverines will have to make sure their communication is clear from coaches to players and players to other players. Michigan coach Brady Hoke has stressed the importance of not turning the ball over on the road and this should be a good challenge.
3.) Defensive line getting pressure. Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez has thrown 15 touchdowns and just four interceptions this season. He’ll be the biggest dual-threat quarterback the Wolverines haved faced so far this season, so in order to keep Martinez in check, pressure from the front four will be imperative. He can scramble and complete passes, so if Michigan allows him to sit back and take his shots, the Michigan linebackers and defensive backs will be forced to do too much.
4.) Keeping Cornhuskers inside and in front. When Michigan takes the field in Memorial Stadium, it’ll be the league’s best pass defense against the league’s most efficient passing offense. With a stout secondary, the Wolverines give up just 142 yards passing a game, while Martinez completes 67 percent of his passes. It should be a great opportunity for Michigan’s defense to show that it can remain statistically impressive against highly functioning passing offenses. Players like Jordan Kovacs and J.T. Floyd will have to step up and set and example for the younger players in the defensive backfield.
5.) Give the defense a place to stand. Nebraska has the third-best red zone offense in the Big Ten. The Cornhuskers have been able to convert on 31-of-35 red zone opportunities (25 touchdowns, six field goals). They’ve also gotten to the red zone more than any other team in the conference. With that kind of efficiency, the Wolverines will want to stop Nebraska before they get to the red zone, or else they might find themselves on the short end of the score.