Nebraska good under the lights
Kenny Bell (Stewart Photography)
Kenny Bell (Stewart Photography)
Associated Press
Posted Oct 27, 2012


Playing at night has been right for Nebraska at Memorial Stadium.

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Playing at night has been right for Nebraska at Memorial Stadium.

The Cornhuskers go into Saturday's meeting with No. 20 Michigan on a 10-game win streak in prime-time home games.

There figures to be some extra energy in the stadium for this one.

Nebraska will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its NCAA-record sellout streak. This will be the 323rd in a row.

And Michigan (5-2, 3-0 Big Ten), the only college program with 900 all-time victories, will be making its first visit to Lincoln since 1911.

"It's going to be loud, and we've got to be prepared for that," Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson said. "We have to be prepared to execute the offense every time we get a chance to get the ball. We have to be road warriors."

The Huskers (5-2, 2-1) fed off their crowd in their last home game, coming back from a 17-point deficit to beat Wisconsin.

They'll take any advantage they can get as they try to corral Robinson and find a way to dent the fast-improving defense of the Legends Division-leading Wolverines.

"I like night games," Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah said. "I feel like the fans really make a difference in a game, especially when we're playing a big team like Michigan."

The Wolverines have lost both their night games. The first was the season-opening 41-14 defeat to defending national champion and top-ranked Alabama in Arlington, Texas. The other was 13-6 at Notre Dame, a game in which Robinson was intercepted four times.

"I think they're used to playing at night," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said of his players. "I don't perceive that being a problem."

Hoke, who brought his Ball State team to Memorial Stadium in 2007, described the Huskers' fans as "emphatic."

Loud is another way to put it, especially at night.

The din discombobulated Wisconsin on Sept. 29.

"I hope it's just as crazy as that night," cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste said.

Nebraska is 36-5 under the lights in Lincoln since the first night game was played there in 1986. Nebraska has won 28 of those games by at least 13 points.

Michigan, with a win, would put two games between itself and second-place Nebraska. The Wolverines finish the regular season with a visit to Minnesota, home games with Northwestern and Iowa and a trip to arch-rival Ohio State.

A win by Nebraska would move it into a tie atop the division and own the tiebreaker over Michigan. The Huskers end with a trip to Michigan State, home games against Penn State and Minnesota and a visit to Iowa.

The Huskers preserved their title hopes alive last week by rallying from 12 points down in the fourth quarter to beat Northwestern.

"You can't afford to lose," safety P.J. Smith said. "That's what our mentality was the other night. Everyone was saying let's go out and win this game no matter what. We're going to have ups and downs but just keeping riding the wave. We can't slip up."

Michigan, coming off a 12-10 victory over Michigan State, has won three straight since losing at Notre Dame. Hoke said he used the bye week that followed to chart the rest of the season.

"Every game's a championship game," he said, "and this falls into that category."

The game will be the second in college football history featuring a pair of quarterbacks with 5,000 yards passing and 2,000 yards rushing in their careers.

Robinson and Taylor Martinez are among just 18 quarterbacks in NCAA history to reach those totals. The only previous such meeting pitted Texas' Vince Young against Missouri's Brad Smith in 2005.

Robinson accounted for four touchdowns and Fitzgerald Toussaint ran for a career-high 138 yards in a 45-17 win over turnover-plagued Nebraska last year.

The Huskers bring in the Big Ten's top offense, at 512 yards a game. Michigan's defense is second in the Big Ten, allowing 286 yards. More impressive, the Wolverines have allowed no more than 13 points in five straight games.

"Watching them on film and watching what they've done so far this year, this will be a big test for us," Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said. "Going on the road and playing an offense like this, we'll kind of see where we're at."

Same goes for Nebraska's offense, which has put up big numbers despite being turnover-prone. The Huskers' 13 lost fumbles are most in the nation.

"I feel like I'll find out a lot about our offense, not just myself," said Abdullah, who probably will start in place of the injured Rex Burkhead. "We've shown some good statistical numbers this year. We've been pretty consistent other than a lot of turnovers. I just want to see our offense go to the next level and play that perfect, clean game."

Hoke, the Wolverines' second-year coach, remembers his Ball State Cardinals putting a fright into the Bill Callahan-coached Huskers five years ago.

Nebraska survived when Hoke's kicker hooked a 55-yard field-goal try wide left in the final seconds after one of his receiver's flubbed what would have been a sure touchdown.

"Got beat 41-40," Hoke said. "Dropped the ball on the 5-yard line."


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