Ann Arbor, Mich. - In a game dominated by the defenses, it was late heroics by Ameer Abdullah and Tommy Armstrong Jr. that propelled the Huskers to a come-from-behind fourth-quarter win in a 17-13 victory at Michigan on Saturday.
With the victory, Nebraska improved to 7-2 overall and 4-1 in the Big Ten. The Huskers snapped Michigan's 19-game home winning streak and stayed within striking distance of Big Ten Legends Division leader Michigan State. The Wolverines slipped to 6-3 overall and 2-3 in the conference.
Nebraska's win also set up a showdown with the Spartans next Saturday in Lincoln that could have major Big Ten title implications. Michigan State will come to Memorial Stadium 5-0 in the Big Ten and 8-1 overall. Kick-off against the Spartans will be at 2:30 p.m. with regional coverage by ABC in the Big Ten region and ESPN2 outside the Big Ten region. The time and TV information was set following NU's win at Michigan
Abdullah's five-yard touchdown plunge off a forward option pitch from Tommy Armstrong Jr. capped a clutch 75-yard drive that took more than six minutes. Abdullah's second touchdown of the day gave the Huskers a 17-13 lead, and the Blackshirts made it hold up.
Abdullah's gutsy run after the catch capped NU's comeback and was his only reception of the day. The junior I-back was brilliant on the ground again, cutting his way to 105 yards on 27 carries for his eighth 100-yard rushing performance of the season. He also pushed his way past 1,200 yards on the year. He rushed five times for 14 yards on the winning drive while adding his five-yard touchdown catch.
Armstrong, who finished the day 11-for-19 for 139 yards through the air, was brilliant on the winning drive, going 5-for-7 for 59 yards. He hooked up twice with Kenny Bell for 38 yards on the 14-play march. Armstrong added two rushes for seven yards on the drive, including a one-yard sneak on 3rd-and-1 early in the possession.
Defensive end Randy Gregory made a key third-down tackle of Devin Gardner in the Michigan backfield on the ensuing drive, before defensive back Josh Mitchell helped break up Gardner's fourth-down pass with a minute left to give the Big Red another big win.
Gregory and the Blackshirts wreaked havoc on Gardner and the Michigan offense all day long, notching 15 tackles for loss and a season-high seven sacks. It was the second straight game the Wolverines surrendered seven sacks, including last week's Michigan loss to rival Michigan State and the vaunted Spartan defense.
Nebraska's 15 TFLs went for 57 yards in losses, while the seven sacks threw Gardner back 43 yards. Those huge numbers sent Michigan to a negative rushing total for the second straight week, as the Huskers held the Wolverines to minus-21 yards rushing.
Gregory did the most damage for the Blackshirts, posting a career-high three sacks for 14 yards lost on Gardner. Zaire Anderson added a pair of sacks for 15 yards lost, while senior defensive tackle Thad Randle added one sack, as did defensive end Avery Moss.
While the Blackshirts made Michigan completely one dimensional in limiting the Wolverines to 175 yards of total offense, Abdullah powered the NU rushing attack. The Huskers finished with 128 yards on the ground, including 105 from Abdullah, while adding 145 passing, including 139 from Armstrong, who improved to 5-0 as the Big Red starter.
Senior Quincy Enunwa led the Big Red receivers with a career-high seven receptions for 69 yards, while Bell added three catches for 44 yards.
Nebraska jumped to a quick 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, before being shut out by the Wolverine defense for three full quarters until the game-winning score.
Michigan mustered a second-quarter field goal, before scoring on the opening drive of the second half to tie the score at 10. The Wolverines took a 13-10 lead on Brendan Gibbons' 40-yard field goal that hit the right upright and bounced through with 8:08 left in the game.
Armstrong then engineered the decisive 14-play drive to send the Huskers back to Memorial Stadium as the victors. Nebraska managed just 273 yards of total offense against a stingy and aggressive Michigan defense.
Final: Nebraska 17, Michigan 13
Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013
Michigan Stadium (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
First Quarter (NU, 10-0)
NEB - 8:09 - Pat Smith 21 FG, 9 plays, 44 yards, 3:16, NEB 3-0
NEB - 2:50 - Ameer Abdullah 8 run (Smith kick), 8 plays, 56 yards, 3:00, NEB 10-0
Second Quarter (NEB, 10-3)
MICH - 11:47 - Brendan Gibbons 27 FG - 13 plays, 66 yards, 6:03, NEB 10-3
Third Quarter (10-10)
MICH - 9:56 - Devin Funchess 5 pass from Devin Gardner (Gibbons kick) - 10 plays, 75 yards, 5:04, 10-10
Fourth Quarter (NEB, 17-13)
MICH - 8:08 - Gibbons 40 FG - 4 plays, 3 yards, 1:55, MICH 13-10
NEB - 2:03 - Abdullah 5 pass from Tommy Armstrong Jr. (Smith kick) - 14 plays, 75 yards, 6:05, NEB 17-13
Final: Nebraska 17, Michigan 13
Time of Game: 3:04
Game Start: 2:36 p.m. (central)