Lincoln - The Nebraska Blackshirts mustered their best defensive effort of the season, holding Michigan to just 166 total yards and no touchdowns in a 23-9 victory over the No. 20 Wolverines at Memorial Stadium on Saturday night.
Playing in front of the NCAA-record 323rd consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium and an ESPN2 national television audience, the Huskers improved to 6-2 overall and 3-1 in Big Ten play, while dropping Michigan to 5-3 overall and 3-1 in the conference.
In a game controlled by the defenses, Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez engineered the game's only two touchdown drives in his head-to-head duel with Michigan dual-threat quarterback Denard Robinson.
Nebraska jumped to a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter after managing just one first down in the first quarter. The Huskers opened the second quarter by flying down the field on six plays against the vaunted Wolverine defense. Martinez went 5-for-5 passing and had two carries for two yards to have a hand in all 87 yards on the drive. The Huskers capped their six-play scoring drive on Martinez's 32-yard scoring strike to Kenny Bell with 13:17 left in the first half.
After a trio of Brett Maher field goals in the third quarter pushed Nebraska's lead to 16-9 through three quarters, Martinez sealed Nebraska's first win over the Wolverines in Lincoln with a three-play, 47-yard drive capped by I-back Ameer Abdullah's 12-yard run over the left end. Martinez set up Abdullah's eighth rushing touchdown of the year with his own 29-yard sprint over the right side.
Martinez finished the game with 14 carries for 58 yards, while completing 14-of-24 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown. He also threw one interception on an outstanding play by Michigan's Mario Ojemudia.
Abdullah produced his fourth 100-yard rushing performance of the season with 24 carries for 101 yards and a score. Abdullah rolled up 85 yards after halftime, while 36 of Martinez's rushing yards came in the second half.
For the game, the Huskers produced 326 total yards, including a season-low 160 rushing yards on 41 carries against a Michigan defense that had not allowed 100 rushing yards in a Big Ten game. Michigan managed 188 total yards, including 95 rushing yards and 93 passing yards. The Wolverines went just 9-of-27 passing with three interceptions.
Redshirt freshman linebacker David Santos led the Blackshirts up front with a team-high 10 tackles, including six solo stops. The Spring, Texas, native entered the game with six total tackles on the season.
Stanley Jean-Baptiste recorded Nebraska's final of three interceptions off Wolverine reserve quarterback Russell Bellomy with a leaping grab in the end zone with 6:54 left in the game. Martinez, Abdullah and the Huskers ran out the clock from there, marching to the Michigan 33 before taking a knee to end the game.
Nebraska's decisive drive to open the fourth quarter was set up by Daimion Stafford's interception of Bellomy. The Huskers turned their first two interceptions in 10 points.
Following Nebraska's first touchdown drive, Michigan cut the Husker lead to 7-6 with a pair of Brendan Gibbons field goals on drives quarterbacked by Robinson. But on 2nd-and-7 from the NU 15, Robinson rushed over the left side where he was tackled by Baker Steinkuhler after a seven-yard gain good for a first down. Robinson landed awkwardly on his right arm and did not return.
Bellomy, a 6-3 freshman, lost one yard rushing and threw a pair of incomplete passes as Michigan settled for a 24-yard Gibbons field goal. At the point Michigan entered the game, the Wolverines had produced 144 yards on 34 plays. Over their next 22 plays, Michigan managed just one yard but trailed by just a touchdown heading into the fourth quarter.
Nebraska returns to Big Ten road action for the third time in the past four games, when the Huskers take on Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 3 in East Lansing, Mich. Game time is set for 2:30 p.m. (CT) regionally on ABC and will also be shown on ESPN2.
Final: Nebraska 23, No. 20 Michigan 9
Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012
Memorial Stadium (Lincoln, Neb.)
First Quarter (0-0)
Second Quarter (NEB, 7-6)
NEB - 13:17 - Bell 32 pass from Martinez (Brett Maher kick) - 6 plays, 72 yards, 2:04, NEB 7-0
MICH - 8:21 - Gibbons 52 FG - 10 plays, 44 yards, 4:50, NEB 7-3
MICH - 2:38 - Gibbons 24 FG - 10 plays, 67 yards, 4:34, NEB 7-6
Third Quarter (NEB, 16-9)
NEB - 11:48 - Maher 19 FG - 4 plays, 2 yards, 0:42, NEB 10-6
NEB - 8:41 - Maher 51 FG - 4 plays, 5 yards, 1:38, NEB 13-6
NEB - 4:43 - Maher 31 FG - 9 plays, 57 yards, 3:05, NEB 16-6
MICH - 0:42 - Gibbons 38 FG - 8 plays, 58 yards, 4:01, NEB 16-9
Fourth Quarter (NEB, 23-9)
NEB - 10:19 - Abdullah 12 run (Maher kick) - 3 plays, 47 yards, 1:13, NEB 23-9
Final: Nebraska 23, No. 20 Michigan 9
Time of Game: 3:15
Game Start: 7:01 p.m. (central)