The post-season futures of the Cornhuskers and the Wolverines look set to be decided in the Big House on Saturday. Al Dannity breaks down this battle of newly-acquainted rivals.
Martinez shows signs of life
Taylor Martinez finally showed he could be a difference maker on the road against an elite defense last weekend. The hot and cold sophomore quarterback had, up until that trip to Happy Valley, presented the classic symptoms of a good but not great option quarterback. Against mediocre defenses, Martinez has run riot but his speed never got the job done against sturdier foes. All that changed against Penn State. While the overall numbers were average, it was the signal-caller’s decisiveness on Nebraska’s second touchdown drive that won the day.
In two plays we saw how effective Martinez can be when he makes the right read. The quarterback used tremendous acceleration to bust a 17 yard run out of a nothing on 2nd and 10 at the Penn State 31. The next play, from the Nittany Lions’ 14, saw Martinez deliver a perfectly timed pitch to unleash Rex Burkhead for the score. On both plays College Football betting fans saw a blend of athleticism and quick thinking by Martinez. That’s the kind of mental maturity that was lacking until now.
Familiar story for Shoelace
Denard Robinson’s start to 2011 wasn’t all that different to the way he began 2010. This season however fans were more cautious about hyping his Heisman prospects. That’s because as the 2010 season hit the business end of the year, the wear and tear of Shoelace’s style began to show in his numbers. Sure enough Robinson has slowed considerably since Big Ten play started. When healthy he remains one of the most exciting threats in the game. Having been knocked out of the game against Illinois, it’s hard to see Michigan’s play-maker making the kind of game-breaking moves that could rock Nebraska’s defense.
The winner of this game will be first in line for a BCS at-large berth, assuming the Big Ten gets an extra bid. Had this game been in late September I’d expect Robinson to make light work of what was then a porous Nebraska defense. While not quite playing like the true Blackshirts we know and love, the Huskers look a lot stronger on defense now than at the start of conference play. The Wolverines have lost their bite as Robinson has slowed. That completely changes the complexion of this contest. I like the Huskers to roll and win big in Ann Arbor.
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