Luke Waltons Forehead presented by the Sports Dude.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005 at 10:41 AM

Rememer the Alamo! Or just 1997 for that matter.

You knew that I was going to do it didn’t you? Come on, admit it, you all know by now that I am an avid U of M slappy right? You had to believe that I was going to take this opportunity, even eight years later, and compare the 1997 records of the Wolverines and the Huskers didn’t you? And, as if you even need to ask, yes U of M would have kicked the shit out of the Huskers in a head to head match up that year. The Wolverines deserved the outright National Championship; the only reason why the Huskers got it was because they were given a retirement present to their coach. That is right, their coach (Tom Osbourne) was retiring and the Huskers won the coaches poll National Championship while U of M got the other. It was a scam, a slap in the face and robbery of the gravest kind. I was so pissed, in fact, that at the time I was working for a major company that delivers mail and parcels and such around the world. The dock I was working on had a truck for Nebraska and one night, while checking boxes into the truck, noticed a bunch of boxes being delivered to a “Tom Osbourne” in Nebraska. I know, immature and all yes, but damned if I didn’t write a little “GO BLUE” love letter on each and every one of those boxes just to say “hi”. Was it the same Osbourne, probably not, but it still made me feel better all the same. Anyway, here is a look at the opponents from each of those teams and you tell me how much easier Nebraska had it than U of M.

Wolverines = Colorado (W 27-3); Baylor (W 38-3); Notre Dame (W 21-14); at Indiana (W 37-0); Northwestern (W 23-6); Iowa (W 28-24); at MSU (W 23-7); Minnesota (W 24-3); at Penn State (W 34-8); at Wisconsin (W 26-16); Ohio State (W 20-14); Rose Bowl against 10-1 Washington State (W 21-16).

Break down = ranked opponents of #8 Colorado, #15 Iowa, #15 MSU, #3 Penn State, #23 Wisconsin, #4 Ohio State and #8 Washington State. That is seven ranked opponents out of 12 and only two true “gimmie games” in Baylor and Indiana, plus they had to beat MSU, PSU and Wisconsin on the road.

Nebraska = Akron (W 59-14); Central Florida (W 38-24); Washington (W 27-14); Kansas State (W 56-26); Baylor (W 49-21); Texas Tech (W 29-0); Kansas (W 35-0); Oklahoma (W 69-7); Missouri (W 45-38 OT); Iowa State (W 77-14); Colorado (W 27-24); Texas A&M (W 54-15); Orange Bowl against 11-1 Tennessee (W 42-17).

Break down = ranked opponents of #2 Washington, #17 Kansas State, #14 Texas A&M, #3 Tennessee for a grand total of four out of 13 and only Washington and A&M were on the road. If you look at their schedule they had a shitload of “gimmie games” in Akron, Central Florida, Baylor, Texas Tech, Kansas, Oklahoma (before they became good again!), Missouri and Iowa State.

If you compare U of M and Nebraska in shared opponents U of M killed Colorado and Baylor while Nebraska just barely beat Colorado and gave up more to Baylor. Lastly Nebraska needed OT and a little “cheating” to beat Missouri, while U of M never really had any games to worry about. That’s right Husker fans, don’t forget your boy kicked that ball in the end zone to his teammate for a TD, which should have been called off because you are not allowed to use your feet for that purpose in the rule books. U of M clearly had the upper hand in all things related to tougher opponents, strngth of schedule, etc. Sorry, head to head U of M would have steam rolled your punk asses, get over it! Now, briefly on to the 2005 match up.

Look, I am over the snub, it still makes no sense to me how an Iowa team we beat at home (to end the longest home winning streak in the nation mind you!) gets the nod over us in a January Bowl but hey, if it smells like bullshit, looks like bullshit and tastes like bullshit it is most likely bullshit! All that crap aside U of M is trying to avoid its most losses since 1984 when they finished an unimpressive 6-6. Nebraska is simply trying to prove to everybody that they are done rebuilding and are ready to be considered one of the nation’s elite programs once again.

To me the key to U of M and this game, as it was all season, is Mike Hart and that damn ankle of his. I tell you what, I am tired of sounding like a broken record here, but the dude is truly the “Hart” of that U of M team. Here is a little tidbit I read in the paper today; U of M was 3-1 with Hart and 4-3 without him at all or in VERY limited duty. Even still, with all the games he missed, Hart still lead the Wolverines in rushing with just under 600 yards for the season. If Hart can carry the load 70% of the time and U of M only needs Grady to give Hart some breathers I feel U of M has an excellent chance of not only winning but winning big. If Hart is the featured back throughout the game and Grady, Jackson and Bradley (Max Martin did not travel with the team!) are only in there sparingly I think this game will be out of reach by the fourth quarter for Nebraska. Sorry, I am a U of M fan; I am allowed to be cocky and arrogant from time to time.

Look, U of M still feels the sting from last second bullshit losses to Wisconsin, to Minnesota, to OSU, shit even Notre Dame was a weird game! They know the promise that was once there and they feel they need to get this game, in a big way, to help propel themselves into next season. I think they will take all the pent up frustration of a season that, if you ask me, never actually got a chance to get started, they will add to that what they feel is a snubbing in the bowl picks (don’t tell me Carr ain’t using that in the locker room!) and I think they will punish the hell out of Nebraska. Oh, and don’t forget, I am sure Carr will bring up all that 1997 bullshit as well too! That being said I am going to say that Hart’s ankle is better than Carr is leading on to be (you know how he is with injury reports!), I think Henne will have the type of game we have been waiting to see and Avant will go out on a nice note, so my predictions are as follows:

Hart – 145 yards rushing, 2 TD’s
Henne – 270 yards passing, 2 TD and 1 INT
Avant – 115 yards receiving and 1 TD
Breaston – 220 all purpose yards

FINAL SCORE:

U of M 41, Nebraska 23

Later, the “still pissed off about 1997” sports dude.

Blogger Leelanau Sports Guy said...

I'm just glad it's almost time to take the ugly U of M banner off my site! :D

Anyway I agree 100% with you on the Michigan/Nebraska 1997 debate.

I am looking forward to watching a good game tonight though. Lots of points will be scored. Enjoy the game!  

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Blogger Ian C. said...

I'm obviously biased, but I think the Michigan defense would've given them the edge over the Cornhuskers. Eight years later, we're still talking about how good that unit was, and have held that standard to every defense since.

I do worry about a Michigan letdown tonight, however. Obviously, fans are different from players, so just because we don't care as much about this game doesn't mean the players won't. But in a game Michigan didn't really want to be in, the potential for a flat performance looms ominously.  

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