(Photo credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)
Michigan hasn't left Ann Arbor this season while compiling a 4-0 record against overmatched opponents.
That will change Saturday as the second-ranked Wolverines head to Nebraska for a Big Ten contest in Lincoln.
Michigan (4-0, 1-0) hasn't given up more than seven points in any of its games this season, including a 31-7 triumph over Rutgers in its conference opener last Saturday. Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh returned to the sidelines after serving a three-game suspension for alleged recruiting violations.
Harbaugh wants to make sure the Wolverines don't board the plane without something very important.
"Pack a good football team to go on the road, especially the defense," he said. "Make sure you've got your defense packed. Don't leave them at home."
That defense has allowed 23 points this season. The Wolverines haven't forced a lot of turnovers (five), but they've held opponents to an average of 2.8 yards per carry and 6.3 yards per pass attempt. They have eight sacks and haven't allowed a fourth-down conversion.
Except for running back Blake Corum, the Michigan offense has been rather ordinary. Corum is averaging 87.8 rushing yards per game and has scored a nation-leading eight rushing touchdowns.
J.J. McCarthy has an eye-popping completion rate of 79.8 percent with eight touchdowns, but he's also been picked off three times.
Corum commented after the latest win that the offense was still a work in progress, but Harbaugh emphasized the positives in his weekly press conference.
"To a man, I thought there was some really, really good things. Whether it was the running game, the passing game, the quarterbacking was at a really high level," he said. "There were a lot more plays this week ... where all 11 were doing what they were supposed to be doing and doing it at a really high level, in-sync type of level. Just keep trying to build on that."
Corum and the Wolverines' other top back, Donovan Edwards, will look for holes against a Cornhuskers defense that has allowed a stingy 1.8 yards per carry.
Nebraska coach Matt Rhule knows that stat won't discourage Michigan.
"It'll challenge every single aspect of every single thing you do defensively, because they're not afraid to say, 'Hey, we're going to run this ball and get it to the unblocked player,'" Rhule said. "The standard for them is, 'Hey, make that guy miss. And if he tackles you once, you have to make him miss the next time.'"
The Cornhuskers (2-2, 0-1) have won their last two games, both out of conference.
They defeated Louisiana Tech 28-14 last Saturday behind quarterback Heinrich Haarberg, who rushed for 157 yards and a touchdown and also threw for a score. Anthony Grant ran for 135 yards and a touchdown.
Jeff Sims, who started the season at quarterback, has missed the last two games with a lower leg injury. It was uncertain who will start on Saturday.
"This is a great opportunity," Rhule said. "We have good players. We expect our players to play well. This game will be about blocking and tackling and covering, getting open and making throws."
The Wolverines lead the all-time series 7-4-1, including a 4-2 mark since Nebraska joined the Big Ten in 2011.
--Field Level Media