<
>

Final: Michigan 45, Nebraska 17

The knock on Michigan had been a lack of wins over substantial opponents. The Wolverines went into Saturday without a victory over any team ranked in the latest BCS standings.

You can't say that anymore. Michigan blew out a good Nebraska team at home in easily its best overall performance of the season. And no matter what happens from here on out, Year One under Brady Hoke has to be considered a rousing success.

Perhaps all Denard Robinson needed was a little criticism to get going. He had his best game in several weeks, with 263 total yards (180 passing, 83 rushing) and four total touchdowns. He had more yards than Nebraska mustered as a team. Anybody still calling for Devin Gardner now?

Give a lot of credit to Greg Mattison's defense, too, for slowing down an explosive Huskers offense. The improvement of the Wolverines' defense is one of the most surprising stories in the Big Ten and in the country, and the players are proving each week it's not a fluke.

Nebraska just didn't play very well, and you have to wonder how much last week's physically and emotionally draining game at Penn State took out of the team. The Cornhuskers are normally so good on special teams, but they were awful today. They lost two fumbles on kick returns in the second half. They had a punt blocked. They let Michigan convert a fake field goal for a first down that led to a touchdown. It would have been hard for that unit to have a worse day.

Nebraska won't win the Legends Division, and it won't be going to a BCS game yet again. That has to be viewed as at least a mild disappointment, though if the Huskers finish 9-3 in their first year of the Big Ten, that's not a bad year by any means.

Michigan unwittingly aided Michigan State's division crown, and Wolverines fans will probably regret that loss at Iowa for a while in retrospect. But Hoke's team is still in great shape with the all-important showdown with Ohio State coming up next week. If the Wolverines can finally end the losing streak against their rivals, they'll finish 10-2 with a strong chance at getting a BCS at-large bid. An Oklahoma win at Oklahoma State next week would all but assure Michigan makes it to the BCS if it beats Ohio State.

There's no way you can knock that.