Michigan vs. Nebraska score: Cornhuskers hit the 'bottom' as Scott Frost still looks for first win
Nebraska were heavy underdogs coming into this game, but this game ended up worse than expected
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Nebraska was an 18.5-point underdog heading into Ann Arbor to take on Michigan in Scott Frost's first Big Ten game. But the way that the Cornhuskers lost to the Wolverines in a 56-10 rout was somehow even more demoralizing than people thought possible. Nebraska came in 0-2 on the season after a tough loss to Troy, and the team still looked flat, even with quarterback Adrian Martinez returning from injury after missing last week.
The game started off well enough for Martinez. On third-and-9, he completed a 32-yard pass to Stanley Morgan to get the Huskers to Michigan's 42. It was all downhill from there. On the ensuing play, a tipped pass ended up intercepted by Josh Metellus. Karan Higdon ripped off 46 yards on his first carry of the game for Michigan before fullback Ben Mason plunged the ball into the end zone on his third attempt.
On the ensuing Nebraska possession, Michigan forced what would be the first of many three-and-outs. Nebraska was called for kick-catch interference on the punt and Higdon took his first carry of the next possession 44 yards for a touchdown to put Michigan up 14-0.
At the end of the first half, Mason had three rushing touchdowns and 18 yards. Nebraska had 17 yards total. Jim Harbaugh gave Frost no relief, calling timeouts at the end of the half to feed his backs a bit more.
In the second half, Michigan took its foot off the gas a bit until Dylan McCaffrey came in, with a brief flash from a ridiculous 60-yard punt return by Donovan Peoples-Jones. Though he completed just 3-of-8 passes, McCaffrey had 86 yards, a touchdown and some on-the-money deep balls. Harbaugh clearly wanted McCaffrey to let loose in his appearance, and he looked extremely impressive on deep throws both down the sideline and in the middle of the field.
Nebraska had a field goal and Wyatt Mazour was able to punch a run into the end zone in garbage time, but the team looked utterly deflated in the second half until the game went final at 56-10.
Frost has no delusions about where the team stands.
"I told them I honestly believe this is gonna be the bottom," Frost told reporters after the game. "We got beaten in every phase. We're really gonna find out who loves football and who loves each other, and who's gonna band together."
When asked how he knew it was the bottom and the team would get better, Frost was blunt. He wants to rebuild the program from the ground up.
"Because I know it's gonna happen," he said. "I've seen it happen before, it's gonna happen. The way we're gonna do things, there's a lot of things that need to get fixed. Our execution. Our strength and conditioning. Our nutrition. Our recruiting. Our walk-on program. There's a lot of things that we've talked about. Those things don't happen overnight."
Frost also praised Harbaugh for the job he's done with Michigan.
"I think it was pretty clear we're not ready to compete against a team like that. Coach Harbaugh has done a great job, he's been here long enough to get his guys and get it installed, but we're gonna keep fighting. And I know where it's gonna lead."
Nebraska guard Jerald Foster is staunchly behind Frost.
"We're behind our coach," Foster said to open his press conference after the game. "We're not gonna go any lower than this ... If you're in a swimming pool, this is the bottom of the pool. You finally touch your feet on the ground and when you're at that point you're able to push off. There's a lot that we're gonna have to do. Whatever we have to do to be a good football team and to compete with good football teams like Michigan, hats off to them for sticking with their gameplan and playing the game."
Foster added when asked how he knew it couldn't get worse that "we have a coaching staff and players that aren't gonna allow it. That's it. Look me in the eyes and I hope you can see that I'm not gonna let it get worse than this."
Frost was asked about losing players in the locker room, and he said that anyone that he wanted would share Foster's mindset. "The only ones we would lose [are] the ones we never really had," he said. "That's probably better in the long run. If there's guys that jump off ship we never really had them. The guys who we're gonna actually win with -- win championships -- would never do that.
"Inevitably that's gonna happen, the wrong type of people are gonna jump off if they're not having the results they want, and that's healthy for our team."
Even after the 0-2 start, things didn't look this bad for Nebraska. Michigan's defense smothered everything the Cornhuskers did. At one point in the fourth quarter, they had two rushing yards. They finished with 132 total yards on 54 plays -- 2.44 yards per play. Michigan made Nebraska look like it didn't belong in the Big Ten, much less the AP Top 25 poll.
"I knew we had a lot of work to do," Frost said. "But we're not giving up, and we're gonna get this thing right. [Nebraska] brought us in here to get it right, we're gonna get it right. But we knew it was a big job, because there's so much that had to be fixed and changed ... Michigan's a top-25 team ... and we're not there yet."
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