Lincoln, NE – Ameer Abdullah ran for 101 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, as the Nebraska Cornhuskers upset the No. 20 Michigan Wolverines, 23-9, to take over first place in the Big Ten.
Taylor Martinez threw for a touchdown and completed 14-of-24 passes for 166 yards and rushed 14 times for 58 yards for Nebraska (6-2, 3-1 Big Ten), which won back-to-back conference games after defeating Northwestern last week.
"It's a good win for our football team and our kids," said Nebraska coach Bo Pelini. "I'm proud of them. I thought they played hard, they did a lot of good things. We'll enjoy it tonight, and we've got a lot of football left to play this year."
Denard Robinson was forced to leave the game for Michigan (5-3, 3-1) and did not return after injuring his elbow in the second quarter. Freshman quarterback Russell Bellomy took over and struggled mightily to move the Wolverines' offense. He completed just 3-of-16 throws for 38 yards and was intercepted three times.
"Got to give Nebraska a lot of credit. They played well," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. "The second half, especially late in the third quarter we did not tackle well as a defense. When you don't tackle well, big plays can happen, and we didn't keep the ball inside enough. We need to do a better job with that."
Before leaving the contest, Robinson put the Wolverines in field-goal range for Brendan Gibbons, who connected on 24-yard field goal to make it 7-6 at halftime.
Nebraska started with the ball in the second half, but Martinez was intercepted by Mario Ojemudia and Michigan took over at its own 46.
However, the Wolverines gave the ball right back, as Bellomy was intercepted on the third play of the drive by P.J. Smith, who returned it 53 yards to the Michigan 4-yard line.
After the Michigan defense denied the Cornhuskers of a touchdown, Brett Maher kicked one through from 19 yards out to give Nebraska a 10-6 lead.
Nebraska forced Michigan to punt on its next touch and during the return, the Wolverines' Brandin Hawthorne was flagged for a personal foul. The penalty gave the Cornhuskers the ball at the Michigan 39, which set up another Maher field goal, this one from 51 yards out to make it a seven-point ball game.
Yet again, the Michigan offense remained stagnant, and was forced to punt on its next possession. Martinez then completed his first four passes on the drive before throwing one down the field to Bell, who drew a pass interference penalty on the play, moving the Cornhuskers to the Michigan 11. But Nebraska could not move any closer and Maher kicked a 31-yard field goal through for a 16-6 Nebraska advantage.
Michigan finally got back on the board thanks to two key penalties on the Cornhuskers' defense. After Bellomy's pass on 3rd-and-9 fell incomplete, Nebraska was called for unsportsmanlike conduct and the penalty gave Michigan a new set of downs. Three plays later, Bellomy fired down the field to Roy Roundtree, who drew a pass interference call on Andrew Green, setting up the Wolverines on the Nebraska 21.
Unable to pick up another first down, Gibbons came out and kicked a 38-yard field goal through to make it a one-score game with 42 seconds to play in the third.
Nebraska advanced to the Michigan 34 on its next touch, but on 3rd-and-8, Martinez was sacked for a 10-yard loss, forcing the Cornhuskers to punt.
However, on the first play of the ensuing possession for Michigan, Bellomy got picked off again, this time by Daimion Stafford.
Nebraska then marched down the field for a score just over a minute later. Martinez scrambled for 29 yards on the second play of the drive before Abdullah took a handoff to the outside and rushed his way into the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown, making it 23-9.
Bellomy seemed to finally get Michigan's offense going on the Wolverines next possession, completing a 15-yard pass to Devin Gardner before rushing 15 yards into Nebraska territory. He found Jeremy Gallon for an 11-yard gain, but after throwing an incomplete pass, Bellomy's throw to the end zone was intercepted by Stanley Jean-Baptiste, sealing the victory for the Cornhuskers.
After a scoreless first quarter, Nebraska finally struck first in the second on a 32-yard touchdown catch by Bell.
An illegal block penalty on Nebraska's Justin Jackson put the Cornhuskers in a 1st-and-24 situation from their own 14, but Martinez completed three straight passes, the last to Quincy Enunwa to pick up a first down. Three plays later, Martinez found Bell for the score to give Nebraska a 7-0 lead.
Michigan was able to get three back on the ensuing possession. The Wolverines moved inside the Cornhuskers' 40-yard line following a personal foul penalty on Smith. On 3rd-and-6, Robinson's pass to Devin Funchess fell incomplete, but Gibbons got just enough on a 52-yard boot to make it 7-3 with 8:21 remaining in the second quarter.
The Wolverines defense forced a three-and-out on the Cornhuskers next touch and got the ball back at their own 26. On the first play, Robinson threw a 32- yard strike to Roundtree, before completing a 10-yard pass to Vincent Smith to move Michigan to the Nebraska 30.
However, on 2nd-and-7, Robinson scrambled to pick up the first down, but injured his arm on the play, forcing him to leave the game. Bellomy then took over at quarterback and only moved the offense a yard closer, forcing Michigan to settle for a Gibbons 24-yard field goal and a 7-6 deficit at halftime.
Saturday's game marked Michigan's first trip to Lincoln since 1911 ... Nebraska outgained Michigan 326-188 ... The Wolverines will travel to Minnesota next week to face the Golden Gophers, while Nebraska will play at Michigan State.