LINCOLN — Here are the hidden yards that impacted Nebraska's win against Michigan.
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Nebraska found itself on the wrong end of another highlight reel interception as Michigan’s Daxton Hill tipped the ball to himself and caught it while on the ground, setting up a field goal to break a scoreless tie. In the third quarter, Deontai Williams snagged his third interception of the season, setting up a Husker touchdown that gave them the lead. Adrian Martinez then fumbled the ball fighting for extra yards on a third-and-1 late in a tie game. The giveaway tipped the scales, making Nebraska a negative-turnover margin team on the season and effectively handing Michigan the victory.
The penalties rained down in the first half before coming to a halt in the second half. The Huskers totaled six for 47 yards, 42 coming before halftime, compared to the Wolverines’ six for 55 yards, the last being an inconsequential unsportsmanlike conduct when the outcome was decided. The Huskers barely surpassed their season average of 46.2 penalty yards per game, not enough to beat themselves, but not enough to help, either.
Turnovers gave the other pivotal field position. Both punters were solid with Michigan averaging 50.8 yards on four punts and William Pryzstrup averaging 47.5 on four. The Huskers also limited the Wolverines’ dangerous return units, with three kickoffs returned no further than their own 20-yard line and minimal punt return gain. Even with two turnovers compared to one for the Wolverines, Nebraska’s average starting field position was at its own 27.6 compared to Michigan starting at its own 27.5.
The Huskers were on the verge of winning two of these categories before Martinez’s fourth-quarter fumble. In order to end these heartbreaking finishes, they need to outduel their opponents in these hidden yards categories. Turnovers often have an impact on field position and setting up scores, and penalties do nothing to help.