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Michigan’s potent rushing duo a challenge for Nebraska

Nov 5, 2022; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Michigan Wolverines linebacker Michael Barrett (23) returns an interception for a touchdown during the second half against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at SHI Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Blake Corum remains in the discussion for the Heisman Trophy. With Donovan Edwards healthy, Michigan’s rushing attack is no longer a one-man show.

Nebraska will have to prepare for both dynamic running backs when the Cornhuskers travel to Ann Arbor to face the undefeated Wolverines on Saturday afternoon.

Michigan (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten) moved up to No. 3 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings. The Wolverines now trail only Georgia and arch-rival Ohio State.

Corum entered the week ranked fourth nationally with 1,187 rushing yards and tied for first with 17 total touchdowns. Corum and the Wolverines perked up after trailing 17-10 at halftime against Rutgers Saturday night, as Michigan pulled away to a 52-17 victory.

Corum finished with 109 rushing yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns. Edwards compiled the same number of rushing yards on 15 carries and also led the team in receiving with three receptions for 52 yards and a touchdown.

“When Donovan is in the game, whether handing the ball off to him, he’s a very good blocker, runs really good routes, catches the ball really well, really good after the catch,” Michigan Head Coach Jim Harbaugh said. “I think a defense is always going to have to mind that anything’s available when he’s out there.”

Edwards missed two games due to an injury but reestablished himself as a major threat when he rushed for 173 yards and scored two touchdowns against Penn State on Oct. 15.

Edwards’ production hasn’t hurt Corum, who has rushed for over 100 yards in all six Big Ten contests. He’s scored at least one touchdown in every game.

Harbaugh believes Corum should be at the top of the list for Heisman voters.

“He’s definitely having an MVP season for us here at Michigan,” he said. “Be hard to imagine that he wouldn’t be — the way he’s going, to win the Heisman trophy. Leading in touchdowns. Leading points scored, consistently really good every game and there’s been quite a few backs who’ve won the Heisman Trophy. And I would bet my truck that Blake Corum is on pace or ahead of many of those running backs that have won that Heisman Trophy.”

The Cornhuskers (3-6, 2-4) have lost three straight and will need to win their remaining three games to become bowl eligible.

Nebraska led Minnesota 10-0 at halftime on Saturday but the Golden Gophers rallied for a 20-13 victory.

Cornhuskers quarterbacks Chubba Purdy and Logan Smothers combined for just 121 passing yards while completing 11 of 26 attempts.

Purdy got his first start in place of Casey Thompson, who injured a nerve in his right elbow the previous game against Illinois. Thompson is questionable to play against Michigan.

One bright spot for Nebraska has been Anthony Grant. He is the first Nebraska running back since 2018 to have five 100-yard rushing games in a season. He gained 115 yards on 21 carries against Minnesota.

Interim coach Mickey Joseph expects the team to give a full effort despite being nearly a 30-point underdog.

“We’re not going to back down. We’re not going to throw in the towel,” he said. “These kids won’t do that. These coaches won’t do that.”

Joseph acknowledges the Cornhuskers will have to play a near perfect game to keep it close.

“We know what we’re getting into,” he said. “We know the task at hand but it’s an opportunity.”

–Field Level Media