ANN ARBOR—Last year at this time, Michigan was headed into Nebraska a perfect 3-0 in Big Ten play while the Cornhuskers sat 2-1 after dropping a game to Ohio State a couple weeks prior.
Despite the early season meeting, the game ultimately decided who would represent the Legends Division in the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis. Nebraska finished 7-1 in conference while Michigan, who also dropped their only meeting with Ohio State, was relegated to 6-2.
The game couldn’t have gone worse for Michigan. Struggling to the move the football with senior quarterback Denard Robinson, Robinson was knocked out of the game with an injury to his throwing arm, handing over the keys to then redshirt freshman quarterback Russell Bellomy.
The Cornhuskers won the game 23-9 as Bellomy completed just 3-of-16 pass attempts for 38-yards with three interceptions.
Fast forward a year and the picture will look significantly different as Michigan prepares to host Nebraska Saturday afternoon.
Junior Devin Gardner will start at quarterback for the 6-2 Wolverines, as he has since moving back from wide receiver to take the reins under center in a 2012 win over Minnesota.
Gardner caught one pass for 15-yards in Michigan’s loss last year at Nebraska.
“I didn’t get a chance to play quarterback in that game,” Gardner said. “I played receiver.
“It was fun playing receiver, I got a chance to block their guys, their fans were good -- it was a great place to play. I’m glad I got the opportunity to play in that game.
“Now I get a chance to be the quarterback and play against them this year.”
The stakes aren’t exactly the same this time around against Nebraska either.
Michigan needs a miracle that includes several losses by Michigan State and the Cornhuskers to have a chance to get to Indianapolis in December. Despite the dreary outlook, Gardner believes the Wolverines will be ready.
“We have an opportunity,” Gardner said. “That’s all you can ask for. We put ourselves in a place where we can’t control our own destiny but we can only control what we can control. We have four more games and that’s what we can do if we win those four games.”
Michigan and Nebraska kickoff at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the big house.