Lincoln, Neb. — The second half became a pinball game of scores and lead changes, and in the end, Michigan’s defense made a final stop to preserve the Wolverines’ unbeaten record.
Michigan, ranked No. 9, beat Nebraska 32-29 Saturday night at Memorial Stadium in the toughest game the Wolverines have had this season. They are 6-0, 3-0 Big Ten.
With three minutes left and the score tied, 29-29, Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez fumbled and safety Brad Hawkins made the recovery, giving the Wolverines the ball at the Nebraska 18-yard line with 1:45 left.
Michigan regained the lead for keeps, 32-29, on Jake Moody’s 39-yard field goal, his fourth of the game.
The Wolverines finished with 465 yards, including 210 rushing. Hassan Haskins had 123 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns and Blake Corum rushed 13 times for 89 yards and a touchdown.
The Cornhuskers, who trailed 13-0 at halftime, scored 22 points in the third quarter to take a 22-19 lead with just less than a minute left in the quarter.
Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara threw his first interception of his college career, picked off by Deontai Williams, who returned it to the Michigan 13-yard line. One play later, Nebraska took the lead on a pass from Adrian Martinez to Levi Falck and then Martinez made the two-point conversion. It marked the first time Michigan has trailed this season.
BOX SCORE: Michigan 32, Nebraska 29
The Wolverines responded with a 10-play, 75-yard drive and Corum scored on a 29-yard run to give Michigan the lead, 26-24, in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.
But Nebraska made use of big plays and regained the lead. Martinez completed a 30-yard pass to Oliver Martin when it appeared Michigan’s Gemon Green made a play on the ball, but Martin emerged for the gain. Martinez would restore the lead, making it 29-26, on a 5-yard touchdown run with 7:08 left.
Trailing again, the Wolverines came back and got a highlight-reel 50-yard run from Haskins, who jumped over Marquel Dismuke in the midst of the gain to the Nebraska 25-yard line. A false start pushed Michigan to a third and 12 and it would tie the score, 29-29, on a 31-yard field goal by Moody.
Nebraska struck quickly in the opening minutes of the second half to cut Michigan’s lead to 13-7.
Martinez, who entered the game leading the team in rushing with an average of 68.7 yards but was held to 3 yards on four carries in the first half, took off on a 20-yard gain on third and long. On the next play, Martinez connected with wide open tight end Austin Allen for a 46-yard touchdown.
Michigan responded with a three-and-out. The Wolverines defense stiffened the next series and after a first-play 14-yard pass, forced a punt.
A.J. Henning fumbled the punt, but Michigan got the ball at its 9-yard line. The Wolverines put together their most efficient drive of the game, using 10 plays to drive the 91 yards and scored on a 3-yard run from Haskins. The two-point conversion failed and Michigan held a 19-7 lead.
Nebraska scored quickly again on its next possession, cutting the lead to 19-14, with Rahmir Johnson going 41 yards for the score.
Michigan built a 13-0 halftime lead, although the Wolverines had to be kicking themselves for leaving points on the field and settling for two field goals from Jake Moody.
Dax Hill made a stunning interception while on his back with 12:47 left in the half giving Michigan the ball at the Nebraska 35-yard line. It was Hill’s second-straight game with an interception. But the Wolverines were stopped at the 17-yard line and took a 3-0 lead on a 35-yard field goal from Moody.
Michigan looked to have scored a touchdown on a drive that was punctuated by replay reviews. With U-M facing third and 1, Haskins was spotted for no gain, which sent Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh into a frenzy. After a review, Haskins was credited with 3 yards to convert the first down at the Michigan 46-yard line. Coming out of that timeout, McNamara then connected on a 48-yard pass to Mike Sainristil to the 6-yard line.
On third-and-1 it appeared Haskins scored on a 1-yard run, but on a Nebraska-initiated review, it was evident McNamara’s knee was down before he made the handoff to Haskins. Michigan, again, settled for a field goal, this time from 21 yards to build a 6-0 lead.
The Wolverines defense highlighted the first half, particularly the second quarter, as it held Nebraska to 32 yards. David Ojabo got the first sack of the game for Michigan — he now has 4 1/2 this season — to end the Cornhuskers’ final drive of the half, giving Michigan the ball with 1:37 left.
Michigan was its most efficient of the game, driving 76 yards on 11 plays and received the benefit of a pass-interference call that gave the Wolverines the ball at the Nebraska 3-yard line. This time, Haskins scored on a three-yard run.