Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, an Ohio State grad, says he holds no ill-will toward Michigan
If ever there were a candidate to be a Michigan-hater, it might be Nebraska coach Bo Pelini.
A Youngstown, Ohio, native, Pelini played at Ohio State from 1987-90, giving him two possible predispositions to dislike everything about the Michigan football program.
But Pelini, who will bring his Cornhuskers into Michigan Stadium on Saturday (noon, ESPN), isn't your average Ohioan.
"Growing up (in Ohio) I watched football like everyone else, but I wouldn't say I had venom for Michigan," Pelini said Tuesday while on the Big Ten coaches teleconference. "I actually visited Michigan (as a player)."
A four-year letterwinner at Ohio State, Pelini played one season for Earle Bruce and three for John Cooper. During his time with the Buckeyes, he was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and a senior co-captain in 1990.
Against Michigan, though, Pelini didn't fare so well.
After the Buckeyes knocked off Michigan in Ann Arbor during his freshman season of 1987, OSU dropped the next three matchups of his playing career, including a pair of losses in Columbus.
Pelini is extremely familiar with Wolverine lore.
"You go to Ohio State, and it was such a tremendous rivalry and that game, obviously, took on a lot of extra meaning because it meant so much each and every year," Pelini said. "But I have a lot of respect for their program and what they do, and the history there.
"That's part of the deal. Having been through all those games, and that rivalry, anytime you play Michigan you know you're going to be challenged, and it's going to be a heck of an environment."
Pelini is also familiar with the Wolverines' present. Especially considering how similar his squad resembles Brady Hoke's current Michigan group.
Like Michigan with Denard Robinson, Nebraska has a quarterback in Taylor Martinez that's known more for his feet than his arm. And like Michigan with Fitz Toussaint, Nebraska has a downhill running back in Rex Burkhead who has excelled recently in the power run game.
And, of course, both programs put a high emphasis on defense.
"There are some similarities," Pelini said. "They do a lot of things that give you problems, it's a well thought-out scheme."
Pelini won't need a map to get to Michigan Stadium on Saturday, and he won't need an extensive scouting report on how to stop the Wolverines.
Asked if he had a favorite memory of playing against Michigan in the past, Pelini said no, they were all pretty special.
And more than likely, that sentiment will hold true again this weekend.
"They've got great fans," Pelini said. "It's going to be a hostile environment and one where we're going to need to come out and play well."