Game Day: Nebraska vs. Michigan State

Can the Huskers survive gang green?

When asked this week about Michigan State's aggressiveness, quarterback Tommy Armstrong provided a glimpse into his mentality: "First of all," he said, "if you blitz, obviously, somebody's going to be open." NU coach Bo Pelini said Armstrong won't be intimidated. But Armstrong, Pelini and the rest of the Huskers are aware that moving the football against the Spartans will not be easy.

READ MORE »

2-Minute Drill by Sam McKewon

Nebraska rush offense vs. Michigan State rush defense

The Spartans have the nation’s best run defense, giving up just 43 yards per game. That’s chemistry and commitment on display for defensive coordinator Mark Dantonio’s bunch. Nebraska counters with one of the nation’s best running backs in Ameer Abdullah and a budding option game with Tommy Armstrong. But the offensive line is beat up. Advantage: Michigan State

Nebraska pass offense vs. Michigan State pass defense

Did we mention Nebraska’s offensive line is beat up? So too are the wide receivers, to some extent, and they are charged with getting open against what many consider the best secondary in the Big Ten. Armstrong pulled NU through the fire at Michigan, but he’s been inconsistent. Michigan State’s blitzes are nasty. Advantage: Michigan State

Michigan State rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

NU’s run defense has turned a corner in the past two weeks, and Michigan State doesn’t have the line nor the great running backs to turn the Huskers back. Spartan running back Jeremy Langford is no Le’Veon Bell, and he’s a slow starter. The Spartans abandon the run often too easily. Advantage: Nebraska

Michigan State pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

Connor Cook is just settling into the starting quarterback role. He’s mobile enough and has a big arm. He completes 60 percent of his passes and doesn’t make a ton of mistakes. The Husker secondary has seasoned corners in Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Ciante Evans and Joshua Mitchell. MSU is about one year away from having a decent receiving corps. Advantage: Nebraska

Special teams

Michigan State punter Mike Sadler is second in the Big Ten in yards per punt. Nebraska counters with strong kick and punt coverage units. The Huskers are a weekly adventure in returning punts. The Spartans are awful returning kickoffs. Advantage: Michigan State

Intangibles

Michigan State has a plus-9 edge in turnover margin. The Spartans are the league’s most penalized team, and NU’s the second most. The Huskers will have home-field advantage, and apparently the niceness of the fans threw off Michigan State last time. Nebraska is fighting for its life in terms of a Big Ten title berth. Advantage: Nebraska

Key matchup: Connor Cook vs. Nebraska's defense

We’re counting on Michigan State’s defense being terrific and Nebraska’s offense picking its spots. So the game boils down to whether the Husker defense can continue its recent streak of shutting down the opponent. This is the biggest game of Cook’s young career. NU needs to rattle him.

Nebraska wins if ...

It picks off Cook, grabs an early lead and plays into the crowd noise on defense. Nebraska defensive coaches like their matchups against the Spartans.

Michigan State wins if ...

Its defense does its usual thing and forces a few turnovers and Cook controls the clock with a short-range, safe passing game.

Our take

Nebraska has shown a ton of heart and toughness for managing its injuries as well as it has, and quarterback Tommy Armstrong has a bright future. But this game is defined by the Husker defense. Can they match Michigan State’s bunch? We think they will well enough for a rare upset win at home.

Our prediction: Nebraska 16, Michigan State 14

Live updates

 

Videos

Extras

Printable rosters

Looking for a handy reference guide that you can take to the game? Check out our two-page printable roster, sorted by jersey number and including height, weight, year in school, hometown and high school information. Click here »

Game notes

Check out a PDF of the game notes for the Nebraska-Michigan State game provided by the Huskers athletic department. Click here »

On social media

Check out the Big Red Today page on Facebook to discuss the latest news with the top Husker fans, and follow us on Twitter to get instant updates and analysis whenever news breaks.

BRT app

iPhone and Android users, get your Husker updates on the go by downloading our free Big Red Today app from the App Store and the Google Play store. Omaha.com/BRTapp and Omaha.com/android

Listen: BRT Podcast

In this week’s edition of “The Big Red Today Podcast,” Jon Nyatawa and Sam McKewon examine how Nebraska’s now-inexperienced offense will try to move the ball against a statistically dominant Michigan State defense. The good news: The Huskers have been successful against Michigan State in the past. Click here »

Recruiting updates

Visit the Big Red Today recruiting page to find the latest updates on potential future Huskers, including player cards for those athletes already committed. Click here »

Email alerts

Sign up for the Big Red Today email newsletter to get the Husker news, analysis, daily headlines and more delivered to your inbox. Click here »

Big Ten coverage

Look for additional updates on our Big Ten page to get the best coverage of the conference from both The World-Herald and some of the best writers from across the country. Click here »

Big Red Today coverage

The Roundup with Lee Barfknecht: Replay

Replay Wednesday's "The Big Ten Roundup” chat with staff writer Lee Barfknecht to track the discussion of the latest headlines from around the Big Ten.

Live Blog The Roundup ...

Michigan State preview: Spartans in sync on both sides of ball

By the numbers

3-1: Overall (0-0 in the Big Ten)

6.72: Offensive yards per play (T22nd nationally)

5.09: Defensive yards per play (45th)

+9: Turnover margin (3rd)

40 ...

Game day environment clinched John Raridon’s choice of Huskers

LINCOLN — John Raridon wasn’t in a particular rush to commit to a college football program two years before he’d go there.

But the rush he felt inside Memorial ...

Spartan receivers catch some by surprise, but not QB Connor Cook

LINCOLN — No Michigan State receiver garnered so much as honorable mention All-Big Ten last season, and Phil Steele went to his fourth unit before listing one on his magazine’s ...

Husker Talk Live: Replay

Replay Tuesday's "Husker Talk Live” chat with World-Herald staff writer Jon Nyatawa to get all of your Husker questions answered.

Live Blog Husker Talk Live: Noon

Big Ten notes: Maryland, Rutgers off to solid starts

Maryland and Rutgers, which just joined the Big Ten in July, have more than held up in trying to bolster the league’s image through nonconference play.

The schools were ...

Husker notes: Slow defensive starts puzzling to Papuchis

LINCOLN — It’s not quite a fact-finding mission, but Nebraska defensive coordinator John Papuchis has asked several starters why the unit has struggled on opening drives.

The Huskers have allowed ...

Husker O-line coming together 
after early ‘wake-up call’

LINCOLN — They gathered before the next practice and met as a unit, because that’s what Alex Lewis said you do after your head coach calls out your group for ...

Barfknecht: If Michigan’s Brady Hoke 
goes, so should A.D. Dave Brandon

If anyone in charge at Michigan is in the mood to fire someone for the current mess in football, make sure to get a 2-for-1 deal.

Fire head coach Brady ...

Video: Bo Pelini talks about Michigan State

Nebraska football coach Bo Pelini and several Huskers spoke to the media on Monday as the team prepares to face Michigan State in East Lansing. 

Nebraska volleyball coach John Cook ...

Lunch with Tom: Replay

Hungry for some sports chat? Replay the "Lunch with Tom'' with World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel in which he discusses Nebraska’s win over Illinois and more.

Live Blog Lunch with ...

Freshman Kieron Williams sees more studying, snaps

LINCOLN — There already had been some long hours and late nights, but Kieron Williams wanted to get it right last week.

So the Nebraska freshman safety was still going over ...

Notes: Santos feeling better, but status for Spartans remains in question

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said he and his staff will use the week of practice to evaluate the status of linebacker David Santos, who missed Saturday’s win over Illinois ...

Ameer Abdullah wins Big Ten honor again

For the third time in five weeks, Nebraska I-back Ameer Abdullah earned a Big Ten weekly honor, as the senior was chosen as the Big Ten offensive player of the ...

Q&A with Husker receiver Jordan Westerkamp

One of the spotlights on Saturday night will be on the Nebraska receivers going against the Michigan State defensive backs. Among them is Westerkamp, the sophomore who has caught at ...

Nyatawa: Ameer Abdullah’s running style conducive to durability

LINCOLN — On his 21st carry Saturday night, Ameer Abdullah lowered his shoulder and chugged his way forward to gain a couple of extra yards, just as he’d capped off ...

Huskers 'hungry' to prove they can hang with Spartans

LINCOLN — Tommy Armstrong has lost one game as Nebraska’s starting quarterback. He’s watching tape of that 41-28 loss to Michigan State this week.

He’ll see the five ...

Shatel: Don’t count out Ameer Abdullah for a run at Mike Rozier's mark

Don’t look now, but it’s trivia time again. Where and when was the last time Nebraska beat a top 10 team on the road? Answer below. Winner gets ...

Huskers moving on up in Coaches, AP Top 25 polls

The Huskers continue this week to move up the ranks in both the AP Top 25 and the Coaches Polls following a 45-14 pounding of the Illini Saturday.

Last week ...

New look on ‘D’ made difference for Nebraska

LINCOLN — It was obvious to safety Nate Gerry that Illinois’ quarterback wasn’t completely sure how to attack a new personnel package that Nebraska unveiled for Saturday night’s matchup ...

Nebraska lays groundwork with running attack

LINCOLN — Some of the offensive numbers were staggering by the time Nebraska had taken its final snap Saturday night.

The NU offense was on the field for a season-high 39 ...

Nebraska gets commitments from two 2016 offensive linemen

They won't be in a Nebraska uniform for two years, but John Raridon and Bryan Brokop had to make Husker offensive line coach John Garrison very pleased late Saturday ...

Backup quarterback first of many problems for Illini

LINCOLN — One backup quarterback. Two big plays. Three simple words. And four wheels that fell off.

That about summed up the latest trip to Lincoln for Illinois, a 45-14 loss ...

Barfknecht's Big Ten Rankings, Sept. 29

World-Herald staff writer Lee Barfknecht ranks the Big Ten conference football teams as published in The World-Herald on Sept. 29.

* * *

1. Michigan State (3-1, 0-0)

Last week: beat Wyoming 56-14 ...

Barfknecht: If Nebraska is on its game, look for a shootout with MSU

EAST LANSING, Mich. — All joking aside about Big Ten football, Michigan State is the most complete league team I’ve seen one-third of the way through the season.

But as ...

McKewon: Huskers match up well with Michigan State

LINCOLN — Hello, darlin’.

Michigan State, that is. The green-eyed girl of the northern league, the one Big Ten team that escapes the “Big Ten” label, the one that national analysts ...

Video: Nebraska postgame press conference

Watch Nebraska's postgame press conference live as Bo Pelini and select Husker players address the media.

* * *

Video: Bo Pelini postgame

Video: Tommy Armstrong postgame

Video: Nate Gerry postgame

Video ...

Husker Talk Live: Game Day

Get live analysis, photos, video and more during the Huskers’ showdown with Illinois. Want to chime in? Use the #NEBvsILL hashtag on Twitter.

Live Blog Husker Talk Live: Game Day

Quarter by quarter: Nebraska 45, Illinois 14

World-Herald staff writers Sam McKewon and Rich Kaipust recap the key plays in each quarter of Nebraska's win over Illinois.

* * *

First quarter

Ameer Abdullah: Nebraska’s top offensive weapon ...

Tracking the Husker offense, defense

World-Herald staff writer Rich Kaipust takes a look at Nebraska's effort on both sides of the ball during the Huskers' 45-14 win over Illinois.

* * *

TRACKING THE OFFENSE

The game ...