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.

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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 »

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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 »

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Big Ten coverage

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Big Red Today coverage

The Big Ten Roundup with Lee Barfknecht: Replay

Replay Wednesday's "The Big Ten Roundup" chat with staff writer Lee Barfknecht to track the latest news from around the conference.

Live Blog The Roundup with Lee Barfknecht: Noon

Big Ten notes: Gophers' kicker has big leg, big frame

If you haven’t seen Minnesota try a place kick this season, that isn’t a defensive end lining up the boot.

Ryan Santoso, at 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds, hardly ...

Barfknecht: Purdue’s turnaround on right track under Darrell Hazell

This isn’t a worst-to-first story, but Purdue football has made greater gains in Year Two under coach Darrell Hazell than expected.

The Boilermakers, who have a bye this week ...

Husker defense back in black, and aiming to keep it that way

LINCOLN — Each Husker has his own way of relishing the moment that he spots the black practice jersey in his locker, but each one knows how fleeting this sense of ...

Husker notes: Maliek Collins, Randy Gregory catch eye of Rutgers coach Kyle Flood

LINCOLN — Rutgers faced arguably the Big Ten’s best defensive line last week at Ohio State. The Buckeyes won the battle decidedly, holding the Scarlet Knights to 149 yards rushing ...

They said it: Rutgers coach Kyle Flood on Ameer Abdullah and 'tremendous challenge' of playing Nebraska

Here's a transcript of comments from Rutger's head coach Kyle Flood on Monday at his weekly press conference.

KYLE FLOOD: Good morning. It's an exciting weekend for ...

Video: Husker football weekly press conference

Husker coach Bo Pelini and several players addressed the media Monday as the team prepares to take on Rutgers.

Coach Bo Pelini

Receiver/returner De’mornay Pierson-El

Defensive end Greg ...

Lunch with Tom: Replay

Hungry for some sports chat? Join World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel at 10 a.m. for an early edition of “Lunch with Tom” to discuss Nebraska’s matchup with Rutgers and ...

Q&A with Husker defensive end Greg McMullen

The sophomore has continued his solid first season as a starting defensive end for the Huskers. Through seven games, the 6-foot-3, 280-pounder from Akron, Ohio, has 24 tackles, 2½ sacks ...

Notes: Nebraska prepares for morning game after five straight at night

LINCOLN — The night owls will get a brunch kickoff.

After five straight games with kickoff times of 6:30 p.m. or later, Nebraska will have its first 11 a ...

Price earns time, finds rhythm against Wildcats

LINCOLN — Givens Price understood why Nebraska assistant coach John Garrison didn’t call on his backup offensive linemen at Michigan State, even though that was part of the plan.

Price ...

McKewon: Husker defense feasting on third downs

LINCOLN — Defensive end Greg McMullen calls it “time to hunt.” Safety Nate Gerry opts for “time to eat.”

Either way, Nebraska’s defense this season has had a feast on ...

Armstrong’s ‘happy medium’ results in job well done

LINCOLN — Tommy Armstrong looked back at his clunky first half at Northwestern and said after the game that he knew what caused his slow start.

He was thinking too much ...

Shatel: Red-faced over seeing Doug McDermott in purple? Silly

People have asked what I thought about Doug McDermott’s video at the Northwestern game. Well, I thought he looked good in purple.

» This story is so much fun, I ...

Nebraska moves up 3 spots in Top 25 polls

Nebraska is up three spots in the AP Top 25 poll following the team's 38-17 win over Northwestern. They Huskers are now No. 16 in the AP poll.

The ...

Barfknecht: Iowa running out of answers

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The Iowa football team is well-schooled on how to handle the media after games.

Following wins, the Hawkeyes deflect the spotlight, credit teammates and observe that more ...

Notes: Price, Kondolo make most of their time vs. Wildcats

After not playing in Nebraska’s loss at Michigan State, juniors Givens Price and Chongo Kondolo had a conversation about what they could do to find their way on the ...

Husker defensive tackle Williams already looking forward to Rutgers

LINCOLN — Moments after enjoying his best performance as a Husker, defensive tackle Kevin Williams was ready to talk about next week.

The back-up lineman tallied 2 1/2 sacks in ...

McKewon: Second-half dominance gives Huskers momentum

SITTING AT THE GATE (AGAIN) AT O’HARE AIRPORT — You really haven’t lived until you’ve put in a token 15 minutes of waiting in a small, packed plane ...

From the sidelines: Husker fans take over; McDermott on video board

EVANSTON, Ill. — As they did two years ago, Nebraska fans showed up in force and raised the noise level Saturday at Ryan Field.

More than half the crowd of 47 ...

Second half sees Wildcats wobble

EVANSTON, Ill. — If Nebraska’s 38-17 victory over Northwestern is viewed as a tale of two halves, the second part is one Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald hopes never has a ...

Chatelain: Tim Beck’s new weapon is catching on

EVANSTON, Ill. — Frank Solich called the play “Black 41 Flash Reverse.” Tim Beck just called it “Texas.”

"Because Tommy’s from Texas," Beck told me.

The Husker offensive coordinator installed ...

Quarter by quarter: Nebraska 38, Northwestern 17

World-Herald staff writers Sam McKewon and Jon Nyatawa recap the key plays in each quarter of Nebraska's win over Northwestern.

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First quarter

Kenny Bell: The Nebraska wideout is healthy ...

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' 38-17 win over Northwestern.

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Tracking the offense

The game ...

Nebraska-Northwestern: Five things we learned, don't know

Five things we learned and five things we still don’t know coming out of Saturday's Nebraska-Northwestern football game.

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Five things we learned

1. Nebraska found innovative ways to ...

Pelini praises Armstrong’s leadership after Huskers surge in the second half

EVANSTON, Ill. — With raucous “Go Big Red!” cheers echoing throughout a Ryan Field overrun with Nebraska fans, and the Huskers in a kneel-down victory formation, quarterback Tommy Armstrong sat on ...

Husker Talk Live: Postgame replay

Replay the "Husker Talk Live" postgame chat with World-Herald staff writer Jon Nyatawa to track the discussion following the Nebraska-Northwestern game.

Live Blog Husker Talk Live: Game Day

Video: Husker postgame press conference

Replay the Husker postgame press conference with coach Bo Pelini and Husker I-back Ameer Abdullah.

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Video: Bo Pelini after Northwestern

Video: Ameer Abdullah after Northwestern

Video: Tommy Armstrong after Northwestern

Notes: Abdullah finds his footing, moves up NU’s career charts

EVANSTON, Ill. — It was probably a long seven quarters of sledding for Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah, but in his brief postgame interview, he didn’t let on too much ...

After O-line tweaks, Husker run game breaks open

EVANSTON, Ill. — Jake Cotton said Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck didn’t come into the locker room with a bunch of new ideas at halftime Saturday night, nor did Cotton ...