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

Hansen: Bo Pelini talks of core values but lacks more than a few

» EXPLICIT: Listen to Bo Pelini's final speech to the Husker players

» Read the full transcript of Bo Pelini's comments here

» University of Nebraska statement: 'We are extremely disappointed ...

Contracts for Nebraska’s new assistants are released

LINCOLN — Nebraska hasn’t officially designated roles for its four newest assistant coaches just yet, but they’ll all be compensated with a larger paycheck than a year ago.

NU ...

Book excerpt: Osborne, Kiffin take on duties for Devaney

“Devaney: Birth of a Dynasty” by The World-Herald’s Henry J. Cordes tells how Bob Devaney reorganized his staff following consecutive 6-4 seasons.

The 280-page hard-cover book, filled with photos ...

Riley discusses staff, recruits in interview

LINCOLN — Mike Riley said Thursday night that the decision to keep Charlton Warren on the Nebraska football coaching staff was an easy one.

During a brief appearance on “Sports Nightly ...

McKewon: Pelini’s message negative for team

» EXPLICIT: Listen to Bo Pelini's final speech to the Husker players

» Read the full transcript of Pelini's comments here

» University of Nebraska statement: 'We are extremely disappointed' in ...

Former Nebraska A.D. Steve Pederson fired by Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Steve Pederson deftly guided Pittsburgh through conference realignment from the crumbling Big East to the rebuilt ACC. The longtime athletic director could never find stability for the football ...

Nebraska response: 'We are extremely disappointed' in Bo Pelini

» Bo Pelini insults A.D. Shawn Eichorst in expletive-filled talk during final meeting with players

» Read the full transcript of Pelini's comments here

» Instant reaction: Former players, media, fake ...

Bo Pelini transcript: I'd rather work at McDonald's, former Husker coach says

» EXPLICIT: Listen to Bo Pelini's final speech to the Husker players

* * *

In a closed-door meeting, former Nebraska coach Bo Pelini addressed his former players two days after his Nov ...

The Big Ten Roundup with Lee Barfknecht: Replay

Replay Wednesday's "Big Ten Roundup" chat with World-Herald staff writer Lee Barfknecht to see his take on news from around the conference.

Also, check out our Big Ten page ...

Video: Bo Pelini introduced at Youngstown State

Watch Bo Pelini's introductory press conference as head coach at Youngstown State the university's YouTube channel.

See more on the former Husker coach's hiring at Youngstown State ...

Paul Chryst returns to Wisconsin, leaves Pittsburgh after three seasons

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Paul Chryst is back at Wisconsin, settling into familiar surroundings in his hometown.

This time, with a bigger office.

Chryst was hired Wednesday to coach the Badgers ...

Lineman Mike Moudy says Huskers motivated, ready to let loose

LINCOLN — Bowl games that don’t impact the national championship can be a time for fun and experimentation.

So when it was suggested to Nebraska guard Mike Moudy that he ...

Bo Pelini pumped to go to Youngstown State, work for Jim Tressel

LINCOLN — A reporter asked Bo Pelini about the terms of his still-developing contract at his introductory press conference Wednesday, and the new Youngstown State coach joked that he’d already ...

Shatel: One more round of drama for Bo Pelini, Husker football

» EXPLICIT: Listen to Bo Pelini's final speech to the Husker players

» Read the full transcript of Pelini's comments here

» University of Nebraska statement: 'We are extremely disappointed' in ...

Exclusive audio: Listen to Bo Pelini's speech in final meeting with Husker players (Explicit content)

Warning: The following audio has explicit content.

* * *

In a closed-door meeting, former Nebraska coach Bo Pelini addressed the Husker players two days after his Nov. 30 firing.

Listen to Pelini ...

Pelini slams Eichorst in vulgar talk during final meeting with players, says A.D. 'has no integrity'

» EXPLICIT: Listen to Bo Pelini's final speech to the Husker players

» Read the full transcript of Pelini's comments here

» University of Nebraska statement: 'We are extremely disappointed' in ...

Bo Pelini officially named Youngstown State coach

LINCOLN — Former Nebraska coach Bo Pelini is headed home.

Youngstown State, an FCS program in Pelini’s hometown, officially announced the hiring Tuesday afternoon. Pelini’s taking over the Penguins ...

Huskers Ameer Abdullah, Randy Gregory named AP All-Americans

The accolades keep coming for Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah and Randy Gregory.

Abdullah earned second-team All-America honors from the Associated Press on Tuesday. Gregory was awarded third-team All-America honors after ...

Husker Talk Live: Replay

Scroll through the "Husker Talk Live" chat with staff writer Sam McKewon to get his take on the latest headlines, including new Nebraska coach Mike Riley and former coach Bo ...

Warren set to remain part of Huskers’ staff

LINCOLN — Charlton Warren appears set to remain part of the Nebraska football coaching staff, news that hasn’t been announced officially but was confirmed Monday night by Husker defensive back ...

Husker notes: Mike Riley checks out bowl practice

LINCOLN — Mike Riley watched his future team practice Tuesday, and the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27 will be the Huskers’ last game before the former Oregon State head coach takes ...

Husker offensive coordinator Tim Beck has pride and no regret

LINCOLN — Tim Beck had no comment Tuesday when asked what happens after Dec. 27, sharing nothing about who he has contacted since Mike Riley was named the replacement for Bo ...

Lunch with Tom: Replay

Hungry for some sports chat? Join the “Lunch with Tom” chat at 10 a.m. as World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel discusses the future of Husker football and more.

Live Blog ...

Riley says staff will include some from Nebraska

LINCOLN — Nebraska coach Mike Riley told national radio host Tim Brando that he’s already going after one assistant on the previous Husker staff and may soon reach out to ...

Tales from the hiring of Devaney

Nebraska Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst’s hiring of Mike Riley as football coach was accomplished quickly and quietly.

“Devaney: Birth of a Dynasty” by The World-Herald’s Henry J. Cordes ...

Newest Husker recruit talks softly, carries big skill set

LINCOLN — Nebraska’s newest commit for the 2015 recruiting class opts for brevity when asked for his favorite high school football memory.

Dedrick Young, a 6-foot-1, 225-pound athlete from Peoria ...

Shatel: Forecast is bright for UNO hockey but a little foggy for CU and NU basketball

The local weather gurus have their winter forecast. I have mine. The difference: My six-inches-of-snow/65-degrees line runs through the middle of the CenturyLink Center. My forecast for:

» UNO hockey ...

Nebraska-USC tie in 1970 proved important

Nebraska and USC will play for the fifth time in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27 with the Trojans holding a 3-0-1 record in the series.

But that 1970 tie ...

For Nebraska, it's easy to get pumped for USC

LINCOLN — In the days leading up to Nebraska’s bowl announcement on Dec. 7, senior safety Corey Cooper wasn’t all that curious about the Huskers’ destination.

The “where” didn ...

McKewon: In Bo Pelini era, nothing was a snap for Huskers

LINCOLN — The simplest — and, in a sense, most essential — aspect of any offensive play is the snap. If you don’t get the snap right, forget the rest of it ...