Game Day: Nebraska vs. Michigan State

Changing the narrative

Nebraska coach Mike Riley would prefer not to discuss the potential narrative-altering impact that an upset win over an undefeated top 10 team could have on a disappointing debut season. To Riley, any assertion that a single game has added value over another jeopardizes the workmanlike approach he’d like his program to adopt.

READ MORE »

2-Minute Drill by Rich Kaipust

Nebraska rush offense vs. Michigan State rush defense

Not much momentum on the side of the Huskers, who have managed just 82 and 77 rushing yards in their last two games. Getting back the quarterback run threat with Tommy Armstrong might help, but the problems seem to be running a little deeper. The Spartans won’t cut cooperate much, either, currently holding opponents to 115.5 yards per game and 3.5 per carry. NU will need to win some battles up front, but that’s where Michigan State is strongest.

Nebraska pass offense vs. Michigan State pass defense

There are some things in the Huskers’ favor, with the ability to maybe test two freshman safeties more than some recent MSU foes have done and take advantage of cornerback Darian Hicks likely being out. But Nebraska also is back to being without De’Mornay Pierson-El, and it better find a way to keep Shilique Calhoun and company out of the backfield to give Armstrong time to do something.

Michigan State rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

The Huskers have started to yield some ground here after mostly stuffing the run for seven weeks, and Purdue hit them for a surprising 183 rushing yards last Saturday. Michigan State, though, is one of only two Big Ten teams averaging below 4.0 yards per carry, and don’t have a Le’Veon Bell or Jeremy Langford like NU has had to worry about before.

Michigan State pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

The No. 124-ranked pass defense in the nation won’t get any kind of break against Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook. The senior has passed for 17 touchdowns with just two interceptions, and his knack for making the throws that matter has helped MSU convert 50 percent of its third downs. Nebraska has held him somewhat in check the last two meetings, with Cook completing just 43.3 percent of his passes (26 of 60) for 427 yards and two TDs.

Special teams

Nebraska kicker Drew Brown has made five straight field goals from 40-plus yards, leads the Big Ten in scoring and ranks second with 26 touchbacks on kickoffs. The Huskers rank second in net punting, too, behind the work of Sam Foltz. Neither team is great in the return game, and NU especially has struggled with running back kickoffs, although it got a 42-yarder last week from Stanley Morgan.

Intangibles

This would appear stacked for Michigan State, with the Spartans coming off a bye week, motivated by their pursuit of a College Football Playoff spot and riding a 12-game road win streak in Big Ten play. The Spartans also have a plus-10 turnover margin and limit their penalties, which happen to be two areas where the Huskers rank closer to the bottom nationally than the top. NU also is staring at a season that has gotten away from it.

Key matchup: Nebraska offensive line vs. Michigan State front four

Nebraska hasn’t consistently been moving anybody around, and now comes Michigan State with Shilique Calhoun (6-5, 250), Joel Heath (6-6, 293), Malik McDowell (6-6, 275) and Lawrence Thomas (6-4, 305). Look for the Huskers to run some misdirection, but NU offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said they will have to go right at the Spartans some, too.

Our take

Nebraska might have a chance to get some things done against the MSU defense, but also needs to keep Cook off the field and stop him on third down. It just can’t afford to do anything like it has done the last two years against Sparty, turning it over five times in 2013 and falling behind 27-3 in 2014. Bottom line, though, is that Michigan State is several things that NU is not right now: Clean, confident and consistent.

Our prediction: Michigan State 38, Nebraska 28

Live updates

#Huskers on Instagram

Videos

Extras

Live: TBL pregame, postgame

"The Bottom Line" pregame show with Mike’l Severe will start broadcasting live at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, then tune in after the game for a complete breakdown and call-in show with Mike'l and Joe Ganz. Click here »

Game notes

Check out a PDF of the game notes for the Nebraska-Michigan State matchup provided by the NU Athletic Department. Click here »

Husker History

Find information on every win, loss and tie in Husker history. With historical World-Herald front pages, photos, stories, key stats and more, our ever-growing Husker History Database is your new home for archiving one of the nation's most tradition-rich programs.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. Plus, look back at historical moments in Nebraska football by following @HuskerHistory on Twitter.

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

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

All the recruits: How the Huskers' 2018 commits fared in high school games this week (Aug. 18)

A player-by-player look at how all 10 of Nebraska's 2018 recruits performed, individually and as a team, during games played during Nebraska's bye week.

McKewon: Husker defensive coordinator Bob Diaco has a plan, and the Blackshirts have a new vibe

Camp Feel Good. That’s the Huskers’ training camp in 2017. The players walk with a collective pep, which is odd for the August grind. Whether it lasts into the season remains to be seen, but Bob Diaco has jolted the…

Competition suits Nebraska tight ends to a tee with each Husker battling to start

Time spent on tee boxes and greens this summer is starting to help the Husker tight ends. The summer camaraderie is spilling onto the football field as Jack Stoll, Connor Ketter, Tyler Hoppes and the rest compete for the starting…

Shatel: Former Husker Adam Carriker has lots to offer in new career path

Adam Carriker will appear on Omaha.com and “The Bottom Line,” offering opinions on Nebraska football, breaking down games, answering fans’ questions and posting video reaction after games. If you haven’t ever heard him, you’re going to love him.

Recruiting: Wait winding down for Nebraska commit Cameron Jurgens

It's been more than two years since Cameron Jurgens committed to Nebraska, and the time is fast approaching when he'll officially become a Husker.

Husker redshirt freshman receiver JD Spielman ready for test after months of study

Fake it till you make it. The motto flashed through JD Spielman’s mind often during his first 12 months as a college football player. So far, there has been more pretending than the speedy wide receiver cares to admit.

WR Manuel Allen dumps Nebraska, another chapter in Huskers' receiver recruiting drama

Nebraska's 2018 recruiting class got smaller Thursday evening when Corona (Calif.) Centennial wide receiver Manuel Allen announced on Twitter he was decommiting from NU and flipping to Louisville.

Husker notes: Freshman receiver Tyjon Lindsey proves to be fast learner; New looks for offensive line

A big play at Nebraska’s Thursday practice pitted two top-100 recruits against each other.

Huskers' Dicaprio Bootle pushing for big role; small corner likes ‘beating up receivers’

He’s not a tall cornerback. He’s not built like a safety. Dicaprio Bootle is one of the smaller scholarship players on Nebraska’s 2017 roster, which lists him at 5-foot-10, 185 pounds. The height seems a little generous.

Recruiting: Nebraska pursuing several 500-mile radius defensive targets for its 2018 class

The Huskers have recently offered a pair of defensive recruits from bordering states, continuing a push to close out the class on that side of the ball with targets from within the 500-mile radius.

Husker notes: Bray says linebackers are making strides; Freedom’s role in new defense and more

If and when Nebraska needs depth at linebacker, Trent Bray is more confident than ever in maintaining quality. The NU linebackers coach said Tuesday that the “4” part of Bob Diaco’s 3-4 defense has made noticeable strides in the last…

Recruiting: Nebraska extends scholarship offer to Iowa's No. 1-rated recruit

Nebraska made an entry Monday night into the recruitment of consensus four-star John Waggoner. He's the top-ranked recruit in Iowa, according to all the major recruiting services.

Barfknecht: After standout season, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley is only getting better

Note to Big Ten defensive coordinators: Don’t read this column at meal time. Maybe don’t peruse it at all, so you can dodge the queasy feeling that comes with figuring out ways to slow down Penn State running back Saquon…

NU punter Caleb Lightbourn years ahead of last season, responding to approach of new Husker coaches

Lightbourn’s reality changed in the spring, when new defensive coordinator Bob Diaco said he would coach punters directly. For Diaco, every detail makes a difference.

Shatel: A head-to-toe NU volleyball indoctrination; If he plays, no mop-up time for freshman QB Gebbia

It’s no secret Nebraska volleyball stands out from the other Husker sports. There are reasons for that. I might have found another one.

Speedy junior Mikale Wilbon having ‘very good camp’ in four-way battle for Husker running back job

Already having established himself as Nebraska’s fastest running back, Mikale Wilbon has been working to earn another title before the Sept. 2 opener against Arkansas State.

McKewon: With Adidas deal and coming Big Ten windfall, A.D. Shawn Eichorst has vision for Huskers’ future

Nebraska just got three times as much money and Adidas apparel per year at a time when the Big Ten’s full share is about to kick in. How did Shawn Eichorst pull that off?

Husker sophomore Mohamed Barry works to master inside linebacker role so instincts take over

With a chance to make significant contributions in Nebraska’s new 3-4 defense, Mohamed Barry has been fine-tuning two areas of his game.

Intensity of Huskers’ youthful but experienced defensive staff rubs off on players

Mike Riley has never worked with a group of defensive assistants this young. All played college football in the not-so-distant past. All are well-regarded recruiters eager to meet prospects. In the months that the staff has been together, team workouts…

Husker notes: Young Huskers exuding confidence as Nebraska takes step forward with Saturday's scrimmage

Coach Mike Riley said NU worked on third-down, red zone and “high red zone” plays — those start around the opponents’ 40-yard line — and mixed in a few drives. Unlike Thursday, when the offense struggled at times to deal…

Mike Riley 'real impressed' with Tristan Gebbia as true freshman makes case to be Huskers' backup QB

While playing as a true freshman wouldn’t be “the best thing for him,” quarterback Tristan Gebbia has impressed coaches so much during the first half of training camp that they’d consider pulling his redshirt if needed.

Nebraska chancellor expects Huskers will never host Friday night football game

At the University of Nebraska Board of Regents meeting Friday, UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green told regents he'd been talking with the Big Ten, which created the Friday night TV package with Fox Sports 1, and does not think NU will…

TBL: Husker commit Cameron Brown done with recruiting, says Nebraska feels like home

Cameron Brown made one commitment to Nebraska that only lasted a month, so now that he has rejoined the Huskers' 2018 recruiting class, is he going to stick this time?

NU regents approve 11-year, $128 million deal to keep Huskers with Adidas

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln will stay in an exclusive contract with Adidas and will get more than $128 million in cash and goods over 11 years.

Injuries to wide receivers put Huskers in 'bit of a bind,' Mike Riley says

Nebraska wants to open up its passing playbook this season, and NU coaches believe Tanner Lee is the quarterback who can do it. But NU is running low on healthy scholarship receivers who can catch Lee’s passes.

Husker freshmen Patrick O'Brien and Tristan Gebbia 'very close' in battle for No. 2 QB spot

Nebraska knows Tanner Lee is its starting quarterback. Offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf hedged Thursday on which backup — between Patrick O’Brien and Tristan Gebbia — is No. 2.

Barfknecht: Injured Wisconsin linebacker Jack Cichy knows underdog role all too well

Sometimes, real life interrupts the best plans of football coaches and columnists. Big Ten West Division favorite Wisconsin got a real-life slap in the face Thursday with news that All-America candidate Jack Cichy is out for the season with a…

Husker notes: Devine Ozigbo’s improved diet pays off; Progress made ‘day by day’

Devine Ozigbo has looked slim and trim this training camp. He’s stayed in the weight room, which has helped, but most importantly, he said, he stayed in Lincoln instead of going home to Sachse, Texas, over the summer.

Shatel: NU assistant Trent Bray’s choice to stay in Lincoln shows Diaco Effect isn’t limited to players

We’re expecting a Diaco Effect this season. That’s why the defensive guru was hired. It’s on his résumé. It’s in his voice. It’s in his coaching. Impact. How long will it take for Diaco to have that impact? Good question.

NU's John Parrella, Blackshirts seeking defensive line depth through versatility behind an established first unit

DaiShon Neal insists he doesn’t get excited for games. Yes, he knows it sounds funny coming from a redshirt sophomore with two career tackles.