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.
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.
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.
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
Big Red Today coverage
All year round, Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Wednesday's episode, Carriker talks to Nebraska defensive line coach John Parrella about his "All Gas, No Brakes" mantra, coaching the 3-4 defense, being back at Nebraska and…
Contrary to current popular opinion, Social Security eligibility isn’t required to land a high-profile position in Nebraska’s athletic department. It may seem that way with Mike Riley, 64, as head football coach and now Bill Moos, 66, as athletic director.
A lot of Nebraska players are pretty banged up this week, coach Mike Riley said on the Big Ten teleconference on Tuesday afternoon.
Former Nebraska quarterback Scott Frost knows a thing or two about the option offense, and he's using that knowledge to ready UCF to face it.
New Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos’ contract indicates that football is on the minds of those who gave it to him.
All year round, Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. Tuesday, Carriker takes an in-depth look at Nebraska's hiring of Bill Moos to be the next athletic director.
Members of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents expressed support and even delight Monday over the hiring of Bill Moos as Nebraska’s athletic director.
I’m hearing that some of the big-money folks are making their unhappiness known over Mike Riley’s football program.
Bill Moos may be a friendly face, but your skepticism is warranted.
All year round, Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. Monday, Carriker takes an in-depth look at the statistics behind Nebraska's 56-14 loss to Ohio State.
Moos, who has been director of athletics at Washington State since 2010, will begin his tenure in Lincoln on Oct. 23.
Nebraska’s defensive coordinator presided over a Blackshirts surrender that produced more sorrow on my Facebook page and in my Twitter/email message inbox than I can recall since the 2012 Big Ten championship game.
Bill Moos said Sunday that his motto has always been the same in 25 years of athletic administration and won't change as he takes over at Nebraska: "Honor the past, live the present, create the future."
For Bill Moos, his first course of action at Nebraska will likely focus heavily on figuring out who fits at Nebraska, and who doesn’t.
Picture this scene: Oregon State’s head coach (Mike Riley) sitting down with Oregon’s athletic director (Bill Moos) and telling Beaver football stories.
Somebody asked Bill Moos about boots, so he rattled off a couple of his favorite brands. And sports writers nodded in agreement.
If there had been a national betting pool on Nebraska’s hire for athletic director, today would entail offering refunds.
World-Herald staff writer Lee Barfknecht ranks the Big Ten football teams, as published in The World-Herald on Oct. 16.
Bill Moos was always open with Mike Bellotti. So open that they had conversations about what would happen if Moos — then the Oregon athletic director — ever had to fire his football coach.
There was a lot of talk about recovery on Saturday after one of Nebraska’s worst conference home losses ever.
Bill Moos came full circle in 2010 when he was hired as athletic director at Washington State, returning to Pullman after being an all-conference football player for the Cougars in the early 1970s and starting his career in athletics administration…
The former Nebraska center stated three goals when he was introduced as the interim athletic director on Sept. 26. All three got done under his watch, Rimington said Sunday.
All year round, Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Sunday's episode, Carriker gives his gut reaction to Nebraska's new athletic director, Bill Moos.
What do you think of the hire? Vote in the poll below and leave comments sharing your thoughts.
Bill Moos will take over as Nebraska A.D. on Oct. 23, University of Nebraska-Lincoln chancellor Ronnie Green announced Sunday. Who is he?
Nebraska football coach Mike Riley, captain of this pigskin Titanic, looked cold as he passively watched his program sink, perhaps for good, during Ohio State’s 56-14 evisceration of the Huskers.
Look for Nebraska to introduce a new athletic director this week. It’s not official, but three sources with ties to NU’s administration indicated Saturday interviews took place late last week and that a decision is either imminent or already made.
For the sake of all those national champions and All-Americans, for the thousands who grew up and grew old on the planks of Memorial Stadium, for the pride and dignity of a state and its flagship university. Make. It. Stop.
You could see and hear the boss calling for change. And it seems inevitable now, change will come to Nebraska’s football program. Many want it now, of course, after the embarrassment that unfolded at Memorial Stadium on Saturday night.
World-Herald staff writer Evan Bland takes a look at Nebraska's effort on both sides of the ball during the Huskers' 56-14 loss against the Buckeyes.