Michigan State (8-1)(5-0 B1G) at Nebraska (7-2)(4-1 B1G) (3:30 p.m. ET, on ABC)
Line: MSU -7 (Bovada)
Last Meeting: 2012: 28-24 Nebraska
3 Players to Watch:
1) Darqueze Dennard (CB, MSU):For those of you who read my article on Darqueze a year ago, you know how much the games against Nebraska mean to Dennard. You also know how highly I think of Dennard and what he has done for this Michigan State defense. This game is his. A year ago this game was taken from Dennard by way of a pass interference flag, a highly debatable flag at that. This is Darqueze’s final chance at revenge before he moves on to the NFL and I doubt there is a player on MSU that wants to win this game more than he does. How many times has Dennard been asked about his role in the Nebraska loss last year? Probably too many too count, but the Jim Thorpe Award Finalist will likely play a big role in giving the Spartans their first win against Nebraska, ever, if Michigan State can pull it off. Will a win require another 2 interception from Dennard? Who knows, but we know that Darqueze has the ability to take over a game as he has shown in the past
2) Tommy Armstrong Jr. (QB, Neb.):The Huskers are 5-0 with Armstrong Jr. as their starting quarterback. With that being said, Nebraska has not faced a defense even close to the one they will face Saturday within that stretch. Tommy probably shouldn’t have said this about the Spartan defense, “They are one of the best defenses in the country, but at the same time, they can be beat.” Uhm why poke the giant? Sure it is somewhat of a compliment, but the Spartans are already highly motivated to beat the Cornhuskers, why give the defense any extra motivation? Armstrong has been decent on the year, but has had two three-interception games, one against Purdue and one against Northwestern. Last week against Michigan, Armstrong completed 11 of his 19 attempts for 139 yards and one touchdown. Tommy Armstrong Jr. must be able to execute the Cornhusker’s game plan perfectly if he hopes to “beat” the Spartan defense. It surely wont help that Nebraska has lost 4 of their top 8 offensive lineman already this season.
3) Jeremy Langford (HB, MSU): Michigan State’s offensive line has truly improved and it has been shown game in and game out. They have been able to open holes for the running game and are ranked 4th in nation in fewest sacks allowed. The improvement can be seen while looking at Langford’s stats over the last four games. Over the last four games, Langford, has rushed for at least 100 yards and has accumulated six touchdowns in that stretch. Nebraska’s rush defense has not been great, though they did hold Michigan to negative yardage a game ago. If Michigan State hopes to get their first win at Nebraska, they will need to have a good game on the ground.
The Spartan’s offense has been steadily improving with quarterback Connor Cook at the helm. He has led them to five straight victories following the loss at Notre Dame and will be hoping to lead the Spartans to their first ever victory over Nebraska. Cook’s play has not always been pretty, but the development of the wide receivers has continued to show and aid Connor throughout the season.
This is a huge game for the Spartan defense and a huge game for Darequeze Dennard in particular. The defense should already be motivated to beat the Cornhuskers for the first time ever, but they received some extra motivation from the Nebraska QB this week as well. Can the Spartan defense be beaten? Maybe, but an injured Nebraska offensive line will surely not help Tommy Armstrong Jr. and the Huskers “beat” the Spartan defense.
If the Spartans want the Legends Division title, they must beat Nebraska. This is one of the final hurdles the Spartans will face in their quest toward the B1G championship game. Can Michigan State actually beat Nebraska? They have never done so, but it does look like a real possibility this year. The Spartan defense should be able to take advantage of Nebraska’s injured offensive line and make it difficult for Tommy Armstrong Jr. and the Cornhusker offense. I believe Darqueze Dennard will finally be able to tweet his cousin and let him know that “payback” has been served.
My pick: Michigan State 24, Nebraska 13