Game Day eve: Time for your analysis and prediction for Nebraska’s visit to Spartan Stadium

Last week’s predictions for Michigan State’s chances at Wisconsin, from me and many of you, were as pessimistic as they’ve been all season.

And, like most of the season, most of us have had trouble picking the outcome.

I’m not sure if what happened offensively in the final five minutes and overtime last Saturday translates to this week. Because, before that, there were 55 minutes of relatively ugly offense.

But winning breeds confidence, no question about that, and this Spartan defense doesn’t need much help right now. Just a couple touchdowns.

As we get into this week’s predictions, I’m also curious about the percentage of Spartan Stadium that’ll be filled with Nebraska fans.

Gannett MSU beat writer and colleague Joe Rexrode wrote about this in today’s Detroit Free Press, as do I in a column running in Saturday’s LSJ looking back at the 1995 game — Nebraska’s last and only visit to this point in what will be come an every-year series.

Back then Spartan Stadium was at least one-third red. The Cornhuskers have an amazing fan base. Probably the best in the country in terms of travel, passion, knowledge and courtesy toward other fan bases.

I was at the Kalamazoo Gazette when Western Michigan visited Nebraska in 2008. That week set all sorts of records for web hits. My editors thought I was just doing great work. I didn’t feel like telling them it was all Nebraska fans.

So, how much red is in Spartan Stadium today? And what’s your score prediction and why?

I think Rex Burkhead’s absence (if he doesn’t play) makes a difference. And, despite Taylor Martinez’s vastly improved passing numbers, I still think he throws like a third-grader.

If you look at MSU’s success against this sort of quarterback, the Spartan defense doesn’t give up much. The only reason for a loss to Braxton Miller and Ohio State is one long perfect pass down the sidelines that got the Buckeyes to 17 points.

Denard Robinson and Martinez can’t make that pass. Denard put up 12 points and it turned out to be enough. I’m not sure Martinez gets to 17, either.

As for our weekly prediction standings, AAsparty won last week with his call of a 17-14 MSU win. It was the first week multiple readers had the spread correct.

GreenGuy is still in the lead with two wins. AAsparty, Marky Mark, Lancelot and MD have one each.

Your predictions and analysis, please.

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38 Responses to Game Day eve: Time for your analysis and prediction for Nebraska’s visit to Spartan Stadium

  1. avatar Coach Welch says:

    Close game – again. Not enough confidence in the MSU offense to produce a lot of points, but the defense is playing very well. 20-17 Sparty wins at home.

  2. avatar AAsparty says:

    MSU 23, Cobs 10. Maxwell and the receiving corp are finally clicking and they grind-up yardage with quick slants and screens. Narduzzi plays Martinez like he plays Dreadlaces and makes him throw the ball, which leads to a couple of picks…

  3. avatar Sparty_in_Ohio says:

    Isn’t it Rex Burkhead?

    • avatar Graham Couch says:

      Ha, yes it is. Fixed. Good catch. Was emailing back a guy named Seth as I was writing it. Glad his name wasn’t Susan or something.

  4. avatar GreenGuy says:

    Well, with the help of GreenGal, I have now seen the light, and it is not the headlight of an oncoming train at the end of a tunnel. No, it is the bright glow of the halo that resides over the head of MSU OC Dan Roushar – so bright I gotta wear shades!

    If Dan Roushar says Nick Hill needs more touches…I say forget the cowbell…give me more Nick Hill. I got a fever, and the only cure is Nick Hill on kickoff return, punt return, tailback and slot receiver running reverses. With the confidence derived from the last 8 minutes of the Wisconsin game, this dynamic offense is a lock for at least…13 points.

    Defensively, MSU “contains” Nebraska’s running game to 185 yds (Abdullah 125 and Martinez w/ 60 on a bad ankle). However, on a critical late 4th Q drive, Martinez connects with WR Bell (who is very good) on a 3rd and 18 with one-armed Adams trailing the play along the sideline…setting up a touchdown for Nebraska that gets them to 17 points.

    Lest you think I am being pessimistic (as Graham suggests), I say phooey! The DEFENSE actually scores a touchdown off of a tipped Martinez pass picked off by Drummond and returned for a pick-6.

    Final score: MSU 20 Huskers 17 (so I guess I agree with Coach Welch)

    In reality, MSU’s best shot is if Martinez tweeks his ankle in the first half and NEB plays with backup QB. Not sure MSU has seen speed from the TB spot like Abdullah. Getting that speed on the edge will hurt MSU – not sure how Adams can hold up in run support. If Burkhead plays, I try the edge to Adams’ side and make Adams tackle…tough deal with a bad shoulder.

    BTW – I was at the ’95 game…it was, as the stadium tradition goes…a beautiful day for football. So many Husker fans, mostly well behaved. This year, the NE end zone will be full of red, and the corners of the lower and upper decks as well. 15K + Husker fans…and they’ll be noticed.

    • avatar AAsparty says:

      If we can hold Montee Ball and White to under 100 yards combined- who for my $$$ are the best 1-2 punch in the B1G, then I think we can stop Abdullah and a banged-up Burkhead and Martinez….

      • avatar GreenGuy says:

        I understand your point, but UN runs a different offense than Wiscy – specifically I’m concerned about the various read-option looks UN gives, and mostly, the option stuff to the edge. Abdullah can fly and I’m not sure Adams is healthy enough to hold up in run support. If I’m UN, I attack his side early and test him.

        If MSU does hold UN to under 100 yds, rushing, MSU wins by 10.

  5. avatar Dc Spartan says:

    Ugh. Can’t figure out this offense. We get teased with 1-2 competent drives a game.

    Msu 10 Nebraska 6

  6. avatar LancelotSpartan says:

    MSU wins 17-13

  7. avatar Spartan 81 says:

    Not stealing Lancelot my prediction on the other site was

    MSU 17
    Nebraska 13

    Unfortunately about 15 thousand Nebraska Fans will buy our tickets from the less committed.

  8. avatar Spartan 81 says:

    One Thing that we can all count on tomorrow.
    Ghost of Biggy will never sell his seats
    Breadtruck will never allow a hostile takeover of his seats. Ghost of Biggy and Breadtruck will hold firm

  9. avatar AGSpartyFan says:

    I was at the 95 game, first post grad game at Spartan Stadium. There will not be that much red, but I predict along the lines of OSU levels of red.

    I was one who remained optimistic last week, though I was a little higher on the score.

    This defense is amazing. Nebraska has a great O but hasn’t played a D this good. Martinez is nicked. Burkhead may not play. Kenny Bell, sporting the giant fro, will be key. Keep him at bay, win with more – relatively – ease.

    The run game needs to get going but with multiple receiving threats that should be easier than it has all year.

    I like state to get over the 20 pt hump and historically that means Ws.

    MSU 23 – corn shuckers 17

  10. avatar bigcub says:

    MSU’s offense has really not shown me anything other then Bell running!. Do the Spartans win this game? if the offense was the defense they would!. I just don’t see how they beat this team is this a must win game?. If it is they lose this game!. They will key on Bell and see if MSU ‘s Maxwell can make the pressure passes and his recievers step up if they don’t MSU loses this game.

  11. avatar MayoSpartan says:

    Conroy hits two field goals from the right hash mark and Air MAX audibles often to build rhythm and room for LaVeon to run wild in the secondary cornfields.

    MSU 27 – Huskers 19

  12. avatar Sparted says:

    As many others predict, I see another close, ugly game for MSU. However, I don’t care if it’s the ugliest baby in the brood as long as MSU wins. The Spartans can win this game but considering the season to date it’s hard to say who’s going to come up on top.

    I’d really like to see a pick six or a fumble recovery TD for MSU on Saturday. Would really bolster our chances for a win. Go Green!

    • avatar msu76 says:

      Re, the pick 6, or other kind of defensive touchdown, I was thinking the same thing! Maybe great minds think alike. Where’d you go to school?

  13. avatar Dan says:

    Let me get this straight. Largely the same “D” that gave up 24 points in Lincoln against an NU offense that was no where near as potent as this years edition just shuts Nebraska down? How exactly does that work? NU has had its issues with mobile QB’s, but a guy like Maxwell likely gets the same treatment that Cousins got last year, and Kirk was a more polished QB.

    NU 24
    MSU 13

  14. avatar GreenGuy says:

    After my prediction, I was curious about some stats in the B10 to this point. Thought I’d share these for blog-o-sphere consideration:

    D. Conroy ranked #2 in FG – although % is lower than some others.

    No MSU player in top 10 of int’s…hmmm

    Maxwell not in the top 10 in passing efficiency – albeit the WR struggles hurt him.

    No MSU player in top 10 in receptions/game – although I suspect a healthy Sims would have cracked this list.

    No MSU player in top 10 in receiving yds./game.

    No MSU player in top 10 total receiving yards.

    L. Bell ranked #4 in rushing @ 117.89 ypg.

    Maxwell ranked #5 in total offense @ 217.56/g.

    MSU #3 in pass offense @ 229.11

    MSU #10 in pass efficiency (ahead of only weasels and iowa)

    MSU #12 in rushing offense – direct link to OL problems.

    MSU #11 in scoring offesne.

    MSU #10 in total offense.

    I know I’ve been critical of MSU’s OC and offensive game-planning, in-game play-calling, and personnel decisions. Indiana, Purdue, NW and MN all operate offenses more prolific than MSU’s.

    Combine, let’s say, IU’s offense with MSU’s defense and what do you have? Legends Division champ and probable conference champ. Does IU really have better talent on offense than MSU? On OL, QB, RB, WR, TE? I’m not convinced of that…I think MSU operates in a system that needs a massive overhaul before the 2013 season.

    Any thoughts?

    • avatar LancelotSpartan says:

      Hmmm I think I am going to have to disagree with you. How was MSU’s offense last year with experienced players? (Even with a subpar offensive line) I think the results this year can be directly linked to the struggles with the offensive line. Not sure who you can blame for that, whether it be due to injuries, recruiting, or players just simply not panning out as expected. Last year we had enough skilled position players to overcome offensive line struggles. This year that is not the case. A good offensive line will alleviate pressure in so many other areas… I love the Pro style offense that coach D runs. We just need good players in the trenches to be successful at it, as Coach D has mentioned several times. And for various reasons we have not had that consistently.

      • avatar GreenGuy says:

        Good point, I did not compare to MSU’s offense last year. I don’t have the 2011 stats…however I suspect MSU was middle of the pack in most areas with the exception of rush offense (probably 10 or 11).

        I’d agree with the link to the OL problems…but with that said, would you trade MSU’s current OL and their struggles for say, IU’s? I guess my point, not made eloquently enough I suppose, is that several other teams with fairly obvious personnel limitations are outperforming MSU in most offensive categories. Does the injury/lack of depth situation on MSU’s OL completely explain the discrepency?

        I’d agree that the 2013 edition of MSU’s offense should be significantly better – with a Sr. QB, a WR group that is back intact, and Fonoti moved to RG and Jackson back at C. Sims back, maybe Bell back. I still see an alarming lack of depth on OL and help at least 2 years away.

    • avatar MayoSpartan says:

      Did you compare last years MSU offensive stats to this years? Probably not, because Cousins’ completions & efficiency ratings were considerably higher, thus TD’s were higher and the W-L record… was better and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

      • avatar MayoSpartan says:

        To clarify, MSU’s 2011 B1G stats are:
        3rd in scoring offense 30.3 pts/g & 37th in the nation
        2nd in passing offense with 252 yds/g & 41st
        11th in rushing offense 138 yds/g & 78th
        4th in total offense 405 yds/g … & 56th

        The passing vs rushes play calling is probably quite similar from year to date, as well.

  15. avatar Brian says:

    I’m from Omaha and personally don’t see too many fans making this trip to Michigan State, about 25,000 made the trip to Northwestern but it’s alot easier to head to chicago than East Lansing and considering it was just two weeks ago I’m not sure how many will make the trip. That being said i expect a great, hard hitting game, somewhere in the 17-10 range, whoever turns it over less is going to win

  16. avatar Spartan 81 says:

    Within one point of my prediction 17-13
    Week 10 Fearless Predictions – Nebraska at Michigan State


    Nebraska (6-2) at Michigan State (5-4) Nov. 3, 3:30, ABC/ESPN2

    Here’s The Deal: Nebraska can’t lock up the Legends with a win, but barring a total collapse, Nebraska can lock up the Legends with a win. After beating Michigan in a brutally ugly 23-9 battle, and with the comeback victory over Northwestern, the Huskers have already put away two of the top options in the division, and even though Iowa is coming up at the end of the season on the road, putting Michigan State away would be one of the biggest steps needed to get to Pasadena.

    The Spartans appeared to be dead and buried, and there but for the grace of a late holding call on Wisconsin to nullify a touchdown, they would be. Instead, they rallied in the final few moments to force overtime before coming up with a tremendous win over the Badgers that could change the season. With losses to Iowa and Michigan, it’ll take a ton of work to get back in the chase to win the division, but if they can win out with victories over Northwestern and Minnesota to follow, all of a sudden, things might get interesting.

    MSU finally got the passing game going late against the Badgers, but the offense has been hit-or-miss all season, lifeless at times and completely ineffective in key stretches. While the season might be a disappointment so far, and the 5-4 record and 2-3 Big Ten run haven’t been impressive, the three conference losses have come by a grand total of six points with the loss to Iowa coming in double overtime and the loss to Michigan happening on a last-second kick.

    The Huskers have done what they have needed to do with a great running game and timely passing from Taylor Martinez in a few key wins. The defense has risen up to be fantastic against the pass with an aggressive and tough pass rush, but the run D has been a bit iffy. Now it’s about to get tested.

    This is only the fifth time the two teams have ever played, with Michigan State inexplicably clunking last season in a dead-legged 24-3 loss. The Huskers are 4-0 in the series with the first game played in 1995, a 50-10 win.

    Why Nebraska Might Win: Michigan State’s passing game had a strong 68 seconds against Wisconsin; it’s not exactly the Green Bay Packer air attack. The passing game is among the least efficient in America with no downfield production and not enough big plays from the targets, and there won’t be this week against a defense that’s ninth in America in pass efficiency defense helped out by a pass rush that’s getting behind the line on a regular basis. The Spartans might be good in pass protection, but the Huskers should be able to generate just enough pop to bother Andrew Maxwell and throw off whatever they try to do through the air.

    Why Michigan State Might Win: The Nebraska running game won’t be going anywhere. With Rex Burkhead still struggling through a knee injury, the running game hasn’t been the same over the last few weeks. The overall stats look better than the running game really is, with big numbers put up against Arkansas State and Idaho State, but the team can run – it’s not going to happen this week. Max Bullough and the defensive front has been a rock against the stronger running teams, stuffing Wisconsin for a net 19 yards – helped by five sacks – and have allowed just three touchdown runs on the season with Ohio State the only team to come up with more than 200 yards. However …

    What To Watch Out For: Michigan Denard Robinson came up with 96 yards against the Spartans and Ohio State’s Braxton Miller ran for 136 yards – both the Wolverines and Buckeyes won. Nebraska will try to win through the air, but Taylor Martinez will have to be the one who makes the running game work. Last year he only ran for 23 yards against MSU, and he only completed 7-of-13 passes for 80 yards with a touchdown and a pick, but he led the way to the win. This year he has been much more of a passer, but the team is 1-2 when he has thrown an interception and 6-0 when he doesn’t. MSU has only picked off two passes on the year with just three in the last eight games.

    What Will Happen: The Spartans will build off the momentum of last week’s big win to rise up and shut down the Nebraska offense. It’s not going to be a pretty game by any stretch in a typically low-scoring MSU way, but it’ll be a tough Big Ten slugfest.

    CFN Prediction: Michigan State 16 … Nebraska 13
    ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Nebraska -2 O/U: 44
    Must Watch Rating (5 – The Man With The Iron Fists, 1 –

  17. avatar Chase says:

    1. Taylor Martinez is not nicked up at all. He’s 100% healthy.

    2. Losing Burkhead hurts, but Ameer Abdullah became the 1st Husker RB to rush for 100+ yards in his first 3 starts since Lawrence Phillips. He’s good and one of the best offensive players in the conference (go ahead and look). Braylon Heard, averaging well over 7 yds/carry, backs him up, along with Imani Cross. Nebraska lost Burkhead for much of the season and still have the #7 ranked rushing offense in the country.

    3. Nebraska leads the country in pass % completed against, holding opponents to a 46% completion rate, while 9th in the country in pass efficiency defense. If MSU becomes one dimensional they will have to rely on their run game, which is the worst in the Big Ten conference, statistically.

    4. Bo Pelini’s defenses feast on “pro style” QB’s (see: Kirk Cousins and the worst performance of his career in Lincoln). Maxwell will have to use his legs to keep the defense honest or he won’t do anything all day long. Don’t believe me? Just watch.

    5. Nebraska leads the Big Ten in offense, Taylor has the highest QB rating in the league and Kenny Bell/Quincy Enunwa are NFL-level WR’s. Mix in Kyler Reed at TE (Mackey Award semifinalist) and the Huskers have more weapons on offense than anything MSU has seen this year – fact.

    If MSU were to win this game, it will have to be through turnovers, in which Nebraska has the worst turnover margin in the Big Ten and one of the worst in the country. It’s the only reason Wisconsin was able to stay in the game vs Nebraska (3 Neb turnovers in the RZ turned into 21 points for Wisconsin vs 0 turnovers for Wisconsin). BTW, Nebraska also shutdown Montee Ball. Special Teams, in which Nebraska struggled big time vs NW with multiple muffed punts and should’ve costed them the game. And penalties, where Bo Pelini teams aren’t disciplined and consistently lead whatever conference they’re apart of in penalties and penalty yards.

    Nebraska is a bad match-up for Michigan State. Nebraska should have beat MSU last year by 40. But that was in Lincoln, and Nebraska struggles on the road (just take a look). Nebraska also doesn’t handle success very well and are in danger of a “letdown” game. Nebraska leads the Big Ten in sacks, so MSU’s banged up, inexperienced o-line will have their hands full in this one.

    Nebraska is the better team. The question is whether they self-destruct or not. If they do, which they definitely can and have done plenty of times, MSU wins. If not, Nebraska will smack MSU upside the head to the cheers of 15k-20k Husker fans in the stands.

  18. avatar MLM89 says:

    Home field should help the emotion level after 2 big games the last 2 weeks, but I just don’t trust the offense enough. Huskers 20 MSU 16.

  19. avatar Brian says:

    Cobs 24- Sparty 14. Nebraska’s D is coming on while the MSU O is still slim especially with a non-mobile QB. Should be a grueling hard hitting game but between the Cobs reconstituted D and their above average O, the Cobs will win out late in the 4th quarter. Should be a terrific defensive battle most of the game. The Cobs want the Rose Bowl badly and will rise to the occasion on the road.

  20. avatar Stategrad '71 says:

    A sea of red watches a Husker beatdown of the lyin’ Narduzzis. Make it Nebraska 31 Michigan State 10.

  21. avatar Breadtruck86 says:

    If we can score 17, we win.

  22. avatar Trophy says:

    MSU 17 – neb-10

  23. avatar AAsparty says:

    while our O stats are not impressive by any means, I’m still not that blown away by the Cobs, that come-back against NW was well executed but that vaunted D has given up a lot of points, 63 to the Nuts what, 3 weeks ago?

  24. avatar marky mark says:

    neb- 17-13 I hope I’m wrong, we need little brother to win this one for us!!!

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