Weekend Spotlight: Michigan State at Nebraska
No. 16 Michigan State (8-1, 5-0 Big Ten) at Nebraska (7-2, 4-1 Big Ten)
Nebraska leads the series 5-0 (Last meeting November 3, 2012: Nebraska 28, Michigan State 24)
First place in the Legends Division is on the line as Michigan State travels to Nebraska for a late afternoon matchup. The Spartans can clinch at least a share of the Big Ten title with a win, which would also be their first victory over Nebraska in school history. Michigan State has cruised to five straight wins since suffering their only defeat on the road at Notre Dame, while Nebraska has recovered from a loss to Minnesota by winning close games against Northwestern and Michigan. The winner on Saturday will control its destiny to claiming its second Legends Division championship in the first three years of the current divisional set-up.
Michigan State’s defense has carried the team through the first nine games of the season. The Spartans’ rank first in the Big Ten in scoring defense (11.6 ppg), total defense (210.2 ypg) , rushing defense (43.4 ypg) and passing defense (166.8 ypg). In the last three games, the Spartans have allowed a total of 43 rushing yards against Purdue, Illinois and Michigan. Nebraska’s running game will be its toughest test yet, as the Cornhuskers have rushed for 247 yards per game, led by running back Ameer Abdullah. The junior has rushed for 1,213 yards and seven touchdowns, reaching the 100 yard mark in six-straight and eight of the nine games. Abdullah leads the Big Ten in all-purpose yardage, tallying 159 yards per game.
Despite ranking near the bottom of the conference in passing yards, Michigan State has been able to score points through turnovers and a running game led by junior Jeremy Langford. The running back has accounted for 10 of the team’s 14 rushing touchdowns and 45% of the team’s rushing yards. In the most recent win over Michigan, Langford rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown, reaching the 100-yard plateau for the fourth-straight game. Nebraska played perhaps its most complete defensive game of the season in the team’s 17-13 win in Ann Arbor last weekend. The Cornhuskers held the Wolverines to 175 total yards, 13 first downs and just one touchdown. Nebraska has only allowed the opponent to reach the end zone once in the last six quarters of play.
Extra Point – Michigan State and Nebraska are the two most penalized teams in the Big Ten, allowing 54.4 and 60.7 yards per game from penalties, respectively.