LINCOLN, NEB. – Turnovers are the story as the No. 14 MSU football team heads into halftime leading Nebraska 20-7.
The Spartans (8-1 overall, 5-0) forced four turnovers in the first half, highlighted by a pair of forced fumble recoveries that set up two separate scoring drives against the Huskers (7-2, 4-1), including a 6-yard touchdown run by junior running back Jeremy Langford to close out the half.
After Nebraska running back Terrell Newby fumbled the ball on the opening drive, being recovered by sophomore defensive end Shilique Calhoun, the Spartans took over on the Huskers’ 40-yard line.
With the wind at his back, sophomore Connor Cook overthrew a pass to wide open junior wide receiver Tony Lippett, who just barely missed getting a foot down in the back of the end zone, which was upheld following a brief review.
Following two additional incomplete passes, the Spartans would be forced to settle for a 45-yard field goal by freshman kicker Michael Geiger.
Cook finished the first half passing 8-for-15 for 91 yards.
The Spartans finally found the end zone in the first quarter on a misdirection flip by Cook to freshman wide receiver R.J. Shelton, who was able to walk past the goal line to put MSU ahead 10-0.
And while it appeared the Spartans were a threat to run away with the game, the Huskers brought it back with a 32-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr., to wide receiver Sam Burtch.
Nebraska’s scoring drive took five plays to travel 75 yards, highlighted by two catches of 26 or more yards by Burtch and back-to-back tough carries by running back Ameer Abdullah.
Abdullah finished the first half as the game’s leading rusher with 87 yards, inching closer to becoming the first 100-yard rusher against the Spartan defense this season.
In the opening drive of the second quarter, the Spartans posed another threat to score, driving the length of field before forcing an errant trick play pass that fell incomplete in the end zone, intended for junior tight end Andrew Gleichert.
Instead, the Spartans settled for a field goal once again, this time a 25-yard strike by Geiger.
Late in the first half, Calhoun forced a fumble of his own on Armstrong, recovered by senior safety Isaiah Lewis to set the Spartans up on Nebraska’s 18-yard line.
Following an 8-yard reception by sophomore wide receiver Macgarrett Kings Jr., Langford pounded the ball past the goal line to give MSU a 20-7 lead heading to the locker rooms at the end of the first half.
The Spartans will receive the ball to open the second half.