Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Five takeaways from MSU's stunning 39-38 loss to Nebraska

November 7, 2015
<p>Head coach Mark Dantonio reacts to an Indiana touchdown during the game against Indiana on Oct. 24, 2015, at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans defeated the Hoosiers, 52-26.</p>

Head coach Mark Dantonio reacts to an Indiana touchdown during the game against Indiana on Oct. 24, 2015, at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans defeated the Hoosiers, 52-26.

Photo by Julia Nagy | The State News

No. 7-ranked MSU (8-1 overall, 4-1 Big Ten) was shocked by Nebraska (4-6 overall, 2-4 Big Ten) 39-38 Saturday night in Lincoln, ending the Spartan's hopes of an undefeated season. Here are five takeaways from the Spartans loss:

Controversial ending

Nebraska's junior wide receiver Brandon Reilly appeared to step out of bounds on his own free will, which should have negated what ended up being the game winning touchdown for the Cornhuskers.

The referees reviewed the play, yet still upheld the touchdown. The Spartans were cheated, but ultimately it shouldn't have come down to that.

Kicking with confidence

After a shaky start to the season junior kicker Michael Geiger may have finally regained form. Geiger drilled a 46-yard field goal in the first quarter to cut a 10-0 Nebraska lead when all of the momentum was shifting towards the Cornhuskers.

The Spartans elected not to kick field goal earlier in the first on fourth and short, but that comes as no surprise because of the apparent lack of trust in the kicking game.

A reliable Geiger would give a huge boost to a weak Spartan special teams unit.

Finding No. 2

There is no question that senior wide receiver Aaron Burbridge has been senior quarterback Connor Cook's No. 1 target this season, but he may have finally found his true No. 2 target despite the loss.

Senior wide receiver Macgarrett Kings Jr. made some big plays en route to a four reception, 97-yards and two touchdown night.

Cook being Cook

After a slow start, Cook got rolling to finish on a record-breaking day.

The senior and winningest quarterback of all time at MSU broke Kirk Cousins school record of 66 passing touchdowns with a 33-yard strike to Burbridge early in the third quarter. He also set a school record with his fourth-straight 300-yard passing game.

Cook now has a career 68 touchdown passes at MSU.

Yet, after another strong performance for Cook, MSU took the ball out of his hands on 3rd and long when a first down would have put the game away. 

Carries not exactly split

For the first time this season MSU seemed to put their faith in one running back. Sophomore Gerald Holmes had 22 of the Spartans 34 carries for 117 yards and a touchdown. 

The other 12 carries were split between six rushers with just three for freshman running back LJ Scott and one for junior Delton Williams.

Final thoughts

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The Spartans' dreams of an undefeated season are done, but their hopes of securing a berth in the College Football Playoff are not—they just need some help.

With a win over Ohio State, a Big Ten Championship berth and a win over what should be an undefeated Iowa team in that game should give the Spartans a strong enough resume to make the playoffs despite this loss.

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