The Michigan State Football team got back in the win column on Saturday as they defeated Nebraska 20-17 on senior day.
In the last game at Spartan Stadium for the season, the Spartans snapped a six game losing streak in front of the home crowd. Interim head coach Harlon Barnett also picked up his first win during his tenure.
“Finally, right?” Barnett said. “Finally, finally got us a victory. I’m really happy for our guys. All we talked about was finish, finish, finish and that's what they did. We finally finished one and got a victory, so I’m really really happy for our players.”
It was a close contest throughout, but MSU stayed resilient during the course of the game. In previous games against Iowa and Rutgers and even Minnesota, the Spartans had been competitive through halftime and knocking on the door for a win, but couldn’t close the game out and would collapse late. Saturday’s game showed much of the opposite.
The unit that really stepped up for Michigan State was the defense. Seven total sacks as a team, two interceptions, and a defensive fumble recovery set the tone for dominance throughout the afternoon.
In the past few weeks, the defense has come alive for MSU which has helped them remain in these close games, but the showing against Nebraska showed how much work they have put in to become a force for this team.
“We just gotta keep doing this,” sophomore defensive back Jaden Mangham said. “We got to keep making plays, keep coming out there with energy and just keep doing what you know, what we’ve been doing. And I really can’t wait what holds for us for the rest of the year.”
Barnett has previously said that he is going to start being himself and take actions as a coach. Certain players that haven’t seen the field as much in the beginning of the season have gotten opportunities in that time frame since that statement, as Barnett mentioned he will be putting the players in that give his team the best opportunity to win the game.
Against Nebraska, the secondary got lots of different looks, and it payed off. Redshirt sophomore defensive back Khalil Majeed, someone who didn’t start seeing snaps this season until the Richmond contest, got an increased workload this afternoon. Majeed was all over the field, and was rewarded with an interception, the defense’s second of the day.
Across the defensive line, redshirt senior defensive lineman Maverick Hansen provided lots of pressure which helped the Spartans stall Nebraska. Hansen finished with one and a half sacks and three total tackles against the Cornhuskers.
“The defensive line feels great man,” Hansen said. “We knew it was up to us and it starts and ends up front, you know. As a unit, we take pride in putting the team on our back, and I’m just happy we were able to come out and pull through for the team.”
The road certainly doesn’t get easier ahead for MSU, but the dominance from the defense allows the offense to relax when they aren’t as consistent. Traveling to face No. 1 ranked Ohio State will be a tall task for the Spartans, but this is the perfect amount of momentum the team needed heading into the final stretch of the season.
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