Prediction: MSU defense will be enough to top No. 21 Nebraska
What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?
We’re about to find out, as the Big Ten’s top rushing defense squares off against the conference’s number one rushing attack when MSU (5-4 overall, 2-3 Big Ten) takes on No. 21 Nebraska (6-2, 3-1) at Spartan Stadium for only the seventh time in program history.
The Cornhuskers have won each of the previous six matchups, but this time MSU looks to shut down Nebraska’s historically effective running game with its own vaunted defense.
With the pregame clock slowly ticking towards zero, Josh and I make our pregame predictions for today’s game.
Jesse: Not to state the obvious, but if MSU wants to leave Spartan Stadium with a victory, they’ll need to shut down Nebraska’s running game, a task that became much easier with news tail back Rex Burkhead is not dressed for today’s game.
But expect Nebraska to run early and often, and potentially wear down the line of green near the end of the game. This will be an extremely physical game, and MSU will need next week’s bye to recover from it.
However, MSU’s defense isn’t the question mark here — it is, as it has been all season, on the offense to get things done. And to do that, junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell might need to make some plays himself, a weapon in his arsenal, but one that has not been utilized very often this year. Nebraska likes to use man coverage on the receivers, which could give Maxwell some running room if his receivers can pull the Husker linebackers away from the middle of the field.
All that said, MSU is riding a lot of momentum from last week’s win in Camp Randall, and I’d expect to see that energy carry over into this week’s game.
Prediction: MSU 17, Nebraska 14
Josh: When MSU and Nebraska take the football field, another low-scoring slugfest can be expected.
With temperatures hovering around the high 30s, both teams should try to run the ball early and often, which could be made more difficult for Nebraska, which will likely be without star running back Rex Burkhead.
With that in mind, expect conservative offensive play calling from the Cornhuskers, and a close game where neither team runs away with it.
MSU is very experienced in these types of game, with each of its Big Ten games decided by four points or less.
The Spartans are coming off a win last week in one of those close games against a team that was favored to beat them, and although they’ve never beaten Nebraska, they’ll find a way to steal a win at home.
Prediction: MSU 13, Nebraska 10