By Aidan Champion
Between the return of Spartan Stadium’s label as “The Woodshed,” a striped green and white stadium and No. 20 Michigan State football being in the AP rankings for the first time since Week 6 of the 2019 season, it would be an understatement to say East Lansing is excited for its second home game.
The Spartans enter their contest against Nebraska after going down to Hard Rock Stadium and knocking off a ranked Miami team.
The matchup was a defensive war for most of the first half, but elite performances from MSU’s Payton Thorne and Kenneth Walker III, and Miami’s junior wide receiver Charleston Rambo made for a thrilling second-half stretch.
Ultimately, it was the Spartans who pulled away in the fourth quarter, starting with a sack-fumble caused by MSU defensive end Drew Beesley. Miami attempted to reclaim its fight in the contest a few times, but coach Mel Tucker’s team turned on the jets at a point that was too late for the Hurricanes.
Nebraska comes into this week with a 2-2 record, having just lost a close game to No. 4 Oklahoma 23-16.
The Huskers offensive line did what was expected of them, and that was to keep QB Adrian Martinez upright, while also allowing him to have enough time to go to work. The 6-foot-2 junior threw for 289 yards and a passing touchdown, while also running for 34 yards and scoring a rushing TD.
Unfortunately for Nebraska, the defense just couldn’t contain early Heisman candidate Spencer Rattler, who was able to throw for 214 yards on 24 completions.
Even then, the Huskers outmatched the Sooners in total passing yards for the game.
The Spartans’ biggest threat on Saturday is going to be Martinez, who is making a case for a top QB in the Big Ten. MSU’s defense is fresh off a beating from Miami’s D’Eriq King, who threw for 388 yards and two touchdowns last Saturday. King hadn’t even surpassed 200 passing yards in either of the Hurricanes’ two games prior.
For MSU fans, though this sounds intimidating, it’s all you could want for your team when this is the area of the Spartans’ game that arguably needs the most improvement.
MSU does await a challenge on the offensive end, though, as the Huskers have limited their opponents to a decent average of 190.0 passing yards per game.
Thorne is the Big Ten’s reigning Co-Offensive Player of the Week, but Nebraska certainly has the potential to humble him in Week 4. Some are already predicting this game to be an ugly offensive display between both teams, due to the projection of rainy weather.
Should this be the case, the matchup would come down to a battle on the ground, but that is something the Huskers should desperately seek to avoid, as Walker leads the nation in total rushing yards with 493.
The Spartans cannot afford to allow many mistakes on Saturday night. Nebraska should not be taken lightly, and if MSU hopes to remain a contender in the Big Ten East at the end of the weekend, it needs to compete with the same intensity it has for the last three weeks.
Written by: Aidan Champion
Aidan is an MSU Journalism Student and Spartan Football writer for: impact89fm.org
Photo courtesy of cornnation.com