Week 10 – Nebraska at Michigan State

Posted Nov 2, 2012

Week 10 Fearless Predictions - Nebraska at Michigan State


Nebraska (6-2) at Michigan State (5-4) Nov. 3, 3:30, ABC/ESPN2

Here's The Deal: Nebraska can't lock up the Legends with a win, but barring a total collapse, Nebraska can lock up the Legends with a win. After beating Michigan in a brutally ugly 23-9 battle, and with the comeback victory over Northwestern, the Huskers have already put away two of the top options in the division, and even though Iowa is coming up at the end of the season on the road, putting Michigan State away would be one of the biggest steps needed to get to Pasadena.

The Spartans appeared to be dead and buried, and there but for the grace of a late holding call on Wisconsin to nullify a touchdown, they would be. Instead, they rallied in the final few moments to force overtime before coming up with a tremendous win over the Badgers that could change the season. With losses to Iowa and Michigan, it'll take a ton of work to get back in the chase to win the division, but if they can win out with victories over Northwestern and Minnesota to follow, all of a sudden, things might get interesting.

MSU finally got the passing game going late against the Badgers, but the offense has been hit-or-miss all season, lifeless at times and completely ineffective in key stretches. While the season might be a disappointment so far, and the 5-4 record and 2-3 Big Ten run haven't been impressive, the three conference losses have come by a grand total of six points with the loss to Iowa coming in double overtime and the loss to Michigan happening on a last-second kick.

The Huskers have done what they have needed to do with a great running game and timely passing from Taylor Martinez in a few key wins. The defense has risen up to be fantastic against the pass with an aggressive and tough pass rush, but the run D has been a bit iffy. Now it's about to get tested.

This is only the fifth time the two teams have ever played, with Michigan State inexplicably clunking last season in a dead-legged 24-3 loss. The Huskers are 4-0 in the series with the first game played in 1995, a 50-10 win.

Why Nebraska Might Win: Michigan State's passing game had a strong 68 seconds against Wisconsin; it's not exactly the Green Bay Packer air attack. The passing game is among the least efficient in America with no downfield production and not enough big plays from the targets, and there won't be this week against a defense that's ninth in America in pass efficiency defense helped out by a pass rush that's getting behind the line on a regular basis. The Spartans might be good in pass protection, but the Huskers should be able to generate just enough pop to bother Andrew Maxwell and throw off whatever they try to do through the air.

Why Michigan State Might Win: The Nebraska running game won't be going anywhere. With Rex Burkhead still struggling through a knee injury, the running game hasn't been the same over the last few weeks. The overall stats look better than the running game really is, with big numbers put up against Arkansas State and Idaho State, but the team can run – it's not going to happen this week. Max Bullough and the defensive front has been a rock against the stronger running teams, stuffing Wisconsin for a net 19 yards – helped by five sacks – and have allowed just three touchdown runs on the season with Ohio State the only team to come up with more than 200 yards. However …

What To Watch Out For: Michigan Denard Robinson came up with 96 yards against the Spartans and Ohio State's Braxton Miller ran for 136 yards – both the Wolverines and Buckeyes won. Nebraska will try to win through the air, but Taylor Martinez will have to be the one who makes the running game work. Last year he only ran for 23 yards against MSU, and he only completed 7-of-13 passes for 80 yards with a touchdown and a pick, but he led the way to the win. This year he has been much more of a passer, but the team is 1-2 when he has thrown an interception and 6-0 when he doesn't. MSU has only picked off two passes on the year with just three in the last eight games.

What Will Happen: The Spartans will build off the momentum of last week's big win to rise up and shut down the Nebraska offense. It's not going to be a pretty game by any stretch in a typically low-scoring MSU way, but it'll be a tough Big Ten slugfest.

CFN Prediction: Michigan State 16 … Nebraska 13
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Nebraska -2 O/U: 44
Must Watch Rating (5 – The Man With The Iron Fists, 1 – Election coverage until Tuesday morning): 4