CFN Analysis: Nebraska's Legends Statement
Posted Nov 3, 2012

The CFN Analysis of the Huskers' thrilling win over Michigan State

By Phil Harrison
Follow me @PhilHarrisonCFN

What a comeback for Nebraska, and hello to more heartbreak for Michigan State.

The Spartans--the definition of underachiever this year with its won/loss record--is just a few plays away from being in contention for the Legends division and ultimately a Big Ten title. Of the Spartans five losses now, four of them are by five points or less.

But they are losses nonetheless, and there are reasons for it.

The defense has been as advertised for the most part. Sparty is ranked in the top ten nationally in total defense (6), scoring defense (10), and rushing defense (9). No problem there.

What is the problem is that the offense has been unable to replace seven starters including an all-everything leader at QB in Kirk Cousins, and almost all of its production at the receiver spot.

And a team with flaws on one side of the ball will get exposed more often than not. The defense has simply not been able to will the team to victory each and every week.

For Nebraska, it was the type of resilient win that can make or break a season. A loss here would have put Michigan back in the driver's seat for the Legends division with its win earlier in the day over Minnesota. Instead, Taylor Martinez continues to show everyone that he is growing up by engineering a comeback to keep championship hopes alive in Lincoln. The ‘Huskers now must get by a Penn State team at home next week to keep pace.

The final stretches of the Big Ten season are sure to offer great theater.

By Bart Doan
Follow me @Bart_cfn

In a game rife with late game questionable decision making, and in the spirit of Seinfeld, the refs got the Death Blow to give Nebraska a crucial in on Michigan State's field to keep their B1G title dreams in their own grasp.

Late on a fourth and nine with under four minutes left and three time outs, Bo Pelini elected to go for it with MSU dominating the line of scrimmage. It ultimately fell short, and Michigan State was only a yard from ending it. But they couldn't, and two minutes later it was Nebraska in that same position, fourth and 10 for the game, and Mark Dantonio calls a...timeout?

At the time, it made no sense. Nebraska was flustered, having moved the ball only on a broken 22 yard pass play. So they got a chance to set up a play in a time out they didn't have, and MSU inexplicably elected to drop eight again when they were really for the most part drilling the line of scrimmage late and Taylor Martinez flat out made a 38 yard throw. The head scratching decision to continually drop eight on that drive is worth explaining at some point, preferably after a few brews.

Yet the game won't be remembered for odd coaching decisions that may or may not have worked in the end, it will be for a miserable third down pass interference penalty in the end zone on Darqueze Dennard that brutally ended this affair for Michigan State. Two plays later, Taylor Martinez found his receiver open in the end zone and dealt a crushing blow to Sparty.

The lasting memory of this game is that college football needs to take the initiative and make pass interference reviewable if it's never going to be called both ways. Dennard had pristine coverage, and if anything, was being hooked to make him unable to make a real play on the ball. Officials should officiate games, as their name dictates. Not decide them.

The elation for Nebraska, who now stands with no one in their way to a B1G title berth, is equally bitter for Michigan State, scuffling with five losses hoping a bowl bid is still in their future.