Michigan State should have a chance to beat Nebraska Saturday of its starters stay healthy for the entire game.
Denard Robinson suffered a nerve injury to his throwing arm and was unable to finish the game against the Cornhuskers last weekend. Nebraska went on to win 23-9, but did not necessarily dominate the Wolverines after Robinson was sidelined. Had Shoelace been able to finish the game, the scoreboard could have looked completely different.
ESPN blogger Adam Rittenberg talked about this same issue Wednesday after an emailer asked him, “Does Michigan win if Denard doesn’t get injured against Nebraska? I think it would’ve been a much closer game. I wasn’t impressed with Nebraska.”
Rittenberg didn’t take the bait from the emailer, but stated that the game could have been a toss-up if Robinson would have finished the game.
“Nebraska was playing a little bit better, but Michigan’s defense had limited damage, and the offense had a first-and-goal when Denard left the field,” Rettenberg wrote. “A touchdown there, and the game changes. It’s hard to say how the second half would have played out, but Michigan’s defense wouldn’t have been on the field nearly as long, and Michigan wouldn’t have lost by two TDs.”
I disagree with his stance. If Nebraska could have been punched in the mouth on defense once or twice and it would have failed to put away Michigan, and Shoelace would have been able to break loose had he taken more reps in the game, but his injury limited him from playing.
If MSU quarterback Andrew Maxwell, running back Le’Veon Bell and tight end Dion Sims can stay in the game for the Spartans this Saturday, Nebraska will have its hands full. It is always tough for a team to win when its backups are in the game, but it would be crippling to the Spartans if it had to play without those key offensive players.
Should Michigan State stay healthy Saturday, Nebraska will have to compete for four quarters to get a win in East Lansing.
Michigan State and Nebraska will kickoff at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday on ABC.