Michigan State Football: Staff score predictions vs. Nebraska in Week 12

Rocky Lombardi, Michigan State football (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Rocky Lombardi, Michigan State football (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Michigan State football and Nebraska will face off on Saturday afternoon in Lincoln. Which side will come out on top in this crucial Big Ten bout?

Nebraska is 3-7 overall on the season but their last five games show that this Cornhuskers team is not the same team that got destroyed by Michigan and lost on their homecoming game by double-digits to Purdue.

In their last five games, the Cornhuskers are averaging just under 43 points per game and have won three out of their last five. Their two losses in that span were very close games as they lost on the road in overtime to Big Ten West division champion Northwestern in overtime and the Cornhuskers lost on the road by five to Ohio State.

However, during that five-game period, Nebraska also play an FCS team in Bethune-Cookman and two Big Ten West division bottom dwellers in Illinois and Minnesota. The Gophers, Fighting Illini, and Cornhuskers are all tied for the last place in the Big Ten West Division at 2-5.

Emotions will be high as it is Nebraska’s senior day as two of their top players in leading rusher Devine Ozigbo and leading receiver Stanley Morgan will play their last games in Lincoln, Neb., on Saturday. Also, before the game, there will be a brief ceremony to honor the late punters Sam Foltz, former Nebraska punter and Mike Sadler former Michigan State punter, who were killed in a tragic car accident before the start of the 2016 season.

Historically speaking, Michigan State has had trouble in Lincoln. The only game the Spartans have won in Lincoln was in 2013 win Michigan State won 41-28. Historically, they are 1-5 against Cornhuskers in Lincoln. The last time Michigan State played at Nebraska, they lost in 2015 by a score of 38-39 which was the last time these two teams meet.

On paper, Nebraska’s offense is playing very well. The emergence of freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez has really helped get the Cornhusker offensive attack. In his last seven games, his has averaged 286 yards through the air with 14 touchdowns. Nebraska also has two outstanding receivers who have possible futures in the NFL in Stanley Morgan Jr. and sophomore JD Spielman. Combined they have over 1,600 yards in receptions and 15 touchdowns total. Nebraska’s defense is another story.

Just in the games that Nebraska has played in the Big Ten, they have given up over 400 yards to every Big Ten opponent that they have played this season. They are also in Big Ten play are allowing just under 500 yards per game. The only arguably worse defense statistically than Nebraska’s is Rutgers. Michigan State will debatably face the two worse defenses in the Big Ten to end the regular season.

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Michigan State is a team that has many questions marks. The main one is who will start and even play at quarterback against the Cornhuskers? Is Brian Lewerke right shoulder well enough for him to be productive? He had the ability to get Michigan State the victory on the road versus Maryland.

However, the Terps and Cornhuskers even though they have similarities, have clear contrast differences. Maryland didn’t have an offense that can score and their defense gave enough so that the Spartans could score some points to get the victory. Nebraska’s defense at least statistically is worse but their offense is much better than Maryland’s.

Lewerke — if he is the starter — might not be enough to get the Spartans the victory. Even though Rocky Lombardi doesn’t have the experience of Lewerke and has not started any road games, he gives the Michigan State offense a chance at least.

The Spartans are out arguably their most productive receiver and running back in LJ Scott and Felton Davis III for the season. However, Cody White and Connor Heyward will be asked to step up and help propel the Michigan State offense.

The Michigan State defense, especially after the Purdue game, showed that it possessed an elite defense. They were put in poor positions during the Michigan and Ohio State games due to unfortunate miscues by the Spartan offense and special teams. Nebraska may score some points on Michigan State’s defense by not like they have been doing the past couple of games. The Cornhuskers have not dealt with a good quality defense since Week 4 and they may be in for a rude wakeup call come Saturday.

This is a once again, a must-see game for all Spartan fans wearing the green and white and now here are the picks.

Connor Muldowney: I’m having a tough time deciding what the outcome of this one will be. No, I don’t think the Cornhuskers are the better team. I actually think if Lewerke was healthy, this could be a two-touchdown victory, minimum. However, the quarterback situation is a mess — as is the offense. Michigan State will do enough defensively to halt any momentum the Cornhuskers gain at home and a key interception late in the game by Justin Layne will be the difference.

Final Score: Michigan State 30, Nebraska 21

Ryan Kay: Predicting Michigan State football games recently is not an easy task. The quarterback situation or debacle as some may say, has not helped Michigan State and you saw the impact of it against Ohio State. However, Nebraska’s defense is not good at all and the hope is that a player like Connor Heyward who like he did when he ran for over 150 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Maryland, can have a great game against the Cornhuskers. It also would help that if players like Jalen Nailor were available, which would give the Spartan offense a big playmaker to compliment a time of possession philosophy which the Michigan State coaching staff has on offense. I do believe the Spartan defense will win the day and that Nebraska offense will be slowed down but not completely shut out.

Final Score: Michigan State 24, Nebraska 17

Stephen Robb: This will be a close game in the fourth quarter. Nebraska has playmakers at the skill positions and quarterback Adrian Martinez is threat with his legs and arm. However, the Cornhusker defense is not stout. MSU should be able to get the ground game going. I anticipate that after listening to Mark Dantonio that Brian Lewerke will get the start and Rocky Lombardi will come in for relief.

Final Score: Michigan State 24, Nebraska 21

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Overall Prediction Records:

Connor Muldowney: 2-2
Ryan Kay: 3-1
Stephen Robb: 2-2
Justin Thind: 2-1