After healing up during a bye week and taking advantage of an overmatched and under talented Minnesota Golden Gopher team, the Huskers welcome the Michigan State Spartans to Memorial Stadium this weekend. The Spartans enter the game undefeated after a roller coaster of a game against Wisconsin. With the win, the Spartans made this a must win game for the Huskers’ goal to win the Legends’ Division and the Big Ten Championship. A win would place the Huskers in a tie with the Spartans for the division lead, with a head-to-head victory. A loss would be devastating to the Huskers chances as it would put them two games back of the Spartans with four conference games remaining. So, let’s take a look at the keys to a Husker victory.
Since the first half of the Ohio State game and in their first full game since the career ending injury to heralded defensive tackle Jared Crick, the Blackshirts have showed continued improvement. Over the last six quarters, the Blackshirts have given up 21 points (14 of those coming in the second half of the Minnesota game which was no longer in doubt). The addition of Stanley Jean-Baptiste to the Blackshirt secondary, the identification of certain back seven personnel groups and the simplification of complex defensive scheme, seems to have solidified the defensive unit. The Blackshirts will need to be disciplined against a Spartan team with a senior quarterback and a balanced attack.
The Husker offense will probably face its biggest test. From a statistical standpoint, the Spartans appear to be the best defense in the conference. The Spartans give up a little more than 88 yards rushing per game. If the Huskers want to prevail, they will need to reverse that trend and control the line of scrimmage. The fans should expect Tim Beck to follow a game plan similar to that of the Ohio State game, pounding the ball right at the Spartan front seven to wear them out and win the game in the fourth quarter. After establishing the run, look for the Huskers to use play action and the speed they have at the other talent positions.
Prediction – the Huskers win by four 31-27 in a hard hitting gridiron classic.