As soon as Bo Pelini and his Nebraska Cornhuskers coaching staff sat down to look at their teams schedule for 2013, they undoubtedly had a conversation about not taking any opponent to lightly and preparing for each game with the same intensity and attention to detail. When the meeting ended and formalities were out of the way, there were surely some post meeting discussion regarding Nov. 16. This coming Saturday, the Huskers will play host there second to last home game of the season as the Michigan State Spartans and coach Mark Dantonio will be coming to Lincoln for a game that most likely will be the deciding game for the race to win the Big Ten Legends division, and with that the right to face off against eventual Leaders division champion (most likely Ohio State Buckeyes) in Indianapolis in the Big Ten Championship game.
The ramifications of this game will be long lasting in Lincoln. This could impact the direction of the program in the future. Will athletic director Shawn Eichorst allow Bo Pelini to retain his position as head coach, or will Eichorst gamble on what could be a dream match for the Husker football program and the Husker fans in the state of Nebraska and attempt to hire former Nebraska national champion quarterback and current Oregon Ducks offensive coordinator Scott Frost? If the Huskers defeat the Spartans, it will be difficult for Eichorst to justify supplanting Pelini in favor of Frost.
Also, a Husker victory or loss could be the deciding factor in whether or not Husker fans will see their record breaking quarterback start under center ever again. In an odd twist of fate, a victory for the Huskers against the Spartans could be the end of Taylor Martinez‘s career at quarterback for Nebraska. The reason behind this assumption is that if the Huskers win on Saturday, their hopes for the greatly coveted conference championship that has eluded Martinez throughout his career will still be intact. With the opportunity to win a conference title still within reach, it is unlikely that Pelini and offensive coordinator Tim Beck will remove freshman Tommie Armstrong from the starting role in which he is undefeated this season in favor of Martinez. Ironically, if the Huskers loss to the Spartans ending their chances for a Big Ten championship, the odds are that Martinez will receive a ceremonial start against the visiting Iowa Hawkeyes for senior’s day on Nov. 29 in Lincoln.
Finally, the Huskers have a work horse running back in Ameer Abdullah. If Abdullah is able to have another impressive game against one of the toughest defenses in college football, he may finally receive some of the accolades that he should have been receiving throughout this entire season. Perhaps the staff can use Abdullah in their return game where he started his career at Nebraska. The Huskers have one of the worst return games in all of college football. Abdullah is a top 10 running back in all of college football, but he has earned that by staying quite obscure throughout the season. If he the junior is given the opportunity and the carries to produce against the Spartans, he may earn a spot on the All-Big Ten first team offense, as well as some national attention. Hopefully for Husker fans, it is not so much attention that their top offensive player decides not to return for a senior season.