The advantages that the Michigan State Spartans have over the Nebraska Cornhuskers have been well reported this week. It is no secret that the defensive line for the Spartans will far outmatch the badly-beaten offensive line of the Cornhuskers. In fact many would give the Spartans the advantage in all areas when their defense is put against most offenses in the Big Ten, including the Huskers.
A better question is, in what areas do the Cornhuskers have an advantage over the Spartans?
For a number of reasons, including the departure of running back Le’Veon Bell to the NFL, the Spartans’ offense has sputtered this season. Current tailback Jeremy Langford has rushed for 775 yards and 10 touchdowns so far this season. While Langford’s performance has been a welcome surprise, his contributions are not comparable to what Bell would have been capable of.
The recent emergence of consistent play by the Cornhuskers’ young defensive line and linebackers has been very encouraging for Huskers fans. The Spartans will most likely attempt to lean heavily on their rushing attack in this game, but will find yards hard to come by against the athletic Huskers front seven.
Since the Spartans rushing attack has already been analyzed, it is vital that the offensive line be held accountable as well. The Spartans have a good offensive line this season but once again, the advantage in this matchup would have to go the red-hot play of the big red defensive line.
The Huskers are young and have taken a while to emerge as a strong defensive unit this season. In the process of doing so, their strengths have become very apparent. The Huskers are quick and athletic. If they were facing a big offensive line like the Wisconsin Badgers or the Ohio State Buckeyes, their defensive line would find success much more difficult to come by. That said, they should have a very good day in this matchup.
Another key area is the less than sensational play of the Spartans quarterback Connor Cook. Even after Mark Dantonio chose Cook as his starter, success was hard to come by for the quarterback as he has accounted for less than 1500 yards and 13 touchdowns this season, one that has seen a schedule that has been lacking in quality opponents.
Cook will be facing what has been one of the few consistent strengths for the Huskers this season — their secondary. Under Bo Pelini, the Huskers have always had a secondary with the capabilities of intercepting the ball. The Huskers cover well and hold a clear advantage over the Michigan State passing attack.
Huskers seniors Ciante Evans and Stanley Jean-Baptiste are always a threat to take an interception back for a touchdown, a contribution that would be very helpful in the Huskers’ attempt to upset the Spartans.