The snow started to really pick up as the fourth quarter was getting set to get underway. It had flurried off and on early during the game, pairing with a blistering cold and gusting winds. Nebraska was down 3-0 entering the fourth. It hadn’t been shut out since 1996.
Freshman kicker Barret Pickering and Michigan State exchanged field goals to make it 6-3 with the Spartans taking over at their own 28-yard-line.
On Senior Day with plenty of lead-up talk about the departing class laying the foundation, it was a senior that delivered the game-changing play, leading to a 9-6 home win for the Huskers (4-7, 3-5 Big Ten).
Nebraska took over and kicked the game-tying field goal six plays later to make it 6-6.
On the Spartans next drive, Reed came over the middle to knock a third-and-9 pass loose and force a punt. The Spartans kicked away and Nebraska took a lead on the leg of Pickering on its next drive.
It was a lead Nebraska wouldn’t give back.
NU’s offense looked off all game. The wind certainly played a role, maybe the cold did too. Nebraska put the ball on the deck five times. It only lost two of those fumbles but ball security, in general, was an issue.
Senior wideout Stanley Morgan Jr. set a program record for catches in a career (182) with his four-reception, 67-yard performance. Senior back Devine Ozigbo hit the 1,000-yard rushing mark, becoming the first Nebraska player to do so since 2014. But the offense was still off-kilter.
The Huskers finished with 243 yards of total offense, its fewest since a 132-yard outing against Michigan on Sept. 22. They were at 3.9 yards per play. Quarterback Adrian Martinez went 16-for-37 for 145 yards (he had just 18 yards rushing). If you took away the Michigan game in which Martinez played one half-healthy half, this performance would be his worst to date.
This one belongs to the defense. All week, the discussion around the Huskers’ defense was dominated by the 35 points given up to Illinois a week earlier. What was wrong with that unit? Michigan State is no world-beating offense but the Blackshirts came to play.
The Spartans were held to just 3.7 yards per play. Reed had the game of his life, finishing with seven tackles (five of them solo), three tackles for loss, two pass breakups and two forced fumbles. The defense stuffed MSU on three straight plays from the 10-yard-line and forced a field goal rather than a score.
On a Michigan State fourth-and-4 from Nebraska’s 29-yard-line with just under two minutes to play, senior safety Tre Neal broke up his third pass of the game to give the ball back to the offense.
The Huskers got a first down from Ozigbo and closed things out in the victory formation.
Nebraska closes its season on Black Friday against Iowa on the road. Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. CT.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.