Nebraska Stuns Michigan State, Saves Season

Okay Husker Nation. All together now, deep breath in…. now exhale. The Huskers scored twice in the final two minutes as Nebraska stunned Michigan State 39-38, and may have saved their bowl hopes in the process. Tommy Armstrong, Jr. led the way for the Huskers, accounting for 339 yards of offense and four touchdowns as Nebraska snapped Sparty’s 12-game win streak. Here are the final grades for Nebraska’s season saving victory.


Quarterback: B

Tommy Armstrong was not perfect Saturday, far from it, but the junior captain left everything out on the field, and tonight it was enough. Armstrong completed 19 of 33 passes for 320 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing for 19 yards and two scores. Armstrong did throw one very bad interception with Nebraska driving in the third quarter, and he should have been intercepted on NU’s final drive. But wins make us gloss over the bad and focus on the good. Gutsy performance by Nebraska’s unquestioned leader.

Running Backs: A-

Nebraska needed someone to step up with Armstrong and Terrell Newby dealing with injuries, and senior Imani Cross took center stage. Cross ran like a man possessed Saturday night, rushing for 98 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries against Michigan State’s stout defensive line. Andy Janovich added 26 yards on four carries as Nebraska had arguably its most impressive rushing performance of the season.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: A

Jordan Westerkamp went off Saturday night, torching Michigan State for nine receptions 143 yards and a touchdown and two huge catches on Nebraska’s game winning drive. Junior Brandon Reilly only caught three passes, but he made them count with 97 receiving yards and the game winning touchdown with 17 seconds remaining. Alonzo Moore gutted out a shoulder injury to catch three passes for 65 yards and Stanley Morgan added 27 yards in three catches. Nebraska didn’t get any receiving production from their tight ends, but Carter was fantastic as a run blocker.

Offensive Line: B

Nebraska’s offensive line looked overwhelmed at times in the first half, but settled in and played fantastic in the second half. Freshman Nick Gates had some major issues with Shilique Calhoun in the first half, but Gates settled down and shut down Calhoun for the remainder of the second half. Underrated star of today’s game is center Ryne Reeves, who shut down Michigan State’s Malik McDowell for the entire game.

Defensive Line: C-

What makes this win even more improbable was the fact that Nebraska got very little out of their best position unit. Nebraska got no pressure on Connor Cook despite Michigan State throwing the ball almost 40 times Saturday night. Nebraska also allowed Gerald Holmes to rush for over 100 yards as the Spartans attacked the edges of Nebraska’s defense. Nebraska did get pressure when it mattered most, though, forcing Connor Cook to double clutch the ball and allowing the clock to run out in the 4th quarter.

Linebackers: B

Josh Banderas played his best game of his Husker career Saturday night, as the junior was all over the field for the blackshirts. Nebraska struggled at times with Michigan State’s misdirection run game early in the contest, but the Huskers settled down and did a solid job of defending the run in the second half. Dedrick Young continues his steady freshman season, as the Peoria, AZ native was consistently in position against Michigan State’s power run packages.

Secondary: C

Nebraska’s defensive backs were in position all game against Michigan State, but they were unable to make plays on the ball, allowing Connor Cook to throw for 335 yards and four touchdowns. Jonathan Rose did intercept Cook midway through the first half and played a solid game in his first action since serving a two-game suspension. Junior Nate Gerry also had a nice bounce back game, but Byerson Cockrell remains a major weak link for Nebraska’s defense.

Special Teams: C

The highlight of Nebraska’s special teams performance Saturday night was an impressive kick return by Andy Janovich, who returned a squib kick 22 yards to give Nebraska great field position late in the fourth quarter. Punter Sam Foltz had an uneven night, blasting one punt for 51 yards and shanking another for just 19 yards. Drew Brown was two for to on field goals, but had a terrible onside kick and squib kick late in the game.

Final Grade: B

It wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t pretty, but Nebraska fans are absolutely thrilled with the final outcome of Saturday’s game. Nebraska gutted out a close victory over a top ten team, something that Nebraska hasn’t been able to do since beating Michigan State at home in 2011. Mike Riley and Danny Langsdorf deserve a lot of credit for having a very sound gameplan against the Spartans, and Tommy Armstrong deserves some love for his performance in his first game back from a turf toe injury. This victory doesn’t completely erase the sting of Nebraska’s 4-6 start to the season, but it definitely helps.


Nebraska catches a break.. 6 years later. One of the most infamous moments of the Bo Pelini era was the one second game against Texas. Nebraska wasn’t lucky that night, but the football gods have an odd sense of humor. Nebraska, leading by one with seven seconds left, saw the normally unflappable Connor Cook make a critical error and allowed the clock to run out and preserve Nebraska’s upset.

Recruits are treated to a show. Saturday marked Nebraska’s biggest recruiting weekend of the season, with nine official visitors coming to Lincoln. It’s safe to say that they enjoyed the game, as Nebraska mounted a furious comeback victory over the #7 team in the nation and celebrated with a field storming to celebrate. An extremely fun experience for the young kids that will likely keep Nebraska in their final group of teams as we head into the late season stretch.

Main Photo