Michigan State Spartans Look To Start Off Strong In Big Ten Conference Play


Jacksonville State, Oregon, Eastern Michigan and Wyoming. What do all of these college football programs have in common?

They don’t have Ameer Abdullah on their roster.

Get used to this name on Saturday night as this nightmare of a running back will look to bulldoze defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi’s defensive front on the road.

What a way to start off conference play with two Big Ten powerhouses going at it under the lights in front of a national audience.

No more tune up games, no more guaranteed victories and no more boring football. Instead, it’s going to be a war at Spartan Stadium as the No. 19 Nebraska Cornhuskers take on the No. 9 Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing.

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Nebraska currently holds a 7-1 lead over the Spartans in the all-time series, but is coming off of a 41-28 defeat in Lincoln where they shot themselves in the foot by turning the ball over five times last season against MSU.

Abdullah became the first player to rush for over 100 yards after ending the day with 123 yards on 22 carries against Michigan State’s coveted defense that year. The Spartans also gave up a season-high 392 yards of total offense against Nebraska, who was unranked at the time.

The most interesting thing about last year’s result was that the Cornhuskers were able to pound the ball on a defense that featured the likes Denicos Allen, Max Bullough and Darqueze Dennard.

Now, Michigan State will be without their senior leaders and will be forced to rely on the core group that walked away from non-conference play with just one loss to the Oregon Ducks.

If Michigan State wants to continue being in the conversations as a potential playoff contender, knocking off their ranked Big Ten foe is a must, considering that they are not undefeated heading into this matchup.

In order to silence any implications of an upset by Nebraska, the Spartans’ front seven must inflict pain on Abdullah and sophomore quarterback Tommy Armstrong for four quarters.

While it may seem unlikely that Michigan State can slow down Abdullah, last week’s Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, to anything less than 100 yards, they are currently ranked fourth in rush defense in the FBS.

But let’s not forget that the Spartans have quite a few weapons of their own on offense that can tear up opposing defenses as well, even if they were lining up across from programs like Eastern Michigan, a Mid-American Conference bottom feeder.

Quarterback Connor Cook should expect to get more than enough playing time on Saturday as compared to recent weeks where head coach Mark Dantonio had the opportunity to give both Cook, Tyler O’Connor and Darion Terry snaps under center.

Any assumptions that last year was a fluke for Cook can be wiped off the board based on his performance in the first quarter of this season. The junior currently has a completion rate of 69.2 percent while throwing for 837 yards on 54-of-78 passing. He’s only thrown two interceptions, both of which came during the Oregon game in Eugene and has also found the end zone nine times through the air.

This season, Cook has thrown at least two touchdowns in each of the four games that he’s started, solidifying his case of possibly being a first-round draft pick in the NFL if he decides to forgo his senior year.

Overall, this is a must-win for both programs if their goal is to represent the Big Ten in the first ever college football playoff. While Saturday’s game may not necessarily have B1G championship implications on the line, it certainly will provide the victor a much-needed boost of confidence as conference play moves forward.

Final Score: Michigan State 42, Nebraska 38