The Spartans gained a total of 5 yards of offense and failed to earn a single first down in the entire second half of the ball game.
Mel Tucker’s club needed a spark with Nebraska crippling the Spartans offense for the entire second half. With less than four minutes left in the fourth quarter, down by a touchdown and extra point, Michigan State football reached into their bag of tricks in hopes of creating a momentum swing. A momentum swing would be an understatement.
Michigan State football needed a miracle if they wanted to sneak past Nebraska.
The Spartans opted to placed two returners deep in hopes of fooling the Cornhuskers, and with one returner faking like he was set to catch the punt, on the opposite side of the field, Jayden Reed was exploding with the football en route to the endzone.
Reed, quarterback Payton Thorne’s favorite target, also caught a touchdown pass, and kicker Matt Coghlin converted on three field-goal attempts to help edge the Spartans past Nebraska.
Michigan State’s standout running back, Kenneth Walker III, appeared human for the first time this season as he was bottled up for most of the evening broke his most crucial run in overtime. Walker III scampered to the two-yard line in overtime which set up the eventual game-winning field goal.
Walker III ended the evening with 61 rushing yards on 19 carries, and Jordon Simmons only produced 13 yards on a mere three carries. Not only was it tough sledding for Walker III, but Thorne also struggled to make throws in the second half of this game; both are slightly reasons to be concerned moving forward once the competition becomes relatively stiffer.
Tre Mosley led the Spartans with 70 yards on six receptions, while Reed totaled 59 yards and a touchdown on four catches.
Nebraska led in every statistical category but came up short on special teams and in overtime. The Cornhuskers outgained the Spartans to the tune of 442 yards to 254 and possessed the football for 36:13 to 23:00.
Nebraska also converted seven times on third down and went 2/2 on fourth down opportunities. The Spartans went 1/11 on third-down conversions and 0/1 on fourth. Nebraska ran a whopping 85 offensive plays to Michigan State’s 53.
The Spartans got that vital turnover in overtime, plus got creative on special teams, and those two plays were the difference in the game.
Spartans’ fans shouldn’t feel too confident with that second-half performance, but a win is a win, and a 4-0 start is still 4-0, and that is something to be proud of, especially when the Under/Over total wins had been set at 5.5 before the start of the season.