Nebraska (6-2) at Michigan State (5-4) (3:30 p.m. ET, on ABC)
Line: Even (Bovada)
Last Meeting: 2011 (Nebraska 24-3)
3 Players to Watch:
1) Taylor Martinez (QB, Neb):Taylor Martinez brings the number one offense in the B1G to East Lansing on Saturday. Nebraska has been averaging 264.1 rushing yards per game and 25.4 points per game this season, and Martinez has been a huge factor. He has 1,781 passing yards thus far in the season with 16 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. Martinez has also been able to accumulate 461 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns on the ground. Taylor has not been shy while talking about the Michigan State defense and has been quoted this week saying, “I prefer blitzes, I think it leaves open gaps, I’d prefer it.” T-Mart will get exactly what he hoped for, a lot of blitzes. The outcome of those blitzes will be something to watch for.
2) Aaron Burbridge (WR, MSU):The true freshman wide receiver was held catch less in Madison, but if the Spartans hope to win this game he must be a factor. Prior to the catch less outing, Aaron has caught at least 5 passes in the games which he has started. Burbridge has 21 receptions for 288 yards this season, though he has not been able to find the end zone. Could this be the week that the freshman catches his first touchdown pass? I certainty think so; look for the Michigan State offense to incorporate the freshman early and often.
3) Andrew Maxwell (QB, MSU):Maxwell lead the Spartans on a game-tying drive in Madison to bring the game to overtime. He followed that up by hitting Bennie Fowler on a back-shoulder pass to win the game. Many compared it to Kirk Cousins “coming out party” against Notre Dame. Andrew must build off of the victory and confidence gained in Wisconsin for Michigan State to have a chance this Saturday. Nebraska has been good against “pro-style” offenses similar to the Spartan’s, which will make it tough on Maxwell but he must perform for Michigan State to win this game.
Nebraska has not been good on the road the last two years and Michigan State is looking to revenge their 24-3 loss from last season against the Cornhuskers. Taylor Martinez has been talking about the Spartan defense, which may not be a good thing for him or his team. The MSU defense piled up five sacks and 12 tackles for loss last week, and may finally be on a roll.
This will be a battle of the two top units in the conference; MSU’s defense and Nebraska’s Offense will be put to the test this Saturday. Which unit will come out on top? Michigan State must continue to stop the run as they have all year long, while Nebraska looks to keep to the run as they have all year long. Taylor Martinez may be forced to pass the ball, and this game may come down to his accuracy. Can T-Mart win it with his arm? Look for the Spartans to attempt to force him into pocket passing situations.
Hopefully the Spartans continue to spread the ball around as they did in the final drive and overtime in Wisconsin. Where did that come from? Personally I have no idea, but it worked and Andrew Maxwell looked great spreading the ball around. If Michigan State continues to work on the spread the run game will open up for them and Le’Veon Bell might have a big day.
My pick: Michigan State 28, Nebraska 14