Originally posted on The Detroit Sports Site  |  Last updated 11/13/13
Forgive fans of the Michigan State Spartans for feeling just a tiny bit of trepidation ahead of this weekend’s important match up against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, but the last time the Spartans visited Nebraska, things didn’t go quite well. To win, that game has to be erased from memory. Back in 2011, the Spartans, in the midst of another great season, went into Memorial Stadium and got flattened. At the time, it seemed like a statement game for Michigan State much like this Saturday’s contest is. The Spartans could have put away the Legends Division, but didn’t, not managing to get into an offensive flow all day while allowing a few big plays on defense. The circumstances were a bit different, though. Nebraska had a better defense back in 2011 than they do now, and had an offense which was capable of performing better as a whole and leading longer drives, considering they scored 24 points. Michigan State brings their top rated defense into this game. What’s the best group as far as points per-game that the Cornhuskers have seen in 2013? That would be the UCLA Bruins, a team which beat Nebraska 41-21 in Lincoln earlier this year. Regardless of that, though, the Spartans have to forget about their last road loss to Nebraska, and even their heartbreaking defeat last season. This should be considered no different scenario for the Spartans than breaking through in Iowa City was. Michigan State lost a few heartbreakers against the Hawkeyes on the road (including a game in 2010 with a Big Ten title hanging in the balance) but rebounded to win there in 2011. This weekend presents the same opportunity. Many will see the game as a major test because of venue alone, but if the Spartans can overcome prolonged losing streaks in Ann Arbor, Madison, Iowa City, Happy Valley, and Columbus, they can rise above to win against a very beatable team in Nebraska. That success, though, is dependent on Michigan State having amnesia like they did before those match ups. Venue alone doesn’t make a game impossible. Laugh Of The Weekend: Michigan has spent a lot of time covering for Mary Sue Coleman, who had a mysterious incident at halftime of the Nebraska game, slurring her words and appearing intoxicated. This week, the school said that Coleman had sustained no health problems and alcohol was not a factor, instead choosing to blame the wind and acoustical design at Michigan Stadium. If that was really the case, why did Coleman speak perfectly in the Big House during graduation? Interesting situation, indeed. Local Big Ten This Weekend: Michigan State at Nebraska Michigan at Northwestern Players To Watch: Michigan State: Connor Cook, QB. Against Michigan, Cook did what he had to do in order to win the game. He was mostly efficient and with the exception of one bad interception, he distributed the football well. On the road against Nebraska, Cook will have to play as well as he did against Iowa and Illinois, managing the game comfortably with passes that work. Michigan State has had turnover problems against Nebraska since they joined the Big Ten (one interception in 2011, two fumbles last year) so they don’t need Cook to toss the ball away on the road. Michigan: Derrick Green, RB. Michigan has had two of the worst weeks running the football in their program’s proud history. It didn’t seem like things could get worse after a -48 yard output in East Lansing, but they did as the Wolverines rushed for -21 against Nebraska. With Fitzgerald Toussaint now largely ineffective, it’s time for Michigan to test out Green and see if he can thrive as the primary back, especially against a Northwestern defense that has been bad. At this point, there’s nothing left to lose. Standings Update: #16/14/16 (BCS) Michigan State 8-1 (5-0 Big Ten Legends) Michigan 6-3 (2-3 Big Ten Legends) Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax
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