Originally posted on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 11/3/12
They may not be taking a 14 hour bus ride right now, but there are plenty of reasons that 15 of Michigan State's 22 starters should be bitter about playing the Nebraska Cornhuskers in East Lansing tomorrow. Along with getting drubbed 24-3 in Lincoln last year, the Spartans have never beaten the Cornhuskers in their brief history as conference rivals.  Last year's squad was ground down early and often as the Huskers pounded the ball out of an option look all day long. Taylor Martinez, unlike most mobile quarterbacks that play against MSU, was able to run free and confuse the Spartan defense all day. Sparty's inability to lock up Martinez on the ground incidentally made him a dual threat, as he was able to use his above-average receiving corps and tight ends to their fullest. Martinez's ability to run the option made sure the defense was tired and also ate up the clock, allowing minimal time for NFL draftee Kirk Cousins to operate. Although Michigan State football isn't where most Spartan fans thought they were going to be in terms of conference standings this year, the outlook on the game is mostly optimistic. Saturday's battle will really be a huge test for the Spartans, but they will be relying even more than usual on the strength of their defense to help the team achieve victory. That 11-man defensive unit will be opposed by the best offense in the Big 10 in total yards per game and scoring. Coincidentally though, the Spartans allow the least points per game in the conference and the least total yards. Furthermore, Michigan State's defense is a statistical top 20 in most major defensive categories, including a no. 7 overall ranking in rushing yards against per game, something that Nebraska will try to work around throughout the game. If Michigan State is going to win this football game in front of their home crowd tomorrow, they'll need to accomplish a couple things on defense that they haven't necessarily excelled in this season so far. What the Spartans may need to improve on the most is their ability to take the ball away from their opponents. Sparty only has a +1 overall turnover margin, a figure that is way down from last year. If they want to expose the Nebraska offense, Michigan State will need to exploit Nebraska's -8 turnover differential and make the Huskers fumble the football. Another way the Spartans could improve their odds is by getting pressure on the quarterback. The Spartans rank 101st in FBS play with only nine sacks to their credit this season, so hopefully they will blitz a few extra defenders to make Martinez uncomfortable in the pocket. Tomorrow's test for the Spartans is a true match up of strength versus strength, with literally the best offense in the conference going up against the best defense. However, what this game will come down to is what junior quarterback, Andrew Maxwell, can do against the Nebraska defense. His 113.6 passer rating is a good deal lower than even Taylor Martinez's passer rating even as a freshman or sophomore, so he and his young wide receiving corps will have to up their game if they want to lock in another consecutive Bowl berth. Either way, this game will be a low scoring one that comes down to turnovers and  Andrew Maxwell's ability to manage the game. Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101. var switchTo5x=true; stLight.options({publisher:''});
TEAMS:
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

FBI docs show widespread payments to top college, HS players

Report: LeBron questioned Cavs GM’s absence from road trip

Jonathan Martin detained after seeking help at hospital

Chiefs trade Marcus Peters to Rams

Rays lose Brent Honeywell for season to torn UCL

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Warriors, Wolves, Thunder all eyeing Joakim Noah?

Legal expert: 'Real chance NBA could come down hard' on Mavs

Jaguars extend Coughlin, Marrone, Caldwell

Siemian downplays Broncos players pining for Cousins

Report: Panthers, Saints could be interested in Landry trade

Steelers GM pays tribute to standing Ryan Shazier at awards banquet

Mr. T gives pep talk to US curling team ahead of gold-medal match

Sports & Politics Intersect: Cuban forced to face culture of misogyny in Mavs front office

The 'Let’s play QB roulette' quiz

NHL Weekender: Playoff races heat up as trade deadline looms

14 NBA X-factors who will tip the scales in the postseason

MLB breakout candidates for the 2018 season

No one wants to jump with Dennis Smith Jr.

NFL players who could be traded before draft

Negro Leaguers every baseball fan should know

Top MLB Cy Young candidates heading into 2018

The greatest barrier-breaking African-American moments in MLB history

Faltering Blackhawks face tough decisions at deadline

Spartans News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Sports & Politics Intersect: Cuban forced to face culture of misogyny in Mavs front office

MLB breakout candidates for the 2018 season

The 'Let’s play QB roulette' quiz

NHL Weekender: Playoff races heat up as trade deadline looms

No one wants to jump with Dennis Smith Jr.

The 'Kawhi so serious?' quiz

Top MLB Cy Young candidates heading into 2018

25 best MLB players under 25

The 'Red Sox finally get their guy' quiz

MLB's top 10 first basemen for 2018

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker