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:''});
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Blake Griffin may still return to Clippers despite Chris Paul exit

Report: Miguel Montero to be DFA’d after calling out Jake Arrieta

Report: Eight teams already interested in Zach Orr

Report: Clippers agree to trade Chris Paul to Rockets

What to expect from United States Men’s National Team in Gold Cup

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Knicks targeting Raptors GM Ujiri to replace Jackson

Bryce Harper fuels Cubs speculation with Instagram post

Mike Trout progressing towards return before All-Star break

There's nowhere for Chris Paul to go

Mother Nature stops Tim Tebow's St. Lucie debut

Carson Palmer not sure if 2017 will be his last NFL season

Top NBA free agents available

Box Score 6/28: New York loses its zen

Although you have seen this start before, this season is no sequel for the Dodgers

The 'Power hitters are coming for that number one spot' quiz

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Feeding your roundball addiction through the summer months

BIG3 Referee Hotline Bling: Ricky Davis takes unnecessary shots at Al Harrington

Who won Wimbledon the year you were born?

Box Score 6/27: Monday is for all sorts of ballers

Big3 brings summer festival feel to basketball with barnstorming tour

The 'Tonight, we settle the Beard vs. Brodie debate' quiz

2016-17 NBA Awards: The 8th Man Award for most overlooked player this year

College Football 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 Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

2017 is not another disappointing sequel for the Dodgers

BIG3 Referee Hotline Bling: Ricky Davis takes unnecessary shots at Al Harrington

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Feeding your roundball addiction through the summer months

The 'Power hitters are coming for that number one spot' quiz

Big3 brings summer festival feel to basketball with barnstorming tour

The 'Tonight, we settle the Beard vs. Brodie debate' quiz

2016-17 NBA Awards: The 8th Man Award for most overlooked player this year

2016-17 NBA Awards: The Disappearing Act Award for player who came up small

Getaway Day: Welcome back to the world, AL Central

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