On Saturday, the Michigan State Spartans football team welcomed the 20th ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers into town for a late season B1G matchup. The game was fought long and hard and the roundabout theme of the game would soon be centered around penalties. Nebraska was penalized 9 times for 72 yards while Michigan State was penalized 9 times for 100 yards. As a result of this, a game that began at 3:30 dragged on for nearly 4 hours.
When the game began, it was Michigan State who struck first when running back Le’Veon Bell scored from 11 yards out to give the Spartans a 7-0 lead with 5:02 to go in the 1st.
However, on the next drive Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez would bust a 59 yard run all the way down to the Michigan State four yard line where they would go on to score a few plays later to tie the game back up at 7.
The score would stay like that for a couple drives until with 6:56 to go in the 2nd quarter, Michigan State quarterback Andrew Maxwell found wide receiver Tony Lippett downfield for a 46 yard touchdown to go back on top 14-7.
“We’ve been trying for the last couple weeks to try and take it off the top and hit a big one,” Maxwell said. “To finally have Tony Lippett make a great catch in the middle of a couple defenders and score a touchdown was a big play for us.”
Following the Maxwell-Lippett hook up, both teams traded a couple of three and outs. After that, Nebraska would take over with 3:23 to go from their own 27 yard line. On the second play of the drive, Martinez would once again break free, this time for a 71 yard touchdown to tie it back at 14 where the score would stay until halftime.
In the second half, it appeared as if Michigan State was taking over the game a little bit, when they added both a Dan Conroy field goal and a Bell touchdown run to jump on top by ten, 24-14, at the beginning of the 4th quarter.
Then, with about 11 minutes to go in the game, Nebraska was threatening to score inside the MSU ten yard line. On 2nd and goal from the MSU 5 yard line, Martinez threw his third interception of the day to Michigan State defender Darqueze Dennard. Dennard intercepted the ball from the four yard line and then proceeded to take it all the way back to the house. At this point, it appeared as if Michigan State had taken complete control of the game, having taken a three score lead with less than 11 minutes to go.
However, the touchdown was called back due to a personal foul call on Johnny Adams and the ball was brought all the way back to their own ten yard line where they would fail to do anything with it and would be forced to punt. This would prove to be a costly penalty for the Spartans and much of the remainder of the game would be all downhill for them.
From there, Nebraska would get the ball back and Martinez would once again break free, scoring from 35 yards out to make it a 24-21 MSU lead with a little over seven minutes to go in the game.
Later in the game, Nebraska would take over with no timeouts from their own 20 with 1:20 to go in the game, still trailing Michigan State by three. During the drive, with 40 seconds left in the game, Nebraska was faced with a 4th and 10 from their own 42, Martinez hooked up with Kyler Reed for 38 yards all the way down to the MSU 20 yard line.
Three plays later, the most crucial point of the whole game happened. Faced with a 3rd down with less than 25 seconds to go, Martinez threw the ball to the end-zone where the pass was broken up by Dennard.
However, the refs made a controversial call, calling pass interference on Dennard, giving Nebraska a 1st and goal from the 5 where they would score a touchdown a few plays later, taking the game 28-24, handing Michigan State their fourth home loss of the season.
“Tough game, very tough game, maybe one of the toughest games I’ve experienced here,” Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said. “I thought we had every opportunity to win the football game. Whether that plays out on the field, whether that’s some kind of way; I’m not sure how at times. We got them fourth-and-10 at the end of the game. The game’s over if we stop them there with the first down, last series, game’s over.”
The last four weeks have certainly been wild for the Michigan State football team. Each of the past four games, it has come down to the final minute, at times the final play. This game was the exact same way. Le’Veon Bell played his heart out, rushing for 188 yards on 36 carries and two touchdowns.
But Bell couldn’t win the game by himself. The defense surrendered 313 yards on the ground, 205 of which were from Martinez. Also, the passing game simply wasn’t there as Maxwell went just 9-27 for 123 yards.
With this most recent loss, Michigan State drops to 5-5 on the season with two games remaining. This next week is a bye for the Spartans. Following that, they will have a home game against Northwestern and then will close out the season against Minnesota on the road. In order to make something of their season and get to a bowl game, Michigan State will need to win one of these.
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