Given the way Michigan State's defense had played through the first four weeks, people may have had a right to be worried about Nebraska coming to town on Saturday.
Given the way Ameer Abdullah and crew had performed against Pat Narduzzi's defensive unit the last two years, people certainly had a right to be worried about Nebraska's visit to Spartan Stadium.
For the first 30 minutes, the defense finally began to look like the defenses of each of the last two years that has Narduzzi near or at the top of the lists of ADs looking for head coaches in bailing out the offense by not allowing Nebraska to score a single point off three turnovers after Connor Cook and company turned the ball over twice deep in their own territory and Macgarrett Kings, Jr. muffed a fair catch deep in Spartan territory.
The defense holding Abdullah to 45 yards on 24 carries while forcing four turnovers was a big reason why the 10th-ranked Spartans won their third straight game since losing to Oregon in Week 2. But Cook and the offense have some considerable work to do as the competition gets stiffer going forward.
Aside from Cook's long touchdown pass to Tony Lippett in the first quarter, a 31-yard TD run from Jeremy Langford to highlight a 111-yard performance, his ninth straight 100-yard game on the ground against a Big Ten team, and a 32-yard Lippett TD run, the offense didn't do much.
Cook's interception on the second play of the game, a Langford fumble and a missed field goal from Michael Geiger that could have put the Spartans up 30-22 late, making Trae Waynes' interception of Cornhuskers' quarterback Tommy Armstrong, Jr. in the waning seconds necessary for the Spartans to claim victory, made the game a lot closer than it should have been.
Cook didn't have his best night in going 11-of-29 passing for 234 yards and will need to improve on his accuracy, a trait that I don't think he necessarily has taken the next step when compared to his 2013 season. It was the biggest thing he had to work on in the offseason and it still is as the 2014 season heads into the second week of October.
I suppose Bo Pelini's charges deserve credit for piecing together a 19-point fourth quarter to turn a 27-3 deficit into a five-point deficit while having the ball and having an opportunity to finish off the improbable comeback before Waynes' heroics.
But Mark Dantonio has ammo for his charges as it prepares for very winnable games the next three weeks against Purdue, Indiana and Michigan before Urban Meyer and Ohio State come calling to Spartan Stadium in five weeks.
And that might turn out to be a very good thing, even if it doesn't seem like it now.