Opponent: Nebraska Cornhuskers
Date: Oct. 4, 2014
Location: Spartan Stadium — East Lansing, Michigan
Final Score: 28-22, Michigan State
All-time Matchup Record: Nebraska leads 9-2
Following a victory on the road over the then No. 24-ranked Miami (FL) Hurricanes, Michigan State will carry major momentum and suddenly heightened expectations into Saturday night’s showdown against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. A striped stadium and night game atmosphere will add some extra sauce to an already exciting matchup.
It’s been seven years since the last time Nebraska played in Spartan Stadium, and Saturday will be only the fourth time ever the Cornhuskers come to East Lansing. Last time the two programs faced off in 2014, a 10th-ranked Michigan State team welcomed 19th-ranked Nebraska team to East Lansing for a night game that carried a somewhat unusual rhythm to it.
Nebraska leads the all time series 9-2 and Michigan State’s first victory didn't come until 2013, where the underdog Spartans provided a statement win in Lincoln. MSU came into the following year’s matchup with a bit more notoriety, coming off a Rose Bowl victory, and serious expectations of a Big Ten championship.
MSU would pull away in 2014 with a gritty victory after a comeback effort from Nebraska late, and fans can only hope for additional parallels on Saturday, maybe without the late game heartaches. A victory over Nebraska would be another solid win for a program that is starting to stack them up.
Michigan State dominated the first half of the game and looked like it was coasting to a blowout. The unrelenting “No Fly Zone” defense continued to live up to its name that night, holding Nebraska to zero points and forcing three turnovers in the the first half.
Quarterback Connor Cook found wide receiver Tony Lippett, connected for a 55-yard touchdown bomb on the Spartans’ second drive of the game, and Jeremy Langford would add a 31-yard scoring run at the beginning of the second quarter to put MSU up 14-0.
Kicker Michael Geiger tacked on a 28-yard field goal with 2:52 remaining in the second quarter, while the Spartan defense would hold strong to enter halftime up 17-0.
The second half started with much of the same offensive struggles for the Cornhuskers, shutdown in their first two possessions before finally getting on the scoreboard with a 40-yard field goal from Drew Brown. Michigan State struck again on the Spartans’ next possession with a perfectly executed 32-yard end-around run for Lippet’s second score of the game to put MSU up 27-3.
While things seemed almost all but over, Nebraska began to chip away at the 24-point deficit late in the fourth quarter. Running back Ameer Abdullah, who was held to just 45 yards rushing, scored on a pair of short touchdown runs in the fourth quarters, and De’Mornay Pierson-El returned a punt 62 yards for a touchdown to make it 27-22 with 3:22 remaining.
A missed field goal by Gieger gave Nebraska the ball back with 1:07 remaining and a chance to win the game. However, a final Spartan stand, and second interception of the night by Trae Waynes, iced the game and gave the Spartans a key victory.