Welcome to another Victory Monday, gang.
Let’s get into the breakdown as we look in the rearview mirror of another Michigan State victory, this time over Nebraska.
The defensive front balled out. We talked about this as the No. 1 “Thing We Wanted To See” in last week’s 3-2-1 Preview and MY GOODNESS did the Spartans deliver.
How about seven sacks — the most Michigan State’s defense has generated in a decade — to send everyone home with? Nebraska’s weakness is its offensive line and if MSU was going to win a tight game, the Spartans had to take advantage of the trench battle when the Cornhuskers were on offense.
The run defense was just OK, giving up 3.8 yards per carry for a grand total of 187 yards. But being in Adrian Martinez’s grill all night was the difference here. That was an old fashioned MSU win, the kind we’ve been accustomed to the last few years, with the defense picking up the slack for the offense, so those front six players get the combined MVP award.
The secondary as a whole also played great, but let’s give a huge nod to Xavier Henderson. Once again, we point him out individually and it’s been nothing short of impressive how well he’s played through the first four games. But 17 TACKLES TYPE OF GOOD? Wow...he’s always been a solid player, but this year he has leapt into being one of the best secondary players in the conference, if not the whole country.
And speaking of one of the best in the whole country, let’s recognize punter Bryce Baringer. His insane 53.2 yards per punt average checks in at No. 2 overall in the country, only behind Arizona’s Matt Araiza and his 55.1 average. That’s a massive boost from his 43.6 average a year ago.
It’s also worth noting his punting skills opposite of Nebraska’s own nightmare of a punting evening. Let’s actually check in on Scott Frost and get his thoughts on the punting...
Another interesting clip. Here, Scott Frost essentially blames Nebraska's loss entirely on the players. pic.twitter.com/CYlphp3qaY— Justin Thind (@JustinThind) September 26, 2021
Let’s revisit this punt return touchdown by Jayden Reed that tied the game and eventually forced overtime.
Can't talk too busy watching this Spartan .@JaydenReed5 with the 63 YD punt return ➡️ TD. @MSU_Football pic.twitter.com/UI1QIxDaHt— Michigan St. on BTN (@MichiganStOnBTN) September 26, 2021
And last but certainly not least, let’s watch this play by Connor Heyward one more time...
I know pops looking down smiling https://t.co/fDWtirecVn— Connor Heyward (@ConnorHeyward1) September 26, 2021
Wasn’t in love with the play calling, namely in the first half and even more specifically the fourth-and-one. MSU was three-for-three heading into the game on fourth down conversions and the decision to drop back into shotgun instead of going under center backfired. MSU has had success with the quarterback sneak this season and Kenneth Walker is one of the best at the line of scrimmage so, yeah, that was an odd call.
Look, Nebraska has a really solid defense, but not so solid where you should be going one-of-11 on third downs. Kind of a clunker from the offense, but hey, the Spartans still survived.
I actually hate that the wildcat formation worked in overtime and essentially won MSU the game. Like, OK, I’m happy the play worked. But I just need wildcat to die and leave Spartan Stadium forever. I am still scarred by the previous regime and watching wildcat for 0.2 yards at the longest, and even these days, it fails more times than not. All well, whatever.
Anyone else lucky enough to be at the game can attest to this, but the scoreboard operating needs some work. If I had a drink for every time there was a wrong down, distance, place on the field, etc...I would’ve had to been Weekend At Bernies’d out of the stadium.
As you’ve likely heard by now, Chase Kline and Kalon Gervin are in the transfer portal after four games this season. More information on that here, but I don’t think it’s all that surprising. Gervin was clearly jumped on the depth chart and only recorded special teams snaps against Nebraska. Kline is a bit more surprising, but he looks to be looking for something other than a reserve roll it seems.
And, like we all assumed before the season, MSU is now in the top-20 in both the coaches and AP polls.
Moving up #GoGreen pic.twitter.com/aC72VRNzzA— Michigan State Football (@MSU_Football) September 26, 2021
And let’s do my favorite thing to do during college football season...BOWL PROJECTIONS, BABY. LET’S GOOOOOOOOOOOO.
-CBS Sports: Citrus Bowl vs. Texas A&M
-College Football News: Music City Bowl vs. Kentucky
-247Sports: Outback Bowl vs. Florida
-Action Network: Music City Bowl vs. Missouri
AS ALWAYS, LET’S CELEBRATE THAT VICTORY. GO GREEEEEEEEEEN!
The game winner from @MatthewCoghlin pic.twitter.com/WVVDqQxKV4— Michigan State Football (@MSU_Football) September 26, 2021