Last year’s meeting between Michigan State and Nebraska was a complete blowout by the Cornhuskers and this weekend’s matchup will be exactly the same result.
Nebraska will enter Spartan Stadium as the No. 20 ranked team in the BCS rankings and a squad that has won five of the last six games. Meanwhile, Michigan State has struggled to live up to expectations, as the team has lost three of the last five games and can't wait for this nightmare to end already.
The Cornhuskers will win this game and make another statement in the Big Ten Legends Division.
Taylor Martinez Is a Different QB
In last season’s matchup, Martinez was held to just 80 passing yards, a 53 percent completion percentage and only 23 rushing yards on 12 carries. However, the junior quarterback is a completely different player this season.
Maybe he is drinking some that "secret stuff" that Michael Jordan and the rest of the Space Jam cast drank before defeating the Nerdlucks. Or maybe he touched some magic ball that gave him super powers, which ended up stealing the talents from actual talented dual-threat quarterbacks.
Whatever the case may be, Martinez is not the same quarterback that we saw just a year ago. Not only has he improved his completion percentage by 10 points (66.0 on the season), but he has upped his ground game, rushing for 461 yards and six scores.
He is an actual passing threat this season, making better decisions with the football and producing 23 plays of over 25 yards with his arm, only one less than he had all of last year.
Due to his newfound ability to throw the ball, blitzing him and daring him to pass is no longer an option. In fact, according to Josh Slagter of mlive.com, the junior encourages defenses to send the house and try to pressure him this season.
"I prefer blitzes, I think it leaves open gaps. I'd prefer it," Martinez told reporters Monday in Lincoln. "They're a really good defense. They're really well-coached and have great players.
"If we play our game, we should be perfectly fine."
Pretty confident for a quarterback that couldn't hit the side of a barn last season and was only valuable when using his legs.
This also spells bad news for Michigan State, a team that has struggled against dual-threat quarterbacks all season. Braxton Miller of Ohio State managed to rush for 136 yards and complete nearly 70 percent of his passes in the Buckeyes' victory, while Denard Robinson rushed for 96 yards on only 20 carries.
This Cornhuskers offense is faster than it was last season and is clicking on all cylinders. Not looking good for a Michigan State defense that has been shaky all year.
Nebraska Will Eat Up Michigan State Offense
Michigan State quarterback Andrew Maxwell hasn't been as consistent as Spartan fans would like and has actually had more bad games than good ones. Although he has improved his completion percentage the past couple of games, he simply isn't making enough plays to be considered somebody who can take over a football game and lead his team to victory.
Much of that job falls on the shoulders of running back Le'Veon Bell, who is second in the country with 247 rushing attempts. While the junior is a great back and somebody who has a future at the next level, he simply can't do everything for this team. In fact, his production continues to decline, as he hasn't rushed for 100 yards in two weeks and has scored only two total touchdowns in the last three games.
Bell also didn't contribute much in last year’s meeting against Nebraska, rushing for just 58 yards on 12 carries.
While Nebraska has been brutal at times against the run, the secondary is one of the best in the Big Ten, allowing only 160 yards in the air per game. Denard Robinson was ineffective last week before he got hurt, Braxton Miller couldn't get things going with his arm and there have only been two games all season where this team has given up 200 or more passing yards.
Nebraska is feeling good about the performance it had last week against Michigan and will load the box to cut off all of the running lanes for Michigan State's workhorse RB. Unless Maxwell can have a breakout game, Nebraska will likely win its third game in a row.
Note: All stats come from cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted.
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