Nebraska's Win over Michigan State: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Another week, another close win for the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
I was admittedly ready to throw in the towel after Taylor Martinez threw his final interception of the game. At that point, I literally packed the family into the car and took them to dinner. We got to the restaurant, only to find every employee and customer huddled around the only television at the bar, with Nebraska driving to take the lead.
A pass interference call, a Jamal Turner touchdown catch and dozens of high fives with total strangers later, here we are.
The Huskers are still in the driver's seat of the Big Ten's Legends division, even if it is by the thinnest of margins. Let's take a look at three factors that were integral to how the game played out.
The Good: Ameer Abdullah
Ameer Abdullah may have had the quietest solid game any running back has ever had. Against a Michigan State defense that was allowing less than 93 rushing yards a game, Abdullah toted the rock to the tune of 22 carries for 110 yards. He also had a crucial touchdown catch on a 3rd-and-goal early in the game to draw Nebraska even after falling behind in the first quarter.
The Bad: The Blackshirt Secondary
Forget the 46-yard touchdown they gave up to arguably the conference's worst quarterback, it seemed as though for much of the game these guys didn't know how to cover a receiver without getting flagged for pass interference.
Huskers fans booed and Pelini complained every time the penalties were called, but the fact remains that the calls were correct. You simply cannot wrap one arm around the waste of a receiver while you try to knock the ball away with the other hand. A good official will call it every time.
The most disturbing thing about three of the interference calls was that they were almost exactly the same, yet they were committed by different players. This tells me that this method of defending receivers is either being taught or not corrected in practice, both of which should be inexcusable.
The Ugly: Taylor Martinez
It was his heroics that won the game for the Huskers, no question. It was also his repeated misfires that played a large part in putting Nebraska in the predicament they were in.
If you've followed Nebraska football over the past three years, you know this is what you get with Martinez. He is the ultimate high-risk, high-reward player. When he's good, he's great. When he's bad, he is awful. He won't change and I'm not sure I want him to. His style of play is a huge part of Nebraska's "Rocky Balboa" identity in 2012. The Huskers play themselves into a corner, absorb the other team's heaviest hits and somehow find a way to win at the bell.
These are your 2012 Nebraska Cornhuskers. It isn't pretty, but it's working, and at this point in the season, that's really all that matters.
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