The Michigan State Spartans have been on a roll lately and that’s somewhat surprising to some when you consider how the Spartans started the season. Nonetheless, no one can deny that this team has come together game after game and now they are in position to possibly compete for a Big Ten Title.
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However, this is not the time to get cocky if you’re a Spartan player or fan because they have a big game this Saturday against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Going into this game the Spartans are looking to stay on top of the Big Ten in the Legends Division and Nebraska is looking to first tie up with the Spartans for first place but ultimately they want to take over the Legends Division. So while there is no doubt that the Spartans are capable of winning this game, they will only win if they follow certain keys to victory.
It all starts with the defense when it comes to the Spartans because that’s where they win most of their games. Defensively, they must find a way to contain running back Ameer Abdullah who is the heart and soul of this Nebraska team. Their goal should be to make this Nebraska offense one-dimensional and force quarterback Tommy Armstrong to beat them. Which leads me to the Spartan pressuring Armstrong, while he is capable of scrambling, he is still young and inexperience and he isn’t used to continuous pressure. If the Spartans can find ways to make him uncomfortable, I’m pretty sure he will make a point to force passes.
Which leads me to the Spartan secondary who must perform well in this game, it may not be easy as some think. When you think about Nebraska, you have to understand who their offensive coordinator is in Tim Beck and when it comes to Beck he loves to throw the ball. The Spartans secondary must first find a way to make some big plays on the ball, especially forced passes but more importantly they must limit the big play and force this team to go through some quick three and outs. If they are able to do that, the Spartans may just win this game.
However, they won’t be winning anything if the Spartans offense doesn’t play well. When it comes to the Spartans offense there is no need to change anything or get fancy. Spartans should look to run the ball early and often and hand the ball off to Jeremy Langford and let him do his thing. Running the ball will help to keep the offense balance, move the chains and keep the Nebraska offense off the field.
Which leads me to the next offensive key which is the Spartans passing game which comes from quarterback Connor Cook. Last game against the Wolverines, the Spartans did a good job of executing when needed but they left a lot of points on the field and that’s not something they want to do in this game. Going into this game, Cook must continue taking what the defense gives him and more importantly show poise and leadership in the key moments. I look for him to continue spreading the ball around and most importantly not turn the ball over. Last game, they did a good job of winning the battle of field position and constantly getting in the red-zone, so they need to do so again, they just need to make sure they take advantage off all their opportunities and do their best to not leave any points on the field.
Most importantly this Spartan offense must get off to an early start and build a lead because Nebraska tends to struggle when they fall behind early and they don’t do the best job of making comebacks.
As I said at the beginning of this article, this is a big game for both teams, mainly because who ever wins could ultimately determine their destiny in the Big Ten Legends Division. Whoever wins this game could ultimately challenge the Ohio State Buckeyes for the Big Ten Title. So fasten your seat belts and get ready for an entertaining game because it’s anyone’s guess as to who will win this game.
Written by LBeasley, Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit
Listen to LBeasley’s Radio Show, “Sports Talk with L-Beasley” every Mon, Wed & Fri from 6-8pm (ET) on LBeasley.com