Nebraska Stuns Michigan State Instant Analysis

    Nebraska is finally on the right side of a close game to stun Michigan State.

    November 8, 2015

    E-mail Phil Harrison | Follow me … @PhilHarrisonCFB 

    1. The Blackshirts?

    If Nebraska wants to get back to being Nebraska, it needs to start on the defensive side of the ball. When Big Red was setting bowl-streak records and contending for conference and national championships, it had an identity based on dominant defenses and efficient and ball-controlled offenses. Somewhere along the way, the culture of the program fell in love with what the other side of the ball can do to score points and got away from the culture of what history means in Lincoln.

    It’s been great to see guys like Tommy Armstrong and Taylor Martinez run the offense, but where are the Grant Wistroms, Trev Alberts and Jared Tomichs that used to litter the defensive side of the ball? They’re just not there, and something just doesn’t feel right about the ‘Huskers giving up thirty and forty points per game. Great job pulling this miracle out, but it’s time to up the recruiting on defense and win games there instead of trying to outscore opponents.

    2. The Riley Factor

    It’s pretty hard to put yourself on the hot seat at any program after just one year, but Mike Riley has gotten as close as you possibly can. Expectations are high at a place like Nebraska, and first year or not, Riley isn’t giving anyone the warm and fuzzies about where this team and program is. Add that into the built-in disadvantages that a place like Nebraska has with the recruiting footprint, and getting thing turned around won’t be easy.

    But this was a much needed win to turn that tide around. It’s the type of victory that can loosen the reigns just a bit and take the pressure off the coaching staff. Riley showed that he can do much of the same in the forgotten Pacific Northwest with Oregon State, so if any coach fits the bill of being able to turn this thing around, it’s him. Give him time and see what happens. This could be the start of that momentum needed to bring glory back to Lincoln.

    3. Playing With Fire

    All season, Michigan State has been living dangerously. There have been injuries and inconsistencies with the running game and in the secondary, but the team still has enough talent and depth to have put away lesser opponents even with a M.A.S.H. unit out there. In this one, it felt like Sparty was in control, but then Nebraska hung around and hung around until it found a way to win at the very end.

    Say what you will about teams of destiny, blah, blah, blah, but eventually if you play enough of these white-knuckers, a bounce of the ball or… ahem, an official’s call will go against you and leave you in the depths of despair. That’s what happened tonight, and it may have derailed the chances of the Spartans making the College Football Playoff.

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