LINCOLN, Neb. -- Michigan State's magical October will come to an end today, unless the Spartans have some fourth-quarter tricks up their sleeves.
Nebraska came out of halftime with some excellent offensive adjustments, while Michigan State appears to be falling apart. Taylor Martinez had just one completion for no yards in the first half, but he completed four passes for 34 yards on a touchdown drive to open the third quarter and later added a touchdown pass. Offensive coordinator Tim Beck has called a terrific game, using a variety of option pitches, reverses and now some short passes to keep the Spartans' blitz-heavy defense off-balance. And Michigan State has contributed with a variety of drive-extending penalties after not being whistled for a single violation last week against Wisconsin.
The Spartans still have yet to solve Nebraska's defense, though they did find some success running the ball up the gut. The problem is they trail by so much that they have to pass the ball, and the receivers can't get separation in the Huskers' two-deep coverage. Kirk Cousins was sacked on third down inside Nebraska territory to end a potential scoring threat.
At this rate, Michigan State probably needs a momentum-swinging play on defense or special teams to avoid its first loss in October.
Nebraska is obviously going to pound the ball as much as possible with the lead in the fourth quarter. Rex Burkhead has been a warrior, with 31 carries already through three quarters. He had to be helped off the field after No. 31 with apparent cramping, but he came back two plays later to catch a 27-yard touchdown. That was likely the score that shook up the Legends Division race.