Saturday, October 29, 2011
Halftime: Nebraska 10, Michigan State 3
By Brian Bennett
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Quick halftime analysis from Memorial Stadium, where No. 14 Nebraska leads No. 11 Michigan State 10-3:
Turning point: Lance Thorell intercepted a Kirk Cousins pass early in the half to set up a Rex Burkhead touchdown run, the only trip to the end zone by either team.
Stat of the half: The teams have combined for just 27 passing yards, all of it by Michigan State. Kirk Cousins is 4-for-15 with that interception, and Taylor Martinez has completed as many passes to the Spartans (one interception) as he has to his own teammates.
Best player in the half: Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard has three pass breakups and has shut down Michigan State star receiver B.J. Cunningham. Of course, he has had safety help on just about every play his way.
What Michigan State needs to do: For whatever reason, the Spartans can't seem to figure out Nebraska's defensive game plan. The Huskers have had two deep safeties almost the entire game, leaving the middle of the field open for short passes and power runs. Yet Michigan State continues to try to throw deep to receivers who are double-covered or run sweeps and pitches to the outside. Offensive coordinator Dan Roushar needs to make the proper adjustments at halftime.
What Nebraska needs to do: Keep running the ball. I questioned this week how the Huskers would be able to throw the ball against this Spartans' defense. The answer is they can't. Nebraska is better off sticking with Martinez and Burkhead on the ground and playing defense, at least as long as Michigan State remains clueless on how to attack it.