You've seen this movie before. Huskers fall behind by double digits, then come storming back to win the game, courtesy of Taylor Martinez. If you are a glass half-empty person, you point out all of the mistakes (and boy, there were a bunch). Glass half empty points out yet another case of T-Magic saving the Huskers bacon once again.
At this point of the season, while Nebraska can work on resolving specific issues, the imprint of this team is clear. A talented team that can't get out if it's own way at times. If you want to look at it from the "half-empty" perspective, this team lacks discipline at critical times: turnovers and penalties continue to haunt this team. Some will say that comes from the top and is a reflection of Bo Pelini. You could say that.
On the other hand, this team has fight and scraps it's way back. It's done it over and over again. That definitely comes from the top, and is also a reflection of Bo Pelini. So the question is, how do you fix the discipline issues? That's a problem to resolve in the offseason; it's not something that'll get fixed this week or next. If Nebraska hasn't fixed it by week 9, it's not going to get fixed by week 10. So sit back, buckle your seat belts, and enjoy the ride. You have to admit these fourth quarters have been a lot of fun!
With the victory, the Huskers move this week to #18 in the AP poll and #16 in the USA Today Coaches poll. Jeff Sagarin's computer rankings have Nebraska at #21. Penn State, Nebraska's next opponent, would be 36th in the AP poll and 30th in the Sagarin computer rankings. (The Nittany Lions are ineligible for the coaches poll.)
Now, onto the Huskers report card for the Michigan State game:
QB: How do you grade THAT? Running the ball, he gets an A. A+ if he hadn't fumbled in the fourth quarter. Passing probably gets him a D+ for the first three quarters, then an A+ for that fourth quarter. Yes, I believe in T-Magic, so I'll chalk up the passing struggles to the Spartans defense...and give Martinez a B for an overall grade.
RB: Ameer Abdullah could have run that sweep all day and gained positive yardage. Nebraska probably could have run it more, but eventually the Spartans would have locked it down. Not much running room inside, though...but that's to be expected with a solid Michigan State defense. Surprised that we didn't see Braylon Heard again this week, though. All told, Abdullah was especially productive considering the opponent. Grade: A
WR: Like Martinez, I wanted to go with a C for most of the game. Kenny Bell had an uncharacteristic drop, as did Ben Cotton. Then the fourth quarter hit. Quincy Enunwa converts a key third down pass, then hauls in a 22 yard gain to begin the game winning drive. Then Kyler Reed makes the big play, gaining 38 yards on fourth down to put Nebraska in position to at least tie the game. Reed's been somewhat quiet this season, but that might be due to the emergence of all of the other receivers. So we'll go with a B for the game.
OL: Considering the quality of the opponent, not a bad performance. Justin Jackson's shotgun snaps were much better this week. Grade: B
DL: Eric Martin was a beast once again; he wasn't a liability stopping the run like he's been the past. Baker Steinkuhler was pretty active as well. Le'Veon Bell didn't get much yardage straight up the middle from my perspective; most of his yardage came on the outside. Grade: B
LB: I liked Will Compton's game, especially when he broke up that screen pass in the third quarter. Would have loved for him to make the interception in that situation though. I suppose this was not a good matchup to get David Santos onto the field; he only saw limited playing tim. Grade: B-
Secondary: P. J. Smith had a big game on run support, and Justin Blatchford had the unenviable task of trying to cover 285 pound tight end Dion Sims at times. Blatchford won one battle, but lost another to a pass interference penalty. Daimion Stafford had a bad first half and a better second by stripping Le'Veon Bell early in the third quarter. Stanley Jean-Baptiste earned some sideline time with his misplay on that touchdown pass to Tony Lippett. But it's hard to be too critical when Andrew Maxwell only completes 33% of his passes. Grade: B
Overall: B This is Nebraska in 2012. A dominating performance on the stat sheet is sabotaged by penalties and turnovers. Why expect anything different in this game? Survive and advance.
Elsewhere in College Football
Arizona 0 Thanks RichRod, for showing us that UCLA's offensive explosion against Nebraska was not a one-time fluke.
Notre Dame: D- You do realize that Pedeyshine U lost to 1-AA Youngstown State, didn't you?
Missouri: D- How the hell do you throw four interceptions on the road at a top 10 foe, and still have a chance on the final play of the game?
Kansas State: A But all of your 1998-like dreams all depend on #7 being healthy.
Colorado: -100 If you thought the Buffies couldn't do any worse than Dan Hawkins, let me introduce Jon Embree. Just for comparison's sake: Nebraska's game winning drive against Michigan State was 80 yards; CoLOLrado's offense gained 76 yards total the entire game against Stanford.
Iowa: F The Squawkeyes appear to be where Colorado was, oh, say five years ago.
Alabama: B The Tide isn't invincible, but they do have karma working for them.
Oregon: A- They may not have the defense to win a title, but they'll be entertaining to watch.
Big Ten Referees: F OK, you aren't biased...but you aren't very good either.