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Sunday Flakes: Reaction To Nebraska's Loss To Michigan State

Saturday's game was not only a disappointing ending, but it iced Nebraska's B1G West chances. We take a look at what everyone is saying.

Steve Sipple, LJS: NU's "Bizzaro World" lapses into harsh reality.

The Huskers fumbled away what could've been a statement victory for a program that -- you've heard it many times in recent years -- often can't get out of its own way.

Four of the turnovers essentially were unforced.

Three occurred deep in NU territory.

Nebraska (7-3, 4-2 Big Ten) essentially gave away a minimum of 14 points. All told, Michigan State (9-1, 6-0) scored 24 points off turnovers.

In the end, Nebraska's "Bizarro World" lapsed into a harsh reality: The Huskers are mathematically eliminated from the Legends Division title chase. And don't try to sell me the "That's-a-good-thing-for-Nebraska" nonsense. Ohio State has vulnerabilities like everyone else, and NU is a tough-minded, tight-knit team with two of the league's elite players (Ameer Abdullah and Randy Gregory).

Brian Rosenthal. LJS: Empty student seats are becoming an epidemic.

For students with a season-ticket package, it’s roughly $25 a game — which, compared with the $56 face value for a regular game ticket, is quite the bargain.

So why not take advantage?

The students who do come provide, from best I can tell, a great atmosphere. Their participation can’t be criticized. And because there’s no reserved seating, students can crowd toward the field, making it easier to create the noticeable pockets. I understand that.

Still, attendance isn’t the same.

I’ve heard the reasons. Hunting season. Too nice of a day. Not nice enough of a day. High-definition television. Lack of cellphone reception. Fall break. Thanksgiving break. I need a break-break.

Yeah, it’s a different age.

But I wonder if the NU brass has noticed those empty seats, or more importantly, what schools such as Georgia are doing as a result?

Dirk Chatelain, OWH: It's the same season, over and over.

Saturday afternoons at Memorial Stadium are — at their core — the same as they were 20 years ago, when I was sitting in North Stadium. Friends, family and strangers from all corners of the state unite and rally around the red "N."

They wear red. They clap along to the fight song. They cheer like heck. It's remarkable to witness, especially after a moment like Jordan Westerkamp's Hail Mary catch.

A loss like Saturday's isn't turning anybody away from the program. Are seasons like this satisfactory?

Or do you believe, as I do, that success must be more than sellout streaks and skinned knees?

That if you're spending more time outside the Top 25 than inside it, you're selling the program short. That the steady erosion of expectations over the past decade is as disturbing as any individual outcome.

No, it's not 1993 anymore. Scholarship limits hurt Nebraska. So did Prop 48 restrictions and conference expansion and cable TV and a whole host of other factors. But the difference between Nebraska and places like Missouri and Iowa and Kansas State and Michigan State is where the Huskers set the bar. What's too low? What's too high?

Ten years ago this weekend — Nov. 15, 2003 — Nebraska had two losses when it hosted its top divisional challenger on ABC at 2:30 p.m. Kansas State dominated the second half, exposing a roster full of nice guys who had played a soft schedule and simply weren't good enough to compete nationally.

That was the final straw for the sixth-year head coach. Steve Pederson cited a gravitation toward mediocrity and fired Frank Solich, fracturing the fan base for a long, long time. (Coincidentally, Bo Pelini coached the Alamo Bowl, leading an inspired win over Michigan State).

No, it's not 1993 anymore. But it feels a lot like 2003. Over the next few weeks, the fan base will engage in a familiar debate. How can NU turn its back on a coach who's never won fewer than nine? How can NU continue with a coach who routinely loses big games by large margins? Soon Eichorst and Perlman will make their call.

Before they do, step back and ask yourself the critical question: What do you want out of Saturday afternoons?

Tom Shatel, OWH: Young Huskers let great opportunity slip through their hands.

The bottom line, again, is that Nebraska football can’t get out of its own way.

And that was a maddening thing, because when the Huskers weren’t tripping over their feet, they were running through Michigan State’s defense. Abdullah gashed the Spartans for 123 yards on 22 carries. At times NU looked like the better team.

Looks can be deceiving. The scoreboard is not.

There wasn’t a lot to say afterward, other than the line of the day from receiver Kenny Bell, who said, "Guys played hard, we just didn’t play smart."

The coaches and players said it was a lesson to learn, a tough education. This was one that got away. The frustration will be tempered by the thought of all the young guys coming back next year, but one nagging question will always follow.

When is the education around here over?

Brandon Vogel, Hail Varsity: What's next?

On Saturday, Nebraska beat Michigan State but lost to Nebraska. That’s happened, to varying degrees, before but never as starkly as this.How much longer can it keep happening?

The answer might depend on the Huskers’ next two games.Nebraska was always going to have a hard time on the road against Penn State and then versus a hungry Iowa team in Lincoln. Now it’s even harder.There’s no easy motivation angle, no backs against the wall, no wrong to right. There’s only the work.And that can be illustrative too.

Maybe even more so than playing with a division title and a shot at the conference championship on the line.I think there’s a lot at stake for Nebraska football in the next two weeks. It’s not this loss that makes me think that. It’s quite easy to explain this one.But it’s much harder to explain how Nebraska remains its own worst enemy.

That’s been the case for a while now and it has cost the Huskers again.

Drew Sharp. Detroit Free-Press:'Charlie Brown' punt fake is no downfall for Mike Sadler, Michigan State

This was Dantonio’s most important game in his seven years at Michigan State — even more important than playing for a shot at the Rose Bowl in the inaugural Big Ten championship game two years ago — because the expectations were never higher than they were approaching this pivotal game.

The Spartans were almost a touchdown favorite — on the road against a team they had never defeated in seven previous attempts. The vast majority of national analysts predicted a Michigan State victory, believing this was that rare team capable of living up to their high aspirations.

It’s another step forward in the evolution of a program that craves being taken seriously.

Chris Vannini, SBNation's The Only Colors: High Five

The God-Kings bled.

MSU gave up season-highs in total yards (392) and rushing yards (182). But still, those were below Nebraska's season averages, even if the yards per play was a bit higher.

What was most concerning was the defensive line consistently getting pushed around by a patchwork Nebraska offensive line. It's also clear Abdullah is the best running back in the Big Ten. Armstrong (9-for-21, 143 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) hit a couple #wheelroute for TD, but didn't so much of anything else.

Of course, we have to mention the turnovers. Yeah, it was the difference in the game. Some of the turnovers were forced (Armstrong fumble, punt return fumble), some were not. Yeah, MSU was lucky. But that's the way things go sometimes. Credit the offense for turning it into points.

No problem with the late Nebraska touchdown. Play to the end. MSU had its defensive starters in there and called a timeout. Abdullah deserved to get into the end zone.

Part of the reason this defense performance is viewed unfavorably is because of the ridiculously high standard. If MSU's defense was top-15 instead of arguably No. 1, it wouldn't be looked at so poorly. But the biggest takeaway is that MSU can win with a C performance from the defense. Got the win and inspired the defense to get better.