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Nebraska Football vs Michigan State: By The Numbers

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David McGee

Friday afternoon, 4:30 pm.

You might be at a happy hour by now. You're having a few beers with friends, and the subjects turns to this week's Nebraska game. You are your friend begin wondering whether or not Nebraska can win, well, except for that one guy who's always the homer. He's sure about a Nebraska win. He starts listing off the reasons.

By the third beer, homer guy is spewing statistics, advanced statistics that few people know and even fewer care about. They sound convincing, though, and now all your friends are slowly being whipped into a frenzy that allows them to accept that this will be an easy Husker victory.

That's when your contrarian friend speaks up and mentions that Nebraska hasn't beaten a top 10 team on the road since 1997.

The frenzy ends as everyone tries to remember why this isn't correct.

Contrarian dude may be a jerk sometimes, but he knows his stuff.

The short-term aftermath is that he's just killed everyone's buzz, but it only takes a few moments before everyone realizes that this game is Nebraska's chance in a very long time to show that they belong on the big stage, that they're nationally relevant, that Bo Pelini may be capable of being a damned good coach.

It makes the hair raise on the back of everyone's head.

.788 - Michigan State's home win percentage under Mark Dantonio. They are 41-11 and currently have a 10-game winning streak at home.

1 - Ameer Abdullah. #8 on the field, #1 in your heart, and #1 in FBS career active all-purpose yardage with 5,974 yards, in career active rushing yardage with 3,810 yards, and in career active 100-yard rushing games with 21.

3 - Michigan State's national rank in turnover margin. The Spartans are +2.25 per game, +9 in turnovers overall, and have forced 12 turnovers this season. They were -3 against Oregon, +3 against Jacksonville State, +5 against Eastern Michigan and +3 against Wyoming.

3 - Nebraska's national ranking in rushing offense at 384.80 yards per game, averaging 6.93 yards per carry. Ameer Abdullah is a big part of that ranking, second nationally in yards per game at 166.60, and first in rushing yardage with 833 yards.

6 - Michigan State's national rank in rush defense, having given up 80.75 yards per game. Oregon is the highest ranked rushing offense they've faced so far; the Ducks are ranked 33rd at 225.25 yards per game. Wyoming and Eastern Michigan are ranked 92nd and 96th, respectively.

7 - Nebraska's wins against Michigan State as the Huskers lead the all-time series 7-1, the only loss coming last year in Lincoln.

10 - Nebraska's national ranking in sacks allowed per game. The Huskers have given up only .50 sacks per game. Compare this to Michigan State, ranked 14th, giving up .75 sacks per game. Nebraska has attempted 124 passes, Michigan State 110.

11 - Michigan State's national ranking in total defense, giving up 291.5 yards per game. Nebraska is 31st at 331.6 per game.

12 - Nebraska's national ranking in punting average at 45.71 yards. Sam Foltz is not amongst the nation's leaders because he hasn't punted enough to be counted. Michigan State is ranked 91st at 40.44 yards

13 - Number of receptions Kenny Bell needs to take over first place on Nebraska's career receptions list.

18 - The number of beers it will probably take to get me through this game.

22 - Career starts for team captain Corey Cooper, the most on the team.

38 - Michigan State's national ranking in long opponent plays of 20+ yards. The Spartans have given up 16 of them. The Spartans have given up 10 plays of 30+ yards, ranking 87th nationally. Five of those came against Oregon.

64 - Nebraska's national ranking in turnover margin at +.20 per game. Nebraska was negative in only one game; a -1 against Fresno State. The Huskers have lost six, and gained seven turnovers through five games.

105.2 - Yards per game receiving average for Michigan State's Tony Lippett. Lippett has 22 receptions for 421 yards and six touchdowns.

154.23 - Tommy Armstrong Jr's passing efficiency ranking nationally which ranks him 30th in the FBS. Armstrong has thrown for 1,052 yards with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions.

192.32 - Connor Cook's passing efficiency rating, which ranks third in the FBS. Cook has thrown for 837 yards with nine touchdowns and two interceptions. He has attempted only 78 passes compared to Armstrong's 115.

201 - The number of points the Spartans have scored so far this season. This is the highest total through four games in Michigan State history.

247.5 - Nebraska's average rushing yardage in the past two games against Michigan State. The Spartans have allowed only 69 rushing yards per game against other Big Ten regular-season opponents over that time.

2.4 Million - The number of calls the athletic department will receive next week should Nebraska lose this game, all asking for the head of Bo Pelini on a plate.