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“What If” #2 of the 2018 Nebraska Football Season: Weather for Michigan State Game Was Perfect

That weather was brutal

Michigan State v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

I know. If “ifs and buts” were candy and nuts, we’d all have a Merry Christmas.

A “What If” series is perfect for the off-season. It is unproductive. It is a waste of time. It won’t change anything, but it is the off-season. Right now, I am up to five “what ifs” for the 2018 season.

#1 was “if Iowa kicked a field goal on fourth down.”

This week is, admittedly, ridiculous but still fun to think about.

It was the Barret Pickering Game.

Nebraska ended up winning 9 - 6 and it was the first game Nebraska has won in which it did not score a touchdown since 1937. The game in 1937 was a 3-0 win over Kansas.

Eighty-two years ago.

I could be wrong, but I feel like it is safe to assume that the weather was better in that 1937 game against Kansas than it was last fall against Michigan State. It was easily the coldest game I have ever attended.

Fortunately for me, I spent the majority of the game up in the press box. However, the last five minutes of the game I spent it down on the field. It was cold. The wind was blowing in every direction and I couldn’t stop thinking about how cold the players had to be in that football game.

It was an old school football game. It was probably the most important win of the season. It showed us that Nebraska’s defense could go win a game. Of course they were aided by the elements, but they still did enough to win.

Michigan State is rarely going to score a whole bunch of points. Nebraska on the other hand was going on a roll and compiling up yards and points in bunches. I have a feeling Michigan State really felt that the weather was going to work out better for them and it would give them a better chance to win the game.

They almost did it.

That Michigan State defense last year was probably the second best behind Michigan in the Big Ten. So we all knew it was going to be difficult for Nebraska to move the ball.

This Nebraska offense however averaged 456.2 yards per game in 2018. Michigan State averaged 342.1 yard per game. So what happened that day with the wind and cold?

Nebraska had 248 total yards, while Michigan State had 289. Michigan State actually ended up only 53.10 yards below their average while Nebraska was 208.2 yard below their season average.

Some of that was the Michigan State defense, and a lot of that was the weather. How windy was it? Well Barret Pickering said that he was aiming at the left upright and expecting the wind to take it right through the middle between the goal posts. Which it did.

The wind probably had a lot to do with why Adrian Martinez went 16-37 for 145 yards and Rocky Lombardi threw for 146 yards going 15-41. Those are not good numbers.

So what if? What if the weather for the Michigan State game required only a light jacket?

To start, Barret Pickering wouldn’t have had his coming out moment. I think this game did a ton for his confidence. Or at least it did a ton for my confidence in him. The game-winning field goal to put Nebraska up 9-6 was impressive.

Second, the defense wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to show that they can go out and win a game.

Last, and I think we all know where this was going, I think Nebraska wins the game by 20 or more. Nebraska showed that during the last half of the season that it could move the ball on anybody. I have tremendous respect for the Michigan State program and what they bring to the table defensively. However, Scott Frost’s offense was humming with Adrian Martinez at the helm.

I don’t know how many points Nebraska would have ended up scoring, and we know that Michigan State would have scored more than six but I feel in the end Nebraska would have won that game comfortably if the weather was more cooperative.

We will never know. However, I think it ended up being the best thing for the program. We have kicker we trust going forward, and a defense that can say of the four games Nebraska won last year that it practically won one of them by themselves.

Of course, with the help of the weather.