I was hoping the mid-afternoon would bring that Nebraska unicorn called bowl eligibility, but instead it only brought another one-score loss and a lovely old couple who wouldn’t stop pestering the staff about the bar buying quail eggs from them.
Disappointment comes in many wrappers.
Both teams hit the field this morning with different goals. Michigan State was looking to avoid the season going completely down in flames and kickstart the first step of a strong finish after a 6-game losing streak all but eliminated them from post-season considerations.
For Nebraska, the goal was simple. Grab another win and lock down the team’s first trip to a bowl game since 2016 with three games to spare. Then start looking toward larger goals dare not dreamed prior to the 2023 season.
(Check the box next to Michigan State.
Heinrich Haarberg’s three turnovers almost approached Jeff Sims’ per game average. The Husker secondary’s deep coverage breakdowns against Michigan State’s well below average passing attack will be studied by future opponents. Brian Buschini’s horrid punting caused some huge field position flips.
Pick your poison. I guess if there’s a silver lining it’s that we still were in position to win a game where so much went wrong. And I shouldn’t pick on the Blackshirts - if you only give up 295 yards and 20 points, that should be enough. And as bad as Haarberg has been, is there anything better behind him? That might be discussed in North Stadium this week.
- Some bad, bad news out of the gate on Princewill
- But - Kemp might give it a go.
- Buford and Omar are warming up - if Buford plays, expect it to be sparingly based on coach comments this week.
- Nouli is warming up with the starters.
- Even though Singleton is never listed here, he is reported as out - gave it a go in practice this week and had a setback. This staff has shown over and over no one will be rushed back.
- So we got some very good football weather.
- Game faces appear to be activated.
Remembering Mike and Sam. pic.twitter.com/N05Xar6wMj— Michigan State Football (@MSU_Football) November 4, 2023
- Always remembered
- Hey, let’s light this candle.
1ST QUARTER NOTES
- Crushed the MSU opening kickoff return. I sooo want a non-disastrous start today.
- Huskers leave Parachek & Franklin WIDE open on back to back pass plays totaling 63 yards and a pair of 1st downs. (Post game note: This proved prophetic)
- The Blackshirts toughen up and hold Sparty to a 35 yard FG. I will rate that as their first non-disastrous start to a game since Louisiana Tech. Small victory. Michigan St 3 Huskers 0
- Anthony Grant gets the start and takes the read option for 6, but we give 3 back when a bubble screen is sniffed out. Doss gets hands on a high throw but can’t hang on and it’s 3 & out. Buschini boots a 45 yarder not returned for a good start to his day.
- It’s early, but this feels like a key possession coming up. The Blackshirts don’t want to give a reeling team a reason to hope.
- Boom. 3 & out, mission accomplished.
- And Billy Kemp takes the field for the return. Fair catches should be taken care of….and are. Santino Kemp hauls it in on the 15.
- Good start - Haarberg to Bullock for 5, then Emmett for 11 and Grant for 16 to approach midfield before Haarberg smartly throws it away with everyone covered on rollout.
- A little trickery as a reverse to Jaylen Lloyd goes for 6. Emmitt up the middle for 2 and the ‘Skers are going for it on 4th down.
- Haarberg keeps and bulls for 3 - 1st down!
- The blocking falls apart quickly as Haarberg is sacked for -5
- A failed dump to Lloyd loses 4 more.
- Haarberg wings it deep and off target for a pick but it ends up being a damn good punt as Sparty takes over on their own 4.
- The early storyline is 2023 on brand for the offense. Huskers move the ball on the ground then a switch to the air stalls them.
- Gbayor and Reimer are credited with a sack on 2nd & 3 and bomb on 3rd down is blanketed by Hartzog. And possibly that should have been our 2nd pick.
- Ryan Eckley crushes a 53-yard punt which is Santino’d at the Husker 41
- On 3rd down, Haarberg hums a dart to Fidone for 27.
First quarter summary: Haarberg is 4-8 for 25 yards in the 1st quarter, the product of that last pass to Fidone and a pile of screens which are looking more ill-advised as incomplete has been the best outcome of those thus far. After a 71-yard opening drive, the Spartans have managed just 7. The Huskers ground game has shown life, but as per most of 2023 they struggle to put consistent drives together.
But, yeah, we might want to be done with screens.
2ND QUARTER NOTES
- Emmitt opens the 2nd turning the left corner for 12 yards & a 1st down.
- Hahaha - there’s an MSU dude in the stands dressed as a Michigan spy with binoculars. They aren’t living that down for a ling time.
- 1st and goal and no blocking for a -1 to start.
- But no worries as HH keeps for a Husker TD! Huskers 7 Michigan St 3
- Nice timing with a 10-play 59 yard drive after I questioned their ability to sustain drives.
- I have long given up all hope that Big 10 refs will ever call a hold on a Husker opponent in the 1st half.
- Sparty drops their 2nd bomb of the game on a WR reverse pass from ALANTE BROWN to Foster for 42 yards. That’s very disappointing.
- Tommie is beat on an 11-yard TD pass to Christian Fitzpatrick for the TD. Michigan St 10 Huskers 7
- Sparty is now 5-9 passing for 125 yards and a TD. Michigan State is a fairly awful passing attack. This needs to be locked down quickly, especially in the form of converting the takeaways.
- Huskers open with HH to Bullock for 22 followed by a Grant drop. A short loss and an incompletion later and they’re punting.
- The opening completion though was big for field position. It’s a long field for the Spartan offense - though it should’ve been longer as Buschini only managed a 34-yarder to the 20.
- It’s on the Blackshirts to tighten up after getting gashed deep on 2 of MSU’s 4 drives.
- A stop, a score and then the ball to start the 2nd half would be ideal. Or am I asking too much?
- Huskers are beat for 16 by Foster who takes a page from Colorado’s book by signaling for a 1st down despite being 2 yards short. A false start later, MSU booms a 57-yarder which is Santino’d of course. There’s a running into the kicker call after a Husker appeared to be pushed into Eckley and tried to avoid contact, but whatever. It’s declined since they crushed it.
- I don’t often cheer for Clemson, but if they could keep beating the shit out of Notre Dame, that would be awesome. (24-6, 2nd Qtr)
- Haarberg finds Fidone again, this time for 11 on 3rd & 9.
- A scheme with no blocker allows Khris Fogle to sack HH. However, he escapes a 2nd sack scrambling for 16 and then SLIDING!! 5 yards are tacked on at the end for sideline interference.
- Haarberg takes a QB draw for about 5 and then is hit while sliding for an additional 15 yards on the personal foul.
- Haarberg picked in the end zone but is bailed out by a defensive holding against MSU on Malachi.
- A screen to Fleeks on 3rd down with one blocker vs three doesn’t get it in the end zone.
- Alvano kicks a FG of indeterminate yardage. The stats streaming services have officially shit the bed. The penalties at the end of that drive left them flummoxed and they’re still several plays behind.
- They may be drinking with the FS1 cameramen who seem easily fooled by handoffs up the gut while they give us vertigo.
Halftime summary: MSU is leading the yardage battle 182-151 on the strength of its deep passes. They also appear to know when a Husker bombo is coming as they’re has been a crowd around every time Haarberg has gone deep. It looks like a weak spot has been found where Malachi is concerned as they are grabbing him every chance they get - some underneath routes should be open if they keep selling out to take away the bombs.
3RD QUARTER NOTES
- Grant for 3 yards then 11 to start things off with a first down. And then 11 more to midfield. Just because.
- HH hits Bullock in the hands on 3rd & 6 but the ball bounces away. Another weak punt by Buschini is fielded at the 14. Better than the last, but those need to be inside the 10.
- The Spartans immediately pop for 28 on a catch & run mid-range. If we lose, the secondary getting chopped will be a big part of it.
- MSU goes for it on 4th & 1 and converts on an option read keeper.
- Isaac Gifford blows up a dump pass for -3 forcing a 3rd & 11, but the coverage is late again - 14 yard completion, 1st down.
- The Blackshirts finally shut it down on 3rd & 9 by stuffing another dump for no gain.
- MSU lines up to try a 51-yarder then call timeout. They line it up again and he boots it through. Michigan St 13 Huskers 10
- I’d like to restart this drive. Try it again but with blocking.
- And it’s always a thrill to have to throw it away on 3rd and long.
- And it really might be time to let Tim Bleekrode punt. The field position and yards we’re giving up in the punting game today is damaging.
- Getting collared while rushing the QB is no longer holding. Fortunately, Cam Lenhardt bursts through for 8-yard sack. After a 2-yard gain, it’s 3rd & 16…and The Sackman James Williams flies around for another sack, this time for -7.
- Kemp Santino’s one on his own 7 as Ryan Eckley shows us how its done. Also, let that one go, Billy.
3rd quarter summary: The 3rd quarter was mostly forgettable. The Husker offense went pretty much nowhere, MSU managed eke out a FG for the lead. Huskers start the 4th buried after bad punting by us and good punting by them lost them significant field position. The Spartans have been awful in the 4th quarter this season, so we need to hope that continues.
4TH QUARTER NOTES
- The 4th quarter starts with a coverage sack of Haarberg & man, do we need Buschini to snap out out of it now.
- He does not - weak low 38 yarder, returned 8 yards to the Husker 38.
- The Blackshirts give up a 1st down on 3rd & 4. Holding Sparty to a FG now becomes the goal.
- There’s a 25-yard TD toss to Foster but it may have hit the ground….under review…and TD. I guess. I’m getting numb to the stupidity. Michigan St 20 Nebraska 10
- Even Michigan St knows a Husker shotgun 5-wide empty backfield is QB draw - 60% of the time it works every time.
- Shockingly, a 5-yard out on 3 & 12 doesn’t get it done.
- Alante buried for -4 on a reverse.
- Michigan St. copies the Huskers and throws short of the 1st down marker on 3rd & 14. Kemp outdoes himself by fair catching it on the 5 this time.
- Personal side note - I know it’s not my day when someone who smells horrible grabs the seat beside me. I take a deep breath with my shirt over my nose and forge onward.
- With everyone calling for Haarberg’s head, he chucks a pea to Malachi for 30 yards.
- A short pass and 2 more runs by Emmitt net another 1st down.
- Big 10 refs aren’t even trying to hide it anymore. Malachi is laid out with a deep ball in the air, no call.
- Haarberg is picked again on an overthrow and the Huskers fail to overcome previous Big 10 ineptness/corruption. (You make the call.)
- Probably time to give Chubs a swing at this.
- Or not! 43 yard gain followed by an Emmitt TD! Michigan St 20 Huskers 17
- MSU fires deep, incomplete and obvious offensive PI not called.
- The Blackshirts get a 3 & out and here we go.
- Nation returns the punt for 4. The stat service calls him Kwentin Ives. Drink up, you chuckleheads.
- The blocking breaks down and HH has another one punched loose. This one is likely over.
- State goes 3 & out and we’re gonna get a punt. Hopefully, Ethan Nation again - despite only 4 yards last time, that’s 4 more than we’ve probably gotten in a few games.
- A defensive holding on Sparty definitely helps.
- One more INT on an overthrow and that’s that.
4th quarter summary: Despair. Hope. Despair. Steaming pile of crap.