Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Spartans struggle on D but pull it out

LINCOLN, Neb. — No. 14 Michigan State all but locked up a spot in the Big Ten title game, and it didn't even need its standout defense at its best.

Nebraska turned the ball over five times Saturday, helping the Spartans win 41-28 and take a two-game lead in the Legends Division with two games left.

"Green Gatorade never tasted so good," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said after taking a big swig. "You've got an opportunity to come up with five turnovers. That's tough to lose a football game when that happens."

Jeremy Langford ran 32 times for 151 yards and scored two touchdowns for the Spartans, who beat the Huskers for the first time in eight all-time meetings. They can clinch the division — and a likely matchup with No. 3 Ohio State — with a win at Northwestern next week or a loss by Minnesota in either of its last two games. Michigan State plays Minnesota to end the regular season.

"It was a really big statement against a team like Nebraska," said the Spartans' Connor Cook, whose 27-yard pass to Keith Mumphrey made it a 34-21 game midway through the fourth. "They have a great defense top to bottom."

Michigan State converted Nebraska's five turnovers into 24 points on an afternoon its defense proved fallible.

Big Ten leading rusher Ameer Abdullah ran for 123 yards for Nebraska. He went over 100 for the seventh straight game and was the first to do it against the Spartans. The Spartans gave up 182 rushing yards and 392 total, both season highs. They entered allowing 43 rushing yards per game and 210 total.

"They were able to run the ball a little bit more than what we thought," Dantonio said. "Credit Nebraska on that. Abdullah is a great running back."

Last year, Nebraska made up 10 points in the last eight minutes and won in East Lansing on a touchdown with six seconds left. Even though it kept turning the over ball Saturday, it was still in the game in the fourth.

But when Mumphrey scored on a third-and-13 pass with 7:56 left — after holder Mike Sadler picked up a fourth and 1 on a fake field goal — the Spartans could exhale while moving closer to their second appearance in the Big Ten championship game in three years.

"We didn't lose that game because of a lack of effort or a lack of want-to," Huskers coach Bo Pelini said. "We couldn't overcome ourselves, and obviously everybody is disappointed. It's hard to be minus-5 in the turnover category and win a football game over a quality team. We almost found a way, but that's a tall order."

Spartans struggle on D but pull it out 11/16/13 [Last modified: Saturday, November 16, 2013 10:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Yellow cards stall Rowdies offense in tie with St. Louis


    ST. PETERSBURG — It's not the result they wanted, but it certainly could have been worse. Neill Collins' 87th-minute header off a corner kick was the reward the Rowdies settled for Saturday night during a 1-1 draw with St. Louis before an announced 6,068 at Al Lang Stadium.

  2. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title


    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.
  3. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”
  4. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. laughing right along after comical dive

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Souza being Souza.

    That seemed to be the best way to describe the entertaining — and comically bad — dive Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. attempted in Friday's game, and the good humor he showed in handling the fallout, including a standing ovation his next at-bat from the …

  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Twins game

    The Heater

    RHP Jake Odorizzi had to battle without his best stuff again, which is becoming a more common occurrence, leading to long at-bats — including 13 pitches to Kennys Vargas in the fifth — and running up his pitch count to 118 without finishing the sixth.