NCAA Game Summary - Michigan State at Nebraska|
(Saturday, October 29th)
Final Score: (13) Nebraska 24, (9) Michigan State 3
Lincoln, NE (Sports Network) - Rex Burkhead's first touchdown in the third
quarter came after he appeared to fumble, and the second occurred only a few
plays after he hobbled off the field, favoring his left leg.
Convention had little to do with either of Burkhead's scores in that
period, but they provided breathing room as No. 13 Nebraska shut down ninth-
ranked Michigan State, 24-3, at Memorial Stadium.
Burkhead scored three times -- twice on the ground -- and ran for 130 yards
for the Cornhuskers (7-1, 3-1 Big Ten), who have won their last three games.
While Burkhead's touchdowns provided the points, Nebraska's defense played a
big part in turning the game into a rout. It limited Michigan State to 187
yards and forced Spartans quarterback Kirk Cousins into his worst passing game
of the season.
Cousins completed just 11-of-27 throws for a season-low 86 yards, didn't have
a touchdown, and was intercepted once.
"We never got in a rhythm," Cousins said. "First off, we have to give credit
to Nebraska. They had great coverage. They did a nice job covering us in
space, and I think they have great athletes to do that. We had a hard time
Michigan State (6-2, 3-1) was coming off last week's thrilling victory against
then-No. 4 Wisconsin, when Keith Nichol caught a fortunate bounce on a Hail
Mary attempt to score with no time left, lifting his team to a 37-31 victory.
But thanks to Burkhead, the Spartans never got a chance to shock Nebraska on
The Cornhuskers held a 10-3 edge at halftime and used the opening possession
of the third quarter to widen the lead. They started at their own 20 and
worked their way up the field, converting three third downs.
Burkhead picked up a key one when he ran for 13 yards on 3rd-and-10, bringing
the ball to the Michigan State 29. On the next series, Taylor Martinez found
Brandon Kinnie for 12 yards to convert a 3rd-and-2.
The play gave Nebraska a 1st-and-goal at the Michigan State nine-yard line,
and Burkhead did the rest. He ran for eight yards before getting the ball
again and pushing his way toward the goal line.
The Spartans' defense pushed back and appeared to bring him down short of a
touchdown. It appeared to create a fumble when the ball popped loose as
Burkhead fell to the ground, and the Spartans celebrated as they were
initially given possession.
But the play was reviewed, and replays showed that Burkhead's carrying hand
crossed the plane of the end zone before the ball came loose. Instead of
Michigan State taking over and trailing by one touchdown, Nebraska held a 17-3
lead with 9:32 left in the quarter.
The Cornhuskers took complete control after holding Michigan State to a punt.
They again began a drive deep in their own territory -- at the 11 -- but again
reached the end zone.
Several Michigan State infractions kept the drive going, but it appeared to
stall when consecutive Nebraska penalties set up a 2nd-and-15 near midfield.
Making matters worse, Burkhead left the field after rushing for a short gain.
He favored his left leg because of calf cramping and needed the help of a
trainer to reach to the sideline.
However, Martinez connected with Kenny Bell on a slant pattern for a 19-yard
gain, giving Nebraska a first down at the Michigan State 27. Two plays later,
Burkhead was back on the field and got past the Spartans' defense up the
left sideline, hauling in Martinez's pass for a touchdown with 20
seconds remaining in the quarter.
"At the time I was hoping I didn't cramp up again, because it was only a few
plays after," Burkhead said. "Once I was in the open field, all I was thinking
about was, 'Please don't cramp up right now.' Right when I caught it and
turned I started feeling the tightness a little."
Nebraska's defense closed the victory in the fourth quarter, when it twice
forced the Spartans to turn the ball over on downs.
The Cornhuskers defense also helped create the first points of the game.
Lance Thorell intercepted Cousins on the opening possession and returned the
ball to the Michigan State 25.
From there, Nebraska needed seven plays, including Burkhead's one-yard
touchdown run, to reach the end zone.
Brett Maher drilled a 20-yard field goal late in the first quarter to give
Nebraska a 10-0 lead, but Spartans kicker Dan Conroy hit a 28-yard try with
1:38 left in the first half.
Nebraska improved to 6-0 all-time against MSU. The teams hadn't met since the
2003 Alamo Bowl, when Nebraska posted a 17-3 win. Their last regular-season
meeting was in 1996...Martinez threw for 80 yards on 7-of-13 passing.
10/29 18:09:25 ET