The Nebraska defense have earned their black shirts this week by holding the Michigan State offense to 187 yards and 3 points. It was the best performance of the year for a much belittled defensive unit. They provided some answers to the questions they've been plagued by all season. Can the stop the run? Can they stop the pass? Yes and yes. The Blackshirts allowed only 86 yards passing and 101 yards rushing.
Carl Pelini entered the Husker locker room after the game toting a mesh black practice shirt. I'm guessing a tiny amount of jubilation took place. The black practice shirt is a simple piece of clothing that holds a tremendous amount of reverence. It's a tradition standing bigger than any single player or coach. A symbol of accomplishment. After Saturday's performance, it was well earned.
"It was awesome," said Will Compton. "Well deserved."
"That's the most fun I've ever had in a football game,"said Cameron Meredith.
The Huskers were dominate up front, applying pressure on Spartans quarterback Kurt Cousin's on nearly every pass play. This helped in their effort to keep the ball out of the Spartan's best receiver B. J. Cunningham's hands, he finished without a single reception. The Spartans weren't very good sustaining drives, they were 3 of 14 on 3rd down and 1 of 3 on 4th down. Credit the big guys up front for creating complete chaos for the Michigan State lineman.
Coming off a dramatic upset of Wisconsin on the final play a week earlier, Michigan State seemed to be hungover. They were flagged nine times for 90 yards, extending Nebraska drives or hampering their own. Nothing seemed to go their way, including an apparent Rex Burkhead fumble that was overruled and turned into a touchdown.
The 24-3 conference victory puts Nebraska in a three way tie for the Legends division. Win out and they will be headed to Indianopolis for the Big Ten Title game.