Football Magazine

NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Most Valuable Huskers Vs. Michigan State

By Huskerlocker @huskerlocker

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By James Stevenson
Offensive MVP: Is there any question? Junior I-Back Rex Burkhead was the workhorse of the Nebraska offense. Burkhead accounted for all three of Nebraska’s touchdowns, rushing 35 times for 130 yards and 2 TDs.
He made his one reception count, a 27-yard touchdown catch. “Sexy Rexy” went over the century mark for the fifth time is six games, and is making a serious case for first team All-Big Ten honors.
Defensive MVP: Senior cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was injured in fall camp and has been slowly getting up to full-speed. On Saturday, he proved he’s back, holding senior Michigan State wide-receiver B.J. Cunningham, the second leading receiver in the conference, to zero catches.
This snapped Cunningham’s streak of 41 consecutive games with a reception. Dennard had three pass break-ups as well. Senior defensive back Lance Thorell gets a shout-out for taking the ball away from Cunningham on a slant route before returning the interception 26 yards to set up Nebraska’s first touchdown.
Michigan State MVP: Sophomore defensive end William Gholston came off his suspension in a big way and made a huge statement against Nebraska. He led all players with 15 tackles, including two TFLs and one sack. His presence on the field was a consistent disruption to Nebraska’s running game.
JUCO Wonder: Senior linebacker Lavonte David had a big game again, notching a team-high 13 tackles. In his short two-year career at Nebraska, he has already tallied 229 tackles, breaking the record set by current Kansas City Chief linebacker Demorrio Williams for a two-year player.
Second Half Adjustments: Going into halftime, sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez completed one pass out of six for zero yards while only rushing for four yards, and threw an interception for good measure. Color commentator Urban Meyer critiqued his throwing motion.
ESPN Halftime Studio analysts Rece Davis and Mark May laughed about Nebraska’s quarterback throwing the ball. Fans wondered how the Huskers would score again. Martinez proved the doubters wrong and had a big second half, completing six of seven passes for 80 yards and a touchdown on Nebraska’s two critical third quarter drives.
MIA: Send out a search party for freshman wide receiver Jamal Turner. Wide receivers coach Rich Fischer claims that Turner wasn’t consistent enough in practice. I say he would’ve scored on that end-around junior wide receiver Tim Marlowe was caught from behind on.
Deja Vu: Do you remember the last time Michigan State was held to three points or less? The 2003 Alamo Bowl against Nebraska and interim head coach Bo Pelini. Nebraska also rode its I-Back hard that day, as sophomore Cory Ross set the school-record with 37 rushing attempts.
Burkhead nearly matched that against Michigan State with 35. You have to wonder if the coaching staff was trying to get him the record. A questionable decision if so, as Burkhead has been getting dinged up and may have been in one series too long.
Welcome Back: Has Bo finally righted the ship? The defense-that-has-yet-to-receive-their-Blackshirts finally showed up, and in a big way. Not only did they hold Michigan State to 187 yards and three points, but the dominated the Spartans’ best skill players.
In fact, over the last 10 quarters, Nebraska’s defense has only allowed 24 points. It’s no surprise that defensive coordinator Carl Pelini said after the game he’d be handing out the coveted Blackshirts.
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