Nebraska upsets undefeated Michigan State
Story and photos by Benjamin Schoenkin, NewsNetNebraska
Another close game in the fourth quarter for the Huskers but this time it was different. Trailing by five with less than a minute to go, quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. drove the Huskers over 90-yards and capped the drive off with a 30-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Brandon Reilly.
The Huskers scored the first points of the game on a Drew Brown 44-yard field goal in the first quarter.
After the Huskers forced a three and out by Michigan State, Nebraska went up 10-0 with an Armstrong Jr. 38-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp.
Michigan State responded. Michael Geiger kicked a 46-yard field goal at the end of the first quarter and quarterback Connor Cook threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Macgarrett Kings Jr. at the beginning of the second quarter to tie up the game 10-10.
Huskers kicker Drew Brown kicked a 43-yard field goal with a little over four minutes left in the half, putting Nebraska up 13-10.
Michigan State once again responded, but this time by taking the lead before going into halftime. Cook threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Kings Jr. and the Spartans went up 17-13.
In the first few minutes of the third quarter, Nebraska took the lead back when I-back Imani Cross rushed it in for a touchdown from 1-yard out.
The Huskers 20-17 lead lasted less than four minutes. Cook found wide receiver Aaron Burbridge for a 33-yard touchdown, putting the Spartans up 24-20.
Armstrong Jr. drove his team down the field on the very next drive, but was picked off in the end zone by linebacker Riley Bullough. Michigan State then drove down the field and scored with a 16-yard pass from Cook to wide receiver Jamal Lyles and the Spartan went up 31-20 with just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
With less than two minutes completed in the fourth quarter, Armstrong Jr. brought the Huskers within five of the Spartans with a 2-yard touchdown run.
Michigan State scored a touchdown on their next possession and went up 38-26.
Nebraska began their fourth quarter comeback with an Armstrong Jr. 1-yard touchdown run. Less than two minutes remained on the clock following the score and the Huskers were down 38-33.
Nebraska kicker Drew Brown attempted an onside kick but Michigan State recovered.
The Spartans went three and out and the Huskers got the ball back with 55 seconds remaining.
Armstrong Jr. completed both a 28-yard and 33-yard pass to Westerkamp on the comeback drive. Then, Armstrong Jr. almost got picked off in the end zone but Michigan State could not get control of the ball.
Armstrong Jr. followed up the near interception with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Reilly. The wide receiver was out of bounds during part of the play and caught the ball in bounds. Immediately, many on the sidelines asked how Reilly ended up out of bounds, a question that could have produced two very different results depending on how the referees saw the play. The referees reviewed the play and kept the six on the board.
Head Coach Mike Riley said following the game that the players never stopped working after the recent close losses. “From the minute that I started getting to be around these guys, I liked this team and our coaches have continued to work, and it’s paid off in just an effort that went right down to the wire and didn’t look good a number of times, but they never quit,” Riley said.
Armstrong Jr., said the Huskers were looking to show something to everybody with playing against an undefeated opponent “I actually wanted those guys to be 8-0 coming into this game just to prove to the world that this team is better than our record seems. We had a couple upsets, not a couple but four or five upsets that came down to the last second. We have a lot of talent, we know how to win games, we just gotta be consistent,” Armstrong Jr. said.
After three close losses at home, this time the fans at Memorial Stadium went home with the thrill of a come from behind victory against a top ten opponent.