Quick Hits: No. 21 Nebraska 28, Michigan State 24
Taylor Martinez ran for 205 yards and scored four total touchdowns -including a game-winning touchdown pass to Jamal Turner-in a 28-24 win.
|Taylor Martinez ran for 205 yards and scored four total touchdowns in the 28-24 win. (US Presswire)|
NEBRASKA WON: Taylor Martinez put the Cornhuskers' Big Ten title dreams in jeopardy with three interceptions and arguably his worst passing performance of the season. But the junior quarterback pulled it all together at the right time to lead two fourth-quarter touchdown drives to deliver one of the biggest wins of the season for Nebraska, 28-24 against Michigan State. Martinez ran for 205 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries, while adding two touchdowns through the air in the 28-24 win.
HOW NEBRASKA WON: Neither Martinez nor Andrew Maxwell were able to get much going through the air, though at least Martinez was able to balance the hard running from Le'Veon Bell. Bell carried the ball 36 times for 188 yards and two touchdowns as the anchor of the Spartans offense. Maxwell completed just 9 of 27 passes for 123 yards and one touchdown. Martinez's three interceptions helped Michigan State build a 24-14 early in the fourth quarter, but it was the third pick that started Nebraska's comeback.
After Martinez was intercepted by Darqueze Dennard (his second of the game), the cornerback returned the pick for a touchdown that was called back. If the touchdown stands, Michigan State might have been able to pull away. But the penalty gave the Spartans the ball at their own 10-yard line. After the Cornhuskers' defense forced a punt, Martinez bounced back with a 35-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 24-21.
Nebraska seemed to be stopped again when it turned the ball over on downs with 3:12 remaining, but three timeouts and a timely stop gave Martinez one last shot with 1:20 remaining. Martinez completed passes of 22 and 38 yards to get the offense in field-goal range, but the chance to win came thanks to the officials. Darqueze Dennard was flagged for defensive pass interference after breaking up a pass in the end zone, and the Cornhuskers were rewarded with first-and-goal at the 5-yard line with only seconds remaining. That's when Martinez threw the game-winning touchdown pass, quickly erasing those interceptions from the minds of fans everywhere.
WHEN NEBRASKA WON: The Cornhuskers' comeback was not final until Martinez found Jamal Turner breaking to the corner of the end zone and delivered the game-winning touchdown pass with just six seconds remaining. It completed the two-score comeback and allowed the Cornhuskers to keep their lead in the Legends Division.
WHAT NEBRASKA WON: The win kept the Cornhuskers from giving up their lead in the Big Ten Legends Division. Nebraska and Michigan are in first place with 4-1 records in conference play, but thanks to last week's win win over the Wolverines the Cornhuskers own the tiebreaker. This is exactly the kind of game Nebraska fans feared would result in a loss, but Martinez was able to bounce back from his rough start to lead them on both touchdown drives in the fourth quarter.
WHAT MICHIGAN STATE LOST: The Spartans were minutes away from becoming bowl eligible for the sixth consecutive year under Mark Dantonio. Considering how disappointing this season has been for many Michigan State fans, getting that bowl eligibility by upsetting a division foe would have been pretty sweet. Instead, Michigan State is officially out of the Legends Division race and will need a win over Northwestern or Minnesota to extend its season beyond November.
REACTION TO THE REFS: As you can see from the player tweets below, the Spartans are not hidng their feelings in regard to the officiating on Saturday. Below are some tweets from Michigan State running backs LeVeon Bell and Nick Hill.
#ShoutOut to the refs...yall won the game tonight! Toughest team we played all year..— LeVeon Bell (@L_Bell24) November 4, 2012
It was a great play by @ddennard_31, bad call— Nick Hill (@N_Hill2032) November 4, 2012
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