Published Saturday, October 29, 2011 AT 8:24 PM / Updated at 8:25 PM
Tom’s Take: Nebraska 24, Michigan State 3
Tom Shatel Omaha World-Herald

World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel offers his key takeaways from Nebraska’s win over Michigan State.


Kirk Cousins was asked if the Spartans were worn down from the emotions of the past three weeks, including the Hail Mary pass to beat Wisconsin. He said no way. He said that’s why the Spartans train year-round. Good for him. I mean, the Spartans could have had a letdown. It happens. But that’s also called “a football season.” You have to play well each week. But the Spartans gave NU all the credit for their scheme and physicality, and they should have. This was Nebraska’s best game of the year.

The Huskers beat a top-10 team for the second straight season. Last year, it was Missouri, and the Tigers ended up in the Insight Bowl. I don’t keep track of all the stats such as who was ranked where when NU played them. I measure progress by conference championships and BCS bowls. That said, you can’t get there unless winning becomes a habit. And beating ranked teams becomes a habit. Nebraska got out of that habit. Maybe what we saw was a step back in that direction.

There were times Saturday when Nebraska-Michigan State looked like the alley fight scene from “Anchorman,” minus the triton. A lot of players had to be helped off the field. It was raw Big Ten ball at its best. If you were wondering if the Huskers could handle the physicality of this league, go ask the Spartans how NU handled it Saturday.

About Tom Shatel

Tom Shatel is a columnist for The Omaha World-Herald. You can get in touch with Tom on Twitter (@tomshatelOWH), or send him an email at


  1. SD97 says:

    No surprise from NU’s defense today. Nebraska’s defense (especially front 4) look dominate with pocket QB’s. They are really able to tee off. Nebraska has struggled with QB’s that have gotten out of the pocket. NU has a chance to prove itself in a few weeks with Robinson.

  2. navtrav says:

    Looks like the Blackshirts may finally get their practice jerseys. Well done.

  3. southendzoneguy says:

    As a rabid Husker fan, I am proud. The defense was lights out today, and offense made great decisions. The team stepped up to the plate and delivered. The crowd was some what decent. Could of used more yelling and less complaining, but not a bad day over all. Hats off to MSU and their wilingness to give it their all, but what the hell is going to happen in ann Arbor and Happy Valley? As a fan I am nervous. The meat of our schedule is comingn up. GBR!!!! I hope we do as good the next few games as we do at home.

  4. kevin says:

    Bolieve !!!! he said the D would come around and they did. One game at a time, next up Northwestern. Love to see guys like Corndevil, and Lowdeaf not being able to criticize our team.

  5. Pat says:

    Tom, you stated in a previous post, that you thought MSU would win the game, and I believe,gave 3 reasons why, one was MSU had a better QB. Any thoughts on that now? I think alot of people are way too critical Taylor because he doesn’t fit the prototype of what they want him to be. I thought he played a great game, from the little things like hard snap count, to playing pretty poised. He may not look good all the time, but I would take him over Cousins any day, and who would say is the better QB now?

    1. James says:

      I’d still take Cousins. One game is a small sample size (especially against a solid defense), and even if you abide by that logic, it’s not as though Martinez played lights-out against MSU.

  6. HansJ says:

    Speaking of physicality, the opening kick-off to the Spartans reminded me of the opening kick-off in the 1985 Sugar Bowl against LSU. After we kicked off and the receiver was tackled, the players began leaving the field, and 2 LSU players were left lying flat on their backs and knocked out cold. A LSU fan behind us said something like: “My God, did you see that?”

  7. Falcon 78 in Northern Virginia says:

    The ‘D’ also looked very prepared–as in, they seemed to know what was coming. On many, many a snap, you could see the shifts, signals, and adjustments come before the ball was snapped (do they still say, “Hiked?”) It was as if the Black Shirts were listening in the MSU huddle. And if Tim Marlowe was just a wee bit faster …

  8. Gene O says:

    Good to hear MSU’s coach wasn’t using the schedule as an excuse- since almost everybody else has. This years’ whole B1G schedule for NU is like that, with no one giving us slack. MSU came out strong in 1st half and played hard. Give the Huskers credit for winning a tough game.

    In the 90′s the Huskers ate top 20 teams for lunch, and top 5 teams for dinner. Tom’s right; winning games like this is a big step to winning championships.

    Being physical wasn’t the hard part of adjusting, learning the right techniques and how to react on the field to it is what has been the tough part of the learning curve. Now that they have almost got it down, I hope they do see Wisky again.

  9. @kholland007 says:

    This was an extremely well prepared team and ready for anything. The defensive scheme was outstanding and an offensive scheme of “give Rex the ball” was brilliant.
    With that said, please stop calling people who speak the truth “haters”! I truly think that Taylor Martinez is an amazing athlete and I am very happy he plays for Nebraska. The simple truth is, he can’t throw a football. His completions and yardage is deceptive because of the quick hits of one to two yards and the receivers getting upfield. His throw to Rex for the TD could have gotten Rex injured the way that pass hung and fluttered in the air. The interception was an awful throw where he threw off his back foot and shoulders squared in the pocket. If you know anything about throwing a football, that is the exact opposite of how to do it.
    I’ve been a husker fan for 40+ years and I am just stating the truth, call me a hater or whatever you like. Just remember the Holiday Bowl last year and when we needed to throw the ball we couldn’t, that time may come again soon! Oh, that’s right, it did, I almost forgot the butt whippin we took at Camp Randall.

    1. Bleeding Red says:

      He threw pretty well against OkSt last year! Anybody remember that? He’s also only a soph playing maybe his 4th year at QB. The people that are being called haters are the ones who have unrealistic expectations and carp on a players deficiencies…don’t be so sensitive, you’re not a 19-20 year old kid…

    2. HuskerFanX5 says:

      The reason for the Camp Randall fiasco was Beck panicked way to soon. If we kept running the ball we would have been fine. Martinez isn’t Peyton Manning, but once NU starts running the ball it sets him up to do enough for this offense to work.

  10. VenturaRon1 says:

    It is so satisfying to finally see more positive comments than negatives. Yet everyone still takes shots at Martinez, disecting his style of throwing, as if they were experts in that field. When Cousins was intercepted, no one commented on his throwing style, although it must not have been perfect. We must realize that perfection is impossible to attain in this sport, especially when it’s expected from kids who may not even be shaving yet. Also we must understand that we still have a ways to go before we play for the ultimate title. But the progress has been satisfactory and we should relax and enjoy Big Red football. We are still a very good team, 10th in the Nation. Not bad.

  11. jim says:

    can somebody like Martinez who has developed a screwy throwing motion such as throwing off the back foot ever be retaught to throw correctly?

    1. Mike in Georgia says:

      The coaches may not be able to fix everything with his throwong motion, but one thing they can demand he work on and fix is his footwork. There are many unconventional throwing motions(Philip Rivers comes to mind as someone with an unorthadox motion), but if your footwork is good(Martinez’s is horrible) he can be a more effective passer. The coaches must continue to demand that of him and he must demand improvement and perfection in that area himself.

      Taylor seems to be learning, maturing, understanding what it takes to be a QB and a leader in this offense. If he works hard at perfecting his footwork, his accuracy will improve as will his velocity. The one positive about his unorthodox style is his release is fairly quick and compact.

      Keep the faith all and we’ll keep hoping for improvement at QB and the rest of the team. GBR

  12. These kids have way more invested in the team then any fans or WRITERS! A lot of people posting,BOOING and taking pot shot at the team and coaches should be ashamed. I am darn proud of the program and the way the kids carry themselves off and on the field. Nuff said GBR! G Moore, Wichita,KS.

  13. GMAC2002 says:

    No T Mart-s throwing motion will never be “fixed” it is too late in his career. It can get better and it will get better. but it will never be fixed. Does it need to be? if he can throw over the front foot vs the back foot he will get the ball to the outside on the fade routes and with the speed of some the receivers and the height of others will stretch the defense. Running the ball as well as Nebraska is getting a vertical stretch keeps those db’s out of the mix on run plays.

  14. dale spencer says:

    All you arm chair quarterbacks are pathetic! Did you ever play the game or coach on the sidelines! Probably not! Sounds to me like the coaches work with Taylor on his deficiencies. However they don’t obscess on it. What’s wrong with a focus on the positives! I will take tMart the rest of the year and for 2 more. Realize this is a game and nothing more! Get a life.

  15. Jane Carter says:

    Rex should be our starting FULLBACK, with Green as starting RB; Rex, bless his heart, is too slow and no moves to get to outside; He’s a 1960′s type back in a game with 21st century speed defense (except ours). Shouldn’t take a back 30 carries to get a 100 yds. Don’t get me started on the Cardinal Mooney High coaching staff. Can’t understand how TO okayed Carl to be our DC — I mean ‘How do you fire your brother’; I’m also thinking Bo was a great DC, but a very middle of the road Head Coach; Beck? who knows? awfully slim resume to be OC at a major college program (and falling?)–but I guess his Cardinal Mooney diploma counts for something