Noticed: Hard hitting. Michigan State doesn’t have great speed. It does play with incredible aggressiveness. No play demonstrated it more than Le’Veon Bell’s run early in the fourth quarter when he lowered a shoulder and nearly knocked off P.J. Smith’s helmet. How did the Huskers respond? Jason Ankrah popped Andrew Maxwell on the next play. It was the most physical game of the season.
Peculiar play: On the opening play of a fourth-quarter drive, Taylor Martinez kept on a zone read. He fumbled and Spartan Isaiah Lewis was in prime position to pick it up. But he muffed it. Martinez got off the ground and tried to pick it up again — he might have scored had he handled it cleanly. But he, too, dropped it. Jeremiah Sirles finally recovered at the 35-yard line. But that wasn’t the end of it. Officials reviewed the play and looked to see if Martinez’s knee was down before he fumbled. They said no. Nebraska took over. First down.
Questionable calls: Officials flagged Nebraska twice for pass interference on the Spartans’ first scoring drive. And once again in the third quarter. All were debatable. The most controversial penalty against NU came late in the third quarter, when Daimion Stafford was flagged for a late hit out of bounds. There was contact, yes, but Stafford tried to avoid Andrew Maxwell, and TV replays indicated a slight shove by a Spartan fueled Stafford’s momentum. Of course, Nebraska benefited from a few questionable calls, too, including a personal foul on a Michigan State pick-six in the fourth quarter.
Nice call: Nebraska had third-and-goal at the 2-yard line in the first quarter. Bo Pelini called time out. Then Mark Dantonio called time out. What would Tim Beck call? He went shotgun and called a swing pass to Ameer Abdullah, who took advantage of a Kenny Bell block and scored. The Huskers have struggled at times in the red zone, but this was a perfect design.
Rave review: Kenny Bell’s blocking. We mentioned the block on Abdullah’s touchdown. That was nothing compared with Bell’s block that sprung Martinez for a 71-yard scoring run in the second quarter. For a skinny guy, Bell packs a punch.