Nebraska got three touchdowns from Rex Burkhead and Michigan State’s offense could do absolutely nothing for much of the game as the Cornhuskers cruised to a 24-3 victory at Memorial Stadium.
The loss drops No. 9 Michigan State (6-2, 3-1 Big Ten) into a first-place tie in the Legends Division of the Big Ten with Nebraska, Michigan and Iowa. More importantly, Nebraska (7-1, 3-1) holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Spartans.
It was hardly an impressive performance by either team, but the Cornhuskers took advantage of Michigan State’s mistakes.
Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins was intercepted by Nebraska’s Lance Thorell on the opening drive of the game and he returned the ball to the Michigan State 25.
Seven plays later, Burkhead went in from a yard out to put Nebraska ahead 7-0.
No. 13 Nebraska then took advantage of a three-and-out from Michigan State followed by a poor punt to extend its lead to 10-0 with 1:21 left in the first quarter.
Brett Maher kicked a 20-yard field goal, but it was a win of sorts for the Michigan State defense.
Nebraska had the ball first-and-goal at the MSU 1, but the Spartans stopped the Cornhuskers on three straight runs to force the field goal.
Michigan State finally got on the board late in the second quarter on a 28-yard field goal by Dan Conroy, cutting Nebraska’s lead to 10-3 with 1:38 left in the first half.
The Spartans got the ball off an interception by Johnny Adams but couldn’t get the ball in the end zone.
But Nebraska put the game away in the third quarter, going on an 80-yard, 14-play drive to open the half that resulted in a Burkhead touchdown, and closing the quarter on an 89-yard, 12-play drive that also ended in a Burkhead score.