Throughout the 2018 season, the Michigan State defense has proven to be one of the best units in the country, and after turning in another strong effort in last week’s loss to Ohio State, the Spartans will be tasked with slowing down an improving Nebraska offense led by first-year head coach Scott Frost.
After starting the season with a 0-6 record, the Cornhuskers are now 3-7, winning three of their last four games, with a narrow 36-31 loss to the 10th ranked Buckeyes as the only loss.
“They are a greatly improved football team, Coach Frost is building a foundation there,” Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said at his weekly press conference on Tuesday. “It begins with his first year there, he's got a track record as an outstanding coach thus far, and we expect that to continue. They have some outstanding players, especially offensively with (Adrian) Martinez at quarterback, and (JD) Spielman and (Stanley) Morgan at wide receivers, an outstanding tight end in (Jack) Stoll, and then their running back is closing in on a 1,000 yards, I am not sure how to pronounce that, (Devine) Ozigbo, I think, closing in on 1,000 yards, very close.”
In Nebraska’s last four games, the Cornhuskers are averaging over 45 points per game as the offense that Frost has become well known for seems to be taking shape in Lincoln.
The Spartans are somewhat familiar with Frost, who was also the offensive coordinator at Oregon from 2013-2015, from their matchups with the Ducks in 2014, a 46-27 loss, and 2015, a 31-28 win.
Those two matchups are something that Dantonio said he has and will look at to prepare for Nebraska on Saturday.
“You look at what Oregon has done against us in '14 and '15,” he said. “You can put that in context, put that in your cut-ups, evaluate that separately and together and see if there are things that carryover there, and there are characteristics there of what they do, and make sure that you're covering all bases.”
The last time the Spartans made the trip out to Nebraska, the Cornhuskers handed Michigan State its first loss of the 2015 season, which, at the time, put Michigan State’s College Football Playoff hopes in jeopardy.
Dantonio said that as the week goes on, his team will discuss the loss to Nebraska back in 2015 and the challenges of playing in a difficult road environment in Lincoln.
We talk about that as we get closer to the game. I think it's like playing in any of these places, difficult to play but great venue, excited to play,” he said. “When you go away in this conference you're going to play in front of big crowds and crowds that are very passionate about their football teams. You get to experience that as well in this conference. That's part of playing in this conference.”
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