Huskers still in search of bowl eligibility after losing to Michigan State

Published: Nov. 4, 2023 at 10:15 AM CDT
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WOWT) - Nebraska falls to 5-4 on the season after dropping a conference road game to the Spartans 20-17. Turnovers plagued the Huskers once again. Quarterback Heinrich Haarberg had two interceptions and a fumble late in the game with under two minutes left, down by three points.

Check out the full game recap below.

1st Quarter

Michigan State starts the game off with an eight-play, 71-yard drive capped by a 35-yard field goal to get the Spartans on the board first, 3-0.

On Nebraska’s first offensive possession, the Huskers go three-and-out with a total of three yards. Following an MSU punt, Nebraska was able to get across midfield. On 3rd-and-19, quarterback Heinrich Haarberg takes a deep shot right in front of the endzone, but safety Jaden Mangham picks off the pass intended for receiver Alex Bullock. Spartans take over at their own four-yard line and go three-and-out.

2nd Quarter

Five plays into the second quarter, Haarberg runs it in from five yards out to put the Huskers in the lead 7-3.

Michigan State quickly answers. The Spartans march 70+ yards down the field for the second time in the game, this time getting into the endzone via an 11-yard pass from quarterback Katin House to receiver Christian Fitzpatrick. MSU regains the lead 10-7.

Just before halftime, the Huskers were unable to find the endzone and settled for a 24-yard field goal from Tristan Alvano to knot it at 10 going into the break.

3rd Quarter

On Michigan State’s first possession of the second half, kicker Jonathan Kim sends one 50 yards through the uprights to put the Spartans ahead, 13-10. MSU shut out Nebraska in the third quarter with the Huskers only gaining 27 yards in the quarter.

4th Quarter

Huskers are forced to punt just three plays into the fourth quarter. From his own eight-yard line, Brian Buschini’s punt only travels 38 yards and Michigan State returns it eight yards to the Huskers’ 38-yard line. Four plays later, Sam Leavitt connects with receiver Montorie Foster Jr. for a 25-yard touchdown. MSU extends its lead, 20-10 with 12:13 left in the game.

After an exchange of punts, Haarberg finds freshman receiver Malachi Coleman for a 30-yard pickup. Five plays later, Haarberg overthrows a wide-open Fidone, and the Kearney native is picked off for the second time in the game. The Blackshirts forced a three-and-out, preventing any points coming off of the Huskers turnover.

Nebraska’s next possession, Haarberg scrambles for a 43-yard gain, getting the ball all the way down to the Spartans’ four-yard line. On the next play running back Emmett Johnson runs it four yards up the middle for the touchdown. With 3:35 left in the game, Nebraska trails by three.

With only one minute run off the clock, the Huskers get the ball back. On third-and-seven on their own 25-yard line, Haarberg is sacked and loses the ball. The Spartans recover it at Nebraska’s 28-yard line.

Michigan State misses the 44-yard field goal, giving the Huskers one more chance with the ball. Nebraska was able to get four plays off, the fourth being a Hail Mary from Haarberg broken up by the Spartans.

MSU breaks their losing streak, beating Nebraska, 20-17. The Huskers are left still looking for their sixth win on the season.

Nebraska has three more chances to earn their spot in a bowl game, starting with a match-up with 5-3 Maryland back in Lincoln next Saturday. Kickoff is 11 a.m.

Nebraska is on a three-game win streak, with a 20-7 victory at Illinois, a 17-9 triumph over Northwestern, and last week, a 31-14 domination of Purdue.

A win on Saturday would be the sixth of the season for Matt Rhule’s Huskers, which is the threshold for bowl eligibility in college football.

Not only that, but Nebraska is alive and well in the race to Indy. The Huskers are part of a four-way tie atop the Big Ten West with Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota.

With Wisconsin and Iowa still remaining on the schedule, Nebraska’s odds of appearing in the Big Ten Championship Game are looking stronger and stronger each week.

Still, the Huskers know none of it matters unless they keep winning.

“We’ve just been trying to win one game at a time,” Rhule said in a press conference earlier this week. “I was walking in [the tunnel Saturday] and I heard someone yell to me ‘Just one more, Coach! Just one more!’ I don’t want just one more. Do you want just one more? I want to try to win every game that we play.”

So, the focus remains on the task at hand, and this week, that’s taking down Michigan State.

“I’m excited to watch these guys go play,” Rhule said. “I expect this to be a great football game. It’s two physical, blue-collar, tough teams.

Nebraska is a three-point road favorite for Saturday's game in East Lansing.


  • WHEN: 11 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 4
  • WHERE: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, Mich.
  • WATCH: Fox Sports 1 (FS1)
  • LISTEN: Huskers Radio Network
  • VEGAS ODDS: Michigan State +3.5, O/U 34.5

Michigan State has largely struggled all season, and it hasn’t shown signs of getting any better.

The Spartans won their first two games of the year but have since lost six straight contests to plummet to the bottom of the league table with an 0-5 conference record.

After suffering a heartbreaking 27-24 loss to Rutgers in Week 7, Michigan State was wallopped by rival Michigan 49-0 before losing 27-12 at Minnesota a week ago.

Nebraska has a slight 4-3 edge over the Spartans in their seven meetings since the Huskers joined the Big Ten in 2011.

The most recent matchup between these two squads was in 2021, which saw the Spartans squeak out a 23-20 home win in overtime.