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November 3, 2012

Michigan State keys to victory and HOL predictions

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Nebraska travels to Michigan State today with the opportunity to completely take control of the Legends Division.

If the Huskers can leave East Lansing with a victory today they'll hold the tie breaker over Michigan, MSU and Northwestern - the only teams in contention for the Legends Division crown at this point. As things get closer to kickoff here are today's keys to a Husker victory. Nebraska enters today's match-up as a 2 point favorite over the Spartans.

Protecting Martinez

Maybe the most important thing for Nebraska's offense today is protecting quarterback Taylor Martinez. The Spartans have the most physical defense in the Big Ten and when they hit you they make it count.

Last week MSU knocked Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave out for the season when they broke his collarbone. All the different twists and movement up front by Michigan State has caused nearly every offense they've faced problems this season.

It will be important for the Huskers to identify the blitz and not let Michigan State get any free shots on Martinez, because this is where potential turnovers or even injuries could happen.

Gang tackle Bell

Saturday will be Michigan State's 10th consecutive game in a row without a bye. Whoever made the Spartans schedule probable deserves to be fired.

With that said MSU is beat up. Really all they have on offense is running back Le'veon Bell and his ability to pound the ball at the Husker defense. Nebraska needs to gang tackle Bell and not let him get his momentum going.

If NU can hold Bell under 100 yards rushing and keep his yards per carry in the 3's, they will have a very good chance to win this game.

Sometimes a punt is a good thing

With a defense like Michigan State's they're going to make some plays and get you behind the chains. One of the biggest things Martinez needs to do today is not force plays that aren't there.

On a third-and-long it's perfectly ok to throw the football away. In a game like this sometimes a 50 yard punt is the best play you can make. It's definitely better than taking a big sack or throwing an interception.

Confuse and pressure Maxwell

Michigan State's Andrew Maxwell is the type of quarterback Pelini thrives against. Maxwell has a strong arm, but he's not a threat to run the football.

That's going to allow Pelini to have seven men in coverage on a lot of passing plays and disguise blitzes to get pressure on Maxwell. A game like today should also be a perfect opportunity for Pelini to turn defensive end Eric Martin loose off the edge.

Make Michigan State earn what they get

Nebraska's defense needs to make Michigan State earn every point and every drive they get today.

If the Huskers can control field position with special teams and limit their turnovers and mistakes, it's going to be very hard for this struggling Spartan offense to put up points on the Big Red.

Callahan's weekly predictions

Michigan State's defense will limit Nebraska's big plays today, but just like a year ago I see the Huskers up-tempo offense wearing down the Spartans enough to put together some scoring drives and leave East Lansing with a 7 point victory. I don't expect the Spartan offense to have much success against Pelini's defense.

Nebraska 20 Michigan State 13
Penn State 27 Purdue 17
Iowa 31 Indiana 27
Oregon 48 USC 44
Alabama 17 LSU 13

Season Record: 28-11 overall; 28-11 vs. points

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