EAST LANSING – A woeful and confusing season for Michigan State football saw some light at the end of the tunnel, as they pulled out a win against the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Saturday afternoon with a score of 20-17.
This was the first word that acting head coach Harlon Barnett said when he arrived at the podium. For the previous six games, the final score was in favor of the opposing team. But on Senior Day it was the other way around, as the Spartans dug deep and finished the job to snag their third win of the season.
“We finally finished one and got the victory,” Barnett said. “We’re really happy for our players. Awesome feeling in the locker room.”
Early on, Michigan State saw some offensive firepower that it had not been used to the last six weeks. While only mustering five first downs compared to Nebraska’s 12 in the first half, the Spartans saw a 42-yard completion to senior wide receiver Montorie Foster Jr. and a 46-yard completion to sixth-year tight end Jaylan Franklin.
The eight-play, 71-yard drive engineered by redshirt freshman quarterback Katin Houser would not end in six however, as the Spartans were forced to settle for a 35-yard field goal.
After sophomore quarterback Heinrich Haarberg muscled in a five-yard rushing touchdown to open the second quarter for Nebraska, Katin Houser found Christian Fitzpatrick for an 11-yard touchdown to give MSU the 10-7 lead.
The Cornhuskers booted a field goal with seconds left in the first half to knot the game up at 10 heading into halftime.
In the second half, a 12-play, 53-yard drive would end in a 50-yard field goal by graduate kicker Jonathan Kim, giving him yet another 50-yard plus field goal on the season.
The quarterback play for Michigan State is still a large question as the season moves forward. Katin Houser started this game for the Spartans, but freshman quarterback Sam Leavitt found himself in the game for the second drive of the game, and then again in the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter, Leavitt propelled the Spartan offense down the field, finding Montorie Foster Jr. in the endzone for the 25-yard touchdown, putting MSU up by 10.
The Cornhuskers found themselves with the ball with less than a minute to go; however, Haarberg would take a sack for Nebraska, and the offense would be forced to run to the line of scrimmage, where Haarberg tossed up a prayer that wasn’t answered.
A long, tumultuous six games passed, and the Harlon Barnett-led Spartans found their first win of the season.
A key part of this win was the Spartans defense, who found themselves with seven total sacks, 12 tackles-for-loss, and two interceptions.
As the numbers struck zero on the game clock, players sprinted on the field, notably a group of players running toward redshirt junior defensive-lineman Simeon Barrow, celebrating with him just a week and a half after Barrow went into the transfer portal, then came back to join the Spartans. While it was only Michigan State’s third win of the season, it was very apparent that this win meant a lot to the team.
“I know it was only one win,” Barnett said. “But it was something to celebrate.”
Michigan State will travel to Columbus, Ohio next Saturday to take on No. 1 Ohio State. The matchup will kick off at 7:30 p.m. on NBC.