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Detroit News scouting report: Michigan State football vs. Nebraska


Nebraska at No. 20 Michigan State

Kickoff: 7 p.m. Saturday, Spartan Stadium, East Lansing

TV/radio: FS1/760

Records: Nebraska 2-2, 0-1 Big Ten; Michigan State 3-0, 1-0

Line: Spartans by 5

Matt Charboneau of The Detroit News breaks down the Spartans’ Week 4 matchup with Nebraska:

Key matchup

MSU’S DEFENSE VS. NEBRASKA QB ADRIAN MARTINEZ

This is a matchup quite similar to the one from last week when the Spartans were tasked with limiting Miami quarterback D’Eriq King. The goal was to keep the athletic King from getting outside the tackles and making him win from in the pocket. It will be more of the same this time around for the Spartans defense.

Martinez has been erratic as a passer over the years, and he threw an interception last week at Oklahoma, but that’s been it for this season. Otherwise, he’s 65-for-99 for 1,017 yards and five touchdowns this season and is Nebraska’s leading rusher, gaining 290 yards on 51 attempts for an average of 5.7 yards a carry with four touchdowns. Martinez also has run for more than 100 yards twice this season and is averaging 326.8 yards per game in total offense, which ranks 12th nationally and second in the Big Ten.

Needless to say, containing Martinez is the key to beating the Cornhuskers. Michigan State did that effectively last week with King, even though the Miami QB put up some solid passing numbers. What Miami did not do, and what MSU must keep Nebraska from doing, is get the running game going. Michigan State allowed only 52 yards on the ground last week and if it can make Nebraska just as one-dimensional, the Spartans will have a good shot at remaining unbeaten.

More: Detroit News predictions: Michigan State football vs. Nebraska

Cornhuskers to watch

Adrian Martinez, QB: The senior has thrown for 6,645 yards in his career and rushed for 2,066 yards for a total of 8,711 yards of offense. He’s also Nebraska’s all-time leader in total offensive yards per game (272.2), 400-yard total offense games (five) and 300-yard total offense games (16). He has produced five of Nebraska’s 17 individual 400-yard total offense performances and entered the season as one of only four active FBS quarterbacks with 5,000 career passing yards and 1,500 career rushing yards.

Samori Toure, WR: The senior transfer from Montana has made an immediate impact for the Cornhuskers, catching 16 passes for 333 yards and two touchdowns while also running five times for 44 yards and a touchdown. He’s had 100-yard games in wins over Fordham and Buffalo and now has 10 career 100-yard receiving games. At Montana, Toure had 155 receptions for 2,488 yards and 20 touchdowns.

JoJo Domann, LB: The “super senior” is back after leading the Cornhuskers last year with a career-high 58 tackles, including 6.5 tackles for loss, five pass breakups, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in eight games. He is fifth among all active FBS players with seven career forced fumbles and this season has 23 tackles and three tackles for loss, including a career-high 12 tackles at Oklahoma.

Facts and figures

► Nebraska’s defense has been outstanding in the fourth quarter this season as the Cornhuskers have outscored their opponents, 41-7, in the final 15 minutes of games. The only points came last week when the Huskers allowed a touchdown in a 23-16 loss to No. 4 Oklahoma.

► The Cornhuskers’ offense has been humming since gaining 633 yards in a win over Fordham in Week 2. It’s led to some impressive individual performances as the Huskers opened the season with a 100-yard rusher and 100-yard receiver in each of the first three games. Martinez had two 100-yard rushing games (Illinois, Buffalo), with Markese Stepp adding a third game over the century mark against Fordham. Toure topped 100 receiving yards in back-to-back weeks (Fordham, Buffalo), after Oliver Martin surpassed 100 yards at Illinois.

► Michigan State has scored 118 points in its first three games and has scored at least 38 points in each game for the first time since 2005 when it scored 49 vs. Kent State, 42 vs. Hawaii and 44 vs. Notre Dame. MSU is currently third in the Big Ten and 29th in the FBS in scoring offense, averaging 39.3 points per game and ranks second in the Big Ten and 14th in the FBS in total offense (520 yards per game).

mcharboneau@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @mattcharboneau