LINCOLN, Neb. — Barrett Pickering kicked three field goals in the fourth quarter, the last one a 47-yarder with 5:13 left, as Nebraska came from behind to beat Michigan State 9-6 on Saturday.
Initial research indicated it was the first time Nebraska had won a game without scoring a touchdown since a 3-0 victory over Kansas State in 1937.
The Spartans (6-5, 4-4 Big Ten) got field goals of 34 and 26 yards from Matt Coghlin but was unable to sustain offense against a Nebraska defense that has struggled most of the season.
Nebraska (4-7, 3-5), which had put up some of the best offensive numbers in the nation the past six weeks, tied it at 6-all on Pickering field goals of 36 and 20 yards.
The Huskers got the ball back when Antonio Reed and Dedrick Young knocked the ball out of MSU tight end Matt Dotson's hands for an incomplete pass to force a punt. Nebraska ran six plays before Pickering connected for the winning field goal with a strong north wind at his back.
Nebraska, which had gone over 450 total yards in seven straight games, generated just 248. Devine Ozigbo ran 18 times for 74 yards to become the first Nebraska player since 2014 to go over 1,000 for the season.
Adrian Martinez threw for 145 yards, and Stanley Morgan caught four balls for 67 yards to become the school's career leader in receptions with 182.
MSU's Rocky Lombardi completed just 15 of 41 passes for 146 yards. Connor Heyward rushed 21 times for 80 yards and caught five passes for 78.
With a gray sky and intermittent snow flurries, 21-mph north wind and a feel-like temperature of 15 degrees, it was a classic mid-November Big Ten football setting.
Each team entered the game missing key injured players. Michigan State started Lombardi for the second time in four games in place of Brian Lewereke. Nebraska was without leading receiver JD Spielman.
The game was chippy from the outset. The teams combined for four unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and one roughing the passer penalty.
Michigan State: The Spartans are a mess offensively. They gained 289 total yards, but between dropped passes and big stops by the Nebraska defense, they couldn't sustain any drives.
Nebraska: The Huskers' defense has given up a lot of yards and points this year, but they played their best game of the season.
Michigan State hosts Rutgers on Saturday.
Nebraska visits Iowa on Friday.
Nebraska Postgame Notes:
· With today’s 9-6 victory, Nebraska now leads the all-time series with Michigan State 9-2, including 6-1 in Lincoln.
· Today’s victory is believed to be Nebraska’s first victory without scoring a touchdown since Nov. 27, 1937, when Nebraska won 3-0 on the road at Kansas State.
· Running back Devine Ozigbo rushed 18 times for 74 yards in today’s game to increase his season rushing total to 1,032. Ozigbo’s rushing total marks the 36th 1,000-yard rushing season in school history. Ozigbo is the first Husker to rush for 1,000 yards since Ameer Abdullah had 1,611 yards rushing in 2014.
· Senior receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. caught four passes for 67 yards. Morgan increased his career receptions total to 182 to surpass Kenny Bell’s previous school record of 181 career receptions. He increased his career receiving yardage total to 2,666 to move within 23 yards of Bell’s career receiving yardage record of 2,689 yards.
· Today’s game marked the 37th straight game Morgan has had at least one reception, tying Johnny Rodgers’ school record. Morgan has had at least three catches in 22 of the past 23 games.
· Morgan increased his season receptions total to 63 and is the first player in Nebraska history with two seasons of 60 or more receptions. Morgan had 61 catches as a junior in 2017.
· Freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez had 163 yards of total offense, including 18 rushing yards and 145 passing yards. Martinez increased his season total offensive yardage to 2,910 to move up one spot to eighth on the season total offense list. Martinez is 90 yards shy of posting the seventh 3,000-yard total offense season in NU history.
· Senior safety Antonio Reed had a career day. Reed had a season-high seven tackles, including a career-high three tackles for loss, a career-high two pass breakups and his first career sack. Reed also had a hand in a pair of takeaways, intercepting a second-quarter pass and forcing a fourth-quarter fumble to set up a field goal. Reed also forced a fumble earlier in the game
· Today marks the second time in as many weeks a Husker has forced two fumbles after Tre Neal had a pair of fumbles caused last week vs. Illinois.
· Nebraska forced two fumbles today and has forced nine fumbles in the past three games. Nebraska forced just three fumbles in the first eight games of the season.
· Freshman kicker Barret Pickering account for all of Nebraska’s scoring with a career-high three field goals. Pickering was a perfect 3-for-3 on the day with makes from 36, 20 and the eventual game-winner from 47 yards with 5:13 left in the fourth quarter.
· Linebacker Mohamed Barry had a team-high eight tackles. He increased his season tackle total to 101 and is the first Husker to surpass 100 tackles since Zaire Anderson had 103 in 2014. Barry is the fifth Nebraska player to record seven double-figure tackles games in a season and the first since All-American Lavonte David in 2010.
· Senior linebacker Dedrick Young had eight tackles in the game to increase his career tackle total to 274, moving him up three spots to sixth on the Nebraska career tackles list.
· Nebraska had two takeaways in today’s game, marking the Huskers’ fourth straight game with multiple takeaways. This marks the first time Nebraska has forced two or more fumbles in four straight games since a five-game streak in 2012.
· Nebraska was held scoreless in the first quarter for the first time since an Oct. 6 game at Wisconsin, when Nebraska also trailed 3-0 after the opening quarter. Nebraska was held scoreless in the first half for the second time this season, also at Michigan on Sept. 22.
· The Huskers gained 248 yards in today’s game ending a streak of seven straight games with at least 450 yards, the longest such streak in school history.