MSU looks to change tide against Nebraska

Huskers the lone Big Ten team Spartans haven't beaten under Mark Dantonio, plus title opportunity on Saturday in Lincoln, gives MSU plenty to play for.

Since his arrival at Michigan State, Mark Dantonio has beaten every team in the Big Ten – and every team on the road – except one: Nebraska.

In Nebraska's first year in the Big Ten, MSU went to Lincoln with hopes of all but securing the Legends Division title. Instead, MSU lost 24-3 and fell into a tie with the Huskers.

Facing an opportunity to clinch at least a share of the Legends Division title, the Spartans are looking for a better outcome this time around.

"That is the one football team that we have not beaten since coming here, so that remains a goal of ours," Dantonio said. "But I think there are bigger and more important things to worry about than just – we've got to beat Nebraska to accomplish our goals, and that's why it's such a big game."

While the Spartans ultimately wound up in the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis – with a little help from other teams – Saturday in Lincoln gives MSU the chance to control its own destiny.

"You've just got to take it one game at a time," sophomore quarterback Connor Cook said, "but obviously a win here is a big time win, never beating Nebraska obviously, and then clinching a share for the Big Ten Championship game."

If the Spartans lose, they could still go to Indianapolis by winning its final two games and if Nebraska lost one of its final two.

That's not something MSU plans to focus on, though.

"I'm not really trying to focus on if we win here, what if we win two games out of the remaining three or if we lose to Nebraska we have to win the next two," Cook said. "I think we just focus on the task at hand, focus on the game at hand, focus on going 1-0, everything will take care of itself.

Senior cornerback Darqueze Dennard, who has a pick-six called back for a penalty in last year's 28-24 loss to Nebraska, shared the common sentiment around the MSU program: "All our goals are in front of us."

"Knowing that Nebraska is the main team we've got to focus on right now, for me personally, it's a great challenge for me just knowing I can be able to make plays this weekend and hopefully I can get a pick six like I did last year that makes up for the last game."

Or as Dantonio said, the game is a "tremendous opportunity" for Michigan State.

"We're to a point where we go to this game and we have an opportunity to at least clinch the Legends Division title if we win this football game," he said. "It doesn't mean we'd be the outright winners going into the championship game but we would at least clinch a co-championship if we win.

"That's something that's real, that our players can touch, and there should be no lack of motivation. Does that mean we're going to come excited? That doesn't guarantee it.

"Got to peak on Saturday, and that's what we'll work towards."

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