Michigan State’s defensive line already had racked up 15 sacks through its first four games, but faced the best offensive line it had seen to date Saturday.
The Nebraska front five – healthy after being dinged up last season – had allowed just three sacks through its first five games, but that number jumped as the Spartans totaled five sacks of quarterback Tommy Armstrong in their 27-22 win.
“I think we did a great job being able to get in the backfield, rushing him a little bit, getting him to throw the ball a little early,” defensive end Shilique Calhoun said. “Not only that, but our linebackers, our corners and our safeties did a great job getting coverage sacks and allowing us to make those plays and giving us time.
”I just have all the pride in our defense and we are going to come out ready to play.”
The Spartans totaled 10 tackles for loss in the game, including the five sacks, setting back Nebraska 38 yards.
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said the struggles of his offensive line were obvious and surprised him.
”Give Michigan State credit, they took it to us up front,” he said. “It wasn't blitzing or scheme.
”They outplayed us."
The success started in the trenches for Michigan State, as the defensive line combined for three sacks for a loss of 15 yards, 4.5 tackles for loss for a loss of 22 yards, seven quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.
”No doubt about it, we put a lot of heat on the quarterback even with just four men,” defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi said. “We had great four-man pressure out of kids today.
”Shilique Calhoun and Marcus Rush, I can’t say enough about the heat that they put on them.”
Calhoun had his best statistical season of the season with three quarterback hurries, a seven-yard sack and a 38-yard run after a fumble recovery. Rush had two tackles for loss, including an eight-yard sack, two quarterback hurries and forced a fumble.
“Our front four is going to be tough up front,” Calhoun said. “We are definitely going to be tough and we are going to take it into our hands to make big plays.”