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Pickering’s Field Goals Lift Nebraska Over Michigan State 9-6

The snow was coming down in sheets at Memorial Stadium, but the Huskers weren’t too bothered. “It was like something out of a movie,” senior running back Devine Ozigbo said. Cornerback Cam Taylor did snow angels. Husker head coach Scott Frost held a game ball high above his head, grinning from ear to ear with boyish enthusiasm.

It was far from pretty, but the Huskers prevailed over the Michigan State Spartans 9-6. Barret Pickering played the hero, hitting three field goals on three attempts; a perfect day for the place kicker.

As the game headed into the fourth quarter, Nebraska had still yet to put up a single point. Trailing Michigan State six to zip, Pickering proceeded to drill a 36 yarder, a 20 yarder, and then the go-ahead 47 yard field goal to lift the Huskers over the Spartans.

Nebraska DB Antonio Reed celebrates after forcing a fumble in the fourth quarter of Nebraska’ 9-6 victory over Michigan State Saturday (Photo by Kenny Larabee).

 

It’s fitting then, that on the day Nebraska and Michigan State honored their former punters – Sam Foltz and Mike Sadler who tragically passed away in a car accident in 2016 – that it was the kicking specialists who were the difference makers.

“Today was a good day,” Pickering said. “I’d like to mention the Sadlers and the Foltzes. Today was about them.” Senior punter Isaac Armstrong also put in a solid performance. “Some of the punts that he hit into the wind made a difference in field position,” Frost told reporters at the end of the game. “It was a field-position game.”

The high winds caused problems for both offenses all day, with both units struggling to move the football. “I laid in bed last night with my fingers crossed and hands folded in prayer, hoping that we’d be able to fold it,” Frost said. “We tried to come out in the first drive and just run our offense. It was pretty obvious after that, that we had to flip the script on our game plan.”

Martinez looks for a receiver in the second quarter of Saturday’s game (Photo by Kenny Larabee).

 

Adrian Martinez was 16-37 for 145 yards through the air. The Husker’s three rushers, Martinez, Ozigbo, and Maurice Washington, combined for a little over 100 yards, a paltry total compared to last week’s total of 316 rushing yards.

NU officials believe that this is the first time since Nebraska’s 1937 three to nothing win over Kansas that the Huskers were actually able to win a game without scoring a touchdown.

“Good teams figure out how to win any kind of game, and that’s as different a kind of game that I have been a part of as a coach,” Frost said.”I’m so happy for the seniors, so happy for the Blackshirts.”

The seniors were given a nice send off, as it was senior day for Nebraska, marking the last time the senior class would take the field at Memorial Stadium.  Ozigbo reached the 1,000 rushing yard single season threshold – the first time for a Nebraska running back since the 2014 season when Ameer Abdullah did the same.

Stanley Morgan Jr.’s four catches were good enough to surpass former Husker receiver Kenny Bell on the all time team receptions list, with 182 career receptions. Morgan came just short of passing up Bell in career receiving yards, as he is still 23 yards away from becoming Nebraska’s leading receiver in career reception yards.

Nebraska kicker Barret Pickering (#32) is congratulated by teammates Isaac Armstrong and Kurt Rafdal after hitting a 47-yard field goal that proved to be the difference in Nebraska’ 9-6 victory over Michigan State Saturday (Photo by Kenny Larabee).

 

Not to be forgotten is senior Antonio Reed. Reed was everywhere for the defense, sniffing out several plays in the backfield, earning himself a career high three tackles for loss. Reed also had a season high seven tackles and a pair of pass breakups. Reed also forced a key fumble in the fourth quarter.

With the win, the Huskers improve to four on the season, equaling last season’s win total. For Nebraska’s final game, they’ll hit the road to take on Iowa on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

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