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July 6, 2010

An early look at the Big Ten: Michigan State

The Michigan State Spartans

Location: East Lansing, Mich.
Distance from Lincoln: 726 miles

Best way to get there: There are four direct flights from Omaha to Detroit per day, otherwise the driving distance to East Lansing is about 11 hours.

Offensive scheme: Power-I
Defensive scheme: 4-3

Rivals.com past recruiting rankings: No. 30 (2010), No. 17 (2009), No. 47 (2008) and No. 42 (2007).

The Spartans currently have seven verbal commits, including one five star and three four star recruits. Their five-star commit is from linebacker Lawrence Thomas, who's currently ranked as the No. 1 recruit in the state of Michigan for the class of 2011.

Nebraska's history against MSU

Nebraska and Michigan State have met five times in school history, but only three times in the modern era with the Huskers winning all five match-ups. NU and MSU played a home-at-home in 1995 and 1996 when Nick Saban was the head coach in East Lansing. The Huskers won both games 50-10 and 55-14.

NU and MSU met again in the 2003 Alamo Bowl when Bo Pelini was named the interim head coach after Frank Solich was fired by Steve Pederson. Nebraska won that game 17-3, holding Michigan State's offense to just 174 yards.

Why this game could be a potential rivalry

There isn't a whole lot of history between NU and MSU, but that 2003 Alamo Bowl will always be looked at as a special moment for Husker fans.

It was Pelini's first game as a head coach and he delivered a masterful defensive game plan that shutdown John L. Smith's high powered offensive attack led by quarterback Jeff Smoker.

Maybe the most interesting thing about that game were some of the things that transpired off the field between the two programs that week, including a fight that broke out at team fiesta put on by the Alamo a Bowl.

A group of Spartan players surrounded NU quarterback Jammal Lord and Husker offensive lineman Richie Incognito responded by tossing a chair across the room and fight broke out. Incognito also spit in the face of a Spartan player during the game and his actions were caught on camera by ESPN.

Stars to watch for in 2011

Michigan State has just four senior starters on both offense and defense heading into 2010. Quarterback Kirk Cousins beat out Keith Nichol last year and he's started to blossom into one of the better signal callers in the Big Ten. Cousins will be a senior in 2011 when the Huskers make the move to the Big Ten.

On defense, the Spartans must replace linebacker Greg Jones in 2011, who's considered the top linebacker in the league.



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