Sports

No. 10 Michigan State hosts No. 19 Nebraska in crucial Big Ten opener for Spartans

  • Nebraska running back Terrell Newby (34) runs for a touchdown ahead of Illinois linebacker Eric Finney (14), with Nebraska tight end Sam Cotton (84) trailing during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Lincoln, Neb., Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014. Nebraska won 45-14. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

    Nebraska running back Terrell Newby (34) runs for a touchdown ahead of Illinois linebacker Eric Finney (14), with Nebraska tight end Sam Cotton (84) trailing during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Lincoln, Neb., Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014. Nebraska won 45-14. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)  (The Associated Press)

  • Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook (18) scrambles against Wyoming's Siaosi Hala'api'api during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014, in East Lansing, Mich. Michigan State won 56-14. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

    Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook (18) scrambles against Wyoming's Siaosi Hala'api'api during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014, in East Lansing, Mich. Michigan State won 56-14. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)  (The Associated Press)

  • Michigan State's Tyler O'Connor (7) and Josiah Price celebrate O'Connor's touchdown during the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game against Wyoming, Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014, in East Lansing, Mich. Michigan State won 56-14. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

    Michigan State's Tyler O'Connor (7) and Josiah Price celebrate O'Connor's touchdown during the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game against Wyoming, Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014, in East Lansing, Mich. Michigan State won 56-14. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)  (The Associated Press)

After all the big, era-defining victories Michigan State earned last season, a November win at Nebraska is often overlooked.

Michigan State's 41-28 victory at Nebraska last year was the Spartans' last major hurdle en route to the Legends Division title. The Big Ten realigned after that, and these teams are in different divisions now, but a lot will still be on the line Saturday night when the 10th-ranked Spartans host the 19th-ranked Cornhuskers.

Michigan State (3-1) has rebounded from its loss at Oregon and still holds hopes of reaching college football's new four-team playoff. The Big Ten has taken some criticism for its early-season performance, so if the Spartans are going to impress the nation, this matchup with one of the league's other ranked teams is important.

Nebraska (5-0, 1-0) didn't look great while struggling against McNeese State a few weeks ago, but the Cornhuskers beat Miami and routed Illinois.