Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State football outlasts Nebraska on Senior Day, snaps six-game losing streak

Jack Moreland
MSU redshirt freshman quarterback Katin Houser (12) celebrates with redshirt junior receiver Christian Fitzpatrick after connecting on for a touchdown pass against Nebraska on Saturday, November 4, 2023 at Spartan Stadium.

EAST LANSING – Michigan State football (3-6, 1-5) snapped its six-game losing streak on Saturday afternoon, with a 20-17 win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers (5-4, 3-3) on Senior Day at Spartan Stadium. 

With the win, Harlon Barnett picked up his first win as interim head coach of the football program. 

“I think it was a combination of things. Our coaches, our players, and our entire staff buying in when I first got put into this position,” MSU interim head coach Harlon Barnett said. “The first thing I did at the team meeting was talking about staying unified, and that everybody has to be pulling the rope from the same end.”

In the first quarter, Michigan State’s offense found a big play that it hadn’t had in a long time, with a 46-yard completion from redshirt freshman quarterback Katin Houser to sixth-year tight end Jaylan Franklin. The Spartans reached Nebraska territory, but the drive stalled. Jonathan Kim’s 35-yard field goal attempt was good, giving MSU the early lead.  

Nebraska responded at the end of the first quarter with a 5-yard running touchdown from quarterback Heinrich Haarberg. 

The second quarter began with an eight play, 71-yard drive for Michigan State that ended with a touchdown. Katin Houser found Christian Fitzpatrick for the 11-yard score, giving the Spartans the lead. This was the first MSU touchdown at Spartan Stadium since week 4 against Maryland. 

With the quarterback conversation still taking place in week 10 of the season, Katin Houser got the start over freshman Sam Leavitt. Despite Houser starting, the Michigan State coaching staff decided to go with a quarterback rotation in parts of the game, with Leavitt seeing action for a series in the first and fourth quarters. 

Houser finished the day with 165 yards and a touchdown pass. 

“We had some troubles and couldn’t get a win, but I feel like today the whole team played together and we were able to finish out the fourth quarter,” Houser said. “I’m so proud of our guys to get that win.”

Leavitt led the Spartans to a four play, 38-yard drive in his second series, with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Montorie Foster Jr, increasing the lead to 20-10. 

“I like seeing myself out there and some of the things I did,” Leavitt said. “It put it into perspective that I can play at this level, and at a high level.”

In the late stages of the game, Nebraska’s Heinrich Haarberg found an open space in the middle of the field for a 43-yard run. Freshman running back Emmett Johnson found the endzone for a 4-yard touchdown, cutting the deficit to three. 

The Spartans would go three-and-out after Nebraska’s touchdown. 

With 2:32 left, the Cornhuskers had an opportunity to get into field goal range, but the drive was unsuccessful after freshman defensive lineman Jalen Thompson stripped Haarberg of the ball, turning the possession over to MSU. 

Jonathan Kim had a chance to put the Spartans up 23-17, but his 44-yard attempt was no good. 

Nebraska got the ball back with 43 seconds left, but a late fumble from Haarberg kept the clock running, leaving no time for the Cornhuskers to keep the drive alive. 

In a season full of disappointment, MSU picked up a much-needed win that the program hasn’t seen since its 45-14 win over Richmond on Sept. 9. 

The Spartans will travel to Columbus, Ohio for a primetime matchup against No. 1 Ohio State on Saturday, Nov. 11 at 7:30 p.m. Matt Merrifield and Zac Slowik will be on the call from The Horseshoe on impact89fm.org.

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About the Contributors
Jay DeCoster, Sports Editorial Assistant
Jay is a senior studying Mediated Communications at Michigan State. He joined Impact in September of 2021 as a volunteer. Jay is the Michigan State Football & women's soccer beat reporter for the Impact sports department. His interests include supporting his favorite Chicago sports teams, and golfing in the summer. "If you got a dream, chase it, 'cause a dream won't chase you back" - Cody Johnson
Jack Moreland, Sports Photo Editor
Jack (he/him) is a Journalism major focusing in sports reporting and media photography. Growing up in nearby Okemos, Michigan, he has been a lifelong Spartan and is proud to sport the green and white. Jack is a big Baby Keem fan and is known to post on your block with your wishlist on you.

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