MSU loss dampens Cook's milestone moments

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

Lincoln, Neb. — Connor Cook wasn't worried about individual accomplishments on Saturday night.

Not long after No. 6 Michigan State had lost in dramatic fashion, 39-38, at Nebraska, the fifth-year senior quarterback was asked about becoming Michigan State's all-time leader in touchdown passes.

"I'd much rather have a win than set any kind of record tonight, that's for sure," Cook said.

That was hard to doubt considering Cook had another outstanding game, throwing for 335 yards and four touchdowns. Those four scores gave him 68 for his career, surpassing the 66 by Kirk Cousins from 2008-11.

He also tied Jeff Smoker (2000-03) for most 300-yard passing games with 10.

After Nebraska scored with 17 seconds to play, Cook had a shot to get the Spartans in field-goal range. He connected with Macgarrett Kings Jr. on a 17-yard pass to the Nebraska 41 with seven seconds to play.

On the next play, however, Cook was looking for Kings for a quick-hitter, a play that was covered by the Cornhuskers' defense. By the time he threw the ball away, time had expired.

"I was looking for Kings," Cook said. "The (middle) linebacker dropped right in the window and I tried to throw it away and obviously didn't do it in time."

Despite the loss, Cook was trying to remain positive.

"We have everything in front of us," he said. "If we go in and beat Maryland and win out from here, beat an unbeaten Ohio State, I think some good things can come from this. It's not the end of the world. Obviously it hurts, for sure, but if we can win out and beat Ohio State I think we can do a lot of things."

Healthy signs

Michigan State got a handful of players back for the game against Nebraska, but only one had a significant contribution.

Center Jack Allen was back in the starting lineup after missing the last two games with an ankle injury. He was hurt against Rutgers on Oct. 10 when he was playing left tackle in place of the injured Jack Conklin, who returned to the lineup against Michigan.

Running back Madre London (leg) and cornerback Darian Hicks (concussion) were dressed for the first time in two games, but neither saw any action.

Sophomore linebacker Drake Martinez played on special teams, his first action of the season after a lower-body injury kept him out the first eight games. Martinez began his career at Nebraska before leaving for Saddleback Community College in Mission Viejo, Calif. After one year there, Martinez transferred to Michigan State and was expected to play a significant role this season before the injury kept him out.

Extra points

Sophomore running back Gerald Holmes started for the second straight game and ran for a career-high 117 yards and a touchdown.
Holmes opened the game with a 43-yard gain and averaged 5.3 yards on 22 carries.

… True freshmen cornerback Tyson Smith was not listed as the starter but was in on the first defensive play and series for the Spartans.

… Michigan State trailed, 10-3, at the end of the first quarter, the first time it had been behind at that point all season.

… Michigan State's game next Saturday at home against Maryland will kick off at noon and be televised by ESPN2.