The Nebraska Cornhuskers come into the weekend with a 6-2 overall record and a 3-1 record in Big Ten play. They will have their hands full to improve on those records when they are on the road against the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday. Nebraska’s only conference loss of the season came on the road against Minnesota in a 34-23 game. They have conference wins over Illinois, Purdue and Northwestern. Two of those three wins came in blowout fashion, but last weeks win took a desperation throw late in the game to beat the Wildcats by three points.
Both of Michigan’s losses this season have come in Big Ten play. They went to quadruple overtime on the road against Penn State where they fell short by three-points. They are also coming off a road loss last week against Michigan State in a game that the offense struggled to move the ball. Both of their conference wins came from the comfort of their home field, beating Minnesota and Indiana in blowout fashion.
Kick-off takes place at 3:30 PM ET with television coverage being provided by ABC. The oddsmakers have listed the home team Wolverines as seven-point favorites over the Cornhuskers. The total for this game has been set at 57.5-points.
Why Michigan Covers
With the exception of last weeks game against in-state rival Michigan State, the Wolverines offense has had very little trouble finding the endzone. They are averaging 37.9 points per game overall this season, but improve that scoring average to 46.6 points per game at home. They have dominated with their physical ground attack, gaining 189 rushing yards per game at home on 4.6 yards per carry. That is a recipe for disaster for Nebraska since the Huskers have been dominated by solid running teams. Against Minnesota the Huskers gave up 271 rushing yards, and they should have lost their game against Northwestern in which they fave up 245 rushing yards.
Nebraska is 0-8-1 ATS in their last nine road games against a team with a winning record at home.
The Wolverines defense has given up some points this year, but that is to be expected from a team that has gone into the fourth quarter with large, comfortable leads on numerous occasions this season. They are holding opponents to a mere 3.2 yards per carry for 105 rushing yards per game this season. That is a favorable matchup advantage against a Nebraska team that runs the ball on 48 of their 78 offensive plays. The secondary has also played well holding opposing quarterbacks to a mere 53.3% completion rate this year.
Why Nebraska Covers
If any team in the Big Ten can keep pace with Michigan it is the Nebraska Cornhuskers. They are scoring 38.2 points per game this season and barely take a step back on the road averaging 33.5 points per game. Their ground attack will be one of the best Michigan has faced, averaging 262 rushing yards per game on 5.4 yards per carry. They are also completing 61.1% of their pass attempts for 206 passing yards per game. While winning this game straight up on the road could prove to be a difficult task in such a hostile environment, the Huskers should have no problem keeping this game within a touchdown.
The Michigan Wolverines are 13-30 ATS in their last 43 conference games.
Nebraska’s defense has outperformed Michigan statistically this season. They have held opponents to a mere 20.5 points per game. Their run defense has been torched at times, but overall they have still put up respectable numbers. On the road they are allowing 151 rushing yards per game on 3.8 yards per carry. The secondary is the strength of this team, holding opposing quarterbacks to a 41.5% completion percentage on the road for 171 passing yards per game. The Wolverines are not a strong passing team to begin with so I expect them to struggle to move the ball through the air against the Cornhuskers this week.
Michigan has under performed in several conference games this season. I don’t think Nebraska’s inability to stop the run will hurt them as bad as it has in the past since overall the Wolverines are gaining just 155 rushing yards per game on 3.7 yards per carry. Take the points and expect this game to come down to the final possession for the straight-up winner.
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