Penn State at Nebraska Line
This Saturday the No. 16 Nebraska Cornhuskers will host the Penn State Nittany Lions in Big Ten action. The Cornhuskers defeated Penn State 17-14 on the road last season as 3-point favorite. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 EST at Memorial Stadium and will be televised nationally on ABC or ESPN2. Oddsmakers have listed Nebraska as a 7.5-point home favorite with the total posted at 54 points.
Why Penn State Will Cover
The Nittany Lions rebounded nicely from their loss at home to Ohio State with a 34-9 blowout win at Purdue. Penn State is now 6-3 on the season and an impressive 4-1 inside the Big 10. Hard not to like the Nittany Lions getting over a touchdown against Nebraska on Saturday. Penn State has been one of the most profitable teams to back this season, as they have covered the spread in seven of their nine games.
I personally have not been all that impressed with Nebraska this season. The Cornhuskers are a respectable 4-1 in conference play, but could just as easily be 0-5. Their only win in the Big Ten that came by more than four points was a 23-9 victory at home against Michigan, but the Wolverines played most of that game without starting quarterback Denard Robinson, who is without question their most important offensive player. In their other three wins against Wisconsin, Northwestern and Michigan State they have had to overcome second half deficits. In their lone loss they were embarrassed by Ohio State 38-63.
There’s no denying the strength of Nebraska’s offense is their running game. When they can’t run the ball effectively they typically don’t score a lot of points, which makes it hard to cover a spread of 7.5. Penn State is only giving up 121.3 ypg on the ground. While they gave up 200+ to both Navy and Ohio State, they actually held both of those teams under their season averages. Last year Penn State only allowed the Cornhuskers to rush for 188 yards and as a result they only scored 17 points.
Why Nebraska Will Cover
As much as this team has had to fight and claw in games this season, you can’t overlook the fact that they continue to find a way to get the job done. The Cornhuskers will certainly be motivated to lay everything on the line to win this game. With what looks like a couple of easy wins to finish out the season against Minnesota and Iowa, Penn State is really all that stands in their way of winning the Big Ten Legends Division title and playing in their first ever Big Ten Championship Game.
While the Nittany Lions should be able to at least slow down the Cornhuskers offense, you could argue that Nebraska actually has the bigger advantage when it comes to which defenses stacks up better against the opposing offense. Penn State’s offense relies heavily on quarterback Matt McGloin and the passing game, as they come in 37th in the country averaging 272.0 ypg. Nebraska’s pass defense has been the strength of their defense, as they rank 5th in the nation allowing just 156.0 ypg. If they can shut down the Nittany Lions’ passing attack, it will be extremely hard for Penn State to put together long drives.
You also have to factor in how well Nebraska plays at home. They are a perfect 5-0 at Memorial Stadium this season with all but one of those wins coming by at least two touchdowns. The Cornhuskers are 23-6 at home under head coach Bo Pelini and are an amazing 20-4-1 ATS over their last 25 home games vs a team with a winning road record.