The Nebraska Cornhuskers hope to keep their bowl hopes alive as they travel to Happy Valley to play the Penn State Nittany Lions. Game time is 4:00 EST on Saturday, November 18 at Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pennsylvania. Fans can watch the game on FS1.

Penn State is listed as a 26-point favorite at home. That line has increased after the Nittany Lions opened at -23. The over/under is 57 points. Click here for a full list of Week 12 betting odds and links to game previews.

Nebraska vs Penn State Vegas Odds & Game Preview

The Cornhuskers officially have their back against the wall after last week’s 54-21 loss to Minnesota. Nebraska has lost four of their last five games. Now the Cornhuskers need to win their last two games to reach a bowl game and salvage their season. If that doesn’t happen, it’s almost certain that head coach Mike Riley will be fired after the season.

To make matters worse, starting quarterback Tanner Lee is currently in concussions protocol after missing the 2nd half of last week’s game. It’s unclear if Lee will be able to play against Penn State. If he can’t go, the Cornhuskers could be forced to start freshman Patrick O’Brien.

Penn State, on the other hand, snapped a two-game losing streak last week by beating Rutgers 35-6. If the Nittany Lions can win their last two games and get some help, they have an outside chance of playing in the Big Ten title game. But for the most part, Penn State is just aiming for a 10-win regular season and a trip to a major bowl game.

Free NCAAF Betting Prediction: Penn State -26

To be honest, this spread is almost too much for me. But I’ll still lean toward Penn State because of what a mess Nebraska is right now. The possibility of the Cornhuskers starting a freshman quarterback on the road also helps me lean toward the Lions being able to cover 26 points.

The other thing I like about this matchup is how well Penn State has played at home this season. The Nittany Lions are undefeated in six home games this year. Even if you take away blow-out victories of Akron and Georgia State, Penn State is beating power conference teams by an average of 27 points at home. They even blew out Michigan by 29 points. That makes me feel better about the spread.

Click on the link for more free NCAA football picks against the spread and total.

Of course, swallowing the points in this game has a lot more to do with how bad Nebraska has been over the past month. Even before Lee was knocked out of the game last week, the Cornhuskers trailed a mediocre Minnesota team by 16 points at halftime. The Gophers began the game with a kickoff return for a touchdown, which makes me question Nebraska’s readiness to play. 

With Riley all but fired, it’s tough to see the Cornhuskers being all that motivated. If Penn State can get off to a fast start, Nebraska could fold easily and get blown out in the first half. They certainly didn’t put up much of a fight in the 2nd half against Minnesota, with the Gophers compiling over 400 rushing yards. If Minnesota can do that, imagine what Saquon Barkley can do against a Nebraska team that’s lacking motivation.

Even if Nebraska shows some heart, the Nittany Lions are still the better team. Penn State is 4th in the nation in points allowed, while Barkley is still one of the best playmakers in the country. I’d prefer if the spread were a few points lower, but I’ll still take my chances with the Nittany Lions being able to cover.