The Nebraska Cornhuskers host the South Alabama Jaguars in Week 1 college football action from Lincoln. Kickoff is set for 12:00 PM EST on Saturday, August 31 at Memorial Stadium and the game will be televised on ESPN.
Taking a look at the Week 1 college football odds, Nebraska opened as a huge 34-point home favorite earlier this week. That line has continued to increase after early betting, as the Cornhuskers are currently listed at -36. The total for the game is sitting at 64.5 points.
Vegas Betting Preview & Game Odds: Nebraska vs South Alabama
South Alabama will look to rebound after a 2018 season in which they won just three games overall and finished second last in the Sun Belt Group B division. The offense for the Jaguars was average at best last year, scoring 24.2 points per game on 355.3 total yards. Six starters will make return for the 2019 season, although they are still searching for stability at the quarterback position. QB Cephus Johnson appears to be in line for the starting role entering the season, although he is a bit of a wild card due to his extreme inexperience. There are a few more reasons for optimism on the ground, as RB Tra Minter was electric out of the backfield en route to 801 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 183 attempts. WR Kawaan Baker also had a solid year for South Alabama, catching 33 passes and averaging almost 15 yards per reception.
The Jaguars were brutal defensively in 2018, getting torched for an average of 38.8 points and 448.7 total yards per game. They were one of the worst programs nationwide against both the pass and the run, ranking 90th and 103rd overall respectively.
Nebraska didn’t exactly set the world on fire in 2018, going just 4-8 overall in head coach Scott Frost’s first season on the job. Frost really got behind the eight-ball early on the in the year, as the Cornhuskers went an embarrassing 0-6 out of the gate before settling down in the second half of the season. Expectations are high to start 2019 after an impressive streak of four wins over their final six games including two near-upsets of Ohio State and Iowa. QB Adrian Martinez really came into his own as his freshman season winded down, passing for 2,600 yards and 17 touchdowns in 12 games. As a whole, the offense averaged 30.0 points per game on 456.2 total yards.
The biggest weakness for the Cornhuskers in 2018 was definitely their play on defense, as they allowed opponents to average a very troubling 31.3 points per game on 433.5 yards of total offense. They were especially bad on the ground, as they gave up an average of 195.8 rushing yards per game (95th overall).
NCAA Football Betting Predictions & Free Pick: Nebraska -36
At first glance, it seems borderline ridiculous that I’m leaning towards laying over five touchdowns and taking a Nebraska team that won just four games in 2018. However, as much as I want to make the case for siding with the huge underdog in this matchup, I just can’t talk myself into taking the Jaguars in this spot. South Alabama is in shambles on both sides of the ball and can’t seem to find any consistency at all. Nebraska, on the other hand, seems to be turning a corner after finally getting some positive momentum going down the stretch last season. There is plenty to be excited about for Cornhuskers fans, especially on offense where Adrian Martinez is generating plenty of buzz around the entire country.
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I also don’t have any faith in the South Alabama defense to slow down a surging Cornhuskers attack playing their home opener in front of a raucous crowd. The Jaguars gave up almost 40 points per game in 2018 and enter Week 1 missing seven defensive starters from that group. While there is certainly plenty of room for growth moving forward, it could take at least a couple of years for South Alabama to finally turn the corner. Nebraska is certainly a team on the rise and should be able to make a big statement against a drastically inferior opponent Saturday afternoon, so I’m going to reluctantly lay the 36 points and roll with the heavy favorite – give me the Cornhuskers!