Arizona Wildcats (8-4 6-5 ATS) vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-4 8-5 ATS) Qualcomm Stadium San Diego, CA 8 PM EST Wednesday December 30, 2009 on ESPN
by Jason Green at Predictem.com
Point Spread: Wildcats -1.5/Cornhuskers +1.5
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In the Holiday Bowl in San Diego the Nebraska Cornhuskers face the Arizona Wildcats. The Huskers won their last 5 games leading up the Big 12 Championship, where they barely lost to Texas. During that 6 game span the Nebraska D was scary, as they only gave up an average of just under 11 points per game. This season Nebraska was 2-1 against ranked teams. For the Huskers to win this game they will have to play good defense, as their offense ranks 102nd in the nation (68th ranked rushing offense 101st ranked passing offense).
The Wildcats ended the season well winning their last 2 games including beating USC. Their only loss this season to a team not playing in a bowl was to Washington. The Wildcats are solid on both sides of the ball, as they rank 47th in the nation on offense and 21st on defense. The key to them winning may be their offensive line, as they have to give QB Nick Foles (2,438 yds 19 TD) time to find his targets.
In the last game of the season for both teams Arizona beat USC 21-17 and Nebraska lost to Texas 13-12 in the Big 12 title game.
In their win over USC, which was the first in 7 games against the Trojans, the Wildcats won with defense and a passing attack that out-gained USC 239 yards to 144 yards. The Wildcats only ran for 82 yards in the game, but QB Nick Foles was legit passing for 239 yards with 2 TD and 1 INT including tossing the game winning TD with only 3:14 left in the game. The Wildcats also only averaged 2.8 yards per carry in the win. The Wildcats were great at 3rd down conversions going 9/17 while USC won only 5/13. The Wildcats were underdogs by 7 points so they covered the spread and the posted total of the game was not surpassed.
In the loss in the Big 12 Championship Game the Huskers played great defense holding Colt McCoy to only 184 yards passing, picking him off 3 times, and sacking him 9 times. They also held the Texas rushing attack to an average of only 1.5 yards per carry. The Huskers simply did not have enough offense in the game and they only scored on 4 field goals. Nebraska was only 2/16 on 3rd down conversions and only had 106 total yards for the game. The Huskers were underdogs by 14 points so they covered the spread and Under bettors on the game came away with a little coin since the posted total of 47 was nowhere near being reached.
Arizona has the nation’s 22nd ranked rushing defense, so don’t look for main offensive weapon Huskers’ RB Roy Helu Jr. (1,139 yds (9 TD) to have a big game. In the loss to Texas Helu Jr. only rushed for 28 yards on 10 carries and he will struggle a bit but not as bad as vs. the STAUNCH Horn D.
Since the Wildcats will play well on defense against the run Nebraska will have count on QB Zac Lee to move the chains. That will not happen, as he has not played well to end the season not reaching the 200 yards passing mark in his last 5 games and not even passing the 100 yards mark in 3 of those games.
Wildcats’ QB Nick Foles’ main target is WR Juron Criner (43 rec 580 yds 9 TD). Arizona will be facing a Huskers’ D that ranks 25th, but will Foles have time to find his receivers. I say yes, as even though the Huskers rank 3rd in the nation in sacks (42) the Wildcats’ offensive line ranks 10th in the nation only allowing 11 sacks all season.
Look for the Arizona offensive line to play well, especially on stud Ndumakong Suh, who sacked Colt McCoy 4.5 times in the Big 12 title game. He will not come close to that sack total in this game.
Since the Huskers are so good at stuffing the run I don’t see the solid RB duo of Keola Antolin (568 yds 4 TD) and Nic Grigsby (559 yds 5 TD) from having big games.
Jason’s Pick: I see this game being a defensive battle, but for Nick Foles to have a solid game. The Wildcats will score just enough points to beat the Huskers, who will have offensive problems in this game. I think this will be a very close game, but for Arizona to win and cover the spread.