Michigan Wolverines (5-2 SU, 3-4 ATS) vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers (5-2 SU, 3-4 ATS)
College Football Week 9
: Saturday October 27; 8:00PM EST
Where: Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Nebraska
by Bob, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Mich +3/NEB -3
Over/Under Total: OFF
A little over halfway through the college football season and here we are ready for yet another great Big Ten matchup. The number 22 Michigan Wolverines travel to Lincoln to take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Both of these teams are coming off huge fourth quarter victories this past weekend. Michigan ended their instate rivalry woes by beating their “little brother,” Michigan State, on a last second field goal. Meanwhile, in Evanston, Illinois, Nebraska battled to pull off a stunning 29-28 win over the Northwestern Wildcats. With both squads coming in on emotional highs, this contest will have huge Big Ten implications. This is only the fourth meeting between these two schools since 1986 and Michigan holds a 2-1 advantage, including a 45-17 thrashing of the Huskers last season. You can throw last season’s game out the window because we are in for physical war this Saturday. The Wolverines and Cornhuskers both rank in the top 20 in rushing and it’s no secret that each of them plan to establish a running game in order to gain control of this matchup. The winner of this game will control their own destiny in the Big Ten “Legends” division and could be in the driver’s seat for a potential trip to the Rose Bowl.
Let us begin by discussing our visiting team, the Michigan Wolverines. Michigan comes in with the nation’s 17th ranked rushing offense as well as the 16th ranked scoring defense. At 5-2 overall, Michigan’s only two losses this season are to the #1 and #5 ranked BCS teams in the land. Michigan appears to be gaining momentum on the defensive side of the ball and improving each week. Since allowing Air Force to score 25 points in the second week of the season, the Wolverines haven’t given up more than 13 points in a contest, including a 45-0 shutout of conference foe, Illinois. Michigan’s three keys to victory are simple: Establish the run, Play defense, and Protect the ball. The “X Factor” for the Wolverines is quarterback, Denard Robinson. Robinson must protect the ball. If Michigan is going to be successful in this contest, Denard is not going to be able to allow Nebraska to get turnovers leading to easy scores. So far this season Denard has thrown 9 touchdowns as well as 9 picks. He is averaging an interception for every 15 pass attempts through the first seven games. Taking better care of the ball will be a must for Robinson if Michigan plans to get this “W.” The Wolverines can win this game, but focus and discipline is going to be key to pull off the road upset.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers open up as a 3 point favorite in this game. The ‘huskers are ranked 6th in the nation in rushing and 12th in scoring. Just like Michigan, Nebraska is going to want to control the ball and the line of scrimmage. Keeping Denard Robinson and Michigan’s offense off the field would help Nebraska keep this a low scoring defensive battle. Nebraska has played the easier schedule so far this season and has the same 5-2 record as Michigan. Bo Pelini and the Nebraska coaching staff claim to have watched the film from last season’s blowout numerous times and understand the mistakes they made that caused that game to get out of hand. Can Nebraska right the ship against Big Blue? If so, here are the keys to victory: Force Denard to throw, Win the field position battle, Keep the score low. If Nebraska can successfully do these things, they will end up the victor come Saturday night and be on their way to a berth into the Big Ten title game.
Bob’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The line opened with Michigan as a +3 underdog and since that time, the line really hasn’t shifted much. Some books have it as a +3.5 and a few are listed at +2.5. With that being said, this line is way off. Michigan wins this game and wins big yet again. Yes Nebraska just won a huge game against Northwestern but did we not see the 63-38 beat down that Ohio State handed them just a few weeks prior? The Buckeyes were the only top 25 opponent Nebraska has faced all season and they gave up almost 70 points. Not only do I think Michigan is a far superior team, but let me rattle off a few stats for you. Michigan is 5-2 against the spread in their last 7 games played in October, while Nebraska is only 1-5-1 against the spread in their last 7 conference games. Not only has Nebraska had little success covering spreads in conference, but they are on an 0-5 run against the spread versus teams with winning records. The general betting public thinks of Michigan and looks back to that September night against the Alabama Crimson Tide. First off, no team has hung in with Alabama this season, and secondly, this is a different Michigan team. Michigan is focused and a win in this game will put them 2 games up in the division and almost guarantee them a spot in the Big Ten title game. I see a hard fought battle early on but in the end Michigan pulls away and not only covers the +3 point spread, but they win the game and remain unbeaten in conference play. I’m betting Michigan +3.
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