No. 3 Texas Longhorns (12-0, 5-6-1 ATS) vs. No. 23 Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-3, 7-5 ATS) Cowboys Stadium Arlington, T.X Saturday December 5th, 8:00PM Eastern
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Texas -13.5/Nebraska +13.5
The No. 3 Texas Longhorns appear to be in the captains chair for a shot at this year’s National Championship or at least that is the public perception. The Longhorns are ranked 3rd in the nation and one of the top two teams will fall considering they will square off this weekend in the SEC Championship. Many expect the Longhorns to win convincingly in the Big 12 Championship and ride into the National Championship Game unchallenged. However, the Nebraska Cornhuskers own the top defense in the Big 12 allowing just 291 yards per game which ranks 11th nationally.
Plus that same overconfident Texas team really struggled against Texas A&M last week before pulling away late in a 49-39 shootout. However, the Cornhuskers are out to earn respect and pull of an upset that few would see coming. Not only would it be an upset as far as the Big 12 crown is concerned, but it would also really shake up the BCS Standings and who will meet up with Alabama/Florida in the National Championship. It is safe to say that huge implications are on the line this week in the Big 12 Championship Game because it will determine who attempts to knock the SEC off their throne.
Texas QB Colt McCoy really made a late push for his Heisman Trophy campaign against the Aggies last week completing 24 of 40 passes for 304 yards and 4 touchdowns while rushing for an additional 175 yards plus a touchdown. WR Jordan Shipley remains the big playmaker defenses can not stop. On the season Shipley has racked up 1,292 yards receiving along with 11 touchdowns.
The Nebraska pass defense is pretty solid allowing just 189 yards per game, but they will be up against a tough passing attack to keep those numbers. Outside of McCoy and the passing game, the Longhorns defense has been really strong at times this season. Before Texas A&M, the Texas defense had not allowed over 24 points all season and their defense could take advantage of a Nebraska offense that is averaging just 25 points per game this season. Of course they will still have to score points as well over a talented Cornhuskers defense.
The Nebraska offense relies heavily on running back Roy Helu Jr. who has amassed 1,111 yards this season to go along with 9 touchdowns. Helu Jr has averaged over 5.4 yards per carry and if he can post those types of numbers again this Saturday with the help of the defense it could really help the Cornhuskers defense in keeping the Texas offense off the field. Ball control will be key for the Cornhuskers and Helu definitely has the ability to help win that battle. However, to win the game Nebraska will still need help from QB Zac Lee. Lee has only attempted about 16 passes on average over the last 5 games, but Nebraska will need those few attempts to be ultimately effective.
Lee has completed 60% with 13 touchdowns and 7 picks this season. The passing game has not been the big difference for the Cornhuskers this year, but they may need it to be to get them over the edge against the Longhorns. Face it, Texas can score points. Even if the Nebraska offense can run the ball successfully they will need some passes to be completed to help get into the end zone. WR Niles Paul is the best guy to get the job done and helped Nebraska with a punt return last week for a touchdown in the win over Colorado. If Nebraska can just get another big play or two, then they have the defense and running power to pull of the win.
Jay’s Pick – Lower scoring game here than most recent Big 12 Championship Games and I like the Cornhuskers to cover. Nebraska +13.5.