Wisconsin Badgers (3-2 SU, 2-3 ATS) vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers (2-3 SU, 2-3 ATS)
NCAA Week 6
Date/Time: October 10/3:30pm ET
Where: Memorial Stadium
by Evergreen, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: UW +1.5/NEB -1.5
Over/Under Total: 48
Parity has been the order of the day so far during the NCAA Football season as many perceived power teams have lost in the early going. Injuries, coaching changes, underperformers and upsets have all led to many teams finding themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to the college football playoff. Two teams that appear to be firmly in the middle of the NCAA pack square off this weekend in Lincoln as the Nebraska Cornhuskers host the Wisconsin Badgers in a Big Ten West tilt.
While this game opened at most online betting sites as a pickem, the line moved quickly and the Huskers sit as 1.5 point favorites. These teams have met on four occasions since Nebraska joined the Big Ten with Wisconsin winning all four matchups against the spread and the over hitting in each game. The over/under total for Saturday is set at 48.
Nebraska isnt likely looking forward to this game based on past results. Wisconsin welcomed the Huskers to the Big Ten in 2011 by thumping them to the tune of 48-17 behind Russell Wilson. The teams later met in the Big Ten Championship game where the Badgers hung 70 on the Huskers. Last year, Melvin Gordon ran for 408 yards and four scores as Wisconsin dealt Nebraska a 59-24 loss in Madison, so in short, it has not gone well for Herbie and friends when it comes to playing UW. Nebraska does own one win in this series, a 30-27 win in Lincoln in 2012 so there is at least some confidence that the Huskers can take care of business at home.
The Mike Riley era has gotten off to a bumpy start in Lincoln as Nebraska has dropped three heartbreakers. Week 1 saw a BYU hail-mary win and an overtime loss in Miami spoiled what would have been a stunning second half comeback. The Huskers led Illinois by a 13-0 score last week before allowing two fourth quarter touchdown passes, with the winning score coming just before the final gun. Nebraska has talent on offense but has proven to be inconsistent at times and their defense is simply allowing too many yards. They could easily be 3-2 or even 4-1 but it appears that they arent as good as they have been in years past and will be in tough, close games through the rest of the schedule.
Much of the same can be said for the Badgers. Paul Chrysts first year as the head man has seen some good and some bad, with most of the bad coming last week during a 10-6 home loss to Iowa. Wisconsin had four turnovers in that game, including a lost fumble at the goal-line, and also had several personal foul penalties that led to a disappointing performance overall. One thing that has gone well in Madison is the play on defense. The Badgers enter the week allowing just 278 total yards per game and are 4th in the NCAA with just 9.6 points per game allowed. The offense is suspect behind a patchwork offensive line and there are many skill position injuries plaguing the Badgers right now, so more from that defense will be required this week.
Tommy Armstrong leads the Huskers as a dual-threat quarterback. He has completed a pedestrian 54% of passes but adds the extra dimension with the rushing ability and has accounted for 12 touchdowns so far. Terrell Newby leads Nebraskas ground game and WR Jordan Westerkamp leads a receiving group that boasts four different pass-catchers with at least 11 receptions and a touchdown. Nebraska is 25th in total yards per game so there is no doubt they can move the ball and they will likely breeze to a win if they hit their 31.6 points per game average.
Joel Stave has become a more accurate passer this season under Chryst but he has not been able to lead the Badgers to big plays or points on key drives. Corey Clement is still a few weeks away from action and WR Alex Erickson and TE Austin Traylor both suffered injuries during the Iowa game with both listed as questionable for Saturday. That leaves a pretty bare cupboard for the Badger passing game but Nebraska has been awful against the pass so far, allowing 353 yards per game to the opposition. Wisconsin has talent at running back with Taiwan Deal and Dare Ogunbowale but they might be facing some stacked boxes as Nebraska makes Stave prove it as Iowa did last week.
I think the online betting outlets had this right when they released this game as a pickem with both teams looking equally flawed. Each squad is just a year or two removed from being really good so there is talent but the results have been less than ideal as both teams havent been able to overcome poor play, injuries and the details of system changes. You have to give a nod to Nebraska as the home team but the best unit on the field this Saturday will be the Wisconsin defense. Joe Schobert is a pass-rushing force and safety Michael Caputo will make it tough on Armstrong to get on track and I expect that Nebraska will have a tough time moving the ball. Can Wisconsin overcome the injuries and find some offense on the road? If yes, this one will be another UW win. The offensive line for Wisconsin isnt the NFL-level unit it has been for a while now but they still make enough room for the running game and Chrysts control passing game should see success against a struggling pass defense. This game might be ugly from front to back but at this point, it seems like Wisconsin is better equipped to keep it together while Nebraska has faltered under too many circumstances to be trusted, even at home. It might be a coinflip but I think the Badgers come up with a straight-up W in Lincoln after a drag-out game. Wisconsin 24 Nebraska 19
Evergreens Pick to Cover the Point Spread: WISCONSIN
Bet this game at an online sportsbook where your credit card WILL work for deposits and where you’ll receive a giant 50% sign-up bonus up to $1000 in FREE cash! –> MyBookie!
Additional College Football Betting Previews