Wisconsin Badgers vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers Pick 11/16/19

by | Nov 12, 2019 | cfb

Wisconsin Badgers (7-2 SU, 5-4 ATS) vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-5 SU, 1-8 ATS)
NCAA Football Week 12
Date and Time:Saturday, Nov, 16 at 12pm ET
Where:Memorial Stadium

Point Spread:WISC -13.5/NEB +13.5 (Best Odds)
Over/Under Total:51

Expectations are a funny thing in College Football. Given the constant roster changes, injuries, and just the fact that it’s hard to predict what a bunch of 20-year olds will do, it would seem like we shouldn’t attach a lot of buzz to any one team until we have seen what they bring to the field. Obviously, that isn’t what we do, and there are several teams each year that seem like they are destined to come up short of what some think they should be. Nebraska might be “Exhibit A” of failure to meet the hype this season as the Huskers have not been able to reach the standard that many had thought was a given in Scott Frost’s second year as coach. Nebraska welcomes Wisconsin to Lincoln this weekend, and at 4-5, the Huskers need to win two of the last three just to reach bowl eligibility. The Badgers have effectively been removed from the CFB picture after back-to-back losses in October, but a Big Ten West title is still a possibility if they can run the table. This matchup was supposed to be one of the new classics when Nebraska announced it was joining the Big Ten, but the Huskers have been snakebit against the Badgers, winning just one of eight games against Wisconsin since 2011, including some very lopsided blowouts.

Nebraska’s Nightmare

The Huskers are one of the most tradition-rich programs in the game and do not have poor records against many schools, but they have struggled against Wisconsin. In eight games since entering the Big Ten, Nebraska has given up an average of 337 rushing yards to the Badgers, twice allowing 500 yards on the ground, and Jonathan Taylor has 470 yards in his two career games against the Huskers. The Nebraska defense is 83rd against the run this season and 74th in total yards. Another sub-par defensive performance is likely to push this team to another loss. On the season, Nebraska is just 1-8 against the spread. Only Akron at 0-9 has a worse ATS record this year, and that one ATS win is tied with only four other teams in the NCAA for second-worst. Simply put, it has been hard to win money as a Husker fan. This will be just the third time Nebraska is an underdog in 2019, and they haven’t fared well in the other two, losing decisively to Ohio State and Minnesota.

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Back on Track?

After a couple of iffy efforts against Illinois and Ohio State, Wisconsin got back to business against Iowa last week. Jonathan Taylor rushed for a season-high 250 yards, including 135 yards in the fourth quarter against a Hawkeye defense that hadn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher all season. Jack Coan was efficient as usual, and Quintez Cephus chipped in a couple of big receptions en route to the Badgers seventh win of the season. That trio has been the motor for a Wisconsin offense that is averaging nearly 35 points per game, with six different Badgers have at least 18 receptions, so defenses can be made to pay if they invest too many to stop Taylor or Cephus. The Badger defense is one of the best in the nation and remains in the top-10 in yards and points allowed.

Nebraska Limitations

Injuries have not been kind to the Huskers and despite coming off a bye, they are still dealing with some banged-up starters. Most notably, Wan’Dale Robinson has been limited by an ankle injury. The talented freshman is second on the team in receptions and has routinely carried the ball alongside returning kicks but has been held under 3.5 yards per carry since getting injured in the Minnesota game. Adrian Martinez opened the season with Heisman hype, but is he has also been injured and hasn’t thrown for a touchdown in any of his last three games. JD Spielman (35/688/1) has been about the only consistent producer on this offense, and at 19.7 yards per reception, he will be a focal point of a Wisconsin passing defense that is allowing 147 yards per game.

Trend Watch

Something has to give this week as both teams are riding some less-than-impressive ATS trends. Wisconsin is 1-4 against the spread in their last four conference games and 0-5 ATS in the last five against a sub-.500 opponent. Nebraska is 0-6 against the spread in their last six inside the Big Ten and hasn’t picked up an ATS win in any of the last five against an opponent with a winning record. The Under has a 5-1 record in the last six Nebraska home games, but the Over has hit in six of the last eight games between these teams. This line is potentially on the move as Wisconsin opened as 13-point favorites, but they got nearly 75% of the early action, and the line has moved at least a half-point. The Badgers are still getting at least 70% of bets at that line.

There really isn’t anything on paper to suggest this game is going to go any differently than what we have seen since Nebraska joined the Big Ten. Wisconsin has had a reasonably easy time in establishing the run in each game, and Nebraska is again weak against the run. Jonathan Taylor looked special last week, and now this Badger offense will work against a defense that is allowing nearly 30 points per game. Wisconsin is the best team in the NCAA in third-down defense, allowing conversions just 21% of the time and has significant advantages in sacks for and time of possession. Nebraska should start fast, but they are short of playmakers on offense, and the defense just isn’t up to a standard that would scare Wisconsin. A clean game should see the Badgers pull away in the second half and salt this one away rather comfortably with a 37-17 final.

Ted’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread:Wisconsin

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