Wisconsin Badgers (4-0 SU, 2-2ATS) vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-2 SU, 2-3 ATS)
Date/Time:Saturday, October 7, 2017 at8:00 P.M.EST
TV:Big Ten Network
byJerbeek,Expert FootballHandicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Wisc -11.5/Neb +11.5
Over/Under Total: no line
The Wisconsin Badgers and the Nebraska Cornhuskers will meet in Big 10 conference play on Saturday night. Nebraska is coming off a 28-6 road victory at Illinois to open conference play. Wisconsin played Northwestern in their Big 10 opener and after trailing at half time came out with a 33-24 win. The Badgers and Cornhuskers were expected to battle it out for the Big 10 West division championship so this is a key game for both teams. Wisconsin is 1-0 in conference play while Nebraska is 2-0 with wins against the 2 bottom teams in the Big 10, Illinois and Rutgers.
Wisconsin relies on the same characteristics that have made them successful in the past with a strong running game and a hard nosed defense. The Badgers are led by RB Jonathan Taylor who has rushed for 518 yards through 4 games. QB Alex Hornibrook has a completion percentage of 66.7% and has thrown for 898 yards and a 9/3 TD/Interception ratio.
The Cornhuskers are led by QB Tanner Lee who is a Jr. transfer from Tulane. Lee had a lot of hype coming into the season but as struggled mightily the first 4 games throwing 9 interceptions and only 7 touchdowns in the first 4 games with 3 of those interceptions being returned for touchdowns. Lee did settle down and had a good game in Illinois as he threw for 246 yards, 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. One of the keys for Nebraska is to protect the QB and that has been a struggle all season as the Cornhuskers are using several inexperienced lineman. The Cornhusker are expected to use a RB committee as starting RB Tre Bryant has missed the last 3 games with injury but is hoping to be back. Bryant rushed for 192 yards in the first game of the season and was having a good game against Oregon before injuring his knee. If Bryant cant go the duties will fall to Mikale Wilbon and Devine Ozigbo. Ozigbo saw his first action of the season in week 4 and responded with 101 yards on 24 carries and followed that up with 106 yards rushing against Illinois. Nebraska did get back their leading WR in week 4 as Stanley Morgan who made 8 catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. Nebraska may also get a huge addition in the secondary as safety Chris Jones has returned to practice and will be a game time decision. Jones was expected to be one of the Huskers top defenders this season but injured a knee over the summer and has yet to see any game action.
Wisconsin will lean on their strong running game as they have averaged 5.1 yards per rush against teams that average giving up 4.2 yards per play. The Badgers have also been successful when they throw the ball as they are averaging 9.8 yards per attempt against teams that give up 7.1 yards. Overall the Badgers average 6.6 yards per play against teams that give up 5.4 yards per play.
With the struggles of Tanner Lee, Nebraska has leaned on the rushing game a bit more in their last 2 wins against Rutgers and Illinois. They will find that task a bit more difficult against the Badger defense. The Cornhuskers have averaged 4.2 yards per rush against teams that average 3.6 yards per rush. As stated the Husker passing game has been below average as they have gained 6.7 yards per pass attempt against teams that give up 6.8 yards per play. When combining that with the interceptions it explains the problems that the Cornhuskers have been having in moving the ball. Overall the Huskers are bit above average as they have gained 5.4 yards per play against teams that give up 5.1 yards per play.
Wisconsin has been very good defending the run game as they averaged giving only 2.4 yards per rush against teams that average 4.1 yards. In the passing game they have given up 5.5 yards per attempt against teams that average 6.7 yards per pass attempt. Overall they have allowed only 4.0 yards per play against teams that average 5.3 yards per play.
On defense, Nebraska spent a lot of money to bring in Defensive Coordinator Bob Diaco. The defense struggled early, especially in the first half against Oregon when they gave up 42 points; however, the Blackshirt defense has improved immensely in the past 3 games and have actually been keeping Nebraska in games. The Nebraska defense has held opponents to 3.4 yards rushing against teams that average 4.2 yards. In the passing game they have given up 6.7 yards per attempt against teams that average 6.8 yards. Overall they have given up 5.1 yards per play against teams that average 5.5 yards indicating that overall the Huskers have been a bit above average despite the perception that they have really struggled.
Wisconsin has won the last 4 games against Nebraska. In 2016 they won in overtime in Madison and in 2015 they won on a last second field goal in Lincoln. Wisconsin is 9-1 SU on the road the past 3 seasons and 8-2 ATS. Nebraska has not been a tough underdog as they are only 3-8 SU the past 3 years when getting points; however, they 6-4 ATS in those games.
JerbeeksPick to Cover the Point Spread: I look for the Wisconsin run game to be too much for the Cornhuskers. If Nebraska gets behind and has to throw the ball it could spell trouble as QB Lee has shown a propensity for interceptions. I look for Wisconsin to get a road victory and say lay the points as Wisconsin rolls to a 37-17 victory. My recommendation is to play Wisconsin minus the 11.5 points. Move the line on this game up to 20 points by inserting it into a 20 point football teaser at the web’s best sportsbook: 5dimes!