Northwestern +6.5 vs Nebraska
A year ago Northwestern went into Lincoln, Nebraska and stunned the Huskers 28-25. Now Nebraska gets a chance to extract a little revenge in front of what is expected to be 30,000-35,000 Husker fans making the trip to Evanston. But this game isn’t about the home field disadvantage (in the case of the ‘Cats), this contest provides some very interesting matchups between both teams.
Nebraska is a long, long way from the having the vaunted “Black Shirt” defense they touted years ago. Coming off a game in which they gave up 61 points to Ohio State, the Huskers rank 91st against the run. Northwestern has faced their own issues on the defensive side of the ball ranking 104th against he pass and 64th overall in yards given up per game.
Offensively, both teams should fare very well. Northwestern loves to run the ball out of the spread formation with RB Venric Mark leading the way. Mark will have a huge day against a Nebraska defense that cannot figure out how to stop a spread offense. At the same time, the Wildcats have done a great job taking care of the ball, ranking 20th in turnovers per game. In other words, Northwestern won’t beat itself. Nebraska certainly has the firepower to put up points on just about anyone in the Big Ten and they should be able to break down the Wildcat defense behind the legs of QB Taylor Martinez, bruising RB Rex Burkhead and the electric Ameer Abdullah. The big question – can Nebraska take care of the ball (111th in turnover margin) and get enough stops to outscore the Wildcats?
What Will Happen: Nebraska has had two weeks to stew over the embarrassing blowout loss to Ohio State and although Nebraska fans will greatly outnumber Northwestern fans this Saturday, Ryan Field has been a sneaky tough place to play for visiting teams. This game will go back and forth for four quarters coming down to the question of who can make the big stop or get a big turnover in the last fifteen minutes. I don’t trust Nebraska’s ability to hold on to the ball. Northwestern has a great shot to pull the upset in this game, but even if they’re down 10-13 points late, they have the ability to exploit the Nebraska defense for a backdoor cover – getting almost 7 points is a gift. Having said that, no backdoor cover is needed in this one: ‘Cats spoil the Huskers chance at revenge.
Prediction: Northwestern 38 Nebraska 35
The Play: Northwestern +6.5
ATS Record: 4-5