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Missouri vs. Nebraska
Betting Line: Nebraska -7.5 o/u 55
Missouri fans are rejoicing at the 7-0 start that their Tigers have put
together. The Big XII upstarts knocked off #1 Oklahoma with relative ease last
week and will now do battle with #14 6-1 Nebraska. The Huskers enter this game
after knocking off the undefeated Oklahoma State Cowboys on the road 51-41. They
will seek to knock off another unbeaten at home after their last home game
resulted in a 20-13 loss to Texas. Both of these teams are highly talented and
they know what is at stake. The winner will be favorite to take the Big XII
North. Let's see how they stack up!
The way Taylor Martinez played against Oklahoma State fans would never have dreamed that he was benched for a time against Texas. Martinez completed 23 of 35 passes for 323 yards and 5 TDs. He also rushed for 112 yards. The freshman was shutdown against Texas the week before, completing only 4 of 12 passes and scoring no TDs. This is the game where we will find out what the youngster is made out of. Missouri has exceptionally good defense, and they will keep the pressure on him. HC Bo Pelini can't rely on Martinez to do everything in this game or his Huskers will falter and ultimately fail.
Blaine Gabbert runs the show for Missouri. The junior has 6 TDs and no INTs in his last 3 games. Last week against Oklahoma he completed 30 of 42 passes for 308 yards and a TD. He doesn't make many mistakes. Gabbert will be facing a tough defense in Nebraska, but they are not unstoppable as Oklahoma State proved by nailing them for 41 points. Other key players on the offense for Missouri are De'Vion Moore, and Jerrell Jackson. The latter reeled in 9 passes for 139 yards and a TD against the Sooners. Moore rushed for 73 yards and 2 TDs. The skill players are able to succeed behind a strong offensive line that has given up only 8 sacks this year. Clearly, this offense can get points on the board.
The defense for the Tigers will give Nebraska everything they want. The Tigers held Texas A&M's high powered offense to just 9 points, and pitched a shutout to Colorado the week before that. Against Oklahoma they allowed 410 yards, but only 27 points. It will be very important for this defense to keep pressure on the young Martinez. They have to force him into making mistakes. Martinez has proved that he can not only scramble, but throw the ball. Pass rusher Jacquies Smith returned against the Sooners and will be a valuable asset for the Tigers in this game.
Who would have thought Nebraska could allow 41 points and still win? The defense was lucky that the offense had their back. Oklahoma State burned them for 495 yards and 41 points last week. This was surprising because before that the largest yardage total they allowed was 315 to Kansas State. Before that it was 299 to Western Kentucky, and 272 to Texas.
This has never been an overpowering defense that will get sacks, but they will have to get pressure on Gabbert to win this game. They might as well not even show up if they cant do that. The Huskers have a solid secondary and will cover the Missouri WRs, but can they stop the run? The only team to not get 100+ yards rushing on them this year was Iowa.
The line currently favors Nebraska as a 7.5 point favorite. This is a large number considering the Tigers are undefeated and coming in after taking down the top team in the country.
Yes, this is a tough spot for Missouri. It's the week after an huge upset over the #1 team in the country and it's incredibly difficult for a college football team not to hit a flat spot after a game of such magnitude. But we simply can't pass up +7.5 points in a game Missouri can win. They have beaten Nebraska 2 of the last 3 years and this Missouri team is better than previous editions. This still sport the #1 yards per point defensive number in the country at a whopping 30, and that's significant.
Schedule strength can be a factor, but we'd point out that they just knocked off the#1 team in the Nation and we'd also suggest that Nebraska hasn't exactly played the toughest schedule either. In fact, Nebraska failed their only test this year against a "good team" by losing to Texas, who may not be that good afterall.
At this stage, there is nothing not to like about Missouri. They certainly won't go down without a fight which makes the +7.5 all the more attractive.