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Michigan State vs. Nebraska Football Pick with Analysis

10/29/11

The Michigan State Spartans will try to avoid a letdown on Saturday when they play their third ranked opponent in as many weeks. The Nebraska Cornhuskers (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten) will host the Spartans (6-1, 3-0) off their miraculous 37-31 home victory against Wisconsin last week that ended with a game-winning Hail Mary touchdown pass as time expired.

Game time is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. (ET) with television coverage provided by ESPN. The Cornhuskers opened as 3.5 point favorites against Michigan State and have gone 4-0 straight-up in their home games so far but 0-4 against the spread.

Nebraska did cover the spread in a 41-14 rout of Minnesota on the road last Saturday, building a 34-0 halftime behind a strong running game that finished with 346 yards on 56 carries. Cornhuskers quarterback Taylor Martinez did not need to throw the ball to beat the Golden Gophers, as he ended up with 162 passing yards and 52 on the ground while running back Rex Burkhead paced the rushing attack with 117 yards on 23 carries and scored one touchdown.

The Spartans have not played Nebraska since they met in the 2003 Alamo Bowl, with the Cornhuskers earning a 17-3 victory. Michigan State has essentially played bowl games each of the past two weeks, beating intrastate rival Michigan 28-14 on October 15 before handing the Badgers their first loss of the season.

First place in the Legends Division will be on the line this time, and the Spartans will be hard-pressed to duplicate the finish they used to top Wisconsin. They blew a 31-17 lead early in the fourth quarter, but QB Kirk Cousins completed a 44-yard bomb to wide receiver Keith Nichol on the game's final play to pull off the upset as 7-point home underdogs.

With that win, Michigan State is now the top-ranked Big Ten school in the BCS at No. 11 while Nebraska is three spots back at No. 14. The winner of this matchup could get a rematch with the Badgers down the road in the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game on December 3 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The Cornhuskers still have to visit Penn State on November 12 and Michigan the following week for their two toughest remaining games after facing the Spartans. They split their first two conference road games, losing at Wisconsin on October 1, 48-17.

Bottom Line : After getting blown out by Wisconsin and then falling way behind Ohio State the following week before coming back to win, not many figured Nebraska would be in the Big 10 picture, let alone ranked 13th in the country! Having seen both of these teams several times this year, it seems clear to us that one team, Michigan State, belongs while the other, Nebraska does not.

Using the yards per point method to make a line Nebraska would be a 1 or 2 point favorite. Our score prediction model has a predicted outcome of Michigan State 26 Nebraska 21. We're more than happy to take any points we can get with what we feel is the better team. Michigan State +4

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