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Nebraska

vs.

Michigan State

Big 10 Football Pick

11/3/12

In Michigan State's five Big 10 contests this season, the total margin of victory has been 13 points. That's not even three points per game and a main reason why this line is sitting at about one. The Spartans haven't had much home-field advantage this season (2-3 record at home) which is why they are -1.5 home dogs at 5 Dimes Sportsbook. As for the Cornhuskers, they haven't been as good on the road. Their two losses were at UCLA and Ohio State and they barely squeaked by Northwestern in a 29-28 win. Note that 73% of the action thus far at the world largest sportsbook, sportsbook.ag, is on Nebraska.

It will be a battle of two different teams. Michigan State has had trouble scoring all year, failing to hit more than 20 points in six of their nine games (two of those games were against Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan). Their defense has been everything, holding opponents to 15 points per game and keeping the Spartans in reach. Nebraska's offense is their main threat led by Taylor Martinez, scoring close to 40 points per game. As for their defense, they have been inconsistent including giving up 63 points to Ohio State.

Each team is coming off important wins. The Spartans won at Wisconsin, breaking the Badgers 21-game home win streak while the Cornhuskers handled Michigan without Denard Robinson. This game becomes very important in the overall Legends picture in the Big 10 as Nebraska and Michigan are tied with a 3-1 division record. A road win will be very important if Nebraska want to play in the conference championship game.

To do that, Taylor Martinez will have to have a better game than he did last year against Michigan State. Even though Nebraska won 24-3 in that meeting, Martinez only totaled 103 yards and that won't cut it in East Lansing. Rex Burkhead ran for 130 yards and two TDs last year, however he will be out once again due to a knee injury. Ameer Abdullah will take his place and try and do the same against one of the best defensive lines in the conference. Abdullah has had a solid season in the backfield with 716 yards and eight touchdowns. Martinez has been able to move the ball on everyone this year, including Ohio State. He has thrown for 1,781 yards and 16 TDs to go with 461 yards on the ground and six TDs. In recent years, multi-tooled QBs like Martinez haven't been a problem for the Spartans defense.

On the other end, Andrew Maxwell will need to keep throwing because you know the Nebraska defense will put all their focus on stopping running back Le'Veon Bell. That's what every opponent has done to MSU this year and it works as Maxwell hasn't been able to capitalize. While Maxwell does have 2,015 yards, he has nine TDs, five INTs and a completion percentage under 56%. Bell has over 1,000 yards on the season and has eight TDs, but he hasn't had a YPC average above 4.8 in Big 10 play. MSU doesn't really have a top receiver as they've all had drop problems throughout the year, but tight end Dion Sims can be the difference. He returned from an ankle injury last week.

The Spartans are only 2-5 ATS in their last seven games overall and 0-5 ATS in their last five home games. To match that, the Cornhuskers are 2-5-1 ATS in their last eight conference games and 0-5-1 ATS in their last six road games. The under has hit five straight times for Michigan State at home (and every game, but once this season) and seven times in Nebraska's last 10 conference games.

This game is offense vs. defense. Nebraska has no trouble moving the ball and scoring points as their 12.4 yards per point number would suggest. Michigan State however, ranks 118th in the country using offensive yards per point at 18.7. The opposite holds true offensively with Michigan State 23rd in the land at 17.9 while Nebraska 99th in the nation at 13.2. If you're backing Michigan State, you hope they don't fall behind early as they'll be hard pressed to catch up.

Nebraska is already bowl eligible while the Spartans need one more win.  Our model says Michigan State by 4 here and that's the way we'll go with this one. We'll also get to buck the public here which is always a plus. We look for one of the better performances of the year from the Spartans here. Michigan State +1.5

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