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Michigan State

vs.

Nebraska

Big 10

College Football

Pick

11/16/13

The state of Big Ten football isn't great. Outside of Ohio State, there are a lot of question marks. That starts in this game, which can be considered one of the bigger games in the conference this season. The winner will be at the top of the Legends division and set to face Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship game if they can win their last two games. Led by their defense, the Spartans are -6.5 point favorites on the road at betlonline sportsbook.

At the beginning of the season, there were five teams ranked in the Top 25 and Michigan State wasn't one of them. Entering the final stretch, many consider the Spartans the only team with a chance to take down the undefeated Buckeyes. Of course, that game won't happen unless MSU wins this game. They'll be coming off a bye, but they haven't had great success against Nebraska since the Cornhuskers joined the conference.

Granted they've only played twice, but Nebraska has won both games. That includes a 24-3 home win for the Cornhuskers two years ago. That loss happened to be the only one for Michigan State in the conference during that regular season. Their other loss that year was against Notre Dame. Sound familiar?

Before everyone anoints the Spartans as the best challenge to Ohio State, they have to win this game. The Cornhuskers are coming off a nice win themselves at Michigan. Despite struggling against Minnesota and Northwestern, they dominated the Wolverines on the road winning 17-13 with backup QB Tommy Armstrong Jr. leading the way. The Spartans were on a bye, so that will be something to take into account for this dominant defense.

MSU has allowed just nine points in the past three games. They are third in the country in points allowed per game (11.6), but it's the turnovers they force that may be their strong point. The Spartans are one of the best in terms of turnovers and for more than one game this year, their defense has outscored the offense.

With Taylor Martinez still in question for Nebraska, they may have to roll with Armstrong Jr. again at quarterback. In his spot playing time, Armstrong Jr. hasn't been terrible, but he hasn't done much. He has five passing TDs and six interceptions on the year. The Cornhuskers love the running game and will use Ameer Abdullah as much as possible. He has 1,213 yards this season with seven touchdowns. Of course, MSU has some of the best linebackers in the conference. It will be an interesting battle.

The Spartans offense has been a question all season long, but so has the Cornhuskers defense. For the first time all season, Nebraska looked formidable against Michigan, but that might not be saying much at the moment.

Quarterback Connor Cook has done what was needed from him for most of the season. He doesn't make highlight plays, but Cook has a nice 13-3 TD-INT ratio. The Spartans will be running a lot as usual with Jeremy Langford, who's been carving defenses with four straight 100-yard games and 11 total TDs.

A lot of people doubt the Spartans because their schedule hasn't been great. Will they be able to take that defense on the road to Nebraska where they have struggled before? No matter who's at QB for the Cornhuskers, it won't be an easy task.

The Spartans are 5-0-1 ATS in their last six road games, while the Cornhuskers are 13-1 SU in their last 14 home games.

The betting trends at sportsbook.com show us that the betting public loves the Spartans in this one. 765 of the early action has come in on Michigan State.

Our numbers show this game falling right around the current line. We have Michigan State on top by 6 or 7 points. Not enough of a gap to warrant a play, but that's the way we'll lean here. Neither of these teams has played a difficult schedule, which is likely to show come Bowl time. But the bottom line for us here is that we feel this is Michigan State's year and they're the better team here. They lost  to Nebraska in 2011 and 2012, so a little payback is in order and we think they get it here. Michigan State -5.5.

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