College Football Pick
This is a match between two teams in the top 11 of the AP Polls, but it doesn’t really feel like it. Nebraska has escaped numerous times this year, while Wisconsin, already with two losses, is a decent-sized favorite. At home, the Badgers are currently an 8.5 point favorite
This line seems a bit big, considering that of the Badgers’ five wins, only two of them were by more than eight points. Sure, they have a big win at Michigan State, but the Spartans don’t even have a Conference win yet. Another thing going against Wisconsin is that they just lost their leading tackler, linebacker Jack Cichy for the season, so that’s an immediate worry.
But the counter to all of that is that Nebraska is an underwhelming 7-0. The Cornhuskers escaped against Oregon and have had trouble pulling away from Four weaker teams in Big Ten play. On the other end of that, we at least know they play to the level of competition.
When these teams met last year, the Badgers used a 13-point Fourth quarter to comeback and win 23-21 in Lincoln. As expected, the Wisconsin defense was the high point, although quarterback Joel Stave did pass for 322 yards for them.
Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. was not very good in that Game and will have to put in a better performance if the Cornhuskers want to win, or at least cover. He completed just 11-of-28 passes for 129 yards, while also adding 50 yards on the ground. Armstrong hasn’t been much better passing the ball this season, which is surprising in his senior campaign. He’s completing 55.4% of his passes for 11 touchdowns and five picks, to go with another six touchdowns on the ground.
However, Armstrong’s thrown interceptions in the last three Games and it’s likely Nebraska will run as much as possible behind him as well as Terrell Newby and Devine Ozigbo if he’s healthy. The bad part is that Wisconsin has one of the best run defenses in the country and if the Huskers can’t run, Armstrong will be asked to win with his arm again, which isn’t a good thing.
On the other side, Wisconsin’s offense is of worry and a main reason they continue to win Games close more often than not. Alex Hornibrook had a nice first start against Michigan State, but he hasn’t really done anything since, now with three TDs and five INTs in Four starts.
Nebraska’s defense has been fairly solid this season and should have what it takes to keep Wisconsin around. The Badgers will lean on Corey Clement once again, who’s had 60 carries and 298 yards over the last two Games. If the Huskers can at least limit what Clement can do, similar to what Iowa did last week, they’ll be in striking distance most of the way.
Wisconsin is no doubt a good team, but this spread seems large for an offense that averages 24.3 points per Game.
The Cornhuskers are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 road Games and 3-0-1 ATS in their last Four against a team with a winning record. The Badgers have covered in five straight Big Ten Games and are 4-1 ATS in their last five home Games.
Our Pick – 2 of the last 3 in this series have been decided by a field goal or less. Both teams have been stingy on defense this year and while we think Wisconsin is the better team, we expect a low scoring Game which should give some added value to that +8.5. Nebraska +8.5