The top Big 10 game for week 12 of the 2011 college football season features two Conference title contenders, with the 16th ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-2) traveling to Ann Arbor, MI to take on the 18th ranked Michigan Wolverines (8-2) this Saturday afternoon (12:00pm ET). Nebraska has won four of their last five games, including a hard-fought 17-14 win at Penn St. last week in which they pushed as 3 point favorites. Michigan has gone 2-2 in their last four games after a 6-0 start; they won 31-14 at Illinois last week to cover as 1 point underdogs. Nebraska is 3-6-1 ATS this season, while Michigan is 7-3 ATS.
The Huskers excel at running the football out of a spread option offense led by triggerman and dual-threat quarterback Taylor Martinez (1,688 passing yards and 10 touchdowns, 768 yards rushing and 9 TDs) that averages 32.9 points per game (36th nationally) and 404.1 yards per game (50th in the nation). The Nebraska defense has allowed 22.2 PPG (36th in the nation) and 352 YPG (37th in the nation) on the season. Michigan also features an offensive attack that is heavily run-oriented, the Wolverines average 231.3 YPG on the ground (13th in the nation) and 32.5 PPG (37th nationally) with QB Denard Robinson leading the way with 910 rushing yards and 12 TDs on the ground and over 1,700 yards passing. The Michigan defense has been stingy all season long where it counts, on the scoreboard, with 15.5 PPG allowed (5th in the nation) and 317.9 YPG surrendered (16th in the nation).
Nebraska vs. Michigan Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Nebraska Cornhuskers +3.5
@Michigan Wolverines -3.5
Over 51 (-110)
Under 51 (-110)
Betting odds taken from BetOnline.com
Nebraska vs. Michigan Pick:
Nebraska is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games as an underdog and 3-7-1 ATS in their last 11 games overall. Michigan is 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games overall and 6-23 ATS in their last 29 Big 10 games. The under is 4-0 in the Cornhuskers’ last 4 games overall and 5-1 in their last 6 road games. The under is 4-0 in the Wolverines’ last 4 games overall and 6-2 in their last 8 games as a favorite. The two teams last met in 2005 in the Alamo Bowl, a game won by Nebraska 32-28 in which the Huskers failed to cover the 10 point line.
With both teams relying on the ground game for the majority of their offense and the Wolverines’ defense allowing over 14 points only once at home this season, points will be at a premium this Saturday. Nebraska has the more vulnerable defense against the run, ranking 66th in run defense with 161.3 YPG allowed, which gives Michigan an added advantage in this game. The Huskers can off-set this disadvantage somewhat by loading up to stop the run since Robinson is not a threat to their excellent secondary as Michigan ranks 89th in the country in passing offense. The spread pick is too close to call in this game, but there is a strong trend that favors a low-scoring game and with both teams playing solid defense, possessing a strong running game and the added factor of late-fall Midwestern weather n coming into play, all of the elements are in play for a low-scoring game. Take the under in this game on what seems to be a relatively high total number for the style of play of the two teams.