There are worse places to be on a Saturday afternoon than the Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We can expect another raucous atmosphere this Saturday at noon EST when the #19 Michigan Wolverines play host to the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Questions abound for both schools, as they are each dealing with injuries to key parts of the offense. For Nebraska, freshman QB Adrian Martinez is headed towards a game-time decision with a knee injury, but some reports point to him giving it a go.
Over on the Michigan side of the ball, junior RB Karan Higdon was a surprising late scratch for last week’s tilt against SMU with an undisclosed injury. Head coach Jim Harbaugh indicates that he expects him to play this week, but that doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence due to last week’s scratch which came out of nowhere.
Let’s take a look at what the oddsmakers say as we get set to break down this intriguing matchup of a pair of Big 10 schools.
Nebraska @ Michigan, 12 PM EST, FS1
- Nebraska +17.5 (-105)
- Michigan -17.5 (-115)
- Nebraska +725
- Michigan -1000
- Over 50 (-115)
- Under 50 (-105)
Nebraska vs. Michigan Pick
It has been an incredibly tough start for Nebraska. The season opener against Akron was cancelled due to weather concerns, and the Cornhuskers followed that up with a pair of tough losses. The school fell to Colorado by a score of 33-28 in Week 2, and followed that up with a disappointing 24-19 loss to Troy last week.
Martinez led the offense against Colorado before going down to injury late in the game, and he demonstrated exactly why the school is so high on him. He completed 15 of 20 for 187 yards, one score and one pick, and added on a line of 15/117/2 on the ground.
Last week, sophomore Andrew Bunch was handed the keys to the offense, and he delivered an uneven performance. He completed 23 of 36 for 226 yards, two scores and two picks on the day as the school went down to defeat to the Troy Trojans.
All told, Nebraska is averaging 465 total yards and 23.5 points on offense, while the defense is giving up an average of 324 yards and 28.5 points per game. The defense has generated 10 sacks and two turnovers so far this season.
For Michigan, the season started off with a disappointing 24-17 loss to Notre Dame, the current #8 team in the nation. Harbaugh and the Wolverines were subjected to heavy criticism after the game, as there was a lot of chatter going around about the squad’s effort in the game.
That talk has died down after the school delivered a pair of impressive victories. In Week 2, Michigan dominated Western Michigan by a final score of 49-3. They followed that up by dropping the hammer on SMU last week to the tune of 45-20.
Junior Shea Patterson has been leading the charge on offense. He was uneven against the Fighting Irish, but Patterson has more than delivered in the school’s pair of victories. On the year, he’s thrown for 589 yards, six TDs and two picks.
Higdon remains the leading rusher despite missing last week’s tilt, while sophomore wideout Donovan Peoples-Jones has been the top target in the passing attack, hauling in 14 balls for 159 yards and four scores so far.
In total, the offense is generating 397 total yards and 37 points per game, while the defense is giving up 276 yards and 15.7 points per game. The defense has also generated six sacks and three turnovers so far, including one pick six.
Expectations are vastly different for the schools, as Michigan is currently projected for nine wins and has odds of 4/1 to take down the Big 10. For Nebraska, the current benchmark is seven wins, while the club has odds of 30/1 to secure a Big 10 title.
Looking ahead to next week, Nebraska closes out the month with a home game against the Purdue Boilermakers. For Michigan, it’s a trip to Northwestern for a 4;30 PM EST kickoff against the Wildcats next Saturday.
These two schools have met four times over the past 13 years. Michigan is 1-3 straight up and against the spread, while the Over has come in twice. The last meeting took place back in 2013, a 17-13 road victory for Nebraska.
While new Nebraska head coach Scott Frost is clearly looking to put his stamp on things, this is far from a rebuilding year for the Cornhuskers. The school has talent on both sides of the ball, and it’s better on an overall basis than its 0-2 mark suggests. That said, being better on paper than the record suggests doesn’t mean all that much when a team doesn’t deliver on the field.
For Michigan, currently ranked #19 in the nation, there are greater ambitions at hand. The club clearly has its sights set on a Big 10 crown, and the clock is ticking for Harbaugh to deliver on the fanfare he generated with the return to his alma mater. Expectations are high in Ann Arbor, and a loss to a visiting 0-2 squad would not go over well.
By all metrics, Michigan looks to be the better squad and should be able to take care of business. The big question comes down to the spread, and a lot of that hinges on the availability of Martinez. If he suits up and is a go, then the Cornhuskers can certainly cover.
If not, the talent gap may be too rich and the Wolverines should be able to completely put this game away after halftime. We’re going to lean towards Martinez playing and Nebraska covering as a result, but monitor the news and the line as the game gets closer, as him not lining up behind center would change our perspective on the margin of victory.