The first game for the 8th ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-0) as a Big Ten 10 team is certainly a big one as they travel to Madison, WI to take on the 7th ranked Badgers (4-0) in a Saturday night (8:00pm ET) battle of unbeatens. The host Badgers have rolled through their relatively easy non-conference schedule, defeating their four opponents by an average score of 49-9, including a 59-10 demolition of South Dakota last week. The Cornhuskers took care of Wyoming on the road last week, winning by a score of 38-14 and covering the 205 point line, but they struggled defensively the previous week in a 51-38 home win over Washington in which they failed to cover the 17 point line.
The host Badgers have adjusted nicely to new starting quarterback and NC State transfer Russell Wilson, who has thrown for over 1,100 yards with 11 touchdowns and only 1 interception will averaging an astounding 12.5 yards per pass attempt in the Badgers run-oriented attack. Wisconsin can still pound the rock with the best of them, averaging 245.5 yards per contest on the ground (13th among FBS teams) while ranking in the top 10 nationally in total YPG with 532.2 (8th) and scoring with 48.5 points per game (6th). Defensively the Badgers have been stingy as usual with 8.5 PPG allowed (3rd in nation) and 246.5 YPG allowed (7th in nation). The Cornhuskers have been up-and-down on offense, despite ranking 13th in the nation in points scored per game with 42.8 and 8th in the nation in rushing YPG with 272.5. QB Taylor Martinez has been inconsistent as a passer, competing 50.8% of his passes, but effective in the running game with 6.7 YPC and 7 TDs this season. Defensively the Husker “Blackshirts” have not been up to their usual standards, ranking in the middle of the pack in points allowed with 22 per game (48th nationally), total yards per game with 349.8 (52nd in nation) and passing yards per game with 216.5 (63rd in nation).
Nebraska vs. Wisconsin Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Nebraska Cornhuskers +9
@Wisconsin Badgers -9
Over 56.5 (-110)
Under 56.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from BetOnline.com
Nebraska vs. Wisconsin Pick:
Amazingly enough the two powerhouse programs have never met before, and the first meeting will likely have a bowl-type atmosphere with up to 20,000 Husker fans expected in Madison. The under is 16-5 in Nebraska’s last 21 games in October, and they are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 road games. Wisconsin is 10-0-1 ATS in their last 11 games overall and 7-0-1 ATS in their last 8 home games. This is the first game in Madison to feature two teams ranked in the top 10 since 1962.
Wisconsin has been about as close to lock to cover the spread as a team can be over their recent history, at home in particular. With Russell Wilson under center, the Badgers have a legitimate aerial attack that can take advantage of a young Nebraska secondary that has been mediocre at best this season. Nebraska does not have the passing game to keep up if the game turns into a shootout, as the Huskers rank 105th in the country with 166.5 yards per game through the air. For the first time in a long time, Wisconsin has an offense that opponents cannot stop simply by loading up at the line of scrimmage to stop the run, and with their formidable defense and the rabid home crowd in Madison behind them it is tough to pick against the Badgers. Take Wisconsin to cover at home in a game that will not be as aloes as the lofty rankings of the two teams would suggest.