Fordham vs. Nebraska Odds & Betting Pick: Continue to Fade Struggling Cornhuskers (Saturday, Sept. 4)
Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Adrian Martinez.
Fordham vs. Nebraska Odds
While we have an interesting on-field battle, this Fordham vs. Nebraska game is filled with off-the-field narratives.
Mostly surrounding Nebraska Head Coach Scott Frost, who’s not just on the hot seat, but as The Action Network’s Brett McMurphy reported is under investigation by the NCAA for improper use of analysts during games.
However, do the off-the-field issues have any bearing on the handicapping of this game?
I think, at the minimum, Fordham is intriguing enough of a team to take advantage of the chaos happening in Nebraska. So, let’s dive in and find the best angle for this matchup.
Fordham played fine in the 2021 shortened FCS spring season, compiling a 2-1 record behind an explosive passing attack and solid secondary.
Today, the Rams will get to do something they haven’t done since 1941: Play a game against a Big Ten team. They have, however, played 10 FBS teams over the past decade, compiling a 2-8 record straight-up (SU) and a 5-5 record against the spread (ATS).
Things are centered around quarterback Tim Demorat, who led the Patriot League in completions, attempts, completion percentage, yards, and touchdowns in the three-game season. He’s a big guy, standing at 6-foot-4 and weighing 220 lbs., but he’s also fairly mobile and has shown some athleticism in the past:
#TBT: Best of 2️⃣ 0️⃣ 1️⃣ 9️⃣
— Fordham Football (@FORDHAMFOOTBALL) April 9, 2020
Demorat and Fordham are going to spread the ball around and complete a high percentage of their passes. But they’re going to struggle running the ball, as they averaged just 2.6 yards/carry in their three games last year.
However, that might not matter, as the Fordham offense was the Patriot League’s best by a mile last season, averaging 433.3 yards/game while the second-best offense averaged just 311.3.
The secondary played out of their mind in the shortened season last year. Not only did the Rams hold opponents to a Patriot League-best 136.3 passing yards per game, but they also snagged eight interceptions while allowing just one touchdown pass.
The problem is that Fordham pairs their secondary with a front seven that can’t stop a nosebleed. The Rams defense allowed a staggering 156.3 rushing yards per game at four yards per attempt.
The rush defense eventually “won” out, as Fordham had just the fourth best scoring defense in the Patriot League over the three-game span.
As mentioned, things are tough in Lincoln right now. While tensions were already high among the Cornhusker fanbase, the loss to Illinois — as seven-point favorites at that — has everyone calling for Scott Frost’s head.
This isn’t just a must-win game for Nebraska. Frost and Co. need a massive, blowout victory against this Fordham squad before hosting Buffalo and then playing Oklahoma in Week 4 — a game that, as reported by The Action Network’s Brett McMurphy reported (again), Frost was trying to drop and instead reschedule an easier opponent.
Anything less than covering the 40.5-point spread will be seen as a disaster by the fanbase. The question is if the squad is up to the task.
Martinez led all Big Ten quarterbacks in rush yards last season, and he went to his legs again against Illinois in Week 0. He racked up 111 yards on 17 carries, both stats that led all players on the field that day.
He had some efficiency issues, as he completed just 16 of his 32 attempts. But overall, Martinez stuffed the stat sheet and carried the Nebraska offense – just as he did in 2020, when Nebraska finished 20th in offensive success rate.
Given Fordham’s poor rush defense, I’d expect the Huskers to go to the ground often in this one. However, the rest of the rushing attack was almost non-existent, with Gabe Ervin and Rahmir Johnson totaling just 44 yards on 16 carries (2.8 yards/carry).
It’s true the Huskers have been trying to find a level of consistency in the backfield, but the offensive line needs some blame as well. That was expected, however, as Nebraska has a handful of new faces in that unit.
The Cornhuskers had a middling Big Ten defense last season. But given their 89% defensive TARP rating, they should end up as one of the better defenses in the conference.
However, that didn’t show in their Week 0 loss to Illinois. Bret Bielema grinded them down, and the Fighting Illini’s top two rushing backs went for 120 yards on over four yards per carry.
Meanwhile, when the Illini did pass, their backup quarterback completed 12 of 15 passes for a couple of touchdowns.
I don’t think we can write off the Husker defense just yet, especially given how many returning veterans they have. But they looked very poor in their Week 0 showing and will have to rebound ASAP. Hopefully, playing an FCS offense will provide them the momentum needed.
Fordham vs. Nebraska Betting Pick
The big issue with this game is if we can trust Fordham’s stats. The 2020-21 FCS season provided such a small sample size, it’s hard to make more generalized conclusions about the state of the team.
However, everything indicates that Fordham can be scrappy on both sides of the ball. Demorat seems to have the ability to move the ball, while the defense finished 12th among all FCS teams in Havoc last year.
The issue with Fordham is in the trenches. They can’t run the ball or stop the run, and that could prove disastrous playing against Martinez and the experienced Nebraska defense.
However, Nebraska has their own issues on both sides of the line, and asking them to cover a six-touchdown spread given the state of the organization is too much to ask.
Which is why I’m going to take Fordham in this spot, hopefully at nothing worse than +40.
Additionally, I’m leaning towards the under. If the Fordham secondary plays up to its apparent potential, the Cornhuskers are going to run the ball, and the clock, a whole lot. Plus, it’s worth noting that Nebraska went a ridiculous 7-1 to the under in their 2020 season: