College Football Odds & Picks for Michigan vs. Nebraska: Betting Guide For Big Ten Duel

College Football Odds & Picks for Michigan vs. Nebraska: Betting Guide For Big Ten Duel article feature image
Credit:

Steven Branscombe/Getty Images. Pictured: Adrian Martinez (left) and Rahmir Johnson (right).

Michigan vs. Nebraska Odds

Michigan Odds -2.5 (-115)
Nebraska Odds +2.5 (-105)
Moneyline -135 / +115
Over/Under 50 (-115 / -105)
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
TV ABC
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Expect an electric atmosphere in Lincoln when the undefeated Michigan Wolverines visit Memorial Stadium for only the second time in the history of the storied program.

That trip came back in 2012 when Nebraska, led by another quarterback named Martinez (Taylor), prevailed 23-9 in primetime over a ranked Michigan team. Eerie.

The Wolverines did also make a trip to Nebraska to face the Cornhuskers back in 1911 at Nebraska Field when the two teams played to a 6-6 tie. Overall, these programs have actually met only 10 previous times with Michigan owning a slight head-to-head to lead of 5-4-1.

Can Nebraska even the score, or will Michigan continue its unblemished season? Let’s take a look.


Michigan vs. Nebraska Betting Preview

Saturday, Oct. 9
7:30 p.m. ET
ABC

Michigan Wolverines

Stay Clean

You have to give Jim Harbaugh credit for how clean this Michigan team has played so far this season.

  • The Wolverines have allowed the fewest tackles for loss per game in the country. It will be a fascinating battle against a Nebraska defense that ranks top-10 in that category.
  • They have allowed only one sack and turned it over once this season. The offensive line bottling up the Wisconsin pressure was very eye-opening for me.
  • Cade McNamara has made zero turnover-worthy throws and has now gone nine straight games without a turnover.

Harbaugh did some other things last week against Wisconsin that I really liked.

The unpredictability factor of using backup JJ McCarthy, who ran and threw for a touchdown, adds another layer for defenses to have to worry about.

Michigan also threw the ball 30 times and went for it on fourth down five times as the matchup dictated it’d likely not be able to run it much against the Badgers.


Creating Havoc

I’ve been extremely impressed with this Michigan defense under new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald.

It all starts with the pressure it’s generated off the edge with David Ojabo and potential first-round draft pick defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, who ranks top-25 in the nation in tackles for loss and sacks despite often facing double teams that open up opportunities for his friends in the front seven.

This defense is flying around with an abundance of confidence and swagger.

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Nebraska Cornhuskers

The Blackshirts Are Back

After Illinois handed Nebraska a demoralizing Week 0 defeat, the Huskers have been trending in the right direction.

They’ve covered five in a row since that season-opening loss and really should have a better overall record than 3-3 to show for it, thanks to three one-possession losses.

The defense, in particular, has looked flawless over the past two games, holding Northwestern and Michigan State to 108 yards rushing on 56 carries for a sub-two-yard average. That’s a great sign ahead of a matchup with Michigan’s rush-heavy offense.

The Cornhuskers defense has allowed only seven points over the previous six quarters against a pair of Big Ten opponents. They even pitched a second-half shutout against Michigan State, allowing only 15 total net yards and zero first downs. They followed that up with a 56-7 drubbing of Northwestern.

Over its past four games against FBS teams (throwing out Fordham), Nebraska’s defense (throwing out special teams scores) has allowed an average of only 11 points per game.

Oklahoma was the only opponent of that group to put up more than 13 points and the Sooners only scored 21, which is very low for Lincoln Riley’s bunch.

Garrett Nelson and JoJo Domann are the stars of the show, but the entire defensive unit oozes with size and experience.


Clean It Up

Can the Huskers clean up the mistakes that have cost them dearly under Frost? Just this season…

  • Illinois recovered a fumble for a touchdown and recorded a safety
  • Nebraska had two touchdowns called back due to penalties against Buffalo
  • Michigan State returned a punt for a touchdown to force overtime and then intercepted Martinez to seal the deal
  • Oklahoma returned a blocked extra point for two points the other way and sealed the game with an interception

If you pull up almost any special teams statistic, you’ll see Nebraska’s name near the bottom of the list. Even kicker Connor Culp has made only 5-of-10 field goal attempts with four misses from under 40 yards.

These are all bad signs against a Michigan team that ranks in the top five nationally in special teams this year by almost any overall metric. And unlike Culp, UM kicker Jake Moody has been firing on all cylinders.

If this game remains competitive throughout, a key turnover or special teams play could swing both.


Michigan vs. Nebraska Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Michigan and Nebraska match up statistically:

Michigan Offense vs. Nebraska Defense

Offense

Defense

Edge

Rush Success
18
41
Line Yards
70
49
Pass Success
47
78
Pass Blocking**
60
30
Big Play
90
13
Havoc
1
58
Finishing Drives
33
53
**Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Nebraska Offense vs. Michigan Defense

Offense

Defense

Edge

Rush Success
1
27
Line Yards
21
57
Pass Success
19
65
Pass Blocking**
122
12
Big Play
76
38
Havoc
64
40
Finishing Drives
2
28
**Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling
4
48
PFF Coverage
35
23
Middle 8
45
36
SP+ Special Teams
3
124
Plays per Minute
103
49
Rush Rate
70.7% (5)
63.6% (20)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.


Michigan vs. Nebraska Betting Pick

I’m siding with the home underdog Cornhuskers. Yes, there’s a chance they could give this game away with mental mistakes, but I like a few angles here.

I spoke about the Nebraska run defense, which I think can bottle up a Michigan rushing attack that struggled to get anything going against both Rutgers and Wisconsin.

Can Michigan take advantage through the air? Roman Wilson had himself a big game at receiver last week and Cornelius Johnson has had flashes of brilliance, but I think this is the game Michigan really misses injured No. 1 receiver Ronnie Bell. The Nebraska secondary has loads of experience and should have the edge when the Wolverines try to go deep.

When Nebraska has the ball, I think Adrian Martinez can have success running the option part of the Nebraska offense. Michigan struggled with eye discipline against Noah Vedral and Rutgers’ zone-read options in the second half. Well, Nebraska can do the same but at the varsity level, ranking in the top five nationally in Rush Success Rate.

Martinez can run the triple option as well as any QB in the country, and he’s also a threat to throw the ball to one of a number of explosive weapons, led by tight end Austin Allen and wide receivers Samori Toure and Zavier Betts.

This will be the best offense Michigan has faced by miles this year.

Additionally, I loved some of the offensive line changes Nebraska made last week against Northwestern, moving freshman Teddy Prochazka to left tackle and Nouredin Nouili to left guard while flipping Turner Corcoran to right tackle. That moved the struggling Bryce Benhart and Ethan Piper to second string and seemed to pay immediate dividends.

And while I’ve liked many things I’ve seen from Michigan so far this season, it’s had everything go right. The Wolverines started with four inferior opponents at home and then beat what we’ve come to find out is a completely incompetent Wisconsin team.

The Wolverines have also yet to face adversity, having scored first in every game and trailing for zero seconds. That could all change very quickly in Lincoln on Saturday night.

Pick: Nebraska +3.5 (Play to +3)

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