Michigan State vs. Nebraska Betting Odds, Picks: Bet Sparty in Late-Night Big Ten Action (Saturday, September 25)
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Payton Thorne.
Michigan State vs. Nebraska Odds
|Michigan State Odds||-3 (-120)|
|Nebraska Odds||+3 (+100)|
|Moneyline||-280 / +155|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.|
Nebraska and Michigan State are two programs that have both experienced some of the highest of highs in college football and are now amidst a total rebuilding process after the floor dropped out in recent years.
For Mel Tucker and the Spartans, things appear to be going swimmingly in Tucker’s second season on the job as Michigan State is off to a 3-0 start and a No. 20 ranking.
Almost none of that applies to Scott Frost and the Cornhuskers, who are 2-2 with losses to Illinois and Oklahoma.
The Cornhuskers hung tough with the Sooners last week to demonstrate that this isn’t as bad of a team as some college football fans would have you believe. But is Nebraska good enough to slow the roll that Michigan State has gotten off to?
Michigan State vs. Nebraska Betting Preview
Michigan State Offense
It’s amazing what one player can do. After spending the last three seasons with rushing attacks somewhere ranked in the 120’s, Michigan State now ranks 11th in the country with 263.67 yards per game and a Rush Success ranking of first.
It’s literally just Kenneth Walker III doing all of the work, as the Spartans’ offensive line is essentially the same from last year.
Despite Walker rushing for 172 yards last week at Miami, 158 of the yards came outside of the tackles as he accounted for 20 of Miami’s 30 missed tackles. Per PFF, Walker ranks second nationally in yards after contact per attempt (6.53) among backs who have made at least 50 rush attempts.
Payton Thorne has been a huge improvement over Rocky Lombardi from 2020, as Thorne is simply doing nothing to lose games. He hasn’t exactly put up eye-popping numbers this season, but he’s thrown nine touchdown passes and zero interceptions, keeping the Michigan State offense on schedule.
Michigan State Defense
The Spartans didn’t have a banner day against Miami in the 100-degree heat, allowing 388 yards through the air and several big plays to Charleston Rambo and Mike Harley. However, Michigan State generated four turnovers that led to 14 points and prevented the Hurricanes from getting into rhythm.
Of primary concern for Michigan State will be stopping Nebraska’s run game and limiting the damage Adrian Martinez does with his feet. D’Eriq King is a fairly mobile QB and the Spartans limited him to just seven yards rushing.
Turnovers with Martinez have been costly for Nebraska over the past few seasons and Michigan State has done an excellent job winning the turnover margin in each game.
The Spartans will need to force enough pressure and improve upon their Havoc rank of 70th to create as much chaos as possible for Martinez, forcing him into dumb turnovers.
Moral victories don’t count for much, but the Nebraska faithful have to be relatively satisfied with losing a one-score game to Oklahoma.
Martinez had his best game of the season, completing 76% of his passes for 282 yards and a touchdown, but a costly fourth-quarter interception spoiled any hopes of Nebraska mounting a comeback.
The Cornhuskers like to run the ball (63.1% Run Rate) and when the ground game gets going, things bode well for Nebraska. The Cornhuskers averaged over 5.0 yards per carry in their two wins and just 4.1 and 2.5 in their two losses.
While you may not find too many quarterbacks better than Martinez at turning broken plays into positive yards, pass protection continues to be an issue, compounded by Martinez’s propensity to fumble.
The Cornhuskers’ Pass Blocking ranks 114th and last week, Oklahoma sacked Martinez five times. Nebraska ranks 107th in the country with 2.75 sacks allowed per game.
Nebraska’s defense held Oklahoma to just 23 points, the least amount of points the Sooners have scored since a 2016 loss to Houston. The Cornhuskers played keep-away on offense and limited Spencer Rattler’s damage to just 214 yards passing and one touchdown.
Michigan State’s Thorne doesn’t have nearly as high of a ceiling as Rattler, but Nebraska is going to have its hands full doing anything to impede the Spartans’ rushing attack.
Nebraska has allowed over 150 yards rushing in both of its losses, including 194 against Oklahoma. There isn’t a better team in the nation right now at running the ball than Michigan State and Walker, who leads all rushers with 164.3 yards per game.
Nebraska’s key to victory will be to make Michigan State’s running attack at least average and to force Thorne to show that he’s capable of winning a game on his own.
Michigan State vs. Nebraska Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Nebraska and Michigan State match up statistically:
Nebraska Offense vs. Michigan State Defense
Michigan State Offense vs. Nebraska Defense
Pace of Play / Other
Michigan State vs. Nebraska Betting Pick
I was initially worried that the public would be super high on Michigan State after seeing the score against Miami and the general opinion that Nebraska is a lost cause.
The line opened with Michigan State -3.5, before getting bet to where it is now with 85% of the bets on the Spartans.
This game is in East Lansing and the crowd should be loud to welcome home a ranked squad. Walker is going to continue to eat against a below-average Nebraska run defense and if Michigan State never trails in the second half, he’s only going to continue to bully his way through a tired defense.
Martinez will have some success keeping the Spartans on their toes with his dual-threat potential, so this won’t be a runaway, but I like Michigan State to make it 4-0 and I am comfortable backing it to -6.5.
Pick: Michigan State -5 (play to -6.5)
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