Georgia Southern vs. Nebraska Odds, Picks: Backdoor Open for Eagles Saturday
Steven Branscombe/Getty Images. Pictured: Nebraska head coach Scott Frost.
- After returning from Dublin, Nebraska improved to 1-1 by beating North Dakota by 20+.
- Meanwhile, Georgia Southern dropped 59 on Morgan State in their season opener.
- Anthony Dabbundo dives into this clash and offers up his top selection.
Georgia Southern vs. Nebraska Odds
Nebraska responded to its embarrassing Week 0 loss against Northwestern in Ireland and beat North Dakota by three touchdowns last week. The Cornhuskers didn’t exactly exceed expectations beating an FCS school by just 21 in their home opener, but they faced a difficult travel situation transitioning from Dublin back to Lincoln.
The Cornhuskers welcome Georgia Southern to Lincoln this week after the Eagles trounced FCS Morgan State, 59-7, last week. This is by no means a typical Georgia Southern team as the Eagles no longer run the triple option and attempted 46 passes last week.
The market has moved toward Nebraska — much like it did in the Cornhuskers’ opener — but is Clay Helton’s squad being underrated in his first year with the program?
Georgia Southern began to pivot away from the triple option a couple of years ago, but they’re now fully a spread offense under Helton. The Eagles have quite a bit of returning production on both sides of the ball as they return eight starters back on offense and six on defense.
Even though it didn’t work out for Helton at USC — he’s hardly the only coach to struggle there — I still believe in him and a program of Georgia Southern’s size getting him is a major win.
Helton brought in former Buffalo quarterback Kyle Vantrease via the transfer portal and he threw for more than 350 yards in the win last week. For context, no Georgia Southern quarterback threw for more than 210 yards in any game last season.
Nebraska’s defense looked vulnerable on the ground in each of its first two games and although the Eagles mostly were successful through the air last week, the ability to run on the Cornhuskers will be the key to keeping the offense in positive situations.
We don’t really know what to expect from the Eagles ground game under Helton.
Vantrease has 29 touchdowns to just 14 interceptions in his college career, but he received excellent PFF grades for his passing in 2019 and 2020. Since he became the starter at Buffalo in 2019, Vantrease has 35 big-time throws and 24 turnover-worthy plays.
He’s clearly a capable and extremely experienced passer in his sixth year of college. He could find success exposing the Cornhuskers, just as the Wildcats did two weeks ago in Dublin.
The early returns on Nebraska’s offense were pretty encouraging. The Cornhuskers have a new offensive coordinator in Mark Whipple, who came from Pittsburgh after the Panthers’ historic season in 2021.
The problems came from turnovers — they have four through two weeks now — and second-half regression.
Northwestern held Nebraska to a 31% Success Rate and a 35% Success Rate in the third and fourth quarters.
The Passing Down Success Rate also cratered in the second half. When you combine that with an underwhelming showing against North Dakota, you begin to wonder if the Cornhuskers are set to underperform once again this season.
A lot of the mistakes of the past under Scott Frost seem to be repeating themselves — turnovers, showing up flat as a big favorite and struggling to manage late-game situations.
Georgia Southern vs. Nebraska Betting Pick
I know Nebraska was a major positive regression candidate after finishing last season 3-9 (1-8 in Big Ten) with a positive point differential. However, this isn’t a great spot for the Cornhuskers with No. 7 Oklahoma looming next week.
The Cornhuskers should be able to win this game somewhat comfortably given their talent edge, and thus, could be caught flat-footed looking ahead to next week’s contest with the Sooners.
Helton is the better coach in this matchup and Vantrease could find some success down the field, exploiting a Cornhuskers’ defense that failed to prevent a bad Wildcats offense from moving the ball.
The backdoor will be open if Nebraska goes up by 24 points and starts to turn one eye toward OU. The market steamed Nebraska right past 21 during the week, which is where I want to buy in on the other side.
I’d bet Georgia Southern — and trust Helton and Vantrease to hang around — at +21 or better.
Pick: Georgia Southern +22.5 (Play to +21)