With football confirmed to be on the horizon in the Big Ten, the oddsmakers at SportsBettingDime.com have put out a ton of Big Ten-related prop bets, odds, and over/unders for the year ahead.
Ohio State is the favorite to win the conference. Shocker. But there’s plenty of interesting Husker odds. Let’s dive in.
Odds to win the Big Ten West: 7/1 (+700), 4th-best
Odds to win the Big Ten Championship: 87/2 (+4350), 8th-best
Over/Under regular season wins: 3.0, 8th-best
Feels like there’s money to be made here on Nebraska. Vegas isn’t too bullish on the Huskers in Year 3 under Scott Frost despite improving win percentages year-over-year. A 3-5 record, however, might have more to do with Nebraska’s schedule than anything else.
In the first iteration of the 2020 AP Top 25 poll—the only one so far to include Big Ten teams—three of Nebraska’s first four opponents landed in the top 12 nationally. Ohio State, whom Nebraska will open its season against on the road, checked in at No. 2. Penn State sat at No. 7 and Wisconsin was No. 12. Nebraska will face both at home.
In total, five of Nebraska’s eight opponents for the year entered the season ranked. The combined record of NU’s eight opponents last year was 68-36.
Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos said Tuesday night he doesn’t think anyone from the league office had it out for Nebraska when designing the new schedule. However, he acknowledged that everyone wants the best for their teams.
“Everybody wants to look out for themselves, just like I do,” he said. “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. The important thing along with that is that we keep the unity of the conference and that we’re all in this together in the end.”
Odds to win the Heisman Trophy: Adrian Martinez 95/1 (+9500), 3rd-best
A bit of context here. When Vegas released initial odds back in March of 2019 to win the Heisman Trophy, the Huskers’ starting quarterback had the third-best odds in the entire country. He was +600 to win college football’s proverbial MVP award, tying him with Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts and Ohio State’s Justin Fields. Notably, Martinez was just ahead of Oregon’s Justin Herbert and Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor.
This time around, Fields is the odds on favorite to win the award.
Martinez will be looking for a bounceback campaign for his junior year. The Fresno native is the presumptive favorite to again win the job in camp over the likes of redshirt freshman Luke McCaffrey and true freshman Logan Smothers, but to keep it he’ll need to show improvement on the field.
The 2019 season marked a year-long struggle with accuracy and decision-making for Martinez. His completion percentage dipped from the 64.6% clip he posted as a freshman to 59.4%. He produced fewer touchdowns but his turnovers rose.
Martinez’s up-and-down season resulted (in part, not directly) in offensive stagnation. The Husker offense ended the 2018 season 42nd in SP+, and ended 2019 ranked 41st.
Adrian Martinez Over/Under Passing Yards: 1,835.5
Adrian Martinez Over/Under Passing TDs: 13.5
When things were rolling at the end of the 2018 season, Nebraska was smashing and passing its way to huge offensive days. Martinez ended his first year with 2,617 yards and 17 touchdowns despite breaking off just 7.5 yards per play.
He threw for 1,956 yards and 10 scores in 2019, those his yards-per-pass clip rose to 7.8.
If it feels easy to bet the over, it should be. Martinez has already hit these numbers—with room to spare—in his Nebraska career.
While the quarterback needs to make progress in the diagnosing and decision-making departments, a big year for him won’t just be about what he does. Martinez figures to have the best crop of pass-catchers he’s ever had this year.
Junior college transfer Omar Manning provides a big-bodied target the likes of which he hasn’t really had. Stanley Morgan Jr. in 2018 was the kind of “Throw it up and he’ll come down with it” receiver Manning is, but Manning has four inches on him. When the top-rated JUCO wideout first showed up to campus, Scott Frost said he looked like a Sunday guy already.
Manning with Freshman All-American wideout Wan’Dale Robinson gives Martinez the perfect kind of high-low targets to work with. Robinson was used all over the field his first year, and Nebraska feels it just needs to get him the ball quickly and in space and let him work.
With Travis Vokolek eligible at tight end after sitting out a year per transfer rules in 2019, with Chris Hickman moved out to wideout, with the great big pile of potential that is Alante Brown, Zavier Betts, Jamie Nance, Demariyon Houston, and Kade Warner, Martinez should have plenty of options.
In the past, Martinez has had two, maybe three guys he trusts throwing the ball to. If that does indeed change this season, his production might take a big jump.
Dedrick Mills Over/Under Rushing Yards: 495.5
Mills took the long road to Lincoln. He played as a true freshman at Georgia Tech in 2016 before leaving the team. He then spent two years at Garden City Community College in Kansas before joining the Huskers ahead of the 2019 season. Mills’ recruitment featured relatively low fanfare, and he entered the year expected to serve in more of a complimentary role to since-departed Maurice Washington.
Mills made clear late he’s to be the lead guy in 2020.
The Georgia native put up 745 yards and 10 scores on the ground. He averaged 5.2 yards a carry and totaled 347 yards in his last three games.
Wan’Dale Robinson Over/Under Receiving Yards: 515.5
The talented freshman wideout had 453 a season ago. He did that on 40 catches while splitting his time in the backfield. At certain points throughout the year, though, it’d be more accurate to say Robinson played tailback with doses of wideout mixed in.
The Kentucky native had 88 carries—the third-most on the team—for 340 rushing yards. An injury caused him to miss the second half of a loss to Purdue as well as games against Wisconsin and Maryland.
With JD Spielman’s transfer to TCU, Robinson is Nebraska’s leading returning receiver. He also stands to be the receiver with which Martinez is most comfortable.
The expectation is that Robinson will work much more exclusively at wideout this year, what with the Huskers having options at running back.
A more well-rounded receiving corps and more opportunity could have the shifty wideout who averaged 11.3 yards a catch a season ago looking at a breakout 2020 campaign.