Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Huskers a Heavy Underdog Heading to Ann Arbor to face No. 3 Michigan

November 06, 2022

November always looked tough for the Huskers, and now Nebraska has arrived at the toughest one––undefeated and No. 3 Michigan, on the road. Circa Sports made the Wolverines a 29-point favorite on its opening line Sunday afternoon. The game total opened at 49.5.

Nebraska (3-6, 2-4) fell to Minnesota 20-13 on Saturday despite building a 10-0 halftime lead. The Gophers were 2-21 under Coach PJ Fleck prior to yesterday when trailing at halftime.

Michigan (9-0, 6-0) took a long time to put away Rutgers, trailing the Scarlet Knights 17-14 at halftime, though it felt mostly in control throughout. The Wolverines’ defense only allowed five first downs, all passing, and the offense churned out 282 rushing yards on the day while outscoring Rutgers 38-0 in the second half of the 52-17 win.

The Wolverines seem like a sure bet to move up in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings. No. 5 a week ago, two teams ahead of Michigan lost on Saturday––No. 1 Tennessee fell at No. 2 Georgia and No. 4 Clemson lost at Notre Dame. Along with Georgia, Ohio State and TCU, Michigan is one of four remaining unbeaten teams.

ESPN’s updated FPI rankings kept Michigan at No. 4 this week with a 23.5 rating, still behind two-loss Alabama. Nebraska dropped one spot to 75th with a -2.1 rating. Factoring in a 2.5-point home field advantage, FPI’s ratings would make the Wolverines a 28-point favorite.

This season, Michigan is 5-3-1 against the spread and outperforming the line by an average of 3.7 points per Team Rankings (https://www.teamrankings.com/ncf/trends/ats_trends/). Nebraska is now 3-6 ATS, under performing against the number by an average of 6.9 points, the fourth-worst ATS plus/minus in the country. (Miami, 1-8 ATS, is missing the mark by 13.2 points, the worst in the country, and Oklahoma is next at -7.8.)

The Wolverines, ranked No. 8 in the AP Poll, won 32-29 at Memorial Stadium last year in the most recent meeting between the two schools.

Nebraska and Michigan kickoff at 2:30 pm CT from Michigan Stadium on Saturday with game broadcast by ABC.

Here’s the rest of this week’s Big Ten slate with opening lines:

Purdue at Illinois -4: The Illini (7-2, 4-2) still have a one-game lead on the West field, but are coming off a 23-15 home loss to Michigan State. Illinois out-gained the Spartans by nearly 150 yards but went just one-for-four in the red zone. The Boilermakers (5-4, 3-3), also at home, were handled by Iowa, 24-3. This is a chance for Illinois to keep things tidy in the division race. There are four teams one game behind the Illini and Illinois already has a head-to-head win over three of them–Purdue is the fourth.

Wisconsin at Iowa +2: The winner of this one probably gets to stay in the division-title race for another week, though both have already lost to Illinois. The Badgers (5-4, 3-3) have now won three-of-four under interim Coach Jim Leonhard, the latest an impressive 23-10 win over Maryland. The Hawkeyes (5-4, 3-3) also have a little momentum after the offense finally complemented the defense to a degree that things were mostly comfortable in the win at Purdue.

Northwestern at Minnesota -16: The Wildcats (1-8, 1-5) have Minnesota, Purdue and Illinois left on the schedule. Will they go 0-for-America this season, it’s lone win over Nebraska in Ireland. Looks more likely than not. The Gophers (6-3, 3-3) are bowl eligible and still, according to ESPN’s FPI, the best team in the West.

Indiana at Ohio State -38: The Buckeyes (9-0, 6-0) were not sharp in a 21-7, wind-ravaged win at Northwestern last week. Expect the Hoosiers (3-6, 1-5) to pay the price for that in Columbus this week. Unless it’s windy again.

Maryland at Penn State -12: After letting an opportunity slip away to beat Ohio State, the Nittany Lions (7-2, 4-2) responded impressively, beating Indiana 45-14 in Bloomington. The Terrapins (6-3, 3-3) were held to just 187 yards in Saturday’s loss at Wisconsin. Maryland had gained at least 380 yards in every game this season and had been over 400 yards in six of eight games.

Rutgers at Michigan State -11: The Scarlet Knights (4-5, 1-5) pushed a strong Michigan team more than anyone thought they would for a second straight season. Rutgers needs two more wins to go bowling and finishes the season with Penn State and Maryland. The Spartans (4-5, 2-4) also need a pair of wins from the three remaining games and face Indiana and Penn State after this week.

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