Husker player runs through tackles
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Nebraska Opens as an 8-Point Favorite Over Northwestern

September 26, 2021

The 10-year running score between Nebraska and Northwestern is 252-236, Huskers.

That’s 10 games, Nebraska’s entire decade in the Big Ten. The series over that span is 5-5, and eight of those games have been decided by one score or less including all three Nebraska-Northwestern games of the Scott Frost era.

Another one-score game wouldn’t surprise anyone and that’s what was projected Sunday, just barely, as the Huskers opened as an 8-point favorite at Circa Sports. The total opened at 52.5.

Northwestern (2-2, 0-1) picked up its second win of the season Saturday, beating winless Ohio 35-6. Wildcats running back Evan Hull rushed 22 times for 216 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Northwestern’s defense recorded two interceptions and the Wildcats turned those takeaways into 14 points.

Nebraska (2-3, 0-2) remained stuck on two wins for the second straight week, falling to No. 20 Michigan State 23-20 in overtime in East Lansing. The Spartans beat Northwestern 38-21 in Evanston to open the season.

ESPN’s SP+ ratings, updated after Saturday’s results, would have Nebraska (ranked 47th nationally) projected to beat Northwestern (82nd) by about 12.5 points. The Football Power Index has the Huskers 26th, up five spots despite the loss to Michigan State, and Northwestern 69th, up three spots from last week. FPI would project a margin of Nebraska -10.5, assuming a 2.5-point home field advantage.

Under Frost, Nebraska is 6-8 against the spread as a home favorite and 9-5 straight up.

The Wildcats are 33-17 against the spread and 24-26 straight up as an away underdog since 2006, Pat Fitzgerald’s first season as head coach.

Northwestern won the first meeting between Fitzgerald and Frost, rallying for a 34-31 overtime win at home in 2018. The Huskers’ returned the favor in Lincoln the following year, winning 13-10 on a field goal as time expired. Despite gaining 442 yards last year in Evanston––only Ohio State would have more against Northwestern’s defense in 2020––Nebraska lost 21-13.

Kickoff on Saturday is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CT. The game will be carried by the Big Ten Network.

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