Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska Opens as a Slight Favorite over Indiana

September 25, 2022

After a week of “Nebraska vs. Nebraska,” as interim head coach Mickey Joseph put it during the bye week, the Huskers are back facing outside opponents as Indiana visits Memorial Stadium for the first time since 2019.

Nebraska (1-3, 0-1) opened as 2-point favorite over Indiana (3-1, 1-0) at Circa Sports on Sunday. The total opened at 65.5 points.

The Hoosiers dropped their first game of the season, falling 45-24 to Cincinnati at the Bearcats’ Nippert Stadium. Indiana fell behind early, giving up 28 second-quarter points to trail 38-10 at the half. Neither team was able to run the ball with much success (108 combined rushing yards) as the Hoosiers threw the ball 66 times (completing 47%) for just 4.2 yards per attempt, and lost the turnover battle 3-1.

Prior to last week’s loss, Indiana had beaten Illinois 23-20, Idaho 35-22 and Western Kentucky 33-30 (in overtime), all in Bloomington.

After its off week, Nebraska will return to Memorial Stadium for the third consecutive game. If ESPN’s updated FPI ratings are to be believed, this could be a game only a mother could love. FPI ranks Indiana 75th (-1.6) and Nebraska 77th (-2.3). Assuming a 2.5-point home-field advantage, FPI ratings would have the Hoosiers favored by 0.7 points on a neutral field but the Huskers favored by 1.8 in Lincoln.

Essentially, FPI doesn’t see much to separate the two teams four games into 2022 (and the opening line didn’t either). The Hoosiers opened the season in those rankings at 66th (-0.6), the Huskers 35th (8.3). In the preseason, FPI would’ve had Nebraska as an 11.4-point favorite at home.

The latest FPI update projects the Huskers’ 2022 record at 3.2-8.8, meaning two more wins for Nebraska over the remaining eight games. These ratings and projections do change week to week, but here’s how FPI would project the lines for the Huskers’ remaining games based on the current ratings (Huskers’ number in parentheses): Indiana (-1.8), at Rutgers (+2.1), at Purdue (+12.3), Illinois (+4.2), Minnesota (+15.8), at Michigan (+24.1), Wisconsin (+10.6) and at Iowa (+11.4).

The Huskers and Hoosiers kick things off at 6:30 p.m. CT at Memorial Stadium Saturday night. The game is on the Big Ten Network.

Elsewhere in the Big Ten this week:

Illinois at Wisconsin -9: The Illini (3-1) are rising after shutting out Chattanooga 31-0 last time out. The Badgers (2-2) after Ohio State did whatever it wanted in a 52-21 win.

Michigan at Iowa +9: The Wolverines (4-0) benefitted from a fumble on the opening kickoff, and ensuing touchdown in a seven-point win over Maryland, but the run game looks like a weapon as Michigan rushed for 243 yards on 6.1 yards per carry against the Terms. Iowa (3-1) is allowing 73 yards per game on 2.2 yards per carry and beat Rutgers last week.

Purdue at Minnesota -8: The Gophers (4-0) smashed three overmatched nonconference opponents to start the season and then smashed Michigan State, 34-7, in East Lansing to offer some evidence that this is for real. Minnesota is averaging 46 points per game and allowing 6. Purdue (2-2) sweated out a two-point win over Florida Atlantic without starting quarterback Aidan O’Connell.

Northwestern at Penn State -22: Since beating Nebraska in Week 0 the Wildcats (1-3) have lost three straight one-score games, the latest 17-14 to Miami (Ohio). Penn State (4-0_ avoided a big-win hangover after beating Auburn with an only slightly sluggish 33-14 win over Central Michigan.

Michigan State at Maryland -4: Picture to trend lines headed in opposite directions and they intersect in the state of Michigan. That was last week as the Spartans (2-2), a week after losing at Washington, were completely dominated at home by Minnesota. The Terrapins (3-1) dropped their first game of the season in Ann Arbor, but looked game against the fourth-ranked Wolverines.

Rutgers at Ohio State -39: The Scarlet Knights (3-1) couldn’t get it done at night, falling at home to Iowa 27-10. The Buckeyes (4-0) jumped out to a 28-0 lead in the first 18 minutes of their game against Wisconsin and coasted from there. That was without wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba who missed his second game this season due to injury, which is perhaps the scariest news for the rest of the Big Ten.

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