Date/Time: November 16th, 3:30 PM ET
Television: ABC or ESPN2
Spread: Michigan State -6.5
Here at Bang the Book, we are always keeping our eyes open for the best games to bet on each and every week. Of all of the games on the Week 12 docket, the one we are zeroing in on is the game where the Nebraska Cornhuskers host the Michigan State Spartans at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, November 16th.
The Wake Forest Demon Deacons were a complete dud to us last week, and we assure that that is the last time we are going to get in the way of the Florida State Seminoles this year for as long as QB Jameis Winston is upright. Still, a 9-2 ATS record in 11 games thus far this season is nothing to bat an eyelash at, and we are proud of that mark.
The fact of the matter is that this might be the best game of the day that you probably don’t know much about. The Ohio State Buckeyes are going to be waiting in the Big Ten Championship Game, but the question is there as to who is going to be on the other side representing the Legends Division. If Michigan State wins this game, that discussion will be said and done with, as the Spartans will essentially have it all locked up with two games to play in conference. If Nebraska wins though, the Huskers will take the lead in the division and be on the verge of getting back to Detroit once again in what might save Head Coach Bo Pelini’s job.
Nebraska has its share of problems right now. The team really isn’t getting great quarterback play now that QB Taylor Martinez is out for, quite possibly the rest of the season. QB Tommy Armstrong Jr. hasn’t done much, as he hasn’t had a game yet this season in which he has reached even 200 passing yards. He has been picked off six times in his last three starts, though he did go into the Big House last week and lead the team to a win over the Michigan Wolverines 17-13.
We know that, regardless of the defense which will be waiting on the other side of the field, there is a good chance that RB Ameer Abdullah is going to end up getting over 100 yards on the ground. In fact, there hasn’t been a game this season in which he hasn’t had at least 98 yards, and he has carried the ball at least 15 times in all of his games. Abdullah has 1,213 yards rushing this year, and it isn’t impossible to think that he could end up getting to 2,000 when the year is said and done with. He had a workmanlike 27 carries for 105 yards last week in the Big House, and that was what really kept the Children of the Corn on the winning side of that game in shocking fashion.
The Cornhuskers haven’t played the best defensive ball in the world this year, but the one thing they do is harass the quarterback. The team has 30 sacks on the season to lead the conference, and though it only ranks 40th in the country in total defense at 374.9 yards per game and 35th in scoring at 22.8 points per game, the truth of the matter is that, for the most part, this defense has done its job, especially in the last several weeks.
We’re definitely concerned with Michigan State’s ability to move the football in this game. The team had one of the worst offenses in the country to start off the season, and we still aren’t all that sold that Sparty has fixed all of its problems at this point. QB Connor Cook is the better choice as a starting quarterback over QB Andrew Maxwell, who has turned out to be one of the biggest disappointments that the program has ever had at the quarterback position. Still, the only games this year in which the team reached 30 points came against the Youngstown State Penguins, the Indiana Hoosiers, and the Illinois Fighting Illini. Wee.
This is only the fourth road game of the season for MSU, and it is the second legitimate one against a team that is any good whatsoever. The first? A dud of a 17-13 loss against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who have since proven that they aren’t worth their status as the only team in the country that was bowl eligible that went undefeated in the regular season last year.
This defense though, is flat out awesome. The Spartans haven’t allowed a touchdown in over a month, and they have only allowed more than 17 points in a game once this year. Opponents are averaging just 43 yards per game rushing against Michigan State’s defense, though we know that that is going to be tested in this game with Abdullah in the backfield. Nebraska is going to have to do much better than the 209.8 yards per game that MSU is allowing on average if it wants to win this game.
Last season, Nebraska went on the road and put up 473 yards against an equally vaunted Spartans defense. They won the game 28-24, and that marked the fifth straight game in which the Cornhuskers both won and covered the spread against Michigan State. The Spartans have never had any luck in this series, and we don’t see that changing in this one.
There’s a lot of hype here for the Spartans, but at 8-1, color us unimpressed. You’re giving us a good home team in a massive game and 6.5 points against a team that has no offense whatsoever and has to win its games with defense. We’re definitely on board, and we think that Nebraska is going to win this game SU to seize control of the Legends Division for at least one week in the Big Ten before going to the Penn State Nittany Lions next week, a game which we already have circled as potential trouble for Nebraska.
Week 12 College Football Pick of the Week: Nebraska Cornhuskers +6.5
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.