On Saturday, the No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes (7-1, 5-0 Big Ten) square off with the Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-6, 1-5) at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska. The kickoff is noon ET, and the game airs on Fox.
Ohio State beat the No. 22 Penn State Nittany Lions 33-24 Saturday but failed to cover as 18.5-point home favorites. Heisman Trophy frontrunner QB C.J. Stroud had a mediocre game by his standards.
Stroud completed 22-of-34 passes for 305 yards with just 1 TD and 0 INT. The Buckeyes are 4-3-1 against the spread (ATS) and 5-3 Over/Under (O/U) with the 43rd-toughest schedule in the nation, according to USA TODAY’s Jeff Sagarin.
Nebraska was upset 28-23 as 7.5-point home favorites by the Purdue Boilermakers in Week 9. It was a terrible day for Nebraska’s aerial attack as Cornhuskers senior QB Adrian Martinez completed less than 50% of his passes and threw 4 INTs. The Cornhuskers are 4-4-1 ATS and 4-4-1 O/U with the 28th-toughest schedule, according to Sagarin.
The Buckeyes have won six straight vs. the Cornhuskers (5-1 ATS), and Ohio State has outscored Nebraska 100-24 in the last two meetings.
- Opening Line: Ohio State -16
- Current Line: Ohio State -15.5
- Total (Over/Under): 64.5
According to Pregame.com, we got one-way action on Ohio State, with roughly 85% of the cash and action being on the Buckeyes at publishing. But, Circa Sports in Las Vegas opened Ohio State as a 16-point favorite, so there’s been a “reverse line movement” (RLM) away from Ohio State.
There’s also RLM with the total as well. Nearly 85% of the handle is Over, but the total for Ohio State-Nebraska is down 4 points from the 68.5-point opener.
Nebraska hired head coach Scott Frost in 2018. Since then, the Cornhuskers are 15-17 ATS vs. Big Ten competition, 2-4 ATS as a home underdog with a plus-4.5-spread differential, and 5-5 ATS vs. ranked teams.
Ohio State head coach Ryan Day took over the program in 2018. The Buckeyes are 9-4-1 ATS as a road favorite and 17-13-1 ATS in conference play over that span.
Nebraska is much better than its record, and there’s value in the Cornhuskers getting more than two TDs. Sure, Nebraska is 2-6 overall with a .500 ATS record. But, the Cornhuskers rank 29th in Football Outsiders’ FEI Ratings, sandwiched in between 5-win teams. Most 2-win teams rank in the bottom third of the country in efficiency.
Furthermore, Nebraska has a plus-predicted points added (PPA) differential, a plus-1.7 yards per play differential, and a plus-Havoc rate differential. Nebraska’s major downfalls are its minus-3 turnover differential and red zone efficiency.
However, Nebraska’s offense has the third-best PPA, success rate, explosive play rate, and points per opportunity in the Big Ten. Also, Ohio State’s defense ranks 63rd in red-zone conversion rate, and its plus-8 turnover differential is due for regression. Nebraska will be in good shape if it doesn’t turn the ball over.
Finally, all six of Nebraska’s losses have been one-score games, including an out-of-conference meeting with the No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners. While Ohio State has obliterated teams this year, I could see the Buckeyes playing in tighter conference games as their season winds down.
PICK: Nebraska +14.5 (+100 on DraftKings)
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