On Saturday, Rutgers has its first road game of the season as they head to Lincoln, Nebraska, to take on the Cornhuskers. It appears that these two teams are heading in different directions this season, and this week could really make or break each team’s lofty aspirations. Will Nebraska turn their disappointing season around or will the Scarlet Knights get another victory? Kickoff inside Memorial Stadium-Lincoln is at 3:30 P.M. ET.
Let’s be honest here, Nebraska (1-2) should be 0-3 right now as they barely held on to beat Arkansas State in their first game of the season. Additionally, their loss against Oregon in Week 2 appears closer on the scoreboard than it really was as the Cornhuskers were down 42-14 in the 4th quarter before scoring 3 touchdowns in garbage time. Then last week, the Cornhuskers were defeated by Northern Illinois at home 21-17. This season has been nothing short of embarrassing so far. Will they be able to turn things around and still make a bowl this season or will they end up with a losing record?
Rutgers is coming off their first win of the season as they blew out Morgan State 65-0. Rutgers has shown more life this year than over the last few seasons as they barely loss to Eastern Michigan 16-13 in Week 2. And, they played tough against the heavy favorite Washington Huskies in Week 1, only losing 30-14.
The Spread opened with Nebraska favored by 10 points. It has since climbed up to 13.5 points. The Over/Under has remained unchanged at 51 total points.
I never thought I would take Rutgers in a game this season, but I can’t ignore how bad Nebraska has been this year. They seriously should be 0-3 and have looked like a shell of their former selves. That once proud defense is giving up 425 yards per game and 33 points per game.
For Rutgers, their only real defensive shortcoming was against Washington where they gave up 30 points. However, it was actually a moral victory as they played the Huskies tough. Unfortunately, Rutgers wasn’t able to build off that momentum as they lost the next week to Eastern Michigan. But, in that contest, they only gave up 16 points. On the season, they’re giving up 15.3 points per game and 295 total yards per game. This is a significant improvement over last year’s team.
Rutgers offense is still trying to find itself. However, last week, freshman quarterback Johnathan Lewis ran for 4 TDs against Morgan State. Could we see Rutgers use Lewis more this week?
Make no mistake about it, if Rutgers can win this game it will be an upset. The Scarlet Knights have lost 14 straight Big-10 games and just broke their overall 11 game losing streak last week against Morgan State.
I’m not ready to declare an upset this week, but I’m definitely putting Nebraska on upset alert. Also, despite the numbers, I think Rutgers will keep this game close and win ATS. Nebraska hasn’t looked like a team that can beat anyone by 2 touchdowns and I don’t think they will do it this week.
For Nebraska to win this game, they will have to rely on their offense to put up points since their defense seems to be the weak link this year. Nebraska’s offense is putting up 402 total yards per game, but a lot of that can be attributed to garbage time. In their loss last week, Nebraska only tallied 384 total yards against Northern Illinois and they turned the ball over 3 times. In fact, NIU returned 2 interceptions for touchdowns in the first quarter. Nebraska was able to come back from this deficit and take the lead 17-14, before giving up a touchdown late in the 4th quarter. However, they still had time left in the game to come back, but failed to do so.
Nebraska will need to control the TOP and win the turnover battle to prevent the upset loss this week. As for now, I see Rutgers sticking within 2 touchdowns and having a chance late in the game to pull off the upset victory. Look for a 24-20 Nebraska win.
Nebraska is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games and 2-4-1 ATS in their last 7 games at home.