In a game that could decide one side of the equation in the upcoming Big Ten championship game, 5-2 Michigan venture west to take on 5-2 Nebraska Saturday night in Lincoln (8 pm ET, ESPN2). Can Coach Hoke direct his UM troops to a conference road victory, a task the Wolverines have failed at miserably against the spread lately? Or will the Cornhuskers hold serve on their home turf?
The Wolverines began this season by getting blown out by Alabama, then beat Air Force by six points, then beat up on Massachusetts (FCS), then turned the ball over six times in losing, 13-6, at Notre Dame. Overall, they are 3-9-1 ATS in 13 recent road games, according to the matchup report details.
But Big Blue then opened Big Ten play with a 44-13 romp over Purdue, punked Illinois, 45-0, and last week got a late field goal to defeat rival Michigan State 12-10.
The Wolverines have outgained their last six opponents and outrushed their last five foes.
Nebraska, meanwhile, opened this season with a 49-20 win over Southern Miss, but then went out to L.A. and got beat by UCLA, 36-30. The Huskers returned home and dispatched of Arkansas State and Idaho State by a combined score of 115-20, then opened Big Ten play by rallying from 17 points down to defeat Wisconsin, 30-27.
Big Red then went to Columbus and allowed 371 yards rushing in losing to the Buckeyes by the ridiculous score of 63-38. After a week off the Huskers then visited Evanston and rallied late to steal a 29-28 decision from Northwestern.
Nebraska has outgained five opponents this season, and outrushed those same five foes. As one might expect, the Huskers won all five of those games.
So Michigan leads the Big Ten's Legends Division at 3-0, with Nebraska tied with Iowa for second place at 2-1.
On the injury front, Huskers RB Rex Burkhead aggravated a sore knee last week and his status Saturday's game is uncertain.
Most college football betting outlets opened Nebraska as a three-point favorite for this game, but as of Thursday afternoon that spread had been dropped to -2. According to Sagarin's PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com, Michigan should be favored by 3.5 points for this game.
These teams met for the first time as conference rivals last year at the Big House, Michigan pulling away in the second half for a 45-17 victory.
Free Pick: This game should certainly be closer than last year's UM-NU match-up, but with Burkhead's injury and the recent play of Michigan's defense we'll stick with the team that won this battle last year, and wager on the Wolverines. (courtesy of PickShark.com)