Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Northwestern Wildcats - 10/5/19 NCAA football Pick, Odds, and Prediction
Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Northwestern Wildcats
Saturday, October 5, 2019 at 3:00 PM (Nebraska vs. Northwestern)
Nebraska -7.5; total 49.5
The Northwestern Wildcats travel to face the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Saturday in college football action at Memorial Stadium.
This is a week 6 matchup of two teams probably thinking that they were going to be in a better position at this point of the year than they actually are. Northwestern sits at 1-3 with losses against two teams that were nationally ranked at the time and a 31-10 loss to Michigan State. The Wildcats’ lone win came in a 30-14 victory over UNLV. Nebraska has a winning record at 3-2, but the overtime loss at Colorado hurt, while the ‘Huskers most likely hoped to be a bit more competitive than a 48-7 drubbing at the hands of No. 5 Ohio State last weekend.
There is little difference between the two teams’ strength of schedule, but Northwestern has taken on some soft offensive teams so far this year. Stanford, UNLV, and Michigan State are all far from the top of the FBS in scoring offense, and even though Wisconsin has Jonathan Taylor running all over opponents, it still isn’t a high scoring offense. That has allowed Northwestern to be ranked 43rd in FBS in scoring defense, but that is still just middle of the pack in the Big 10. On the other hand, Nebraska has shown that it can allow points (48 to Ohio State, 38 to Illinois, 34 to Colorado) and it ranks all the way down at 93rd in scoring defense out of 130 FBS teams.
There are similarities on the flip side of the ball. Northwestern’s offense is third-worst in FBS in scoring, but it has taken on Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Stanford, which are all great defensive teams. So is the Wildcats’ offense really that bad? Despite taking a knock near the end of the Wisconsin game, sophomore Hunter Johnson is expected to be the starting quarterback on Saturday. He has completed 43-of-89 passes for 367 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions. That 4.1 yard-per-completion number should improve against Nebraska, but how much is realistic?
Northwestern will try to run the ball and freshman Drake Anderson will get the bulk of the carries. He’s seen some success through the first four games of the season carrying the ball 61 times for 305 yards and three touchdowns. The fact that Anderson’s 5.0 yards per carry is almost a yard better than Johnson’s completion average says a lot about this offense.
For Nebraska it will be do-it-all sophomore Adrian Martinez looking to continue what has been an outstanding second season with the ‘Huskers. He has already passed for 1,100 yards and seven touchdowns, and the five interceptions might seem alarming, but three came in one game against Ohio State. Martinez is also Nebraska’s leading rusher, exceeding Anderson’s numbers (albeit with one extra game) with 315 yards and three touchdowns.
There are no trends that are significant in this matchup. Nebraska is 1-4 against the spread (ATS) this year while Northwestern is 1-3. The over has hit in just two of Nebraska’s five games, and it has reached the over in one of Northwestern’s four. To make this pick, I think it makes sense just to use common sense. Northwestern might have a bit of a stingier defense, but this is the first time it has seen an offense with such firepower as the ‘Huskers this year. Nebraska will allow teams to move the ball, but how much movement can we expect from the Wildcats?
Common sense says Nebraska minus the points. Sometimes it makes sense to use common sense.