Northwestern Vs. Nebraska Odds, Picks, Predictions (8/27/22)

Big Ten play gets underway early in 2022, with a Week 0 matchup between Nebraska and Northwestern way out in Dublin, Ireland.

Generally, Aviva Stadium is host to Ireland’s national rugby and soccer teams. But for a few glorious hours on Saturday, it’ll be host to the purest form of American football available – a run-and-punt fest between the Wildcats and Cornhuskers.

There’s also some potential confusion for Big Ten fans crossing the pond this weekend:

There are more important things to discuss than the state of Nebraska’s awareness, however, like the Northwestern vs Nebraska odds, alongside our picks and predictions.

Let’s dive in.

Northwestern Vs. Nebraska Odds

Nebraska opened as low as 10-point favorites at some books, but sharps quickly sniffed out the mispriced line and bet it up to around 12. Since, Nebraska has slowly taken more smart money, pushing the Huskers up to -13.5 around the market.

The over has taken some sharp money, pushing the number up above 50. This should be a rather fast-paced game, so I would definitely consider a play on the over.

While only 45% of the tickets are coming in on Northwestern, over 75% of the handle is on Nebraska. The big money is flowing on the team that’s won two of the last three head-to-head matchups.

Northwestern Vs. Nebraska Prediction & Pick

I am uber high on Nebraska this season. This is a team that went 0-8 in one-possession games last season and finished 1-8 in the Big Ten despite finishing +56 in yards per game and posting a positive point differential. Not only is that astoundingly improbable, but it also points to a massive amount of incoming positive regression.

This was, by many factors, one of the best 3-9 football teams on the planet. They managed a 3-9 record partially by mental errors and a turnover-prone electric factory in quarterback Adrian Martinez.

Well, Martinez is gone in favor of Texas transfer Casey Thompson, who has a career 30:9 TD-to-INT ratio and made one-or-fewer Turnover Worthy Plays in seven of his nine starts last season.

But the biggest addition is new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple, who comes to Lincoln after making Kenny Pickett and the Pitt offense one of the best in the nation. The Cornhuskers finished second in the Big Ten in total offense last season, and they now have the Thompson-Whipple duo at the head with over 80% of their offensive line snaps returning.

Northwestern will be much-improved on offense. The offensive line is anchored by NFL prospect Peter Skoronski and tackle teammate Ethan Wiederkehr, and QB Ryan Hillinski should take a big step forward after a disastrous year. Plus, nine total offensive starters return.

But only five starters return on defense. The strength of the defense is the secondary, but the Wildcats finished outside the top-70 in PFF Coverage grade last season and outside the top-100 in Defensive Passing Success Rate. Plus, the three returning defensive backs recorded a total of zero interceptions last season.

All-in-all, I think you’ll get an up-tempo game between two much-improved offenses against two incomplete defenses. But the Whipple offense is going to tear apart the Northwestern defense – at all three levels – while Hillinski attempts to find his footing.

Remember, Nebraska throttled Northwestern 56-7 last season. The Cornhuskers should cover the two-touchdown spread with ease again, but I think Pat Fitzgerald’s offense does enough to cash the over, as well.

Northwestern Vs. Nebraska Key Matchups

Key Matchup No. 1: The Whipple-Thompson Offense vs Northwestern’s Secondary

As mentioned, Nebraska’s offense has a new look this season. This is the first look we’re going to get, and the expectations are high.

This matchup will set the tone for Whipple and Thompson’s season. However, it might set the tone for the Wildcats’ defensive season as well.

The three best defenders on the Wildcats are in the secondary, but all three are young and unproven.

What will the outlook be for both units at the end of this game?

Key Matchup No. 2: The Offenses vs The Red Zone

Scott Frost has never gotten his Cornhuskers inside the top-50 in Points Per Opportunity – or average points scored when the offense crossed the 40-yard line – but Whipple has a history of cashing in when he enters the opponent’s territory.

If Nebraska wants to start winning these close games, they need to start cashing in the red zone and stop making the type of mental errors Martinez used to make.

On the other side of the ball, Nebraska returns over 70% of its tackles and over 85% of its pressures from last year’s squad that finished eighth in Points Per Opportunity Allowed. Let’s say the Wildcat offense does look improved, can they punch the ball in when it matters? That factor alone may decide both the spread and the total.

Tanner joined Lineups to cover everything, but he has vast experience in, and unlimited passion for, Major League Baseball and NCAA Basketball. He’s a McGill University grad and former (Canadian) Division-I alpine ski racer who now spends his time drinking beer and betting home underdogs. Patrick Mahomes is a poor man’s Tom Brady.

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