Michigan’s first road game of the season comes in Lincoln against Matt Rhule’s Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Wolverines are 17.5-point favorites and sit at -950 on the moneyline.
Michigan vs. Nebraska Prediction & Best Bet
I’m a believer in what Nebraska is building. The defense, aside from one half against Colorado when the entire unit was exhausted, has looked terrific this season. The running game has started to find a rhythm in the last two weeks, giving the offense something to lean on. The problem remains the passing game.
Since Heinrich Haarberg took over, however, he’s at least added some rushing ability to the position and forced defenses to pay attention to the ground game. As long as Nebraska’s offense shows a pulse and doesn’t wear out its own defense by keeping it on the field all game, the Cornhuskers can keep Michigan’s imperfect offense in check and at least stay within range.
It took time for Michigan to pull away against Bowling Green and Rutgers. On the road in Lincoln against an even tougher defense, it could be an uncomfortable day for the Wolverines’ offense.
Fortunately for Jim Harbaugh, there’s little doubt Michigan comes away with a win. The talent gap is too wide, particularly with Nebraska’s passing game completely missing. This just figures to be a grind-it-out game that can stay within 10-17 points.
Michigan vs. Nebraska Prediction & Best Bet: Nebraska +17.5
Michigan vs. Nebraska Betting Odds
Michigan is a 17.5-point favorite over Nebraska in Lincoln. The Wolverines are -950 on the moneyline, and the over/under is 39.5 points.
It’s been a dominant season for Michigan’s defense, holding four consecutive opponents to single-digits. With Nebraska’s offense struggling so much early on, it’s no surprise to see the Wolverines enter as decisive favorites even in their first road matchup of the year.
Michigan vs. Nebraska Key Matchups
Here are the key matchups that could decide Saturday’s game between Michigan and Nebraska.
Nebraska Rushing Attack vs. Michigan Run Defense
It’s hard to totally gauge the strength of Michigan’s run defense to this point, considering the lack of competition. Even worse, teams often fall into an early deficit and are forced to abandon their running games early on.
From what we’ve seen, though, Michigan is 9th among Power Five programs in rushing yards allowed at just 80 per game. Nebraska will need to break that trend and set the tone early on the ground.
With no answers at QB, the Cornhuskers went to their running game early and often in the last two weeks and found success there. Nebraska rushed for 224 yards in Week 3 and 314 yards last week, much of that from new QB Heinrich Haarberg, who has more than 250 rushing yards in his last two games. If Michigan bottles up Haarberg or the rest of the Nebraska rushing attack, it’s tough to see the Cornhuskers even getting to 10 or 14 points.
J.J. McCarthy vs. Nebraska Secondary
Nebraska’s pass defense did a very nice job against Minnesota in Week 1 and looked terrific early in the Week 2 loss to Colorado. Shedeur Sanders tore up the Cornhuskers’ defense late in that game at least partly because the unit was exhausted. If Nebraska’s offense can stay on the field enough to give the defense a regular breather, it might be a shaky day for J.J. McCarthy.
McCarthy had 3 INT against Bowling Green two weeks ago, and he started slow against a solid Rutgers defense last weekend. The Cornhuskers are allowing only 6.1 yards per pass attempt, actually slightly better than Michigan’s mark. Stopping McCarthy and the passing game is only one element, because Blake Corum can run wild for Michigan on any day, but it’s what Nebraska might be best equipped to do.