Nebraska Cornhuskers Underdogs At Ohio State

By: Willie Bee | Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Conference schedules are in full swing as we reach the first Saturday of October, and the Big Ten is certainly no exception with a key tilt this weekend in Columbus where the Ohio State Buckeyes get a visit from the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

ABC is giving the game prime-time treatment with kickoff from Ohio Stadium a few minutes past 8:00 p.m. (ET).  The Buckeyes are 3-3½ point favorites after opening -4 on the Don Best Pro Odds screen.  Saturday night's total has seen a big movement since starting at 53½.  The scoreboard hurdle had been bet up to 57½-58 by midweek.

The top-25 matchup marks the second consecutive clash vs. a ranked school for OSU...and it has the potential to be the last of the season for Urban Meyer's squad.  The Buckeyes survived in East Lansing last week for a 17-16 triumph over Michigan State as 2-point 'dogs, and the defeat sent the Spartans tumbling from the polls.

A victory this week could result in the same fate for the Cornhuskers who come in ranked 20th and 21st respectively by the coaches and writers.  Ohio State is 12th in the latest AP rankings, and not listed by the coaches due to their NCAA penalties.  This week's Don Best Linemakers Poll has the two squads just 0.3 points apart with Nebraska No. 14 and the Buckeyes in a tie for 15th with Kansas State.

The stage is set for Ohio State (5-0 straight up, 2-3 against the spread) to run the table if it can get past Nebraska this week.  No other ranked schools are on the Buckeyes' remaining schedule, though a trip to Wisconsin and home date vs. Michigan at the end of the slate loom as potential wrenches in the works.

For the 'Huskers to pull the upset this week, they'll have to contain OSU dual-threat QB Braxton Miller.  The sophomore is 26th in the nation averaging over 300 yards of offense per game, and leads the Buckeyes with 577 yards rushing. Though his passing numbers aren't that great (8 TD, 3 INT, 144.4 rating), Miller has still been effective enough as Michigan State learned last week when he hooked up with downfield threat Devin Smith for a 63-yard scoring strike late in the third quarter that would eventually prove to be the game-winning score.

One weapon that Miller hasn't used the past two games is Jake Stoneburner.  The senior has just seven receptions on the year, three for scores, but none in the wins over both UAB and Michigan State.

Nebraska (4-1 SU, 3-2 ATS) struggled to get past Wisconsin last week, needing a fourth-quarter boot to pull off the 30-27 win as 11-point home chalk.  The Badgers held a 27-10 lead in the third against an error-prone Cornhuskers crew before Taylor Martinez, Nebraska's own dual-threat quarterback, got things going and engineered the comeback.

The end result was similar to Nebraska's rally last year at home against the Buckeyes.  Trailing 27-6 in the third quarter, Martinez guided the 'Huskers to four straight touchdowns, passing for two scores and running for another, in deflating Ohio State for the 34-27 victory.  Buckeyes backers were at least consoled by OSU covering the 10½-point spread in that contest.

The only other two times the schools have met on the gridiron came more than a half-century ago, both resulting in Ohio State home wins.

A few betting trends to consider start with the 'under' at 4-2 in Ohio State's last six home games and 6-3 when Nebraska has been on the road lately.  The Buckeyes are just 1-3 ATS in their four home contests this season, 1-7 dating back to last year, while the Cornhuskers failed to cover in their only 2012 road date (at UCLA) and are 1-4-1 ATS in the last six away from Lincoln.

Cloudy and cool is the forecast for Columbus this Saturday.  There's a slight chance of rain and the thermometer should be around 50 for kickoff.

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