We have a battle of two Big Ten teams in Week 4 of the college football season when the Nebraska Cornhuskers take on the Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing, MI.
Nebraska was able to keep it closer than expected against the Oklahoma Sooners in Week 3, losing the game 23-16 despite being 22.5-point underdogs. As for Michigan State, the Spartans were able to trounce the Miami Hurricanes last week en route to a 38-17 victory to improve to 3-0 on the season.
While Nebraska showed signs of improvement in recent weeks since their disappointing loss to Illinois in Week 0, it’s still hard to trust them as Scott Frost’s job is far from secure. On the other hand, Michigan State looks like a team that is on the rise under second-year head coach Mel Tucker.
Ahead of what should be an interesting matchup in the Big Ten, let’s dive into what my prediction for the game is and what the best bets are in the showdown between Nebraska and Michigan State.
For in-depth analysis of Nebraska vs Michigan State and other picks in the NCAAF pick of the day series, continue reading.
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Nebraska vs Michigan State Prediction
Nebraska has an experienced quarterback in Adrian Martinez that has done a better job taking care of the football in recent weeks. Besides leading the team through the air, Martinez leads the Cornhuskers in rushing as well with 290 rushing yards and four touchdowns so far this season.
Even though Nebraska has shown signs of life on offense, the defense of Michigan State has held opponents to an average of 17.3 points per game this season.
On the other side, you could argue that Nebraska’s defense is even better as they have allowed an average of only 15.7 points per game over the first four weeks. However, Michigan State’s offense looks much improved with Payton Thorne under center and Kenneth Walker III shouldering the workload in the backfield.
Nebraska’s defense is surrendering 156.3 rushing yards per game to their opponents thus far, which bodes well for a Michigan State squad that wants to lean on Walker. Seeing that the Cornhuskers have a defense that is susceptible to the run, and the Spartans have a quarterback that hasn’t made any mistakes yet, I’ll side with Michigan State by double-digits at home.
Prediction: Michigan State 34, Nebraska 20
Nebraska vs Michigan State Best Bets
Best Bet: Michigan State -5 (-105 at DraftKings)
Wager: 1 Unit
I believe the Spartans are a much better team than the Cornhuskers right now, especially after a lopsided victory over the Hurricanes in Week 3. Michigan State can pound the ball with Walker with no issues against Nebraska, and I believe Martinez is bound to make some mistakes that lead to easy points for the Spartans.
Sportsbooks have had this spread moving around 5-5.5 points in favor of Michigan State early in the week. But with DraftKings having the Spartans at -5 for -105, I’d play one unit on Michigan State if you can get them at -5 or -5.5.
Best Bet: Total Points Over 51.5 (-110 at WynnBET)
Wager: 1 Unit
Both defenses are units that haven’t given up many points to their opponents this season, so some may be wary of betting the over. While Nebraska held Oklahoma to only 23 points, the Sooners are a team that would air the ball out often rather than lean on the ground game.
On the contrary, Michigan State is content with Walker toting the ball 20-25 times as they matriculate their way down the field. Once the Spartans begin gashing the Cornhuskers on the ground, they’ll be able to set up their passing game, allowing them to help toward reaching the over.
With Martinez operating as a dual-threat quarterback, Nebraska is capable of scoring points as long as he avoids mistakes. Even though I envision him making a couple of mistakes, the Cornhuskers should score some points in the second half to get us over the total of 51.5. The total has gone over in five out of the last six games that Michigan State has faced an opponent from the Big Ten.
Best Bet: Michigan State 1H -3 (-115 at DraftKings)
Wager: 0.5 units
From the moment the game kicks off, I feel confident in saying that Michigan State will seize control of the game. The defense of the Spartans is going to get momentum with a huge turnover or a stop, then the offense will score on its first drive as it runs the ball often with Walker.
In Michigan State’s first three contests, they’ve led at halftime by the scores of 21-7, 35-7, and 10-7. Given how I see the game going on Saturday night, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a score like 14-7 at halftime. I wouldn’t play anything more than a half unit on the Spartans at -3, but I would play a unit on it if it goes to -2.5.