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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Nebraska vs Wisconsin Spread Opener

As we enter week 5 of the NCAA Football Season, we're approaching the best matchup of the year, and a historic one to go along with it. The Nebraska Cornhuskers visit Camp Randall Field to play the Wisconsin Badgers in Nebraska's first ever inter-conference game since joining the Big Ten Conference.

This game could have possible BCS Championship Bowl game implications

The Opening line

Sportsbooks have opened with Wisconsin as a 9.5 point favorite. When I first came across this line I was stunned that college football odds makers had listed the legendary and undefeated Nebraska Cornhuskers as a double digit underdog.
Nebraska has an explosive offense, led by quarterback Taylor Martinez and running back Rex Burkhead. There was a lot of hype surrounding Nebraska when they decided to make the move to the Big Ten. Although Wisconsin had a great showing last year, Nebraska was immediately installed as the odds on favorite to win the Big Ten Conference this season.

Line Movement

It's still very early in the week but I expect NCAAF bettors backing Nebraska to get involved quickly, in fear of the line dropping. Thus far, the line has gone up to 10, fallen to 9.5, and has currently returned to 10.
Don't expect to see too many Wisconsin bettors to get involved early. The last thing that they want to do is lay double digits against a team like Nebraska that will be filled with adrenaline and looking to make a good impression in the conference and around the country. Therefore, I fully expect the line to drop as the week goes on.

What has separated the Nebraska Cornhuskers from other schools has been their consistency. In 25 consecutive years the Cornhuskers have won 9 or more games each season, finished in the top 15 of the AP Poll 24 out of the 25 years, and have been ranked in the weekly AP Poll all but three times. In the 1990's alone, the Cornhuskers went on to win three national championships. These championship teams were known for their exceptional rushing games, and the ground attack remains a key component to the Cornhuskers' attack today.

The Wisconsin Way

When setting the lines, odds makers must examine the way that the team has performed in their recent outtings. Coach Bret Bielema is very proud of his players, and the first thing that he expressed after a 59-10 rout of South Dakota was "Bring on Nebraska!". It's a coach's job to keep his team focused on the task at hand and to not look too far into the future. Well, based on his reaction, it's safe to say that this game has always been in the back of his mind.
Let's face it, Wisconsin has disposed of it's opponents quite easily thus far, as all four of their games have been legitimate spankings. Nebraska, on the other hand, has played well but hasn't had as easy a time as the Badgers have had.

In fact, Nebraska's defense hasn't been anything better than ordinary. They rank 46th in points allowed while Wisconsin ranks 3rd in defense in the nation. We'll get into more statistical details as the week progresses and we dig deeper into this matchup.

Injuries are unavoidable

The Huskers have also had to deal with injuries. Obviously injuries play a major role in the opening line, and last second changes can cause quick line movements just before game time. Jared Crick, who is one of the best defensive tackles in the country, was injured two weeks ago against Washington, and Nebraska's defensive coordinator has refused to disclose the nature of the injury. Crick should be good to go against Wisconsin as Nebraska has been dealing with him cautiously.
Another Cornhusker who's been dealing with a quad injury is senior cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, who has missed the first three games of the season. Although these two key players should fit to play, if declared unable to take the field expect the line to move even higher.

Been there, done that

Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini is taking a different approach than that of his adversary coach, Bret Bielema. He's not concerned with the "average" defensive play by the Huskers. Pelini has confidence in his team and as I've stated earlier, this is a university that has winning in their blood.
Tomorrow we will begin to breakdown the game's 'Total' as well as each team's plan of attack. Stay tuned as I'll be updating you about this exciting matchup throughout the week.

www.sbrforum.com | Joe Catalano

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