Week Nine College Football Picks: #24 Nebraska Cornhuskers at Minnesota Golden Gophers
#24 Nebraska Cornhuskers at Minnesota Golden Gophers
TCF Bank Stadium – Minneapolis, Minnesota
Saturday, October 26, 2013, 12:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Nebraska -8 1/2
Current Line: Nebraska -10 1/2
Opening Total: 51 1/2
Current Total: 51
Opening Money Line: Nebraska -380 / Minnesota +310
Current Money Line: Nebraska -400 / Minnesota +325
The 5-1 Nebraska Cornhuskers are 2-0 in the Big Ten Legends Division, a half game behind 3-0 Michigan State. Nebraska travels to the 5-2 Minnesota Golden Gophers who are 1-2 in the Legends Division. Minnesota leads the series against Nebraska 29-22-2 but Nebraska has won 16 straight games in the series dating back to 1963. The Cornhuskers won last year’s meeting in Lincoln 38-14.
Nebraska is coached by Bo Pelini. The only loss came at home to UCLA 41-21. The Cornhuskers have home wins over Wyoming 37-34, Southern Miss 56-13, South Dakota State 59-20, and Illinois 39-19, along with a road win at Purdue two weeks ago 44-7. Nebraska is 4-2 ATS and the total is 3-3 this season. The Cornhuskers easily covered the 13 point spread against Purdue and the game stayed under the 58 point total.
Nebraska scored the first 44 points of the game before Purdue avoided the shutout with a touchdown with 39 seconds left in the game. The Cornhuskers had 435 total yards including 251 rushing yards. The Boilermakers had 216 total yards including just 32 rushing yards. The game was sloppy on both sides as it featured 15 combined penalties and 5 combined turnovers.
The Cornhuskers are outscoring teams 43-22 this season. Nebraska is #10 nationally in scoring and #34 in points allowed. Nebraska is averaging 490.2 total yards per game including 205.3 passing and 284.8 rushing yards. The Cornhuskers are #10 in rushing, #91 out of 125 teams in passing, and #21 in total offense. On defense, Nebraska is allowing 407.2 total yards including 249.7 passing and 157.5 rushing yards. The Cornhuskers are +4 in turnovers with 14 takeaways. Nebraska is averaging 66 penalty yards per game and opponents average 49. The Cornhuskers are 49/95 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 25/87. Nebraska has forced 17 sacks and allowed 3 this season. The Cornhuskers are 27/31 scoring in the red zone with 23 touchdowns and opponents are 14/16 with 9 touchdowns. Nebraska has 3 pick sixes this season.
Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez is questionable with turf toe, and has missed the last 3 games. Martinez has completed 66.3% for 528 yards with 9 touchdowns and an interception, along with 32 carries for 101. Ron Kellogg III and Tommy Armstrong, Jr. have been splitting the snaps without Martinez in the line-up. Kellogg has completed 75.8% of his passes for 352 yards with 2 touchdowns, along with a handful of carries. Armstrong has completed 56.5% of his passes for 347 yards with 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, along with 22 carries, 84 yards and a touchdown.
Running back Ameer Abdullah has 114 carries, 816 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with 14 catches for 137 yards. Imani Cross has 61 carries, 330 yards and 8 touchdowns. Terrell Newby has 50 carries, 290 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 3 catches. Receiver Quincy Enunwa has 25 catches, 354 yards and 7 touchdowns. Kenny Bell has 24 catches, 284 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tight end Jake Long has 5 catches for 78 yards but is questionable with a hamstring injury.
Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill announced two weeks ago that he would take an indefinite leave of absence from the team to treat his epilepsy. Kill has been taken to the hospital several times during his tenure as the Gophers’ coach because of epileptic seizures including twice this season. Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys will serve as the acting coach until Kill returns. Minnesota has home wins over UNLV 51-23, Western Illinois 29-12, and San Jose State 43-24, along with road wins at New Mexico State 44-21 and last week at Northwestern 20-17. The Golden Gophers lost at home to Iowa 23-7 and at Michigan 42-13. Minnesota is 4-3 ATS and the total is 4-3 this season. The Gophers were 12.5 point underdogs at Northwestern and the total was 52.
Minnesota and Northwestern were tied at 7 at halftime. The Gophers took a 17-7 lead early in the fourth quarter. The two teams exchanged field goals to make it 20-10. The Wildcats scored to make it 20-17 with 2:07 left in the game. The Golden Gophers recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock to secure the upset. Minnesota had 299 total yards including 176 rushing yards. Northwestern had 328 total yards including 234 passing yards. The Wildcats had 3 turnovers including a pick six in the third quarter. Minnesota had no turnovers, but did have 9 penalties for 89 yards.
Minnesota is outscoring teams 30-23 this season. The Golden Gophers are averaging 327.9 yards per game on offense, including 117.7 passing and 210.1 rushing yards. The rushing attack is #28 in the country, but the Gophers are #121 out of 125 teams in passing. The Golden Gophers are #113 in total offense. Minnesota is allowing 375.9 total yards per game, including 252.4 passing yards and 123.4 rushing yards. The Gophers are #90 in pass defense and #25 in rush defense. Minnesota is +3 in turnovers with 10 takeaways. Minnesota is averaging less than 40 penalty yards per game and so are their opponents. The Gophers are 44/95 on third and fourth down conversions, and opponents are 52/114. Minnesota has forced 10 sacks and allowed 13. The Gophers are 22/23 scoring in the red zone with 16 touchdowns, and opponents are 18/24 with 14 touchdowns. Minnesota has 7 defensive/special teams touchdowns and has allowed one pick six.
Minnesota quarterback Phillip Nelson has thrown for 492 yards with 3 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, along with 51 carries, 229 yards and 3 touchdowns. He was benched in the Iowa game, and back-up Mitch Leidner took over. Leidner started the last two games but was benched in the Northwestern game . Leidner has thrown for 332 yards with a touchdown and a pick, and has 71 carries for 355 yards and 5 touchdowns. He is questionable with an illness, and Nelson could start against Nebraska. Running back David Cobb has 88 carries for 477 yards with 5 touchdowns, along with 8 catches. Rodrick Williams, Jr. has 60 carries, 332 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 3 catches. Receiver Derrick Engel has 16 catches, 224 yards and 2 touchdowns. Maxx Williams has 10 catches for 153 yards and 2 touchdowns. Two defensive players are listed on the injury report.
Nebraska is 4-1 ATS overall, 5-2-1 in Big Ten games, 5-2 in October, 25-52-2 after a straight up win of more than 20 points, 17-36-1 after allowing less than 275 total yards, 4-10 after allowing less than 20 points, 2-8-1 in road games, 1-6 after allowing 100 rushing yards or less, and 0-7-1 against teams with winning home records.
Minnesota is 2-5 after a straight up win, against teams with winning road records, on fieldturf, and after allowing 20 points or less, 3-9 in October, 2-7 against teams with winning records, 1-4 in Big Ten games, and 1-5 after a cover.
Minnesota upset a reeling Northwestern team last week, but the Golden Gophers still struggle on offense. Nebraska’s vaunted “black shirt” defense isn’t as strong as it has been, but the Cornhuskers should still win this game handily on the road.
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