Big Ten Football Preview: Michigan State Spartans vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers

Michigan State Spartans at Nebraska Cornhuskers
Saturday, 10/29/11, 12:00 PM EST, TV:  ESPN
Opening Point Spread:  Nebraska -3.5
Current Betting Line:  Nebraska -4
Opening Total:  47.5
Current Total:  48.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Nebraska Cornhuskers have never lost to the Michigan State Spartans

Michigan is enjoying a four-game winning streak that includes a miraculous 37-31 victory over the Wisconsin Badgers as seven-point home underdogs.  The Spartans were out-gained in that particular contest by 44 yards, but have won the statistical battle in every other game.  “As you go into this last week of October and then into November, certainly there’s going to be a lot of things to play for,” commented Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio.  “Our goals are going to remain in front of us as we continue.”  Saturday’s game marks just the sixth meeting between the two schools, with Michigan State losing all five previous meetings.  Michigan State is 3-0 ATS versus conference opponents.

The Spartans are looking to defeat three ranked opponents in consecutive games for the first time in school history.  Michigan State has won four of its last six games against AP Top 25 schools, while also capturing victories in 17 of its last 20 games overall.  Everything starts at the defensive end, leading the Big Ten Conference in rushing defense, holding opponents to just 88.9 yards per game.  Fifth-year senior quarterback Kirk Cousins became the winningest quarterback in school history with last week’s win, posting a 22-10 record in his 32 career starts.

Nebraska carries a seven-game home wining streak into Saturday’s game and has won eight consecutive games against Big Ten opponents since a 1981 defeat.  The Cornhuskers have won consecutive games since suffering a 48-17 loss to the Badgers on Oct. 1, including a 41-14 victory over the Minnesota Gophers as 24-point road favorites.  The team hasn’t covered back-to-back games as favorites since Oct. 30, 2010.  Nebraska is 6-12 ATS at home the last two-plus seasons and the ‘under’ is 9-7 in those contests.

The Cornhuskers gained a season-high 515 yards of total offense last week, as quarterback Taylor Martinez completed 13-of-22 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown.  He now has 2,807 career passing yards.   Nebraska has tallied a 7-6 record against ranked opponents in Lincoln since the 2000 season.  The program has enjoyed great success in the second half of campaigns under head coach Bo Pelini, going 17-7 in the first half, compared to 16-3 down the final stretch.

Bettors will likely back the Cornhuskers due to their 20-4-1 ATS mark at home versus teams with a winning road record, while the Spartans are 1-6 ATS as a road underdog of 3.5 to 10 points.

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