Early Lines Imply 9-3 Regular Season for Nebraska
The Golden Nugget in Las Vegas has released betting lines for 200 college football games this season. Among them are six games that the Huskers will participate in. Presumably, the Huskers would be favorites in their other six games (all home games) against Florida Atlantic, McNeese State, Illinois, Rutgers, Purdue, and Minnesota. They have the Huskers a favorite in just half of the remaining games.
The Huskers open as a four-point favorite at Fresno State and a three-point favorite hosting Miami. That would have the Huskers sitting at 5-0 as they travel to Michigan State where the Spartans open as an 8-point favorite. Nebraska would be favored to bounce back and win the next three including a game at Northwestern where they have just a two and a half point advantage. NU would then be 8-1 as they head to Wisconsin where they would be a touchdown underdog. The 8-2 Huskers would then pick up a win at home over Minnesota before closing at Iowa, where the Hawkeyes get a one-point edge.
That would leave the Huskers at 9-3. The point spread math also seems to indicate that Wisconsin would be 11-1 and headed to the conference championship game in Indianapolis, with their only loss to LSU. The Badgers to face an 11-1 Michigan State team who's only loss would be early to Oregon. Despite a 12-1 record, the Big Ten champion might be shut out of the college football playoff as Florida State, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Oregon are all favored in every game.
That would likely send a Big Ten champion to the Orange Bowl. Ohio State might sneak into a major bowl like the Fiesta or Chick-fil-A. The loser of the conference title game might head to the Capital One Bowl or could fall to the Outback, with Iowa going to the other. Michigan or Nebraska would head to the Holiday Bowl with the other headed to the Gator. Though you could see the Gator passing on Nebraska which could mean a Music City or Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl for NU. Hardly the kind of season Husker fans are hoping for.
No one expects a season without upsets though. Just because a team is favored doesn't mean they'll win. In fact teams favored by 3 points or less lose nearly half the time. That's good news at Iowa but bad news against Miami and Northwestern. Teams favored by 3.5 to 7 points lose more than a third of the time which is bad news against Fresno State but provides some hope at Wisconsin. A 7.5 to 10-point favorite loses more than a quarter of the time. That leaves the door open at Michigan State.
The season is sure to have its share of surprises. Hopefully, this year they are pleasant ones for Nebraska.