Washington at Nebraska
(12:30 pm PT – ABC)
CRIS Opening Line:
Nebraska -18.5 O/U 53
CRIS Current Line:
Nebraska -16.5 O/U 54
Rob Veno Power Rating:
Andrew Lange's Betting Take:
Last week was another lackluster performance for Nebraska who needed 21 fourth quarter points to pull away from Fresno State. The Cornhuskers were somehow outgained by the Bulldogs 444-438 and quarterback Taylor Martinez, outside of a few big plays, continued to struggle when asked to throw a forward pass (10-of-21, 219 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT). One of the few positives was Nebraska’s run game (219 yards, 6.3 ypc) but against Fresno’s defense those numbers were to be expected.
Like I said last week
, handicapping Nebraska as a big favorite can be tricky because of the inconsistencies in performance. Last week for example, Nebraska’s offense opens the game with back-to-back three-and-outs. Fresno then returns a punt for a touchdown to take a 7-0 lead and on the ensuing drive, the Cornhuskers roll off a five-play, 80-yard scoring drive. Nebraska’s next four drives result in 11 plays and 26 total yards. In the second half, after what I assume was an earful from Bo Pelini at halftime, NU scores touchdowns on three of its next four possessions. That sequence of events tells me that Nebraska is either A., vastly overrated, B., still in some sort of transitional period with personnel and schemes, or C., they simply don’t care about winning by margin. You could probably make a case for all three which again points to the difficulty of backing Nebraska in this type of price range.
The question I have is, can Nebraska flip the switch and if so, when? There is a revenge angle at work this weekend and with Wyoming on deck, perhaps this game will draw more concentration that what we saw in Week 2. It almost has an NFL Preseason-type feel where Nebraska is just working out the kinks and focused on one thing and one thing only – October 1, at Wisconsin – which in its defense isn’t a bad way to go about things.
As for the Huskies, focus and motivation could also be a factor. UW is off to a 2-0 start and opens conference play next week at home against California. If these two teams didn’t meet in the postseason then I would lean towards Washington wanting to seek atonement for last year’s blowout in Seattle. But by beating Nebraska in a fairly monumental upset in the Holiday Bowl, Washington doesn’t have a whole lot to gain other than to avoid another blowout and keep everyone healthy. That’s not to say the Huskies won’t be confident or come prepared (or perhaps win?), but next week’s game is far more important and if down early, we could very easily see a mail-it-in effort in the second half.
In the win over Hawaii, Steve Sarkisian made good on his promise to be less conservative
on offense. Not pleased with his team’s defensive effort against Fresno, Pelini planned a tough week of practice
for his defense.