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    09/07/2011 10:47 PM
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Big 10 Football Nebraska Cornhuskers at Michigan State Spartans: Start Time, Odds, Free Pick


College Football Week 10 continues on Saturday afternoon and we will see the Nebraska Cornhuskers travel to East Lansing, Michigan to take on the Michigan State Spartans. The game is scheduled for a 3:30 PM (Eastern) start time and it will be televised live on ABC or ESPN 2. Currently the odds for the game have Nebraska favored by 1.5 point, while the total sits at 44.5. Currently 57% of the Public is on Nebraska, while 84% is on the Under. Check out Sportsbook Spy to find out what side the Public is taking on all today's games.

Free Analysis: Since dropping a 63-38 decision to Ohio State on Oct. 6, Nebraska has managed to work its way back into the Top-25 by pulling off a pair of impressive wins on the road at Northwestern (29-28) and at home against Michigan (23-9). The Cornhuskers are now 3-1 in Big Ten play, tied atop the Legends Division, and head coach Bo Pelini knows that his team has their work cut out for them over the last four games of the regular season. Nebraska features the Big Ten's best offense both in terms of scoring (39.3 ppg) and yardage (489.1 ypg) thanks in large part to the seventh-ranked rushing attack in the nation (264.1 ypg). Ameer Abdullah garners most of the work out of the backfield and ranks fourth among conference running backs with 716 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. Rex Burkhead has been explosive as well with 405 yards and three scores on 47 carries (8.6 ypc), although he's missed three games due to injury. Quarterback Taylor Martinez also gets in the mix rushing the ball with 461 yards and six touchdowns, but he's far more than just a scrambler, completing 66 percent of his passes for 222.6 passing ypg with 16 touchdowns to just five interceptions. The defense (25.4 ppg, 336.4 ypg) has really hunkered since allowing 63 points to Ohio State a few weeks back, surrendering just 18.5 ppg in its last two wins. Eric Martin has been active behind the line of scrimmage with 10 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. 

Michigan State came into the season with high expectations, and it even rose all the way to No. 10 in the polls following and 2-0 start, but since then things have been rocky to say the least. The Spartans are all but eliminated from the Big Ten race after suffering losses to Ohio State (17-16), Iowa (19-16 in double OT), and Michigan (12-10), although they are coming off an impressive 16-13 overtime against Wisconsin in Madison last week. The Michigan State offense has not been very explosive, scoring less than 20 ppg, but it has one of the nation's most dependable running backs in Le'Veon Bell. Bell is the definition of a workhorse back as he has earned 247 of the team's 324 carries. Although his yards per carry has not been outstanding (4.3), the production is unquestioned with 1,061 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. He's also more than capable as a receiver out of the backfield with 29 receptions. Even with a top-notch running back to help take the pressure off him, Andrew Maxwell has not had a very strong season. He's completed less than 56 percent of his passes for 2,015 yards with nine touchdowns to five interceptions. His 113.4 efficiency rating ranks only above Iowa's James Vanderberg among starting Big Ten quarterbacks. While the offense has been mediocre at best, the defense has shined, ranking first in the conference in both points allowed (15.0 ppg) and yards allowed (269.1) per game. Max Bullough (77 tackles, nine TFL, two sacks, INT) and Denicos Allen (61 tackles, eight TFL, sack, INT) headline perhaps the best linebacking corps in the league.

The Spartans are 2-5 against the spread in their last seven games, and the Spartans are 0-5 against the spread in their last five home games. The Huskers are an impressive 5-1 overall in their last six outings, but the Huskers are 0-5 against the spread in their last five games away from Lincoln. Last season the Huskers defeated the Spartans 24-3 in Lincoln.

Free Pick: I like the Under in this one. Michigan State has played just 1 game in their last 7 games in which more than 35 points have been scored. This team has one of the weakest offenses in the Big 10, while also sporting the best defense in the league. Giving you an example of this we see that the Spartans have scored 17 points or less 6 times this year, while they have allowed 19 points or less in 7 of their 8 games played on the year. This is a conservative offense that averages 360 ypg, but just 19 ppg and will be facing a tough Nebraska defense that has allowed just 336 ypg on the year and are off a game in which they gave up just 9 points to a very good Michigan offense. On offense the Huskers are more of a running team and they will have to do plenty of that to keep this very good State defense honest and that will eat plenty of clock. It is really hard to see this game hitting the 40’s. 

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