Nebraska vs. No. 5 Ohio State

Nebraska vs. No. 5 Ohio State | 2020 NCAAF Expert Analysis

Written by on October 22, 2020

Ohio State has won the Big Ten championship for the past three years and is the heavy favorite to make it four in a row. The No. 5 Buckeyes and Heisman Trophy candidate Justin Fields open their season at home as heavy favorites Saturday vs. Nebraska.

How to Bet Nebraska at Ohio State NCAA Football Odds & TV Info

  • When: Saturday, noon ET
  • Where: Ohio Stadium
  • TV: Fox
  • Stream: Fox Sports Go
  • Radio:com
  • Opening NCAAF Lines: OSU -26 (total 67.5)

Last Meeting

The schools met last season in Columbus and the then-No. 5 Buckeyes rolled to a 48-7 win. Justin Fields threw for three touchdowns and ran for another and Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez was intercepted on three of the Cornhuskers’ first four series. Ohio State scored on its first six possessions and led 38-0 at the half. Nebraska didn’t go over 100 yards of total offense until late in the third quarter. Martinez finished just 8 of 17 for 47 yards.

Ohio State holds a 7-1 all-time edge in the series, including a 5-1 advantage since Nebraska joined the Big Ten Conference in 2011.

Why Bet on Nebraska? | 2020 NCAAF Expert Analysis

Saturday’s season opener marks Nebraska’s first game in 330 days, dating back to Black Friday last year. The stretch of 330 days without a game is the second-longest in school history, trailing only the 331 days between the 1892 and 1893 seasons.

The Huskers appear to have a good backfield tandem in Dedrick Mills and Wan’Dale Robinson. Mills rushed for 745 yards in his first year out of Garden City Community College in Kansas, and Robinson is an intriguing utility man (453 receiving yards, 340 rushing yards). Plus, the offensive line could be very good: All five starters return.

Adrian Martinez has been named the starting QB. Martinez, who had a record-setting freshman season in 2018 for Nebraska but struggled at times in 2019, will take the first snaps after competing with redshirt freshman Luke McCaffrey in the preseason. Martinez’s experience, with 21 career starts and 5,817 yards of total offense, made the difference in the decision.

“If Luke had already been playing and we had the same camp, it probably would have been Luke,” Coach Scott Frost said. “We feel we have the luxury of two starters.”

Frost, the 2017 national coach of the year at UCF, is 9-15 in his first two seasons with nine losses by seven or fewer points, including eight by five or fewer points.

Nebraska, as an unranked team, hasn’t beaten a top-five team since Alabama in 1977 and has lost nine straight against Top 25 opponents. The Huskers were competitive in their last trip to the Horseshoe. In 2018, Nebraska led by five at halftime before falling 36-31 to the eighth-ranked Buckeyes. That game marks the last time Ohio State has trailed at any point in the second half at home.

Why Bet on Ohio State? | 2020 NCAAF Expert Analysis

Ryan Day’s 13 victories in 2019 were tied for the most ever by a first-year FBS head coach. He also was the first coach to win 13 games without the benefit of a bowl victory.

The Buckeyes are starting their season in October for the first time since 1939. That year, Ohio State defeated Missouri, 19-0, in its first game of the season on October 7.

Ohio State has won 20 consecutive season-opening games dating back to the 1999 loss to No. 12 Miami in the Kickoff Classic at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J. Overall, the Buckeyes have won 40 of their last 43 season openers. Ohio State hasn’t lost a season-opener at Ohio Stadium since 1978, a 19-0 loss to No. 5 Penn State. Its streak currently stands at 34 consecutive wins.

Ohio State’s D-line has produced two No. 2 picks and five overall draft picks in the past two years, but three of last year’s four starters, including All-American end Chase Young, were drafted. A total of 68 career starts return at linebacker, headlined by three-time captain Tuf Borland (34), followed by Pete Werner (27), Baron Browning (4) and Justin Hilliard (3).

The secondary will be forced to replace three starters, including unanimous All-American Jeff Okudah, but is bolstered by the return of Shaun Wade, one of the top returning cornerbacks in college football.

The Buckeyes bring back a top Heisman candidate in QB Justin Fields, who finished third in the 2019 voting. Fields is college football’s only returning Heisman Trophy finalist from 2019. He was the Big Ten Conference Offensive Player of the Year and Quarterback of the Year.

OSU welcomes one of the top transfer running backs in the country in Trey Sermon. The 6-foot, 221-pound Sermon, a graduate transfer, rushed for 2,076 yards in his three seasons at OU, including 744 as a true freshman and 947 as a sophomore. He split carries with Kennedy Brooks last season before falling out of favor and getting hurt.

Game Trends

    • Cornhuskers are 6-2-1 ATS in their last 9 games as a road underdog.
    • Cornhuskers are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 conference games.
    • Cornhuskers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 road games.
    • Buckeyes are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games as a home favorite.
    • Buckeyes are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games as a favorite.
    • Cornhuskers are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 meetings.
Expert Prediction Ohio State 45, Nebraska 20
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