2013-14 Nebraska Cornhuskers Predictions and College Football Betting Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 7/15/2013
It was a strange season for Nebraska last year — a very tough one to process. At times they looked brilliant — almost elite. But then they ended their season with one of the worst performances by any team in a major conference all year when they were humiliated by Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game. That all makes it very tough to figure out what we have on our hands this year. Is this a team that will maximize their talent and flirt with the Top 10? Or will they struggle to remain in the Top 25? Anything seems possible with this squad.
There are some guys who seem like they have been in college forever. Taylor Martinez is one of those guys. It feels to me like the senior is about to start his ninth year at Nebraska. The question for this year is whether he can finally get his act together and tap into his immense potential that he has been hinting at for seemingly decades. The offense was mostly competent last year, and there is no reason they can’t take another step forward this year. Amer Abdullah is an elite running back, and receiver Kenny Bell will catch passes on Sundays, so the tools are in place for this offense to be right at the top of the Big Ten. If Martinez can establish a legitimate deep ball threat early on in the year then the ground game can be even more dangerous, and the team will be tough to beat.
The pass rush was a massive disappointment in the second half of the season for this defense. The Wisconsin offense had the time to do whatever they wanted, and they made the most of it. The defense needs to be dramatically more aggressive this year. That could be a challenge given that there will be three new starting linebackers and all sorts of uncertainty up front. By the second or third game of the season we should have a better sense of the development and depth of the front seven, and that will make it easier to assess this team and their prospects for the year.
While Martinez faces a lot of pressure this year, it’s nothing compared to what rests on the shoulders of head coach Bo Pelini. His time in Nebraska hasn’t been a disaster by any means, but patience is wearing thin among many nonetheless. He doesn’t run the tightest ship, and his game preparation and planning is inconsistent at best. Nebraska deserves better, and if Pelini doesn’t achieve10 wins and a legitimate look at the top of the Big Ten then he could be on shaky ground. How he handles that pressure is going to be a factor for this team this year.
Nebraska Schedule Analysis
Barring a big surprise, Nebraska will only be tested once in their first seven games of the year. Wyoming, Southern Miss, South Dakota State, Illinois, Purdue and Minnesota are all games that they should be able to manage. Only a Week 3 contest at home against UCLA has the real potential to trip the team up if they are on their game. They finish their season at home against Iowa in a game they should be able to handle as well. It’s the first four games in November, though, that will determine just how good this season is for Nebraska.
Nebraska starts out their tough stretch of games by hosting a Northwestern squad which promises to be dangerous. Then they travel to play at Michigan in what is surely their toughest game of the year. Then a home game against a Michigan State squad that may or may not be tough followed by a trip to a Penn State team that is far more dangerous than it seemed like they would be a year ago. There could easily be a couple of losses amongst those games if this Nebraska team isn’t more mentally ready than they have been since joining the Big Ten.
2013-14 Nebraska Betting Odds and Trends
Nebraska is far from a favorite to win the National Championship — they sit at +6000. They are the third choice to win the Big Ten Legends Division at +305 and the fourth pick to win the conference at +700. QB Taylor Martinez, who feels like he is entering his 12th year as a starter, is +2500 to win the Heisman. The team opens at home against Wyoming and is predictably heavily favored at -21.5. (All odds are from BetOnline) Nebraska was a frustrating team to bet on last year. They wound up at 6-6-1 ATS, so there was no money to be made on them no matter how you bet. The “over” was 7-4-1 on the year.
2013-14 Nebraska Cornhuskers Predictions and College Football Picks
I don’t like the chances to get to 10 wins. I don’t trust the defense at all. And though the talent is strong on offense, I still question the consistency under Martinez. There are five tough games on the schedule, and I think 2-3 is more likely that 3-2 or better. It won’t be a disaster of a year by any means, but it will be one that forces Nebraska to ask some tough questions.
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