Nebraska Cornhuskers Odds to Win the 2015 College Football National Championship
by Alan Matthews - 8/14/2014
The 2013 season was an interesting one for embattled Nebraska coach Bo Pelini. The Huskers thought they had a great shot to play in the Big Ten Championship Game entering the year, but the drama started in Week 1 when Nebraska had to escape a home upset bid by Wyoming. In Week 3, the Huskers were embarrassed at home by UCLA, 41-21, with the Bruins outscoring Nebraska 31-0 in the second half. Two days later, a recording Pelini had made two years prior of ripping fair-weather fans was somehow made public (hint: unhappy booster). Pelini's job was in absolute jeopardy.
The Huskers rebounded by winning five of their next six games, including a big victory at Michigan, to enter a showdown against No. 14 Michigan State with first place in the division on the line (I refuse to say what the Big Ten Divisions were last year with those silly names). Alas, Nebraska turned the ball over five times, leading to 24 MSU points in a 41-28 Spartans win that locked their spot into the Big Ten Championship Game. The Pelini fireworks weren't done as following a loss at home to Iowa in the regular-season finale, Pelini declared "If they want to fire me, go ahead." Pelini got a show of support from the administration and the Huskers capped their season at 9-4 with a win over Georgia in the Gator Bowl. That got Pelini a one-year extension through 2019 but hardly quieted his critics.
Nebraska Cornhuskers Odds to Win the 2015 National Championship Story Lines
I suppose you have to call Ohio State QB Braxton Miller the best offensive player in the conference, but Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah is a close second. Last year he rushed 281 times for 1,690 yards and nine scores, keeping the storied I-back tradition alive with Nebraska. This team is going to run, run and run. There are two excellent guys behind Abdullah in Imani Cross (5.3 ypc, 10 TDs) and Terrell Newby (5.5 ypc, two TDs). Like all Huskers QBs, Tommy Armstrong can run as well. He needs to work on his accuracy, completing just 51.9 percent of his passes for nine touchdowns and eight picks. Receiver Kenny Bell (52 catches, 577 catches) would put up monster numbers on a passing team. The offensive line brings back just one starter.
Six starters are due back on defense. End Randy Gregory is one of the nation's best and a future NFL player. However, in the span of one week recently in camp three potential starters/contributors were lost for the year due to injury or suspension: junior nickel back Charles Jackson, sophomore safety LeRoy Alexander and sophomore middle linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey. Nebraska has just one full-time starter back in the secondary in senior strong safety Corey Cooper, but he's a good one and might be All-Big Ten.
Nebraska's nonconference schedule might be a minor challenge . Certainly it will handle Florida Atlantic in Lincoln in the season opener, with the Huskers currently 23-point favorites with a total of 51. Week 2 will be a home rout of McNeese State. There's a potential trap game in Week 3 at Fresno State. The Bulldogs were a good team last year at 11-2, but remember they lost star quarterback Derek Carr to the NFL. So I'm a bit surprised that Nebraska is just a 4.5-point opening favorite. The nonconference finale is back home against Miami (Fla.), with the Huskers at -3.5.
Nebraska is fortunate to play in the much weaker West Division, so the Big Ten schedule isn't too bad. It doesn't face Ohio State or Michigan from the East. The team opens at home against Illinois, which is one of the worst clubs in the Big Ten. Then the Huskers visit Sparty, which opened as a 9-point favorite. Nebraska gets a three-game breather following that game: at Northwestern (granted, the Wildcats should be much better than 2013 and they are only 1-point opening underdogs), vs. Rutgers and vs. Purdue. The Huskers get a nice bye week after the Boilermakers before visiting Madison for what could well be the West Division title game. Wisconsin opened as a 9.5-point favorite. There may be a letdown game for Nebraska the next week vs. Minnesota before closing the season at Iowa, the only other team with a realistic shot to win the West. The Hawkeyes opened at -3.
Nebraska Cornhuskers 2015 National Championship Odds and Trends
Odds courtesy of 5Dimes . Nebraska is +7300 to win the national title, +1250 to win the Big Ten Championship Game and +325 to take the new Big Ten West Division (No. 2 behind Wisconsin). The Huskers currently don't have odds to make the College Football Playoff. Nebraska has "over/under" wins totals of 9.5 (under -720 favorite), 9 (under -535 favorite), 8.5 (under -195 favorite), 8 (both -110) and 7.5 (over -195 favorite). Abdullah is +4000 to win the Heisman Trophy.The Huskers were 7-6 against the spread in 2013 (3-5 at home) and 6-7 O/U (5-3 at home).
Nebraska Cornhuskers Odds to Win the 2015 National Championship Picks and Predictions
So how many wins does Pelini need to keep his job? I think Huskers fans are living in the past because top recruits just aren't going to go there any longer, and it's not like you can recruit in-state talent. There isn't any. All Pelini has done is win at least nine games every year, yet he's squarely on the hot seat. To be fair, the Huskers have lost at least four every year as well.
Nebraska hasn't won a conference title since 1999, but Tom Osborne isn't walking through that door, folks! I believe Pelini lands right on nine wins again (regular season only), which should be good for a January 1 bowl. It won't be enough to win the West Division, however.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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