Oct 12, 2013; West Lafayette, IN, USA; Nebraska Cornhusker fans celebrate during a game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Ross Ade Stadium. Nebraska defeats Purdue 44-7. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Decrypting The Odds of 2014 Husker Football

When six early lines for 2014 Husker football games dropped last week courtesy of the Golden Nugget, the Big Red received some good news and bad news. The good news was that Vegas believes in them half of the time. Do the math on the bad news.

Oddsmakers aren’t interested in who wins or loses, of course. They want to put a carrot out there that’s just big enough to entice everyone to take a grab at it. The House is greedy like that.

In the interest of purposes that are strictly for entertainment *cough*, I went to the one guy I knew who could read the Vegas code like the rest of us read a preschool “My First Numbers” book: Adam Kramer.

I first met Kramer through his blog, Kegs N’ Eggs and quickly found out that he knows odds like Nebraskans know steak.

Now Lead College Football Writer for Bleacher Report, I did the one think Han Solo would shoot me in the back for: I told him the odds.

Then I asked him if Nebraska could beat them.

A note of caution from Kramer:

There isn’t a game on Nebraska’s schedule it can’t cover and win. That doesn’t mean you should enter with supreme moneymaking optimism, but rather embrace the possibility to surprise some people.

Nebraska (-4) at Fresno State

I think this is a great spot for Nebraska, especially considering Fresno has USC and Utah before its home opener. It’s trip to the coast—which is never easy—but this is a Bulldogs team that is rebooting in a lot of places. I’d lay the four and not think twice.

What Kramer says is true, however, I’d be cautious on this one. While he makes a great point about USC and Utah (as did our own Mike Snow), Nebraska’s 12-11 against the spread when away from Lincoln over the past five years.

Pelini’s teams are also 24-27 ATS as the favorite when outside of Memorial Stadium and 13-11 ATS in non-conference games. I dig Kramer’s confidence, but I’m laying down gummy bears on this game, if anything.

Nebraska (-3) vs. Miami (FL)

This, to me, is another instance where Miami is being overvalued. That Jake Heaps transfer? That could mean they’re not happy with likely starter Kevin Olsen. Or, maybe not. Regardless, I’ll lay the three and take the home team. Also, what a lovely little matchup.

Ah ha, Kramer and Snow agree again Re: The HurriHype® for the game. However, the numbers don’t get better for the Huskers when surrounded by the Sea of Red. Pelini’s past five teams have gone 16-18 ATS  at home and I’ve already thrown out the 47.06 percent ratio as the favorite.

That said, I think Nebraska could take down the Hurricanes due to the QB controversy Kramer mentioned and Duke Johnson’s unknown durability. I side with the expert on this one.

Nebraska (+8) at Michigan State

Now this changes matters a bit, especially when you consider the timing. By October, the rebuilt Sparty defense will be, well, rebuilt. And that Michigan State offense should also be quite good. I don’t love either side, but I’d probably side with Sparty here.

Considering I have Michigan State going to the Big Ten title game with an unblemished record, you can guess how I feel about the game in general. However, this is the first contest we’re touching on where Nebraska is the underdog. Husker football has posted a 7-6 record ATS over the past half decade in that role.

However, the Big Red’s 19-22 ATS in-conference during that time, too. Considering those odds, what should be a solid offense and another dominant defense, I put green on green like Kramer.

Nebraska (-2.5) at Northwestern

Northwestern is a tough team to figure, especially with Venric Mark—the team’s best player—coming back from injury. To me, however, this line should be larger. I’d have Nebraska as at least a 4.5-point favorite, and you could even stretch that a tad higher. For that reason, I’ll lay the 2.5.

I totally understand Kramer’s reasoning, but the Huskers and Wildcats’ three Big Ten meetings have been decided by a total of seven points. The last two came down to the waning moments of the fourth quarter. I wouldn’t touch this game monetarily with a ten foot pole.

If Kramer wants to offer up a 4.5 line personally, I’d wager a Runza.

Nebraska (+7) at Wisconsin

Playing at Camp Randall is not fun, and this line feels exactly where it needs to be right now. The biggest question here is pretty obvious: can Nebraska stop Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement, perhaps the best running back duo in the land? Maybe. Because it’s a touchdown, however, I’ll reluctantly take it and back the Cornhuskers.

That’s a fun line, isn’t it? Considering the Huskers haven’t won in Madison since 1966 and the last trip there wasdisappointing for Nebraska fans, I have to disagree with Kramer. If the game was in Lincoln, we’d be in the same boat, but fool me by 31 points, shame on you…

Check out Kramer’s other awesome work at Bleacher Report and at Kegs N’ Eggs. You won’t regret it.

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