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While the Scott Frost era played to a sub .500 campaign in his first year at the helm, expectations in Lincoln are at a fever pitch entering the 2019-20 season. Not only does Big Red expect to be a major player in the Big Ten, but it also has eyes on going to a big time bowl game if not qualify for the College Football Playoff. The bar has been set extremely high, and it has everything to do with the way the team closed the season in winning four of its final six games and going a lucrative 5-1 against the spread at online sportsbooks in those matchups. In order to become a major player in the CFP race, Nebraska first will need to win the B1G for the first time since joining the conference. Linemakers currently have them installed 13-1 underdogs to pull off the feat which is down from the 16-1 offering at the open.
In order for everything to work in Frost’s offensive attack, the unit must cut down on turnovers and limit penalties as much as possible. Turnovers plagued the team during its six-game losing streak to open last season. It committed 10+ penalties in those matchups with nine miscues logged in the crushing overtime loss to Northwestern. Improvement in that department was made however at the tail end of the season when Nebraska was flagged for seven or less penalties in each of its final six games; four of which were triumphs. Whether the offense can carry that excelled level of play into this season remains to be seen. Regardless, Nebraska’s offense should be more fluid and efficient in year two of the current regime. Adrian Martinez is currently a longshot to win the Heisman Trophy (+1414), but you can bet those odds will shorten up dramatically if the Cornhuskers hit the ground running right out of the gate.
Five of the top six tacklers from last year’s stop unit that ranked No. 94 overall and No. 88 in points allowed have since departed. In Big Ten play, the Cornhuskers served up 434 yards and 31 points per game. With that, there’s certainly some concern with how Nebraska will stack up on the defensive side of the ball. However, the program as a whole has gotten major upgrades in speed and talent under the new regime so this year’s replacements could be even better than the previous edition. The addition of Oklahoma State transfer Darrion Daniels to play alongside his brother up front should have the run defense dramatically improved. Mohamed Barry and his team-high 112 tackles anchor the linebacker corps, while the secondary looks to be in good shape with the lengthy Dicaprio Bootle and Lamar Jackson manning both cornerback positions. There are some question marks at safety however. It’s going to take some time for this unit to gel with all the new faces. Thankfully the early schedule will allow for that to occur with the toughest assignment likely to be the road trip to Boulder in Week 2. Come Week 5, it better be ready!
Big Red enters the season with 8.5-game season win total odds at top rated sportsbooks. The impost is up half a game from the 8 opener. For one reason or another, the betting markets are very bullish on the Huskers. Maybe they think the program is about to go through a similar type season like UCF had when it won its “national championship” in thesecond year of Frost’s reign. With so many question marks on both sides of the ball, it’stough to imagine Nebraska actually having the roster on hand to hang with the big boys.That said, a New Year’s Six bowl game appearance is likely the high water mark for 2019-20. Year three of the Frost era could ultimately see the program take a gargantuan stepforward.