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The 2022-23 college football opening weekend features only one Power 5 matchup. The Northwestern Wildcats meet the Nebraska Cornhuskers Saturday, August 27 for their season opener in Dublin, Ireland.
This will be college football’s return to Ireland following a 5-year hiatus due in part to the COVID pandemic. 2022-23 is huge for both programs after disappointing campaigns last year. Both programs were 3-9 overall and 1-8 in conference play last season but got there in different ways.
Nebraska peed down its leg often and lost eight one-score games. Northwestern was just plain terrible and all but two of their losses were by double digits. In fact, one of Nebraska’s three victories last season was a 56-7 beatdown of Northwestern at home.
My favorite look in Northwestern-Nebraska is the UNDER 49.5 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook. The Cornhuskers welcome in a revamped offensive personnel and the Wildcats lack talent on that side of the ball.
Betting Deets (DraftKings Sportsbook)
- Moneyline: Nebraska (-500), Northwestern (+300)
- Against The Spread (ATS): Nebraska -13 (-110), Northwestern +13 (-110)
- Total: 49.5 — Over (-110), Under (-110)
DraftKings Sportsbook is reporting via VSIN that more than 70% of the money is on the Under as is a slight majority of the bets placed.
The total opened at 55.5 in late May so the sportsbooks are reacting to a flood of Under-money. We are getting the worst of the number but there’s still value in the UNDER 49.5, all the way down to 48.
Scott Frost took over Nebraska’s football program in 2018. Since then, the Cornhuskers are 5-9 Over/Under (O/U) as touchdown favorites or greater. Also, Nebraska is 15-22-4 O/U in games with a 48-point or higher total.
Northwestern is 5-9-1 O/U as 10-point or greater underdogs and 6-15-1 O/U with a total of 48 or higher over that span. On top of that, the Wildcats are 13-21-2 O/U in conference play with a -3.5 O/U margin and 11-15-2 O/U as underdogs with a -3.9 O/U margin since 2018.
This is a make-or-break season for Frost who’s yet to appear in a bowl game or have a winning season at Nebraska. Frost knows his back is against the wall, hence him taking a pay cut, hitting the transfer portal and hiring a bunch of new offensive assistants.
New Cornhuskers offensive coordinate Mark Whipple made a lateral move to Nebraska from the Pittsburgh Panthers. Also, Nebraska acquired former 4-star recruit, QB Casey Thompson, from the Texas Longhorns this offseason.
While Nebraska’s offensive ceiling has been raised, I expect it takes a month, at least, for the new offense to gel. Thompson is an upgrade over former QB Adrian Martinez and Nebraska’s offense last season relied on Martinez. But, there’s going to be a learning curve for Whipple’s scheme.
For instance, ESPN college football guru Bill Connelly ranks Nebraska 92nd in returning production from last season and Martinez was the Cornhuskers’ leading rusher. Nebraska lost All-Big Ten C Cam Jurgens and TE Austin Allen and leading WR Samori Toure.
On the other sideline, the Wildcats project to be a Big Ten basement dwellar on offense. The Wildcats ranks 69th in returning offensive production and scored the fewest points per game in the Big Ten last season. Furthermore, Northwestern had four different starting QBs, none of which played well.
However, the Wildcats have talent at running back and returns four starting offensive lineman including All-Big Ten LT Peter Skoronski. Northwestern will lean into its run-game early and often. The Wildcats will eat up the clock running vs. a Nebraska defense with several questionmarks but won’t hit paydirt.
Ultimately, Northwestern-Nebraska will be a rock-fight rife with offensive miscues and unproductive drives. BET UNDER 49.5 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook.
- A $110 wager on UNDER 49.5 (-110) returns a $100 profit if Northwestern-Nebraska combines for 49 or fewer points.
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