Nebraska is favored by 17½ points versus Rutgers this weekend. That being said, this looks to be the most likely team remaining on the schedule to pull a big upset, so that 17.5 points has me slightly weary. I do think Nebraska takes care of business on Saturday, as they are a far superior team.
Here are five reasons Nebraska will take care of business and advance to 7-1 on the season.
Rutgers struggles to contain mobile quarterbacks
Rutgers suffered a 56-17 loss versus Ohio State last week. J.T. Barrett threw for three touchdowns and rushed for two more. Barrett also led the Buckeyes in rushing with 107 yards on just seven carries.
Go back to the victory against Michigan and Devin Gardner ran for 40 yards on ten carries and two touchdowns. Howard's quarterback had success against the Rutgers defense as well, rushing for 70 yards and a touchdown.
It would be smart for Rutgers to key on Ameer Abdullah, which will allow Tommy Armstrong to have a big game on the ground. If Armstrong is able to take some pressure off of Ameer it should be another 300+ rushing performance and a big win for the Huskers.
If there is one thing that Gary Nova has struggled with, it's turning the ball over. He has six interceptions in the team's losses this, including five against Penn State. As a team Rutgers is 104th in the country with a -4 turnover margin.
Rutgers is no better at creating turnovers. They rank 93rd in interceptions and 69th in fumbles recovered. If Rutgers gets pass happy and Nova turns the ball over a time or two, don't be surprised if the Huskers get up big early.
Rutgers rush defense
This goes hand in hand with the struggles with mobile quarterbacks.
Rutgers ranks 68th in the country in rush defense (162 ypg) and 94th in the country giving up 4.74 yards per rush. Add in the Husker rushing attack, which ranks as the seventh best in the country, averaging 293.6 yards per game, and eighth in the country at yards per carry with 6.10, and you have a potential nightmare matchup for the Rutgers run defense.
This game could be very similar to the Miami game. Nebraska dominates just about everywhere, but gives up some big plays which leads to the score being closer than the game probably should be. Towards the end of the game the Husker rushing attack will be too much for Rutgers to stop and their defense will tire out, and Nebraska adds a late score to put Rutgers away and cover the spread. (This is my prediction by the way.)
Rutgers punting sucks almost as much as Northwestern's
We saw the effects of a bad punting game last week. Nebraska dominated the field position battle, which lead to short drives for the Huskers and long drives for Northwestern.
Rutgers averages 39 yards per punt, which is good for 100th in the country. You could essentially copy and paste the paragraph last week regarding Northwestern special teams here.
Rutgers ranks outside the top 80 in punt return yards given up. Even if De'Mornay Pierson-El isn't getting the chance to return punts, the threat of him alone is changing teams game plan. If Nebraska controls field position again this week it will be an easy victory for Nebraska.
Chongo Kondolo, Givens Price, Ryne Reeves
Linemen rarely get the attention or credit they deserve. After last week's performance the three mentioned above certainly deserve it. Against Michigan State we saw the same five offensive linemen for the majority of the game. Kondolo, Price, and Reeves have all performed well this year and against a team like MSU you need to have fresh guys in there. Still, there was no rotation at all.
Then the Northwestern game came and people saw what the "backups" could do. The O-line gave up zero sacks in 29 pass attempts and the three mentioned helped lead Nebraska on an 80 yard seven play touchdown drive. If the Husker offensive line is able to establish itself early and can keep the Rutgers out of the face of Armstrong and Abdullah then look for the two to pick apart the opposing defense.
This should be a victory for the Huskers, but as we all know, sometimes they take a difficult route to these "easy games". Ameer goes for 200 plus and two touchdowns, Armstrong throws for another two touchdown and Nebraska pulls away late to cover.