Indiana a favorite at Nebraska?
What is this, 1943?
According to vegasinsider.com, Indiana is a three point favorite as of this writing for Saturday’s game at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Not exactly what many would have expected when the season began nearly two months ago.
The Cornhuskers were a popular pick to make a breakthrough under second year head coach Scott Frost. Instead, Nebraska (4-3, 2-2) has done very little to impress in 2019.
Meanwhile, Indiana (5-2, 2-2) has reached at least five wins in their first seven contests for the first time since 2007. The fast start has IU ranked No. 22 in Bill Connelly’s latest ESPN SP+ rankings and even earned the Hoosiers a vote in the latest Top 25 coaches poll.
Nebraska’s wins have come against South Alabama, Northern Illinois, Illinois and Northwestern. The two Big Ten wins came by an average of 3.5 points.
But mediocre play is only part of the story in Lincoln.
Starting quarterback Adrian Martinez missed Nebraska’s game last weekend at Minnesota with a knee injury. In his absence the Huskers started sophomore Noah Vedral who went 14-of-23 for 135 yards against the Gophers. For the season Vedral has only completed 57.6% of his passes and he is not as dynamic of a runner as Martinez.
Nebraska had a bye this past weekend and the availability of Martinez for Saturday’s game against IU is unknown. He did not dress for the Minnesota game.
Indiana of course as their own uncertainty at quarterback with starter Michael Penix leaving Saturday’s win over Maryland in the second quarter. The Hoosiers are fortunate to have an experienced backup, and Peyton Ramsey filled in admirably for Penix, leading IU to the 34-28 win.
The Cornhuskers lost at Minnesota 34-7, and lost at home to Ohio State 48-7 two weeks earlier. Those blowout losses bookend an uninspiring 13-10 home win over Northwestern.
Although no one is predicting a blowout win for Indiana, the Hoosiers have claimed their share of blowout wins over Nebraska.
In a three year span from 1943 to 1945, IU beat Nebraska by a combined score of 162-27 as the Hoosiers reached the 54 point mark for three straight years against the Huskers under head coach Bo McMillin.
The 1943 contest was played in Lincoln and the Hoosiers won 54-13. The margin of victory remains tied for the fourth highest by an opponent at Nebraska. Ohio State tied that mark earlier this year.
Indiana leads the all-time series against Nebraska 9-8 but they have not defeated the Huskers since 1959.
Nebraska won the only Big Ten meeting in 2016 in Bloomington by a final score of 27-22. Three years later, and somewhat surprisingly, the Hoosiers are favorites for the return trip to Lincoln.
Indiana and Nebraska kick off at 3:30 Eastern on Saturday. The game will air on the Big Ten Network.
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