A matchup between two of the winningest programs in college football history normally would be a marquee date on the schedule, but Saturday night's Ohio State-Nebraska game does not have that cache this season.
The ninth-ranked Buckeyes go into Lincoln, Neb., for the Big Ten matchup (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1) as prohibitive favorites over the Cornhuskers.
Ohio State (5-1, 3-0 Big Ten) has rattled off four consecutive victories after a loss at home to Oklahoma in the second week of the season. The Buckeyes won those three games in dominating fashion but, as coach Urban Meyer admits, against weaker opponents.
The same can't be said for Nebraska. Quarterback Tanner Lee has thrown a Big Ten-worst 10 interceptions, and the Cornhuskers (3-3, 2-1) have been just average on both sides of the ball, which is reflected in their .500 overall record.
Nebraska is coming off a 38-17 home loss to then-No. 9 Wisconsin in a game that was tied at 17 in the third quarter. One of Nebraska's nonconference losses, to Northern Illinois, was the first in school history to a Mid-American Conference team.
This week, the Cornhuskers face another Top 10 opponent. The last time Nebraska played Top 10 teams back to back was in 2008 when it lost to Missouri and Texas Tech while still a member of the Big 12.
The Cornhuskers faced the Buckeyes a year ago in Columbus, and it didn't go well for in a 62-3 loss.
Ohio State and Nebraska have met three times since the Cornhuskers joined the Big Ten, with the Buckeyes winning two. Their lone loss was in Lincoln in 2011, when they blew a 21-point lead in a 34-27 win for Nebraska.
The following year, Meyer took over as Ohio State's coach and the Buckeyes have proved almost impossible to beat on the road in Big Ten games since then. They're 21-1 away from home in conference player under Meyer.
A Nebraska win this year would be a significant upset, though the Cornhuskers are expected to put up a better fight that the Buckeyes' last four opponents.
"I think about the way they're playing right now, they're playing at a high level since that one loss and outscoring opponents," Riley said of Ohio State. "They're versatile and productive offensively in almost every category, near the top (nationally) in everything. Same thing defensively, so it's a major, major challenge for us."
The question mark on offense this week is up front. Right guard Branden Bowen suffered a season-ending injury last week in Ohio State's 62-14 win over Maryland. Matt Burrell finished the rest of that game, but Meyer said there's a three-way competition to win the starting job.
"It's wide open right now (between) Malcolm Pridgeon, Matt Burrell and Demetrius Knox," he said.
Ohio State's defense couldn't have been much more dominant last week. Maryland managed to gain just 66 total yards.
Since the defense was manhandled by Oklahoma, it has been on an upward trajectory. But linebacker Jerome Baker, who returned a fumble for a touchdown against Maryland, believes the Buckeyes are only scratching the surface of their potential.
Nebraska will have its hands full with Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa (Big Ten-leading 10.5 tackles for loss) and company. The Buckeyes also welcome back defensive tackle Dre'Mont Jones after he missed two games with an injury, and safety Erick Smith is back on the depth chart after sitting out due to disciplinary action.
Ohio State will be without cornerback Damon Arnette for the first half after he was called for targeting last week. Safety Denzel Ward also was called for targeting in the same game on a fumble-causing hit, but the Big Ten acknowledged Tuesday that the replay official erred.
That means Ward will be available against Nebraska. But Meyer was not happy about the call.
"Concerned, irate, all of the above," he said. "It's not the person on the field. Those are snap judgments. I still to this day don't understand how that happens. That's for the higher-ups to figure out. 'Concerned' is probably not strong enough."
VDB Free Betting Prediction: Ohio State 45, Nebraska 21
Ohio State Buckeyes vs Nebraska Cornhuskers VDB Sport Betting Odds and Matchup Report
Ohio State Buckeyes vs Nebraska Cornhuskers VDB Betting Odds
|Ohio State Buckeyes||-24½ (-115)||-||58 (-115)o|
|Nebraska Cornhuskers||+24½ (-105)||-||58 (-105)u|
|Name||Record||Home||Away||ATS||ATS Home||ATS Away||Offense||Defense||Diff|
|Name||Record||Home||Away||ATS||ATS Home||ATS Away||Offense||Defense||Diff|
Betting Odds Trends
|Ohio State Buckeyes|
|Ohio State is 3-6 ATS in its last 9 games|
|Ohio State is 18-3 SU in its last 21 games|
|The total has gone OVER in 4 of Ohio State's last 6 games|
|Ohio State is 10-5 ATS in its last 15 games on the road|
|Ohio State is 18-2 SU in its last 20 games on the road|
|The total has gone OVER in 6 of Ohio State's last 9 games on the road|
|Nebraska is 2-6 ATS in its last 8 games|
|Nebraska is 15-8 SU in its last 23 games|
|Nebraska is 0-5 ATS in its last 5 games at home|
|Dre'Mont Jones||DL||Prob Sat - Leg - 10/12/17||Jones is expected to play Saturday against Nebraska after he missed the last game with a leg injury.|
|Damon Arnette||CB||Ques Sat - Suspension - 10/9/17||Arnette has been suspended for the first half of Saturday's game against Nebraska and it is unknown if he will be available for the second half.|
|Chris Worley||LB||Ques Sat - Foot - 10/9/17||Worley missed the last game due to a right foot sprain and it is unknown if he will play Saturday against Nebraska.|
|Erick Smith||S||Ques Sat - Coach's Decision - 10/9/17||Smith did not play in the last game due to an undisclosed non-injury issue and his status for Saturday's game against Nebraska is clouded.|
|Shaun Wade||CB||Ques Sat - Undisclosed - 10/9/17||Wade has missed the last three games due to an undisclosed issue and it is unknown if he will play against Nebraska on Saturday.|
|Trevon Grimes||WR||Out indefinitely - Personal - 10/12/17||Grimes is tending to a personal matter and will miss an unknown length of time.|
|Branden Bowen||OL||out for season - Leg - 10/8/17||Bowen is expected to be sidelined for the remainder of the season as he had surgery to fix a broken fibula and tibia.|
|Malik Barrow||DT||out for season - Knee - 9/25/17||Barrow has a knee injury and is ruled out for the remainder of the season.|
|A.J. Alexander||TE||out for season - Knee - 8/13/17||Alexander is likely shut down for the entire 2017 season as he had surgery to repair a knee injury.|
|Dedrick Young||LB||Prob Sat - Hand - 10/13/17||Young II is expected to suit up against Ohio State on Saturday after recovering from a hand injury.|
|Mikale Wilbon||RB||Prob Sat - Ankle - 10/12/17||Wilbon has an ankle injury and did not play in the last game but is expected to be available for Saturday's game against Ohio State.|
|Tyrin Ferguson||LB||Ques Sat - Toe - 10/11/17||Ferguson is hampered by an injured toe and it is uncertain if he will be a participant in Saturday's matchup against Ohio State.|
|Aaron Williams||DB||Ques Sat - Neck - 10/9/17||Williams is battling a neck injury and it is unknown if he will suit up against Ohio State on Saturday.|
|Keyan Williams||WR||Ques Sat - Neck - 10/9/17||Williams missed the last game with a neck injury and his availability is undetermined for Saturday's contest against Ohio State.|
|Matt Farniok||OL||Ques Sat - Wrist - 10/9/17||Farniok missed the previous three games with a wrist injury and his status for Saturday's mathcup against Ohio State is unknown.|
|Matt Sichterman||OL||Ques Sat - Illness - 10/9/17||Sichterman has missed the last four games due to illness and his status for Saturday's tilt against Ohio State is unknown.|
|David Knevel||OL||Doub Sat - Foot - 10/13/17||Knevel has a foot injury and is not expected to suit up Saturday against Ohio State.|
|Bryan Reimers||WR||Doub Sat - Hamstring - 10/12/17||Reimers is not expected to play against Ohio State on Saturday due to a hamstring injury.|
|Antonio Reed||DB||Doub Sat - Knee - 10/9/17||Reed has a knee injury and is unlikely to play Saturday against Ohio State.|
|Tre Bryant||RB||Out Sat - Knee - 10/12/17||Bryant sat out the last four games due a knee injury and has been ruled out for Saturday's contest against Ohio State.|
|JoJo Domann||DB||Out indefinitely - Knee - 9/1/17||Domann suffered an ACL injury and will need an extended amount of time to recover.|
|Jaevon McQuitty||WR||out for season - Knee - 8/10/17||McQuitty suffered a knee injury that will require surgery and will be out for the season.|
|11/5/16||NEB 3||OSU 62||-17/53.5||W/O||-386||-160||-226|
|10/6/12||NEB 38||OSU 63||-2.5/58||W/O||-61||-148||87|
|10/8/11||OSU 27||NEB 34||-10/45||L/O||72||-11||83|
Ohio State Last 10
|9/30/17||@ RUTG||W 56-0||-28/54.5||W/O||419||169||250|
|8/31/17||@ IND||W 49-21||-20/55||W/O||159||275||-116|
|12/31/16||@ CLEM||L 0-31||-1/56||L/U||-255||-117||-138|
|11/19/16||@ MSU||W 17-16||-20.5/50||L/U||-24||17||-41|
|11/12/16||@ MD||W 62-3||-28/58.5||W/O||405||210||195|
Nebraska Last 10
|9/29/17||@ ILL||W 28-6||-6/47||W/U||212||72||140|
|9/9/17||@ ORE||L 35-42||10.5/67||W/O||-205||-92||-113|
|12/30/16||@ TENN||L 24-38||9.5/59||L/O||-203||-169||-34|
|11/25/16||@ IOWA||L 10-40||3/45.5||L/O||-191||-174||-17|