Record to date: 17-16, $1,893

Austin Hanson, Pregame Editor

Nebraska +10.5

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about these Iowa-Nebraska games over the last few years, it’s that they’re never decided by two scores or more. Since its inception in 2011, seven of the first 11 Heroes Trophy Games have been decided by eight points or fewer.

The last four Heroes Trophy games have featured margins of victory of seven points or fewer.

I know the Hawkeyes have won their last seven matchups with the Cornhuskers. I also recognize that Iowa is playing for a berth in the Big Ten Championship Game, and 3-8 Nebraska has nothing on the line other than a trophy.

But that is exactly why the Cornhuskers are going to cover this week. Based on recent trends, this game is going to come down to a late touchdown or field goal. And last I checked, if a game is decided in the final seconds, the team favored by two possessions or more doesn’t cover.

Nebraska will be taking the field to win its first game against Iowa since 2014. The Cornhuskers will also be wielding the Hawkeyes postseason fate in their hands, and they know it. Ruining Iowa’s season would be as good as making a bowl game for Nebraska. So, I think all signs point to Nebraska covering, but not winning, this game.

Over 38

I got burned by picking the Iowa over last week. The total for the Iowa-Minnesota game was 32.5, and the Hawkeyes and Golden Gophers combined for a whopping 23 points.

So, the logical thing to do this week would be to take the under. The total for this Iowa game is higher than last week’s by 5.5 points.

But four years ago, I almost failed a philosophy and formal reasoning class called Principles of Reasoning, Argument, and Debate. So, I’m going to make an inexplicable decision here and take the Iowa-Nebraska over.

At some point, the dam will break. One of these Iowa overs is going to hit. And if there’s any week for it to happen, the last of the regular season makes the most sense.

Nebraska ranks outside the top 75 in the country in a number of key categories including pass, rush, total, and scoring defense. Overall, the Cornhuskers’ defense might be the worst the Hawkeyes have faced this season.

I’m not calling for an offensive explosion from Iowa this week. But I could reasonably see the Hawkeyes scoring a season-high in points against the Cornhuskers.

I think a season-high point total from Iowa will be what it takes for one of these Hawkeye overs to hit. And Nebraska’s porous defense will give Iowa a chance to put points up in bunches.

Lock of the Week: Michigan State +18 vs. Penn State

Michigan State is wielding a power not meant for mere mortals this week. The 5-6 Spartans are playing for bowl eligibility against a team that is much better than them.

No. 11 Penn State should breeze past Michigan State without issue. The Nittany Lions rank higher than the Spartans in a number of critical offensive and defensive categories.

But there’s nothing quite as motivating as playing for a berth in the Motor City Bowl. And with all Michigan State has gone through this year, a home-state bowl game would taste pretty sweet.

Do I think the Spartans will win outright? Definitely not. But will they cover because they have more incentive to win than the Nittany Lions do? Absolutely.