Detroit defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh brought his comeback magic to the Husker’s sideline tonight as they scored 28 unanswered points to beat Ohio State by seven, creating a great middle between the 10.5 point spread and the money line.
The ex-Husker who was part of 20 and 24 point comebacks for the Lions in the past two weeks brought a vivid reminder as he stood on the Nebraska sideline that good teams can come back from large deficits.
Earlier today we mentioned how difficult it is to hit a middle. That is certainly true on blowout winners. Determining where to set the top of Oklahoma’s victory today is extremely difficult. If you backed Oklahoma anywhere from -10.5 to -24.5 during the game, at what point do you take Texas to create the middle? At +30.5? At +34.5? At +37.5? If you tried to middle Oklahoma at any of these points, you ended up turning a good winning position into a small loser. IKf you are backing a blowout winner, do not get cute, just ride out the win.
The best middle opportunities are created when you have taken the dog at greater than a touchdown and they have the lead late in the game. If the favored team is charging back, one can take the favorite on the money line if they have a very realistic chance of winning, hopefully without covering.
For most of the second half this was not the case in tonight’s Buckeye-Husker match. It looked like Ohio State would not only easily cover, but win straight up. There was no reason to risk a winning side bet with a middle even when Nebraska cut the Ohio State lead to 14.
However, when the Huskers cut the Buckeye lead to 27-20 with 1:44 remaining in the third quarter, Nebraska clearly had the momentum, Ohio State was without their starting quarterback, and the Ohio State defense was clearly starting to fatigue. This was the time to shoot for a middle, because there was a very realistic chance they could come back to win and you could still back them on the long side of the odds.
From that point, the NU defense fed off the crowd, completely shutting down Ohio State and Nebraska scored touchdowns on two of their next three possessions for the middle.
The game also was a reminder why one should never back “certain winners” at 1.01. Anyone who had backed Ohio State when they were winning the point spread by 31.5 points were certainly having to sweat out Nebraska’s final drive as they moved deep into Ohio State territory and were trying for first downs. One could picture a missed tackle against a stacked defense leading to a potential cheap “front door” covering touchdown.