An important Big 10 battle awaits Saturday at noon ET when Nebraska visits Michigan in the conference opener for both teams. The Wolverines are 18.5-point favorites. The over-under for total points scored sits at 51, a slight bump from the opener of 49.5 in the Michigan vs. Nebraska odds. Michigan is looking for a resounding win to start conference play following blowouts over lesser foes the past two weeks. Nebraska is in search of improved play following an 0-2 start under first-year coach Scott Frost. Before you lock in your Michigan vs. Nebraska picks, check out what SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh has to say.

The renowned co-founder of AccuScore, Oh simulates each game 10,000 times using the SportsLine projection model. And he is already crushing his college football picks in 2018, and is coming off a week in which he went 4-1 with his spread selections. Moreover, he has had a particularly keen eye for the tendencies of the Cornhuskers, as he looks to build on an impressive 6-0 record in picks involving them over the past two seasons. 

Last year, Oh advised SportsLine members to back Nebraska as a 14-point underdog at Oregon. The result: the Huskers kept pace and covered in the 42-35 defeat, and anyone who followed Oh's advice booked another winner.

Now, Oh has crunched the numbers and generated a strong point-spread selection for Saturday, which he's sharing over at SportsLine.

In his fourth season, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is under pressure from an ardent fan base to contend for a conference title following a 28-11 mark in his first three seasons. The Wolverines return a wealth of playmakers, highlighted by eight returning starters from a defense that ranked in the top 15 last year in most major categories. The defense is anchored by standout ends Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich.

But the stakes became even higher for the Wolverines in the off-season when they landed Shea Patterson, the highly touted quarterback who transferred from Ole Miss. Patterson was ruled eligible to play just before the season started. The signal-caller is widely viewed as the potential missing piece for a Michigan club that has lacked consistent quarterback play since Harbaugh took over. 

Although the Wolverines have an edge in experience and personnel, it's no sure thing they will cover the spread against a Nebraska club that is looking for a breakout performance under first-year coach Scott Frost.

Frost gained national acclaim for his restoration project at UCF, where he took the Knights from winless to undefeated in two seasons. He's hoping to duplicate the feat at his alma mater, but the Cornhuskers (0-2) are off to a rough start. Nebraska fell to Troy, 24-19, last week as a 10-point home favorite, but there were some positives. The Cornhuskers rebounded from a 17-0 deficit to make it a one-score game in the fourth quarter. The Trojans needed a late defensive stand to seal the win.

Backup quarterback Andrew Bunch played reasonably well while filling in for injured starter Adrian Martinez. Bunch threw for 177 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Martinez suffered a knee injury against Colorado, but is expected to be available against the Wolverines. 

Oh has analyzed this matchup from every angle and while we can tell you he's leaning over, he has discovered a crucial X-factor that makes one side of the spread a must-back. He's only sharing it at SportsLine.

Which side of Nebraska-Michigan covers? And what crucial X-factor decides the spread outcome? Visit SportsLine now to see which side you need to jump on Saturday, from a proven data scientist who is 6-0 picking Nebraska games.