Nebraska vs. Michigan State: Week 12 Staff Predictions

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

The CN staff talk about the game of the week in the B1G West, as well as the other games of interest across the US on Week 12 of the 2013 season.

Husker Mike: No marquee games this week…but some decent matchups. Though last week, the "marquee" matchups turned out to be major duds.

Cobby: MARQUEE GAMES ARE WHAT YOU MAKE OF THEM!! IF YOU’VE GOT ENOUGH SCRATCH ON THE LINE, VANDERBILT/KENTUCKY CAN MAKE YOU DROWN A FERRET IN TESTICLE SWEAT. IF WATCHING A LANE KIFFIN GO DOWN IN FLAMES MADE YOU HARD, THEN BARKLEY & LEE TRYING TO MATCH THE DUCKS SCORE FOR SCORE LAST YEAR CAUSED SOME CLENCHING. AND AN UNHEALTHY DOSE OF GRAMMA SHOTS CAN MAKE A MAC GAME FEEL LIKE USC-TEXAS 2005. LET’S DO THIS SHIT!!!!

Andy: Uh huh.

Aaron: Wish the Northwestern/Michigan game was on at 11am. Would love to witness that schadenfreude. Oh well, as it is, I’ll probably end up using that time slot to get the Thanksgiving turkey and maybe start getting some ideas for Christmas shopping.

David: This week has felt like a big game week in Lincoln.  I’m ready to see how this young squad handles it.

Salt Creek: No time for wittiness, free food is afoot. Bo can’t question my natural instincts as a graduate student, no sir.

Brian: It’s going to be a long Saturday for me. I get to work the Baylor/Texas Tech game in Arlington. Originally, it was supposed to be an 11am kick, but the change to 6pm basically takes the ability to watch the Neb/MSU game live out of the question. Hoping the Bears can win and be done with it in under 4 hours. There are some great games this week, I do agree.

Washington (+2.5) at UCLA

Husker Mike: My money is on UCLA for this one. Miles Jack might just become the next ESPN obsession; the linebacker went both ways last week and rushed for 120 yards. That might be the missing piece of the UCLA offense, which has been as injury riddled as Nebraska’s.  UCLA 28, U-Dub 24

Cobby: CHICKS THAT GO BOTH WAYS ON CINEMAX ARE COOL. UCLA LB’S? NOT SO MUCH & NOW I CAN’T FUCKING UNSEE THAT. WASHY 31 JUICY LA 30

Andy: Washington has had a couple of basically bye weeks to rebound from a brutal stretch of Stanford & Oregon sandwiched by the ‘Zonas, but it seems their defense can only really perform against non-threatening offenses (sound familiar?). However, UCLA seems to be slowing down a little. If this was in Seattle, I’d have no trouble picking the Huskies, but since this is being played on the neutral field that is a Bruins home game, I’ll take ‘em. Bruins 35 Huskies 33

Aaron: I’ve got no rhyme or reason for my pick, but I’ll go with Washington. Dawgs 45, Bruins 31

Jon: I like UCLA if for no other reason than we could use a strength of schedule boost for no other reason than to brag about it, which is useless, really unless you run into one of those anal retentive college football fans and who wants to be around them? (This is why I have no friends. Shit.) You know, I don’t even like the Bruins all that much. UCLA 38, Washington 31

David: I’ll second Jon’s SOS boost as reason enough to pick UCLA.  I know they’ve been hobbled a bit since we saw the in Lincoln, but I think they do enough to knock off the Huskies.  That’s as much of a breakdown of that game as I can give you.

Salt Creek: UCLA.

Brian: Washington seems to be the less stable team here. Win your first 4, lose your next 3, then win 2 in a row. I have been impressed by UCLA all season. In the Rose Bowl, I can’t see Sark getting a win here. Bruins in this one.

Georgia (+4) at Auburn

Husker Mike: Biggest surprise is that nearly everybody at the Georgia SB Nation site Dawg Sports picks Auburn. Now, if the home folks are that pessimistic, who am I to argue.  Auburn 34, Jawja 28

Cobby: I’M THINKING OF JUMPING A RAIL CAR TO AUBURN THIS AFTERNOON. FOR A STEADY STREAM OF BOTTOM SHELF LIQUOR & MILDLY DIRTY JOKES THAT MAKE THEM GO "TEE HEE", AUBURN WOMEN CAN BE TALKED INTO THINGS THAT WOULD GIVE JENNA JAMESON PAUSE. TIGERS 34 DAWGS 31

Andy: Well, "Aw-brin" appears to be back, but for the moment, I’m going to say that just makes Gus Malzahn competent. Frankly, I think it’s more a testament to the fact that Gene Chizik makes Gary Pinkel look like Bobby Fischer and Pinkel once popped a blood vessel in his left eye when someone tried to explain checkers to him.

The fact is, if you are the head coach of a school whose alumni didn’t even flinch when it came time to top Mississippi St’s $180k bid for Cam Newton, then you will have a stable of talent. One that makes a fairly steady diet of Top 10’s doable and a 3-9 simply unthinkable.

This game? Georgia will battle but they’re simply depleted. Aw-brin 30 UGA 24

Aaron: Auburn should win, but since everyone else is picking them, I’ll go with Georgia. Bulldogs 28, TIgers 24.

Jon: GEORGIA! WoohoOOOOO!! But damn, Malzahn, too. It would be better for all college football if Auburn continued to get better to siphon off recruits and support for Alabama (if that’s possible, SATAN) and you should all know by now that I don’t really operate more than 60% of the time on common sense or rationality. Poor Georgia. Auburn 35, Georgia 28

David: Man, Auburn seems to have figured something out after that ugly year last year.  I think they keep the train rolling and the howls for Richt’s job grow louder.

Salt Creek: JAWJA.

Brian: I think Auburn is the second best team in the SEC West this year. Aside from the LSU loss, the win at TAMU was pretty damn impressive. Georgia, on the other hand, who knows what you’re going to get? The team that lost to Mizzou and Vandy, or the team that beat LSU and South Carolina? Auburn should win this one, and make for a HUUUUUUGE Iron Bowl.

Michigan (+3) at Northwestern

Husker Mike: Northwestern has had two weeks to sulk over the Hail Mary.  I suspect they’ll be in as foul of a mood as the Weasel fans...who’ll probably still outnumber Northwestern fans in Evanston. That should finally give Northwestern the home field advantage they typically lack at home.  And no, I don’t believe that Michigan’s offense can be fixed this season.  Into the tank they go…  Wildkitties 28, Weasels 13

Cobby: C’MON BOYS!! SOMEONE ON THESE TWO DISHES OF SOFT SERVE HAS TO WANT THIS JUST A LITTLE LESS THAN THE OTHER GUY. AND NORTHWESTERN HAS TO WIN ONE CONFERENCE GAME DON’T THEY? WELL, DON’T THEY??? NW 19 MICH 15

Andy: Wasn’t it The Replacements where the owner said he’d seen better monkey shit fights at the zoo. No idea why I thought of this. NW has lost three straight heartbreakers, so either they’re due or they’re cursed. I’ll say they’re due and Al Borges will stay the course which ends with his offense sailing into a beach. BTW, Devin Gardner is not a mobile QB, so just stop it ESPN. Northwestern 24 Michigan 20

Aaron: Michigan, storied program of the Midwest. Proud and Invincible are the men of the north. Losing to peons such as these Wildcats is unacceptable. That being said, if Hoke losses  this one, odds are high that Pelini will have his job longer than that Michigan Man will. Wolverines 17, Wildcats 15.

Jon: College football would be much more interesting if the vanquishing team got to plunder the stadium at road games. Home fans would be much less apt to sell their tickets as to limit the looting. Not so Northwesterners, though. They still would care less. Damn them. Michigan 24, Northwestern 23 (Because one point losses are heartbreaking and in someone’s mind make everyone that suffers them stronger.)

David: Man, who thought this game wouldn’t mean anything?  I sure didn’t. This still might be an entertaining game.  Northwestrn is fighting to just make it to a bowl game at this point.  Both teams are backed up against the wall and with Michigan putting so much into their hopes for the season on winning the conference title, how will they respond?  I trust Fitzgerald a little more to get his guys fired up and this game is in Evanston, so I’ll go with Northwestern in a sloppy one.

Salt Creek: Northwestern.

Brian: NW needed the bye week, if anything, to get a resemblance of healthy. Michigan’s offensive issues are all mental. I can’t see the Wolverines winning this one. Wildcats with their first win of the B1G schedule.

Oklahoma State (-3) at Texas

Husker Mike:  The return of the Gerg-fense has certainly sparked the Longhorns, who are playing to possibly salvage Mack Brown’s job. Six weeks ago, my money would have been on the Cowboys.  Not now.  Tejas 28, Pokes 24

COBBY: JUST FOR FUN, I’D LIKE TO SEE MR. PICKENS GET DODDS DRUNK AND MAKE HIM DO REALLY DEGRADING THINGS FOR CASH MONEY THE LIKES OF WHICH DELOSS HAS NEVER SEEN.

"HEY, BOY, GO KISS THAT FUCKIN’ DAWG ON THE MOUTH FOR 10 SECONDS!"

"WITH TONGUE, SIR?"

"GAWD-DAMN, THAT’S SICK! TONGUE’LL GET YOU ANOTHER $50K"

"YES SIR"

THEN I’D HAVE THE CAMERAS READY OUTSIDE HIS SUITE, WHEN DELOSS CAME SHAME WALKING IN AT 7AM DRESSED LIKE A HOOKER WITH HIS EYEBROWS SHAVED.

T BOONE STATE 66 TEX MEX 30

Aaron: I see a lot of bowl projections having Nebraska in the Buffalo Wild Wings bowl versus Oklahoma or Texas. I would love to see either of those teams, but Deloss Dodd probably won’t allow the longhorns to go there if Nebraska is there. Anyway, in order for that to happen, Texas has to start losing games. Cowboys 42, Horns 21

Andy: This run is over & I don’t think they’ll allow Mack to fire two defensive coordinators in the same season. Okie St. 47 Taco Bell Shit-Colored Unis 30

Jon: It’s Texas because they do this kind of shit. Texas 24, Oklahoma State 5

Salt Creek: Texas. (Mack Brown ain’t leaving without a fight.)

David: Texas seems to have a lucky rabbits foot or something working for them this year.  They’ve played with fire all year and so far have come out un-singed in conference play.  They’re gonna get a whole bon fire to deal with if they’re not careful with the Cowboys.  The Longhorns have a bye week next week before getting ready for Tech and the big time showdown with Baylor to finish the season.  I think the Horns stay focused and take care of business.

Brian: The belief down here is that Mack still MUST win the B12 to save his backside from the chopping block. With no Dodds to save him pretty soon, Brown must have UT in the top two of the state to justify keeping him around. And with no Saban or Briles available now to replace him. the best case scenario is that Texas wins out. Consequently, Texas has had the toughest schedule of the 3 remaining B12 contenders (OkSt and Baylor). I think the Horns win this one, and set up a big, BIG time battle in Waco the first Saturday in December against Baylor to close Floyd Casey (because UT isn’t losing to Tech on Thanksgiving).

Stanford (-3.5) at Southern Cal

Husker Mike: Is Vegas expecting a post-Oregon letdown for the Tree?  I just don’t see it.  Stanford makes a statement.  Tree 31, Condoms 24

Andy: Hmmm. USC is quietly 4-1 under Big Ed with a couple of good, not great, wins. And Stanford could be ripe after the Oregon win. OK, I admit it - I’ve always been paranoid about weird lines, convinced the bookies know something I don’t. The tree has played a pretty rough schedule, are they getting a little beat up? I don’t know, my head hurts. Screw it. Stunner time. USC 26 Stanford 24

Aaron: Upset of the week. If Utah can do it, why not USC? USC 34, Stanford 22

Cobby: YE GODS!! HIPPIES & BEACH BUMS & SMART KIDS STRESSED TO THE POINT OF A BATSHIT DORM SHOOTING. IF I GOT WITHIN 100 MILES OF THIS NONSENSE, THE QUEER BASTARDS WOULD PROBABLY CARVE OUT MY INNARDS & TRY TO MAKE ME INTO SOME SORT OF HIGH-TECH, ALL NATURAL BONG. I DON’T NEED THAT KIND OF CHIHUAHUA SHIT IN MY LIFE. MAROON 37 FIGHTIN’ RUBBERS 28

Jon: Stanford is a better team than USC. They are the team we want to be. Really, many have said that while watching the Cardinal beat up Oregon. "OH!", they say, "We so want that power football, that offensive line!", when really they wanted to say "OH! We would like to beat Oregon! And plunder Scott Frost, the wunderkind who has less experience as a coach than Bo Pelini but looks so damned good while doing it." Stanford 48, USC 41

Salt Creek: TREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

David: Wait, there’s another game to pick…sigh...ok...uh, well, I guess, oh, I don’t know...USC seems to have been playing well since Kiffin was kicked to the curb and Stanford, well, they’re everything, right now, I want Nebraska to be.  I guess, if I have to, I’ll go with Stanford.  I’ll take ‘em big, actually, meat grinder fashion.

Brian: USC is actually playing really well since Kiffykins was given cab fare to get home from LAX. That being said, it’s Stanford’s world right now. Last year after the Oregon victory, Shaw’s gang beat UCLA twice in a row to win the Pac12 title. No letdown here, and no fear of a sold out Coliseum. TREE.

Michigan State (-6.5) at Nebraska

Husker Mike: I’m still not completely sold on Michigan State’s offense.  The defense, absolutely.  But the offense just hasn’t been consistent.  Granted, Nebraska’s defense hasn’t been the most consistent either, but I think they turned a corner. And if that’s the case, the Spartans offense is the type of offense that a Pelini defense excels against. I see this as a defensive slobberknocker, and the winner is whomever makes the fewest mistakes. Normally, that would be Nebraska, but I think the Blackshirts force a couple of Connor Cook interceptions.  Huskers 13, Spartans 9

Aaron: Game of the week here. I agree HM. Michigan State fans think this should be an easy win for them. Maybe their defense does score three TD’s and buries us, but they seem to forget that their offense really isn’t that great. I mean, they beat Purdue 14-0. At home. Something doesn’t smell right there. Memorial Stadium will be rocking and the blackshirts should be the defense that comes out smelling like roses in this one. I think they force some very key turnovers against the MSU offense and the Huskers get a big win down the stretch. Nebraska 17, Michigan State 6

Andy: Paper tiger time. Both teams have shitty schedules and not a single win either has thus far will look remotely impressive at season’s end. Michigan St. is coming off a bye week, but those can work either way. Led by the battle cry of "Down in front!!", Nebraska’s got the home field advantage which is generally overrated unless the color red gives you epileptic seizures. Each team just played Michigan last and no one outside of Ann Arbor is accusing them of being a physical team.

So - bye week or home field, who’s got that edge?

I’ll go with the Huskers. (Was there ever a doubt?) The fans tell the old farts to get bent & actually deliver some energy with a division title in the gunsights. The offense moves the ball better than expected (let’s face it, they’ve had less trouble than most the last two years). And like the Wolverines, the Sparty offense will not test Pap’s limited in-game adjusting abilities.

Huskers 23 Spartans 13

David: If I’m perfectly honest, I have no clue how the game goes tomorrow.  If the Husker defense continues to play like they have the past game and a half, there will be a lot of people on pins and needles throughout the late afternoon and early evening tomorrow.  I am fairly confident that this won’t be a game that people outside of the Big Ten will appreciate.  It should be a defensive tug of war, which is just what MSU wants.  They like to play the field position game.  If you constantly see NU buried deep in their own territory, that’s a bad sign.  If NU can keep MSU out of the end zone and force field goals all day, they’ll be in good shape.  They’ve got to find ways to make Sparty have to drive the field 70 yards or more.  Armstrong must avoid the interceptions, Abdullah and the skill guys have to hold onto the ball.  The Spartans have feasted on defensive points all season long.  If that happens tomorrow, NU’s odds will suddenly become very slim.  We’ve got a good ‘ole fashioned stare down tomorrow.  Who blinks first?  For whatever reason, Beck and Pelini have had MSU’s number.  I’m not sure that happens tomorrow, but, until I see MSU solve that riddle, and they almost did last year, I think NU finds a way to keep that unblemished record vs. the Spartans in tact, but it’s not without high drama.  NU 16, MSU 15

Jon: Don’t I always predict Nebraska to win? Yes, I do. I see it as my job, mostly, to be a homer. Michigan State should win this game. They have the best defense in the nation. They have a good enough offense, or at least one that hasn’t been so discombobulated by injuries that it’s made of patchwork like Nebraska’s. Still, the edge they have isn’t so much that one would be crazy to suggest Nebraska will win it because I say so. Therefore, Nebraska 16, Michigan State 13

Salt Creek: Nebraska.

Cobby: THE NEXT SORRY SONOFABITCH THAT TRIES TO LAY MY ASS ON A GRILL AT A TAILGATE IS GONNA GET ONE OF MY TONY LAMAS SQUARE IN THE DICK, I SWEAR TO YOU!!! EAT YOUR MEAT & YOUR BIRDS AND STAY THE HELL AWAY FROM VEGETABLES ON GAMEDAY. IT’S A SUCKER FOOD!! AND TRUST ME - YOU BUD-SLURPING TWITS ARE GOING TO EAT SO MANY WINGS, CHIPS, DIPS, RIBS & STEAKS, THAT AN EAR OF CORN OR A SPRIG OF BROCCOLI  WILL NOT CHANGE THE FACT THAT YOUR ASS IS GONNA BE A PAIN-FILLED TOXIC ZONE ON SUNDAY MORNING.

WHAT????

OH.

NEBRASKA 38 MICHIGAN ST 2

Brian: For me, this game comes back to knowing that Michigan State grinds out drives that convinces you that tectonic plates in the Earth’s crust move at a faster speed. Nebraska has done well obviously on third down, but the first down issues can still plague the D. We want to talk about how great the Defense has played for Nebraska, but I’m not fully sold that Michigan was a big challenge. Sparty has played better the last few games, and had that bye week to put something in.

On the other side of the ball, where Nebraska can win the battles is by having guys that should have advantages win the game for you. Guys like Cethan Carter, slot receivers (Turner if he plays, otherwise Westerkamp), so on and so forth. I can’t see Nebraska doing well running the ball with this OL just crushed by injuries, so do the quick stuff that Martinez seemed to make a living with. Is it tedious? Good lord yes. However, with a D like this, you stay on schedule. The more Nebraska can stay on schedule, the better off they will be.

Nebraska has a chance if their Defense gets the ball back to the Offense on a regular basis. The smaller the number of drives Nebraska gets on offense, the less their chances of winning is. My brain screams Michigan State, but my guts say Nebraska. I’m taking Nebraska. Why? Because in the end, you take the team that has more to lose. That’s Nebraska, and the thought that a loss could cost Bo his job come December/January. I’m not saying this will lock the Huskers to Indy, but it just becomes a part of the process that puts them in the drivers seat and sets up a crazy 2 game finish.

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