By the time you read this, I'll have picked up my cousin at the Minneapolis airport and be on my way to Madison. I just hope my 2003 Saturn Vue with 190k+ miles and balding tires gets there okay. (I like everything to be an adventure, in case you're wondering.)
This is the weekend Husker fans have been waiting for. Nebraska's first Big Ten football game, a top ten matchup, ESPN College Gameday on campus, man, it don't get much better than this. Especially if Nebraska can pull out a win.
Mike: Some decent games this week as conference match ups begin in earnest. And rather than worry about just the B1G games, we're looking at all the Big Games for the week. So no, we're not picking a winner between Penn State and Indiana. We just don't want to go there.
Northwestern (+7) at Illinois - For the "Land of Lincoln" Trophy!
Aaron: I'm calling for the upset in this one. The "Zooker" shows up again and Northwestern forgets their debacle against Army. Northwestern 28, Illinois 24
Jon: I keep expecting that Illinois will flame out, that Ron Zook will collapse the team, but reality is that Zook is just an average coach. He's a "3" on a 1-5 rating scale, not so bad you fire him, but not so great that you're expecting wonderful things. Compare him to Pat Fitzgerald, a great coach at Northwestern. One might think that a great coach would easily defeat an average coach, but there's this whole bit about having the right players that frequently gets in the way. Illinois is now 4-0 for the first time since 1951, and if they win, they'll be 5-0 for the first time since, uh, 1951. A sign of the apocalypse? No! Just a sign of how much bigger the collapse will be when the Zooker kicks in. Illinois 28, Northwestern 21
Husker Mike: Dan Persa is going to play? Well, that would change everything in my book, except I have no idea how effective Persa can be. But Persa's return has to be a huge boost to the Wildcats. And that's enough for me. Northwestern 24, Illinois 21
Michigan State (+3) at Ohio State
Aaron: Braxton Miller looked good last week against Colorado. The freshman will struggle at times this year. Michigan State has a chip on their shoulder and has something to prove to the rest of the league. MSU 28, OSU 21
Jon: Ah, Luke Fickell. He is everything Ohio State, but sadly has been elected to the play the dying hero in this tragedy. He'll win games, but not enough to stave off the hiring of Urban Meyer. Or Jon Gruden. Maybe a holographic image of Woody Hayes. Take your pick. This week Fickell faces a fickle team that hasn't won in Columbus since 1998. Too close to call, this one goes to turnovers. Michigan States loses that battle. Ohio State 24, Michigan State 21.5
Husker Mike: Oh, Jon... have you already forgotten who Colorado is? Wait a minute...you're the guy who thought Dan Hawkins was going to work out for the Buffies. So I'll go with the better team versus the team waiting for the Tattoo Five (er, Four) to return. Sparty 28, Bucknuts 23
Texas A&M (-3) vs. Arkansas at Jerry World For An Unopened Case of "Pearl" Beer
Aaron: I still don't buy A&M, but Arkansas looked terrible against a quality opponent. Both teams look to rebound but this is one A&M wants really bad. They want to show everyone that they can compete with SEC schools. Aggies 42, Little Pigs 21.
Jon: If you were betting Mike Sherman vs Bobby Petrino in a cage match there's no way you'd bet on Sherman. He's not the kind of guy who'd pull a railroad spike from his pants and along with a magically appearing folding chair beat the other guy into subconsciousness. Petrino is that guy.
Husker Mike: I didn't buy A&M last year, I didn't buy A&M in the preseason. I'm not buying A&M after their collapse. Pig Soooo-ey 45, Farting Shermans 31
Alabama (-4.5) at Florida For Just Another Notch For Nick Saban
Aaron: Alabama has been tested this year with trips to Penn State and a home game against an ok Arkansas team. Florida will make this a tough game for the Tide but Alabama should prevail. Alabama 24, Florida 21
Jon: Nick Saban, super coach, man with no known weaknesses against Will Muschamp in his first year as a head coach. Oh, Will. Could you not have taken lower expectations and started there? ‘Bama's defense will outscore Florida's offense. Saban gets a 10-point lead, runs the same play 23 times in a row second half, wins by five just to make the line. Alabama 17, Florida 12
Husker Mike: After reading Paul Finebaum's parochial piece of crap (can I say that?) on SI.com, I can't help but hope this game is even uglier than the mugshot at the top of the page. In recent history, Finebaum is right. The SEC has been on a roll in recent years. But football is cyclical. Just when you think you know what is happening, everything changes. Alabama 16, Florida 9
Washington (+7) at Utah
Aaron: This is a good matchup between two good teams. The winner of this game should be able to establish themselves in the upper half of their division. A loss by Utah and Arizona State may run away with the PAC-12 south title. Utah 31, Washington 21.
Jon: Washington is the only former Pac-10 team Utah has never beaten. OTOH, Washington has never played in Salt Lake City. This is one of those games where you know nothing - there's no history, both teams are reasonably matched. And when that happens, take the home team. Or flip a coin and make it fate's call. Utah 33, Washington 24
Husker Mike: When you look at conference realignment, Utah has to be the big winner of it all at this point. From Mountain West to a semi-real conference. But Washington is a better team. Wrong team favored. Washington 31, Utah 20.
Clemson (+7) at Virginia Tech For A Dabo Swinney Breakdown
Aaron: I like Clemson this year. Of course their big wins were against a depleted Auburn team and a Florida State team hung over from their Oklahoma loss. Virginia Tech has not be tested and is fortunate to get this one at home. This is likely to be a preview of the ACC title game in December. Hokies 27, Tigers 13
Jon: Frank Beamer is best known as getting more of his players than nearly anyone else in the nation. Dabo Swinney is best known as yet another man coaching at a school who will never win enough games to satisfy fans with an overinflated opinion of themselves and their program. (Danny Ford cheated.) Frank beats the snot out of Dabo, Dabo throws his head gear, Clemson quarterback Tahj Boyd throws the ball straight into the air between his legs while flying upside down with no one within ten yards of him. Everything normal, nothing to see. Virginia Tech 28, Clemson 2DERP0
Husker Mike: How do I follow that? I don't. Hokies 27, Tigers 21
Mississippi (+4.5) at Fresno State
Aaron: This is the first trip for an SEC team to Fresno State. Fortunately for the Bulldogs, Mississippi is probably the worst SEC this year. If they are going to compete for a WAC title, this would make for a good springboard game for Fresno State. FSU 34, Ole Miss 28
Jon: Pat Hill vs Houston Nutt wouldn't be a contest even if Nutt was armed with a machine gun. Hill and his Fresno State boys has not yet defeated a BCS school this season and this is the perfect time to do so. Ole Miss don't have much offense, and Fresno State has that Logan Harrell fella that's been tearing up the field. No Giggity after this one. Fresno State 28, Ole Miss 20
Husker Mike: Losing coach of this game likely will be unemployed by Christmas. Pat Hill tempted Bulldog fans by playing everybody and anybody tough, but hasn't busted out. Until this week...because it's Houston Nutt. But is defeating ‘Ole Miss enough for Fresno fans? Don't know. Fresno State 35, Nutt Cases 17
Nebraska (+9.5) at Wisconsin For A Chair Made out of Cheese... and A Table made out of cheese....
Aaron: I think this game exposes the issues of a young team and Nebraska struggles. I also hope that it will teach the team a lot and set them up for success for the rest of the season. Wisconsin 38, Nebraska 24.
Jon: I'm tired of hearing how Nebraska is going to lose. I'm guessing that the players and coaches will be tired of it by the time they walk out on the field in Madison. This is one game in which Husker fans won't be complaining about sustained drives, but extolling the virtue of the big play. Special teams edge - Nebraska 31, Wisconsin 28
Husker Mike: I honestly don't know what to predict here. Nebraska's been inconsistent. Wisconsin hasn't played anybody. I'm all over the board here. Heart says Nebraska 21, Wisconsin 17. Head says maybe Wisconsin 28, Nebraska 16 ... or perhaps Nebraska 35, Wisconsin 31 ... or even Wisconsin 62, Nebraska 24. Oy vey. So what do I do? Nebraska 17, Wisconsin 14.