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Staff Predictions: Nebraska vs. Michigan State

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With the Big Ten game of the year coming up Saturday night, the CN staff puts up their thoughts on the whole weekend.

David McGee

Husker Mike: Big games...big week. Welcome to October!

Salt Creek and Stadium: What the hell, Northwestern. I have to take a leave of absence and you guys go straight to hell? I love you guys but come on. SHOW SOME PRIDE. Ugh. At least your coach wears a headset and is aware that his team kind of sucks. Ya got that goin’ for ya.

Brian: It is October. College Football, Postseason Baseball, Conference Schedules starting, the NHL kicks into gear. It cools down in Texas and my electricity bill isn’t $300. Pumpkin Spice kicks in everywhere. How can you go wrong in this month?

Andy: This is probably one of the last weekends I can totally devote to college football before hockey travel & coaching completely takes over my life as it does about this time every year. So, I’m feeling extra lucky that I am free to appreciate what is likely our biggest regular season game. Miami awakened something primordial in me. Let’s see if that beast continues its slouch back towards college football Gomorrah.

Cobby: I’M BACK BITCHES.

Ty: I… I never left.  I’m not going anywhere.  Deal with it.

Nathaniel: Holy crap. So many great games this week. Time for me to get in on the action.

Brian: IT’S OCTOBER FRIENDS. What other month gives you Conference play, the MLB playoffs and the start of the NHL season?!? We’re living in exciting times, my friends.

That’s just to cheer you up by the way as we’re one month from Election Day, and the nauseating thought of ad after ad after news story and such makes you want to throw a can of Redd’s Apple Ale through your 60 inch flatscreen on a Saturday evening.

Wisconsin (-8) at Northwestern

David: You know what wouldn’t suck? If Northwestern beat Wisconsin. I still think the Wildcats are roughly terrible, but it’d be a nice little bonus for us. Don’t think it’s gonna happen, though. Badgers 41-10.

Salt Creek: Now that I’m back, Northwestern will be UNSTOPPABLE! DESTROY WISCONSIN. DESTROY DESTROY DESTROY. Melvin Gordon disappears in the second half while Stave continues to ride the pine. (Northwestern covers.)

Husker Mike: Last week, Northwestern bounced back...and exploited Penn State’s weak underbelly. This week, reality hits.  Badgers have been schizo most of the season, and they were depressive last week.  That means manic this week:  Bahdgers 38, Wildkittens 16

Ranchbabe: I just don’t think Northwestern has the horses to stay in this one. I am surprised the spread is only 8. Bucky 28 NW 10

Andy: Wisconsin is #4 in the nation in rushing, and #1 in backfat tonnage among its fans. Northwestern is #108 against the run and its fans like to make cracks about how they’ll be your boss someday. Wiscy 38 NW 9

Cobby: NORTHWESTERN FANS BRING THEIR BOOKS TO GAMES AND THROW A SNIT WHENEVER I GET A LITTLE EXCITED AND TOSS THE OCCASIONAL BOTTLE IN THE STADIUM. PISS ON THAT. BADGERS 51 PURPLE 6

Ty: The music teacher here is a Wiscy fan and is quite condescending when it comes to talking CFB.  I want them to lose.  I do.  Badly.  But it ain’t happening this week.  Sadly, I had started to buy in to NW last year before the wheels fell off and I think they might show something at some point this season, but for right now, Badgers 35, NW 17

Nathaniel: This will be closer than many people expect but Wisconsin still eeks out a win.

Badgers 34 Wildcats 30

Brian: Well, was Penn St a fraud or Northwestern that good? I dunno, but if Fitz and the gang can do this two weeks in a row, he’ll have my attention. He won’t probably though, even though it’s a road test for Badguh Nation. Wisconsin wins comfortably.

Florida (+2.5) at Tennessee

David: Tennessee looking to rebound after the Dawgs took a bite out of them last week and Florida’s kinda in trouble. I think the Vols stick it to ‘em. 41-10, UT.

Salt Creek: Florida wins this one to keep the SEC East on track for an ACC-esque 4-4 all finish in the conference.

Husker Mike: Is this a must win game for Will Muschamp? Not sure, but it’s awfully close.  BIgger question is whether the Gators can do anything about it.  G8rs 31, Vols 24

Ranchbabe: Will Muschamp is on a collision course with the Kansas head coaching job. I am not sure what would be more fun...watching him continue to squander ESSS EEEE SEEE talent, or cobble together a team from kids whose only other offer was FAU, Charlie Strong’s dismissed players, and jucos Bill Snyder didn’t want. Gators 24 Vols 21

Andy: Oh, Ranchbabe. The only way Will tastes that job is if Brady Hoke turns it down. And that ain’t happening. Kansas is a better retirement plan than Magellan’s best 401k. Anyway, remember when this matchup WASN’T the 5th most interesting out of 6 SEC games?  Now they're just two mediocre schools still trying to mouthwash the Meyer/Kiffin taste out of their throats. Vols get over. Tenn 27 Florida 17

Cobby: THE FUCKING TENNESSEE DOG BIT ME WHEN I TRIED A LITTLE MASCOT KIDNAPPING A FEW YEARS BACK. I’LL BE COMING BACK FOR YOU SOMEDAY, HOUND! GATORS 22 VOLS 20

Ty: I didn’t realise the Smokey was a vegetarian.  Huh.  Absinthe again, Cobby?  Who the H*LL knows with this one?  I think both of these teams have forgotten the intricacies of the game.  Uh…  I hate Florida.  Always have, always will.  Tennessee by a heart-breaking 2-pt conversion in the second OT.  Sure.

Nathaniel: Man the SEC East is garbage this year. Vols escape Neyland with a 31-21 win.

Brian: Florida isn’t good, but Tennessee has more of a fraud for a Head Coach. Yea Vol nation, come at me. Muschamp needs this more. Gators by a touchdown, and whatever.

Alabama (-6) at Mississippi

David: Two SEC games, huh? Alright. Welcome to the Prime Time moment for Ole Miss. I know they’ve got a bunch of talent on that roster, but I don’t think it’s enough to overcome Bama. Tide Rolls, 41-10.

Salt Creek: Ole Miss wins this, much to the bereavement of Verne. Saban makes liberal use of medical redshirts in the aftermath. Kiffin’s offense scores points too, just to annoy everyone. Someone writes an article about how the SEC West champ should just be crowned the national champion. (The invitational is a joke to start with, so why not?)

Husker Mike: Actually, they’ll just argue how it can be a real college football playoff when only four SEC west teams get in.  (They = Paul Finebaum and his listeners.) But reality hits the Grove.  Tide 31, Rebels 21

Ranchbabe: The SEC West death machine must be fed and ESPN won’t rest until both teams are given a win. After doing minimal research on both teams, I have come to the conclusion that both fan bases deserve to lose. The only fitting way both these worlds collide…. a 4-4 tie and the world forever forgets the 6-4 abomination associated with the B1G. (Penn State and Iowa 2004 if you insist on Googling it).

Andy: The Unofficial Bagman Bowl. Alabama is like the family with OLD MONEY who lives in the mansion with Greek columns where "Daddy" sits on the spacious front deck in a Colonel Sanders suit, reads the paper and bitches loudly about "ragheads", "com-mo-nists" and "lih-bruls". Mississippi, buying up players with the deft touch of early 80’s SMU, is like a lottery winner who bought the estate sale manor next door. They wear wife-beaters, point their coffin-sized speakers out the window and buy a fountain for the front yard of a naked angel pissing in  a pond. Bama feels their history entitles them to their success. Ole Miss wears jorts, scratches their balls in public and invites Bama to kiss their ass. Everyone parties in the Grove and tries to hide their erections from 50 years of Miss America breeding. Oh, the score? Not yet, Ole Miss, not yet. Bama 34 Rebs 20

Cobby: I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU GUYS BUT I THOUGHT THAT ALABAMA MILF THAT TOOK A STAGE DIVE ON THE OKLAHOMA FANS AT THE SUGAR BOWL WAS KINDA HOT. ANY OF YOU SOCIAL MEDIA STALKERS GOT A NAME, ADDRESS OR DIGITS ON HER? ALABAMMY 41 REBS 30

Ty: RanchBabe, why we worried about a game when Billy Callahan was grinding our program into the Big XII catacombs?  We just out ESPN’d ESPN.  Oy.  I guess since Ole Miss thinks they’re going to be someone, and Alabama has been someone of late, this is an important game.  Ole Miss gets those notions out of their head as Bama restores their "order" in SEC West.  Bama 45, Miss 17

Nathaniel: Neither Bama or Ole Miss have impressed me too much this season but I think the Bama defense gets it done against Bo Wallace and comes out with a 24-21 win in Oxford.

Brian: The SEC West is good. Really, really good. I think Ole Miss is legit, but Bama finds a way to shorten the game and win this on the road (save last second FG tries but who’s counting). Blake Sims is real deal Holyfield and Ole Miss gets some points, but Alabama wins this one.

Michigan (+3) at Rutgers

David: If Rutgers beats Michigan, drop everything you’re doing and head straight for the bunker. It’ll get nuclear in Ann Arbor. Ah, why not. Rutgers takes advantage of the vulnerable Wolverines and win big. 41-10.

Salt Creek: Rutgers wins at home, ruining Michigan’s introduction to the Big Apple. Brady Hoke still hasn’t found a headset, Ann Arbor lacks a leader, and Michigan dies in New Jersey. I’m pretty sure that’s the plot of Boardwalk Empire, but I don’t actually know.

Husker Mike: This week is the ultimate gut check week for Brady Hoke.  The sharks smell blood, so if Michigan has any fight left in them, they have to show it this week.  (It’s Rutgers, fer crying out loud.)   Weasels 31, Nike School That Wears Those Red Rising Uniforms Every Home Game 23

Ranchbabe: At least this game is at Rutgers and Hoke et al. won’t have to deal with that tough Ann Arbor home crowd. The friendly Jersey spectators are sure to welcome the Wolverines to the east coast. LOLOLOL!  I am not sure if Michigan has any fight left in them. Rutgers 28 Wolverines 14

Andy: After this, Rutgers runs a gauntlet of Ohio St., Nebraska, Wisconsin & Mich. St in 4 of their next 5 games. As if it couldn’t get worse for Michigan, they’re about to fall on their face again, but this time in front of a bunch of screaming jabronis from which the next Jersey Shore cast is being selected. Rutgers 35 Michigan 14

Cobby: BRADY HOKE, YOU LOOK LIKE DRINKING MAN, SIR, WHAT WITH YOUR ROSY CHEEKS AND RUDDY COUNTENANCE. GOTTA WASH THEM NACHOS BELLGRANDE DOWN WITH SOMETHING, RIGHT, HOSS? IT’S GOING TO GET WORSE BEFORE IT GETS BETTER, BELIEVE ME. DON’T FIGHT THE CALL OF THE BOTTLE. GIVE IN TO ITS WARM EMBRACE AND AWAKEN IN LAWRENCE, KS, COME DECEMBER WITH A  JOB & A FAT NEW CONTRACT. NO PUN INTENDED. ROTGUT 27 WOLVIES 10.

Ty: I mean, I know we hate Kansas, but why are we overlooking the fact that Hawkins and Neuheisel are out of the coaching ranks at the mo?  Seriously.  Those are good coa-  Okay, I can’t finish that.  It was too mean.  Sorry Rock Chalkers.  Rutgers 21, Michigan 17.

Nathaniel: Out of all the games this week we are picking this one? Michigan’s woes continue and Rutgers runs away with it in Piscataway 31-17.

Brian: How in the name of a Big Boy Burger does Dave Brandon have a job? I mean, he’s too busy and shit to talk to the media but tells folks in e-mails that they can find new schools to cheer for? Steve Pederson thinks he’s being cold. Rutgers wins at home, and the tirefire flying home to Ann Arbor gets worse.

Nebraska (+7) at Michigan State

David: Soooooo, let’s see, NU has a Heisman contender who has had success vs. the Spartans. The Sparty defense isn’t as good as the past couple, but it’s still very stout. Their offense is pretty good, though. Also, NU should have the best player on the field at all times. I think these two teams are really similar to each other and really want to beat the other. It would validate both teams as a legit national contender. The thing that scares me is Armstrong is showing a tendancy to make two or three really dangerous throws. If he can avoid that, I’m actually pretty confident in NU’s ability to play with MSU and give themselves a shot to win on Saturday. If NU can win the turnover battle, I think they win. Straight up. And because this is a Husker site and I’m a homer, I’m taking NU to come home the victor in a resounding fashion, 41-10.

Salt Creek: Nebraska covers with a three point win on a Drew Brown 60 yard field goal to close the fourth quarter. Ameer gets 200 yards and shoots to the top of the Heisman board. ESPN says nice things about Nebraska, leading to street-rushing celebrations in Lincoln.

Husker Mike: It’s going to be cold and rainy. That should favor the team that likes to run the ball more...aka the Big Red. Nebraska ran the ball on Michigan State when the Spartans had three NFL grade linebackers, and they’re gone now.  It won’t be a blowout, but NU wins.  Huskers 31, Spartans 27

Ranchbabe: Has this Husker team (and its coach) really turned the corner? Will they implode in the spotlight or explode onto the national scene? This will be a hard fought game against two talented teams that match up well. Turnovers were the difference last year. I don’t think they will be inconsequential, but my gut feeling says our wideouts and their ability to break the big play makes the difference this year (either by receiving or blocking or both). Huskers 31 Spartans 28

Andy: I have no idea how to feel  about this one. I think Sparty will score over 30 on us while Pap’s mouth hangs open like a steam shovel. The Question is can we hang? The keys are Beck and Armstrong. Will Beck stay with Abdullah and keep the calls balanced enough to keep Sparty from overstacking the box? And stay the course if things get stuffed early? Armstrong has been picking the right moments to keep it while 9 guys chase Ameer. Can he avoid crippling turnovers? Not the kind where a crushing hit jars one loose or someone makes a leaping pick, but one of those dumbass lobs to nowhere or cross body chucks into traffic. (You know - the kind that are "gunslinger" plays when Favre does them, but undisciplined from anyone else)

I say Tommy minimizes the damage and Ameer steps up because Ameer 4.0 is faster, stronger, shiftier and has conquered the fumbles. Westerkamp and Bell catch a couple big ones early that keep the Spartan D honest. Calhoun is a beast, but this a softer version of Narduzzi’s units.

People expecting smash-mouth goodness are going to be treated to an old-fashioned shootout. Beck has always seemed to have their number. NU falls behind 14-3 then comes storming back in a wild 2nd half that earns Instant Classic status. NU 44 Sparty 41

(Or else we just step on our dicks the way we always do in these games anymore, something like 38-13. But I DON’T believe that. I’m very upbeat this time.)

Cobby: THE NEXT MOTHERFUCKER WHO TRIES THROWING ME ON A GRILL AT THE TAILGATE IS GONNA FIND HIS HAMSTRINGS BLEEDING. I’M THERE TO WATCH MY HUSKERS, CHASE TAIL, AND PERHAPS ENJOY AN ADULT BEVERAGE OR TEN. NOT BE SOMEONE’S GODDAMN SIDE DISH!!! BE WARNED, VEGGIE LOVERS - I’M PACKING A BLADE AND WILL GO FULL HUNGER GAMES ON YOUR ASSES. NOW LET’S DO THIS!!!! BIG RED 77 GUYS IN SKIRTS FROM "300" 14

Ty: I like the optimism on this site.  That makes me nervous as h*ll though.  Umm…. Here’s the thing.  I still think this Husker team is better than most people give them credit for.  Holy crap we can RUN THE BALL ALL DAY!  Anyone in contention for the Heisman who says they aren’t thinking about it is lying, but I’ve not heard anything from Ameer about it.  However, he wants nothing more than to reward Nebraska for letting him play the position he wanted to play, RUNNING BACK!  The ABC Saturday night stage is the perfect place for Bo et al to get the monkey of Top 10 opponents on the road off their back, and in addition, ESPN will no longer be able to ignore Big Red.  Huskers win it 31-24 yet somehow slip three spots in all three polls.

Nathaniel: The Huskers send a message to the nation that they mean business this season. If the Huskers score more than 24 points and Abdullah rushes for over 150 yards they should have no problem winning this one. Nebraska 34 Sparty 20.

*Sidenote* I have Mississippi State, Auburn, Stanford, USC and Oklahoma all picking up wins on this monster weekend.

Brian: So... I have a question for you all…

Who is going to be the better QB on Saturday? Connor Cook or Tommy Armstrong?

Lets face it, Nebraska’s fanbase and media are BEGGING, ABSOLUTELY BEGGING for a Nebraska victory. Because it validates the 6-0 start, Bo is "back" (although he never really was leaving) and then the Huskers are the class and best chance for the B1G to get in the College Football Playoff.

But, BUT, the problem I’m having right now is that mostly everyone I know is trying to give these reasons to justify that Michigan State just isn’t as good as 10th in America. The same folks are also ones that will go high to the hills to tell you that last year’s win was a fluke because "if Nebraska doesn’t give the ball away 5 times" and all that. While that last fact is very well true, last time I saw the gamebook from last season’s tilt, Nebraska didn’t cause a takeaway the entire game. Nebraska had one or more turnovers every game in ‘14, so that’s not a true variable.

Yes, Nebraska outgained MSU 392-361 on the day, and had the bigger totals both rushing and passing. However, lets also not forget that Nebraska drove 75 yards in the final 2 minutes of the game. Take away that, and MSU did better on offense. Yes, mostly everything was self inflicted by Big Red. However, how much of that team is different than this year, other than another year of experience?

Going back to my point about people discrediting MSU is that if Michigan State wins, folks will be quick to prove that Sparty is "over rated" and Nebraska "is better than that, they just had a bad day". I mean, you would almost be able to tell folks that a 14-1 MSU team that won the B1G and Rose Bowl would be dogs to the 8-6 Wisconsin team that won the Conference title the year before.

Also, please realize that I'm not saying Nebraska doesn't have a chance, or won't make plays. We know that they will, but so will the Spartans. And therefore.... we go back to the original question. Cook or Armstrong?

Back to the game though (and I know this is long winded), I don’t think Nebraska wins Saturday night. Why? Because Michigan State makes a living of keeping the ball, driving it down your throat, and putting pressure on the other team to be perfect. Ameer Abdullah will get his yards, and Jeremy Langford will get his for Michigan State. So that, once again, means you have to ask yourself which QB will take care of the ball and make enough plays to win. Remember this one thing about Tommy Armstrong before you jump to say TA: Kenny Bell and Jordan Westerkamp have combined for 35 catches. The next highest number? Ameer and Alonzo Moore with 5 catches each. Michigan State will come ready to play. Will Nebraska? I dunno, but if Brad Kaaya made this D look iffy, what can Connor Cook do? Again, I hope to a based diety I’m wrong, and I’ll eat the crow if I am (and I don’t mind being called out on it). However, I don’t see it hapenning. 5-1 is a great start to the bye week, but 6-0 would be much better.