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Nebraska Football vs. Illinois: Week 5 Predictions

The CN staff goes off on this week's games, including Huskers/Illini

David McGee

Husker Mike: This week, the Big Ten West makes its presence known with three of the better games of the weekend - at least according to Vegas.  And, of course, two of them are on BTN.

Adam: How is it already Week 5 of the College Football season? Where does the time go? The season is already almost half over…

Joe: No opening comments for me. Other than that there are no opening comments.

Patrick G: Last weekend I finally got fed up not knowing enough about college football statistics so I ordered Bill Connelly’s book from Amazon.  It’s not here yet...

Ty: Oy.  After last week (and season… and my entire tenure here…) I’m not sure why I do this any more.  I airball these more than I hit the rim.  Wait… wrong sports metaphor.  Oh well.  Let’s see if it’s set up for me to get the kill this week…

Pat Janssen: I hope Nebraska fans aren’t complaining about the later start time due to Hurricane Joaquin because I’ll be watching the game (and all others that manage to be playable) in some bar on the North Carolina/South Carolina with plywood on the window. I’m smack-dab in the middle of it all. Figures. The one time I take a trip and don’t look at the weather beforehand. It’s not enough for me to worry about Nebraska’s pass defense against a salty Illinois squad? Now I have to worry about getting swept away by the angry hand of God?

Salt Creek: I’ve been asking myself this week whether planning a wedding or fixing Nebraska’s secondary is a harder job, and I have to say, I really think I’d rather decide between shades of blue than attempt to make acceptable sausage out of that unit.

David: No Notre Dame vs. Clemson? West Virginia vs. Oklahoma? Ohio St. vs. Indiana? Mississippi St. vs. A&M? Alright, whatevs.

Keith: Notre Dame/ Clemson is going to be possibly the most interesting game of the year due to Clemson being underwater. WHERE IS BAYLOR AND TTU! If anyone takes the over on that and wins, I will be shocked.

Ranchbabe: I finally understand why people can be fans of crappy teams. Being a fan of a team that is expected to win is hard -- especially when they are not winning as much or in the way the fans expect. Oh, nevermind that crap - Go Big Red!

Greg: I will be in Champaign and attending this game. More on that when we get to the grand finale.

Brian: You say it’s a short year, I say it’s a long year. Not going to do much with these, so let’s make it short and sweet, ok?

Iowa (+7) at WisconsinI

Husker Mike: Let me say first that I think too much is being made of Iowa’s 4-0 start. Who did they play?  Sagarin’s #84 team, Illinois State (win by 17), #61 Iowa State (tied with just over 2 minutes to play), #47 Pitt (needs a school record field goal as the clock hit 0:00 to win), and #156 North Texas.  It’s not inconceivable that Iowa could be 2-2 at this point.  Wisconsin may still be struggling to run the ball, but even so, the Badgers are still the better team. They’ll prove it on Saturday.  Bucky 31, Squawks 14.

Jon: Wisconsin is still trying to figure out who they are; Iowa already knows. Oh, whatever the hell that means - it sounded good, didn’t it? Joel Stave vs CJ Breathard. Stave seems more consistent to me although Breathard has played well this season. Close, but the Badgers win this at home, Badgers 28, Hawkeyes 24

Adam: I really hate both of these teams. But I think it will still be a good game. I know it’s always hard for opposing teams to leave Camp Randall Stadium with a win. I think CJ Beathard will play well in this game. I don’t think Joel Stave is that good of a quarterback. It will come down to the last drive but Iowa pulls it out. Iowa 28, Wisconsin 24.

Joe: Wow.  Is Nebraska being looked upon as worse than these two pieces of crap?  I hope not.  You know the saying "when you have two quarterbacks, you have none?"  I know it usually applies to one team not picking a starter, but I think it just as easily applies to the two teams in this game. In an incident sure to enrage PETA I predict a bloody pre game battle between the live mascots of these two teams, leaving the crowd shocked and appalled at the carnage.  The game will be cancelled for fear of rabies.

Nathaniel: As Mike said, Iowa could easily be 2-2 and they travel to Camp Randall which isn’t the easiest place to play. Stave shows that he can get it done against a decent defense and Wisconsin hold on to win. Bucky 20 Squawky 17

Patrick G: My goal is to watch this game with the idea that I will have a better grasp on the West Division. Reality, I will probably be watching a grudge match as each team realizes they really do need work to get through the conference slate.  With that said, I believe Wisconsin will pull it off but the score and game will be a little dull.  Aka, a true B1G game!

Wisconsin 17 Iowa 10.

Ty: I don’t think either team is as good as they think they are.  Not much to say on this one that hasn’t already been said, but I think Wisconsin’s just better than Iowa.  Bucky 31-17

Pat Janssen: IOWA GETS TO PLAY A REAL OPPONENT! Non-honey Badger don’t care. Regular badgers 28, Colonel Potters 14

Salt Creek: I have really bad news for everyone: Wisconsin has decided to suck in the one thing Nebraska can defend against, and focus all of their eggs on the one thing we can’t. Thankfully, they get to play Iowa first. I think Iowa wins this in true Big Ten Slugfest MMXV fashion, hopefully sending a tired and beat up Wisconsin team to play Nebraska.

David: I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I have a policy where I don’t acknowledge Iowa before Thanksgiving. So, IDK, how about Wisconsin by default or something.

Keith: Wisconsin by a lot. Iowa played ISU, and won by 17, but that says more about how bad ISU is. Wisconsin while not impressive, is still a much better team than the Hawkeyes. I refuse to put any statistical analysis in this week as last week it burned me. Wisconsin 29 Iowa 20

Ranchbabe: This is going to be one of the most Big Ten games of the year, except for the one below. It would be really fun if both of them lost, but I am going with a 0-0 tie. Ferentz punts from the Wiscy 29 yard line. Stave cannot see over the ginormous linemen of either team and ends up running to the sideline every play.

Greg: Iowa is where the "fun" leaves football. Wisconsin is where the fun gets drunk and fat and eventually puts on a cheesehead and becomes belligerent. Not all the jumping around will cure that. But damn, Iowa won’t start 5-0. Badgers win by a margin >10.

Brian: We’ll know about both teams much more here. I think Iowa’s Offense is good, but Wisconsin’s is better. Badgers at home. Either way, winner has the inside track for the West title.

Minnesota (+4.5) at Northwestern

Husker Mike: Is Northwestern legit? Good question.  But the bigger question is where Minnesota finds some consistent offense.  Mitch Leidner threw the ball better last week against Ohio, but can they do it against NW?  I’ll take the known quantity here:  NW 27, Goofers 20.

Jon: Minnesota was missing a good running threat but they may have found their guy last week in true freshman Shannon Brooks. Leidner is still inconsistent; Jerry Kill doesn’t know what he’ll get out of him play to play. Northwestern can’t score either, though, 93rd in scoring offense. I’d like to pick the Gophers, but I’m going with the home team. Northwestern 20, Minnesota 17.

Adam: Another important Big Ten West game. This has ‘sloppy’ written all over it. Both offenses just aren’t very good. I think the first team to 20 wins this game. I’ll take the home team here, even though Evanston isn’t the toughest environment in the world. Northwestern 21, Minnesota 17.

Joe: Wow.  Is Nebraska being looked upon as worse than these two pieces of crap?  I hope not.  You know the saying "when you have two quarterbacks, you have none?"  I know it usually applies to one team not picking a starter, but I think it just as easily applies to the two teams in this game. In an incident sure to enrage PETA I predict a bloody pre game battle between the live mascots of these two teams, leaving the crowd shocked and appalled at the carnage.  The game will be cancelled for fear of rabies.

Nathaniel: Defense, defense, defense. Both teams have are meh on offense with great defenses. So good that if this was an SEC game, their fans would be boasting about the low scoreline.. Northwestern 13 Minnesota 10.

Patrick G: Will I really be switching between Wisconsin/Iowa and Minnesota/Northwestern?  Yeah, I probably will.  If you told me this 10 years ago I would have probably laughed you out of the building. Minnesota has a great defense but their quarterback is basically filling a position at this point and their offensive line is pretty dinged up. Northwestern pulls this one off in another B1G snoozer.

Northwestern 23 Minnesota 13.

Ty: Sigh. Why do we have to be so B1G all the time? I mean, this will be fun to watch if you’re a Golden Gopher fan or Salt. Probably more fun for Salt.  Let’s say a Hail Mary wins it for the Wildcats at home 27-24.

Pat Janssen: Oof. I honestly have no clue on this one, mostly because a two-out RBI single in the seventh or eighth inning is probably going to win it. If ever there was a week to pick a 4-3 score, this is it. I went nose-to-nose with Ryan on the Big Red Cobcast about the ineffectiveness of Minnesota’s offense and Mitch Leidner, and though his numbers have improved in recent weeks, the Gophers’ point-production hasn’t. This team has a good enough defense to be ranked in the top 10, and it’s not like Leidner doesn’t have some talented pieces around him. He just can’t hit the necessary throws. I love his toughness, and these seem like the games that Minnesota tends to win. That said, I think the dream season stays (temporarily) alive for Northwestern. Purple 14, Minnesota 7

Salt Creek: Northwestern rolls on their way to a Big Ten championship.

David: Clemson doesn’t really handle the big stage well, or am I misremembering that. Either way, I think Notre Dame handles business here and pulls out a close game in Death Valley, 24-20. Wait, that’s the wrong game...crap, my bad.

Keith: Notre Dame by two touchdowns David. The ground game gets going for the Irish as they wade through mud on their way to victory. Oh, and Wildcats 3 Minnesota 0 (OT).

Ranchbabe: Two teams that can’t pass and two teams that can defend pretty well. I probably should have saved by 0-0 tie for this one. Oh hell, first time in history two games in the same conference end in a 0-0 tie.

Greg: (wonders if anyone else caught what Joe did just there) You all remember "Fun," right? Well say hello to Fun’s younger brother Misery. As in "I am in Misery if I have to hear anymore about Minnesota/Northwestern." I’m going with the Gophers here because Northwestern can [redacted]. jerry Kill and Co. get a (big?) win on the road, 34-20.

Brian: Northwestern’s Offense is bad. Minnesota’s is worse. Wildcats.

Alabama (+2) at Georgia

Jon: ‘Bama is a certified bit of crazy headed by a spawn of Satan coach who’s offensive coordinator has failed up his entire career. Georgia’s that team that is too pure, really, to be in the SEC. When these two teams meet, who can pick the Bulldogs? ‘Bama lost already and gave up a ton of points doing it. It’d be neat to see more articles taunting ‘Bama fans about their failing dynasty, but until Georgia doesn’t blow a big game like this, who can pick them despite what numbers say? Alabama 34, Georgia 28

Adam: I’ll be honest here. I probably won’t even watch this game. It is a huge game in the SEC, but the Nebraska game is on at the same time. Anyway, Georgia needs this win. They haven’t been able to get over the hump in a long time. This would be the perfect game, at home, to prove that they are back. I also don’t think Alabama is the same team as we have seen under Nick Saban. I’ll take the home team here. Georgia 34, Alabama 21.

Joe: Keeping up with my actual mascots fighting theme I think the outcome of this game will be the same as if an actual Elephant were to fight a Bulldog.  Alabama smashes Georgia 38-13.  (Full disclosure:I am rooting for Georgia and hoping I jinx the Tide)

Nathaniel: Georgia will somehow Georgia this game in the 4th quarter in the Tide will pull it off with a last second FG. Elephants 38 Dawgs 37.

Patrick G: I’ve been picking Georgia as my go to SEC team to win out off and on since College. I really want to do that again this time….and I will continue that tradition. I really like Chubb against the Alabama defense. If anything, he will help open up the receivers in the secondary.  I know they have not played anyone of note, but I think this might be their year against ‘Bama.

Georgia 32 Alabama 21

Ty: I love the idea that the SEC might, JUST MIGHT, have the lug nuts coming loose.  This game could be the most B1G SEC game of all time.  I actually expect both teams to look desperate throughout, which will keep it close.  I don’t know who will win it, but it will be on a lucky touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Pat Janssen: Does Georgia finally come through? Nah, Dawg. ‘Bama 37, ‘Rgia 21

Salt Creek: Lucky for me, I get to trapped in town for this game. Thankfully, I’m not attending - I’ll be at our local brewery trying out their pumpkin beers (like 10 or 11 different beers) and watching on a big screen. This game sort of comes down to the quarterbacks. If Lambert is legitimate, expect Georgia to roll, and roll big. If Alabama can get their QB into any sort of rhythm, and Lambert is not as good as advertised against Bama’s defense, Alabama wins a squeaker. So give me Georgia with a fourth quarter, go-ahead touchdown. GO DWAGS.

David: Georgia’s gonna get Richt’d in this one. I’m not even sure what that means. Georgia has had a Bama problem in the past. I think that gets in their heads a bit and Bama, despite their...nope, never mind, I’m going with Georgia. They finally bite back and stem the Tide. Georgia gets a late TD to make it look more lopsided than it actually was: 37-21.

Keith: This game is much lower scoring than everyone predicts. "Showers. The rain could be heavy at times. High near 63. Northeast wind around 10 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New precipitation amounts between 2 and 3 inches possible."

Due to weather, this game ends 16-13 with Georgia ahead.

Ranchbabe: I really, really want to see the Saban death stare during a postgame press conference. I don’t care how many TVs explode. Dawgs 34 Bama 20

Greg: If ‘Bama wins this, then we truly know that Nick is Satan. Give me the Bulldogs in the rain, 28-20

Brian: Mark Richt is still Mark Richt and a pissed off Nick Saban will still destroy anyone. Roll Tide

Oregon (-7.5) at Colorado

Husker Mike: I saw this line and couldn’t believe my eyes. Yes, Colorado is a bit better this season than they’ve been in years. And Oregon got Oregoned last week. But there’s no way this game is that close. No friggin’ way.  Ducks 38, Buffies 24

Jon: What the actual hell? Okay… beyond the initial shock, that ass-kicking that Utah dealt to Oregon; teams don’t normally recover from those quickly. Closer than you think. Oregon 35 Colorado 31

Adam: I can’t believe this is actually a ‘big’ game. Where did Oregon go? Did they forget how to play defense last week? They lost 62-20 to Utah last week AT HOME… That is ridiculous. Teams don’t beat Oregon at Autzen Stadium, and they definitely don’t blow them out. Now Oregon has to go on the road in the ‘Pac 12 After Dark Special’ at Colorado. I honestly see this game coming down to the final possession. Here’s my upset special this week! Colorado 45, Oregon 38.

Joe: Remember when these teams were good?  (Three weeks ago for Oregon and several decades ago for the Buffs).  In a stunning animal world upset, somehow the Ducks peck the Buffaloes to death 55-27.

Nathaniel: This isn’t Chip Kelly’s Oregon. Even though it’s Colorado, I don’t see Oregon pulling half a hundred in the altitude. Oregon will get off to a slow start because of the altitude and if Colorado doesn’t take advantage (they won’t) they don’t have a chance in this game.

Ducks 41 Puffs 21

Patrick G: Oregon -7.5 against Colorado??? Nope, nope, nope! I just don’t believe it. Maybe Vegas still thinks it’s 1991 in Boulder?  They lost to Hawaii, beat Mass., CSU, and blew out a Nicholls State team who has scored only 10 points all year. Oregon is going to come back strong this week.

Oregon 42 Colorado 17

Ty: 7.5, seriously? I know nearly everyone else has said that, but seriously? I think I’ve mentioned how I was born and raised 10 miles due east of the stadium. Having run the BolderBOULDER five times, I’ve also run around the stadium. I hate this stadium. I will say it’s nearly unrivaled for scenery around it, but the fans suck. I think the Buffs will have decent support, but the cheers when Ralphie runs out will quickly turn to boos when CU fails to even slow down Oregon. This game will be a great elixir for what’s seemingly ailed Oregon of late. Ducks 55, Buffs 13

Pat Janssen: Weirdly enough, Colorado is a weird Hawaiian series of events away from being undefeated. But Oregon far outclasses the Buffs’ murders’ row schedule. Scott Frost channels his inner shot-putter and the Ducks stamp their foot on the gas pedal. Green/gold/black/neon/pink/white 48, Black/gold 21

Salt Creek: On Sunday, we start the "Scott Frost went to Stanford" history do-over. BUFFALOES with the stunner from the high rope, winning by like a field goal or something.

David: Oh, what could have been! Corso, the fables former Hoosier head man returns for the first time with College Game Day. Could you imagine the hype in Bloomington? It would have been awesome! Can the 4-0, under the radar Hoosiers knock off the juggernaut 4-0 Buckeyes? Sure, why not? BECAUSE NOBODY IS GOING TO BEAT OSU, THAT’S WHY! This one will be entertaining early as both teams go up and down the field, but the Hoosiers just won’t be able to shut down the Bucks and the Bucks will eventually slow down the Hoosiers. In the end, OSU will pull it out, 52-42...oops...I did it again…

Keith: This actually opened at -12 for Oregon, so the Ducks have a lot of money riding on them. Luckily for them, the Buffs are just not that good. Ducks 36, Buffs 20

Ranchbabe: Insert Fan Duel commercial here. I absolutely cannot fathom any way that Colorado wins this game even if Scott Frost has to come down from the press box and sneak into a uniform and QB the Ducks himself. If I was a better (and I am not) this is tempting to put some money on. Ducks 45 Buffs 17

Greg: Watching Colorado is a lot like watching Nebraska. I mean...with a few exceptions. But they have had an odd opening to their schedule. Unfortunately, they aren’t playing Illinois. They’re playing an embarrassed and pissed off Oregon team. Ducks win this one running away. I can’t even give a score because my numbers don’t go that high.

Brian: Oregon’s D is garbage, but they’re a better team with Vernon Adams at QB. Ducks don’t lose 2 in a row because Colorado.

Nebraska (-6.5) at Illinois

Jon: Fifth week of the season and we still don’t know what we have…. oh, what bullshit is that, too? We know what we have. We have an incredibly bad defense against the pass. We have the best set of receivers in the Big Ten and a quarterback who’s become one of the most prolific passers in the conference. I expect Nebraska’s offense to come out quickly and deliver some quick-strike scores that get Illinois down and into panic mode. The defense does enough, the offense continues to score. Nebraska 42, Illinois 24

Adam: And the most important game of the week. Will Nebraska’s pass defense finally play better? Will Pierson-El be able to make an impact in his first game back? This is the kind of game that Nebraska just needs to win. Don’t complain about the score, just win the game. Especially with the Wisconsin game looming next week, just get the road win. I’ll take Nebraska in a very close game. Nebraska 38, Illinois 35.

Husker Mike: Vegas says to take the Huskers, but all of the advanced stats point to Illinois. Bill Connelly’s S&P+ gives Illinois a 63.6% chance of victory. I can see either team winning this one: Illinois’ receivers have been inconsistent all season, and this could be the week that Nebraska gets their secondary settled down. On the other hand, Wes Lunt is capable of putting up big numbers, and this could be the week for Illinois to get their receivers settled down.  So which is it?  Going into the season, I had this game as a Nebraska win, but that was before I saw just how horrid this version of the Blackshirts are.  Sigh.  Illinois 34, Huskers 28.

Joe: Finally some human mascots.  I’m going to cease with the references to the mascots for fear of bringing up the sad history of America’s westward expansion and the Near-Extinction of the Native Americans.  But I do think corn beats maize in this one.

Nathaniel: What will forever baffle me is why the O/U in this game is 57? Has Vegas watched the last few Husker games? With Wes Lunt going up against our secondary the O/U should be 70. Lots of points will be scored and I think both teams go shot for shot until Nebraska bunkers down and pulls away in the 4th quarter. More of that fullback trap please?! Huskers 48 Illini 38.

Patrick G:  This is where I really need to start diving into statistics because I feel that it would hopefully help me get an understanding of this year’s Nebraska team. Plus a lot of the stats I’ve seen has favored Illinois in this game. I believe they should win this game but it wouldn’t surprise me if they didn’t. When it comes down to it I believe our secondary will play just good enough to keep Illinois from outscoring us and Tommy Armstrong will have another 300+ yard day against a defense that really hasn’t seen a decent offense outside of UNC. (take that UNC bit with a grain of salt)

Nebraska 42 Illinois 38

Ty: This will get interesting fast. I think the Blackshirts manage a couple early turnovers, almost by accident, to get a comfortable early lead and put Illinois into desperation mode. Tommy continues to be Tommy (which is now good thing!) and while DPE will be used sparingly, I think it’ll be effective and will scare anyone who has to play us.  It’s a good thing we get a comfortable lead, because even though they’ll be desperate, Illinois will get big pass plays on us.  Ultimately, the Huskers prevail by two touchdowns.

Pat Janssen: I get it. Illinois is improved. Nebraska has looked shaky at times. Illinois likes to chuck it all over the place. Nebraska likes to watch other teams chuck it all over the place. Blah blah blah. How reactionary are we as a fanbase? Too reactionary, I say. A three-to-four touchdown win proves it. ‘Skers 42, Illini 21

Salt Creek: Here’s a funny stat for you: Nebraska is 0-2 when I don’t watch them play. Nebraska’s second half collapse against Southern Miss? Yeah, I was out running errands. Guess what I’m not going to be able to do Saturday? Bill Cubit’s resume will look mighty fine in December. (On a related note, I am entertaining cash offers to force me to watch Nebraska play for the rest of the season. Weddings are expensive, y’all.) Illinois wins a shootout, probably, because I have no idea. Illinois’ running game isn’t very fearsome, I don’t think, so Lunt will probably just run the BYU "THROW DA BOMB" play over and over and over and over.

David: #BRINGBACKTHEREDPANTS #DPEISBACK #SOISGANGWISH #IMUSINGCAPSLOCKTOOMUCHTODAY. In all seriousness (lol) this game scares the heck out of me. Illinois isn’t happy about the back-to-back beat downs in Lincoln and their strengths matchup with NU’s weaknesses. This one will be a shoot-out, too. Tommy will complete his gunslinging ways, but this one will come down to which team can avoid the big turnovers. If NU can keep that from happening, they should be in good shape. Also, they need to convert red zone opportunities and count by 7 instead of 3. There will be a sizeable contingent of Husker fans, I expect, which will help,  but this one will be a struggle. I’m taking the Huskers, but it’s gingerly. I’ll say NU holds off a late Illinois surge 34-33.

Keith: Illinois played well their first two games, not so well their past two. Memorial Stadium turns Red on Saturday as the Huskers give up 350 yards passing again, Banker is fired and Nebraska drops to 2-3 as many worry about if the Huskers get to 6 wins. Illinois 44, Nebraska 31.

Ranchbabe: I will just leave this here. Huskers 41 Illini 34

Greg: I’ll be at this game. I’ll be tailgating for a good long time. Josh Ferguson can move the ball with his legs. Lunt will throw the ball all over the field. But our secondary comes away with a couple big plays and two turnovers (hello Nate Gerry). NU’s offense should handle an Illinois defense that isn’t impressive. I say the Blackshirts do enough to get the win. I also say (pre-emptively) welcome to Illinois all the Husker fans in attendance today. Fill up your gas tanks in Missouri or Iowa - stupid gas tax. And I also say that for 9 wins a season, Bo Pelini is the head coach of Illinois by 2017. Scarlet and Cream 48, Orange Unenthusiastic Crush 30.

Brian: Time to get better, because this is the best QB you face up to Thanksgiving. Illinois’ corners are not as good as you would like to believe, and Gangwish returning with a healthy DPE? Nebraska wins by 17.