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Nebraska vs. Southern Miss: Week 4 Predictions

The CN staff gives their choices of the best games this week.

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Husker Mike: Everybody hated me last week for my game selection...but let’s face it. It was a pretty craptastic week schedule-wise. This week isn’t much better, but I promise I won’t make anybody pick Kansas at Rutgers.

Nathaniel: I guess we’re saving all the Big Ten picks for next week.

Pat: Who among us has the (kidney) stones to turn a UCLA/Arizona pick into a prediction of a Nebraska national championship? No one but me! So when it happens, remember this week. And remember that it will also nullify my crappy record for picking all of the other games this season.

Ranchbabe: But I spent all week thinking up good jokes for Kansas and Rutgers!!

Keith: Cincinnati and Memphis should have made this list. The Cubs are going to win the world series.

Greg: Keith, you’re being unreasonable. You can’t predict a game that has already happened. And you can’t ask Mike to post this before Friday night (I know that because I verified when it would be published).

Ty: Hey.  I think I’ll comment this week.  For… reasons?

Adam: I’m new to CornNation. I’ll give these predictions a shot!

Patrick: (cracks knuckles) Okay, let’s play.

Brian: Good lord I can do better picking games. STARTS THIS WEEK lol right.

BYU (+5.5) at Michigan

Pat: Michigan’s favored? I know they’re at home and everybody’s on Harbaugh’s Rocky Mountain oysters, but BYU is saltier than an actual plate of Rocky Mountain oysters. The Cougs could easily be 3-0 or 0-3, but the fact of the matter is they’ve been beyond competitive against first-rate competition (cue the Mike Riley haters who will argue Nebraska is not first-rate competition). They’ve gone on the road against two power 5 teams, beaten one ranked team and JUUUUUUST missed against the team that’s now (probably over-inflatedly) ranked in the top 5. Michigan looks like it’s rounding into form, but if the Wolverines had started out with Nebraska’s first three games, I believe they’d be 1-2 at this juncture as well. I say BYU wins by a touchdown. Cougs 28, Michigan Men 21

Ranchbabe: Michigan favored? Does not compute. Error - file not found. Who the hell sets these things? OK, Michigan looks better than they did their first game, but they are still quarterbacked by Iowa leftovers. Conversely, I gained some BYU Twitter followers before that game and those folks are really annoying. Not as annoying as the Harbaugh love. Cougars 34 Michigan 28 Last play of the game is a Hail Mary. Of course.

Keith: Advanced Statistics do not paint Michigan in a favorable situation against the Cougars. To compare the Cougars and Wolverines, look at S&P. S&P measures success rate and and PPP or EqPts which can be read about here. BYU should score points with a top 40 offense against a top 15 Michigan defense. For reference, UCLA provides an adequate comparison on defense, but UCLA ranks leaps and bounds ahead of the Michigan offense. Broncos 25 Wolverines 18

Greg: I have no idea what Keith is talking about, and the only time I ever have anything nice to say about Michigan is when they play Ohio State (seriously...I hate Ohio State). But BYU has been playing some dirty football as of late. So it’s difficult to say anything positive about this game. I’m going to say that BYU wins a close game (34-31) and does something dirty and since it’s against Michigan, people finally take notice. Seriously, how does Ole Nut Puncher not get suspended? How does Bronco not take any disciplinary action?

Ty: Of course Michigan’s favored for… reasons?  Everyone’s so sure that Harbaugh can turn it around in one season with guys that are mostly not his because…  Well, honestly, I don’t know.  You can’t argue with success, and BYU has had that this year.  Also, I feel the need to root for them thanks to their defeat of us and Matt Stone and Trey Parker (Yes, that’s a South Park AND Broadway reference).  Stormin’ Mormons 27, Fightin’ Harbaughs 21.

Nathaniel: Who wants to bet a Cougar player will get punched in the nuts this game? This rematch of the 1984 Holiday Bowl will end in similar fashion except this time, after another late BYU touchdown, Joseph Smith will emerge from the ground at the Big House and the name moniker Hail Mary will be changed to Hail Joseph. BYU 24 Michigan 20.

Husker Mike: At some point, you have to figure BYU wilts with this schedule...but probably not this week. Unless this is the week that Jim Harbaugh finally works his quarterback magic on his biggest project yet - a former Iowa quarterback.  Not sure what Vegas is seeing here, other than taking Michigan Money.  Samoan Mormons 34, Weasels 27

Joe: White Shirts and Black Ties vs Khaki pants.  Everyone loses.  Two Intense Jerks at the helm.  I predict a huge brawl at some point and both teams forfeit.  Everyone Wins.

Adam: I don’t really understand why Michigan is favored in this game. BYU has proven this season that they can play with anyone in the country. MIchigan has looked okay this season, but nothing special. It will be a close game. BYU 28 Michigan 21.

Patrick: While home field advantage can be a benefit for many teams, I’m not sure Michigan can count.  Remember, The Big House is not the most intimidating structure to play in.  It’s not built for noise and the fans can be relatively quiet.  Also, one of the benefits of having an older than usual team like BYU is the added maturity it can bring.  BYU has proven that this year in the way they play together, all dirtiness aside.  I’m not so sure Michigan can say the same.  Oh yeah, and Keith is spot on. BYU 23 Michigan 10

Brian: Michigan is the fave with this offense? It’s not like they reinvented the wheel here in Ann Arbor in khaki’s and what’s your deal? Anyhow, this has potential to be the game of the week and make BYU look really, really good. Can they go into two B1G stadium and get in getaway cars with wins? I think so, just because I really don’t know how good Michigan’s Offense really is.

Tennessee (-1.5) at Florida

Pat: Ew. I’m not especially impressed with either team. I think the second half of Tennessee’s game against Oklahoma was more indicative of both teams than the first half was. That said, there’s more explosiveness with this Vols squad than there is with Will Muschamp’s leftovers in Gainesville. I think Florida’s defense keeps it close, but Tennessee wins by a field goal. Vols 24, Gators 21

Ranchbabe: I know very little about either team but that won’t stop me from saying Tennessee 42 Florida 28.

Keith: Florida rates as a decent defensive team as they rank 25th in Defensive S&P+, but the Tennessee defense ranks 22nd, while also having a more potent offense (43rd in Offensive S&P compared to 61st for the Gators). Tennessee should cover in a low scoring contest. Tennessee 19 Florida 16

Greg: Dammit Keith, don’t go bring "science" into this. Volunteers bounce back from a shaky second half against Oklahoma and win this by double digits...31-17.

Ty: I’m too biased to pick this.  If Florida, FSU, and Miami could lose every week, I would be so happy!  I choose the Vols 24-14.

Nathaniel: I’m going against the trendy pick. I think Tennessee blows another lead and Florida escapes with an overtime win. Gators 27 Vols 24

Husker Mike: Two starters suspended for the Gators?  OK, then. Vols 27, Gators 20.

Joe: I’ve mentioned before that I have a bit of affection for the Vols and you have to like those checkerboard end zones in Knoxville.  This game is in Gainesville though and there is nothing to like about anything in Florida (although I’m intrigued by the Harry Potter world in Orlando).  Vols 42 Gators 17.

Adam: I think this will also be a close game. It will take overtime to decide this one. It’s never easy to win in The Swamp. Florida 38 Tennessee 35 OT.

Patrick: This will be an interesting game but I believe Tennessee should win.  If not, Butch Jones will have a lot of questions coming his way.  He has proven to be a top notch recruiter, but his coaching has been suspect. Tennessee 28 Florida 13

Brian: I don’t really know what to do about this game because no one knows what to make of Florida. Tennessee is waiting for a big time win, but at the same time, this isn’t really a resume builder. But, then again, you do have the better HC on the Home sidelines. I think Tennessee wins this one only cause Florida isn’t fully gotten Will Muschamp out of their plumbing. But, I will say if Tenn loses this, Butch Jones’ ass will be frying in the hotseat.

Texas A&M (-7) vs. Arkansas at Jerry World, Arlington, TX

Pat: Oh my, the wheels are starting to come off in Fayetteville, aren’t they? I feel like Texas A&M is the surefire winner, but I honestly believe it’s going to be close. Bert’s got to win this game to keep pitchforks from becoming the hot fall accessory item in Arkansas. But I’ll go ahead and say the Aggies win and get a late field goal to cover. Reveille 31, Tusk 21

Ranchbabe: LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL! Bert! aTm 56 Razorbacks -2

Keith: Arkansas has the the 9th ranked team in Offensive S&P+, which I still can not comprehend as they couldn’t score against Toledo. Their defense on the other hand ranks worse than Nebraska’s, coming in at an astounding 77th. Take Texas A&M here with the points, and probably the over as well. Texas A&M 45, Arkansas 31.

Greg: #Karma is still fun. This is the second SEC game we have to prognosticate and frankly, I just don’t have the energy. Texas A&M helps Razorbacks realize that Bert isn’t the answer...or if he is, it is to a different question. I like Keith’s score, so I’m duplicating it. 45-31 Aggies.

Ty: TOLEDO ROCKETS WOO!!!!  If you’re a Bielema, don’t you just avoid social media in general?  By contrast, if you’re Bert’s handler, don’t you just give him a list of acceptable topics for the media with dire consequences if he strays from that?  Seriously.  It seems like everything he says bites him in the behind area.  I actually LOVE watching the wheels spinning away from this team.  I think aTm scores even more than 45, and Bert’s team struggles mightily.  aTm 52, Piggies 21.

Nathaniel: A&M corrals the Razorbacks and sends them squirming and squealing their way back to northwest Arkansas. Aggies 48 Hogs 20

Husker Mike: Did Bert just call Harvey to see if that job was still open? As funny as it would be to see Bert drop to 1-3, I just can’t see it.  Let’s just call it a Dead Pig Bounce.  Pig Sooie 28, Gaggies 26

Joe: What is an Aggie? Who cares.  Did Arkansas hire their head coach based on his resemblance to the mascot?  Probably. Two teams who think they are better than they are.  Sumlin should have left for the NFL when he had the chance and Bielema might be leaving for big time high school coaching after this season.  A&M wins so big that they stop keeping score.

Adam: I love rivalry games. This game is always a shootout! Arkansas is struggling right now. But I think they bounce back this week. This is my upset special. Arkansas 56 Texas A&M 49.

Patrick: If this was the B1G, people would still be clamouring that Arkansas doesn’t fit the conference.  I have little faith that the hogs have their team playing well this week. I’ll go Gig ‘em over Wooo Pig….Man, that’s a bad chant. Texas A&M 38 Arkansas 10

Brian: Guess who gets to spend their Saturday night at this game? I’d rather be with you all, but I am fairly sure that TAMU is pretty good with Kyler Murray. Arkansas’s Offense is… well, yea. Bert is in trouble after losing this one.

UCLA (-3.5) at Arizona

Pat: When you’re a writer/actor/comedian, you spend a lot of time at home overthinking things. And when you’re a Husker fan, overthinking things involves finding a way for Nebraska to sneak into the national championship picture. Here’s how it happens: Nebraska has two losses, each by one possession. Nebraska needs both of those teams to stay high in the rankings for as long as possible. So the Huskers want Miami to run the table in the ACC and BYU to keep rolling along.

What makes BYU look better? Its one loss (by one point) coming on the road against the top-ranked team. None of this will bear any fruit initially as Nebraska chugs along against low-rate competition, but then the Huskers pick up an upset win over a Michigan State team that’s hopefully in the top two. Suddenly, people wonder where this two-loss Nebraska team came from, and they look at their schedule and say, "hey, they only lost by a field goal to BYU and in overtime on the road against Miami, AND THEY’RE BOTH IN THE TOP TEN. Maybe they’re better than we thought." Then Nebraska scoots into the Big Ten Championship, knocks off top-ranked Ohio State (while BYU lets us slide by them with a late loss to Utah State) and the SEC & Big 12 beat themselves up. UCLA and Miami, by virtue of being the lone unbeaten teams in the country, get into the playoff, as does a now one-loss Ohio State squad. Who sneaks into that fourth spot? Nebraska. And they win the goddamn national championship by routing the Canes in a rematch with Miami. And it all starts with this UCLA/Arizona game! Unfortunately, I don’t think that (UCLA winning) happens. The Fightin’ Rich Rods have gone practically unnoticed by virtue of their nondescript non-league play, but Arizona has been lurking as a potential Pac-12 contender for a while now. At home against a highly-hyped UCLA team with a freshman quarterback, I think this is the breakthrough moment for Arizona, completely ruining my scenario for a Nebraska national championship in 2015. Wildcats 21, Bruins 19

Ranchbabe: TL;DR. What Pat said. #Pat4Nebraska!

Keith: Arizona can score points, as they rank 14th in Offensive S&P+, but they also give up boatloads. UCLA is also coming off the huge loss of Miles Jack, only fueling the offense of Rich Rod. Rich Rod buries UCLA while Michigan fans start to cringe about Harbaugh. Arizona 39, UCLA 30.

Greg: I’m going to go opposite of what the three above me stated. UCLA is one of those teams that rallies around misfortune. It’s like they thrive in bad situations. I say UCLA comes to play and steals one in the desert, winning by a narrow margin, and I’d say it’s something like 34-31 or 34-30.

Ty: The ultimate deciding factor in this one is home field.  I can see this going to overtime, and going deep.  Someone loses on a required two-point conversion in about the fifth OT.  I won’t even call a score, but Arizona by two.

Nathaniel: The BYU win was a wake up call and I think UCLA are more battle tested at this point. Although Bruins fans might be a little concerned about a true freshman QB playing a road game on national television, I think Rosen emerges in the 4th quarter with a late game winning drive to escape Tucson with a win. Bruins 34 Wildcats 31

Husker Mike: As much as I’d love to see UCLA win this one, I’m not sure how UCLA deals with the loss of Myles Jack.  That’s the third starter the Bruins have lost for the season. RichRod gets this one.  Azs 45, Uclans 28

Joe: I feel like Pat used up the whole staff’s word limit on this game.  Cats 21- Bruins 20.

Adam: This is a game that you don’t want to miss. PAC 12 football is the best! If you like offense, this will be the game for you. Arizona will play well at home. Arizona 49 UCLA 45.

Patrick: At this point I can honestly see this game going either way.  Both teams have good players and coaches. I’ve done some work in AZ so I will pick them to pull this one out.  Plus, Scooby is expected to return! RUH ROH!!! Arizona 21 UCLA 17

Brian: A big time Pac12 South opener for both teams, as it’s the top 2 of 3 teams that should be competing, plus the winner having the chance of being ahead of both the loser and USC. Scooby Wright is back for Arizona, who is humblebragging averaging over 54 points a game. I think they score less, but UCLA’s Offense isn’t great by any means. Wildcats win this one, and get a boost in the South standings.

Southern Miss (+22) at Nebraska

Pat: Everyone’s been calling this the year that Southern Miss moves forward, and I’m not entirely certain what that’s based off of. They battled Mississippi State for a while and put up a lot of points against Austin Peay and Texas State. I think this is a pissed off Nebraska squad that knows it’s got to concentrate and compete every week the rest of the season. ‘Skers 45, Fightin’ Favres 21

Ranchbabe: When fans show up at this game with pitchforks Riley wonders who let in the Arizona State recruiting staff again. When someone tells him those are actually Husker fans, Riley abandons his plan to interview Lane Kiffin for the defensive backs coaching job and tells his team to "Play hard from the start this time, goshdarnnit!". The shocked Husker team does not want to hear things escalate to "dadgummit" and they put the pedal to the medal. Huskers 48 Golden Eagles 24

Keith: Nebraska gives up 300 yards in the air again. The Southern Miss offense is better than Southern Alabama, so it will happen. Thank God the same can not be said for the Southern Mississippi offense. Nebraska will give up some points. Supposedly the Nebraska defense ranks 62nd in the nation in defense according to Defensive S&P, but the offensive is potent at 32nd! Southern Miss ranks 67th in Offensive S&P while ranking 119th in Defensive S&P just to throw that out.  Nebraska 58 Southern Miss 29

Greg: Are we already to the point where we are calling for firings? Greatest fans, eh? This game won’t be pretty. It just won’t. It will be one-sided, despite penalties...and Alex Lewis. Hell, I hope the kid plays with a chip on his shoulder. I also sort of hope he has a Jake Cotton Moment and falls back to reality. Huskers win by 24 points. (Also disappointed Keith didn’t use "science" in this prediction...thanks for letting me down, Keith.)

Ty: Holy hell.  Really? We’re calling for coaching staffs’ heads?  Like my Harbaugh comment, these guys need a little leeway from the "Greatest Fans" to get someone else’s guys to work with their system, and then to get their own guys in.  We’ve lost two games on last minute plays, y’all.  We are a dropped Hail Mary and a field goal that barely snuck in away from 3-0… or at least a chance at it.  Why the HELL are we looking for reasons to be pissed?  Is this a fun way to be fans?!  Sorry….  That might have been uncalled for, but I’m not going to apologize for feeling frustrated about this.  Our O-line still needs to show they can work together as a unit, and I hope that more game speed reps will help.  I cannot, will not defend 71’s current state-of-mind.  I don’t get it.  However, I think the Huskers take another step this week, and look better than anyone thought.  I’m always disappointed when our coaches don’t run the score into the 60s and 70s in games we can do it, but I understand, as a coach, wanting to get the back-ups reps.  I think it’s better for us than a lot of pundits think.  55-24 Big Red.

Nathaniel: This game will be similar to the South Alabama game except I think the Eagles will have a little more success against our pass defense. Huskers need to start establishing the run a little bit more and the wide receivers need to stop dropping balls. Huskers 41 Eagles 17

Husker Mike: Nick Mullens will probably throw for close to 400 yards. I believe some of these advanced stats are still including a little too much 2014 data to give an accurate read on Southern Miss.  This one is going to be a long day because the ball is going to be in the air A LOT. Southern is going to tempo the Blackshirts, and unless Mark Banker decides to play some press coverage (which he doesn’t want to do), it’s going to be pitch and catch all afternoon.  Nebraska is going to score - no concerns there - and outscore Southern Miss.  This one is going to be a track meet.  Huskers 56, Southern Miss 31

Joe: I’m going to say the Blackshirts come up big.  REALLY BIG.  They score on turnovers 8 times and only give up points 3 times.  The Husker offense has one 3 and out series in the first half and never sees the field again.  Huskers 56- Missst 9.

Adam: Those 11 A.M. start times are tough. Nebraska will come out flat in the first half. Southern Miss will put some points on the board with that nice pass attack. Expect a close game but Nebraska pulls away in the second half. Nebraska 42 Southern Miss 24.

Patrick:  Both teams will score and early but Nebraska’s coaching will carry them through this to a relatively easy win.  So. Miss. is playing better than they have over the past few years but I do not see them doing anything special.  We are beat up but are in a much better position than they are in depth and talent. Nebraska 38 Southern Mississippi 17

Brian: I really take the consideration that Nebraska played pretty decent Defense the second half vs. Miami, even though it was nursing a lead with Kaaya. One of the untalked about things going on with this team this year for the Huskers is how the Offense has basically not missed a beat, even though the playcalling has been a little different and such. Nebraska will score here, but everyone will be watching the Blackshirts to see how they respond. I don’t expect to see Daniel Davie, and I do expect a better game, although a lot of folks will be nitpicking everything in the Pass D. Nebraska wins 41-23.