Mike: Breathe a sigh of relief, gang... We’re NOT having to pick Iowa/Purdue or Illinois/Rutgers this week.
Greg: Illinois-Rutgers may actually end 5-2 in overtime. And Illinois would win that.
Brian: We sure that Illinois/Rutgers won’t divide zero?
Andy: If last weekend’s theme was Games That Used To Mean Something , tomorrow is Your Team’s Game, Ohio St. vs. Wisconsin And Drink & Talk About Great Games of the Past. And drink.
Northwestern (+5) at Michigan State
Greg: Wow. Just...Michigan State has fallen so far that they’re only favored by five at home to Northwestern. It has never been a lack of talent in East Lansing, nor has there been poor coaching. But this season there does appear to be a disconnect. Something’s not resonating for Sparty. If they’re not careful, they could be looking at a four-win season (Illinois and Rutgers remain on the schedule). That’s why I think they get the win this weekend.
MSU 24 Northwestern 21
Pat Janssen: It’s tempting to pick Northwestern because they’re trending upward and Sparty is falling backward. However, I think this is one of those Mark Dantonio, rally-the-troops type of games, while Northwestern suffers one of its annual what-the-fuck-I-thought-we-had-this-figured-out midseason games. It’s still a one score game, but Sparty pulls it out and starts the process of trying to salvage its season. Green 28, Purple 21
Brian: Man, Sparty is BAD this year. But even in their mode of suck, they are a fave vs. jNU. The Wildcats are still going off that Iowa win vs. That’s Football, so it’ll be interesting to see how Sparty can bounce back, or can they? I think so, considering that I still think NW’s D isn’t too grand. Sparty covers.
Jill: I don’t trust either team. I think I do trust Mark Dantonio to right the ship. Sparty 21 Kitties 17
Mike: Sparty is going to to switch back to quarterback-by-committee, which is how Connor Cook got his chance three years ago. Nobody is going to emerge this week, but against Northwestern, they might not need it just yet. Sparty 24, NW 20
Andy: #51 vs. #57 - it doesn’t get any better than this! I’m going to take Northwestern here. Northwestern is 2-1 in their last 3 games and coming off of a bye week that Michigan St. would kill for as they continue to spin their tires. Instead, that was burned the week after the Furman game and they have no breaks the rest of the way. This is a program that hasn’t had to face adversity like this in a few years and the last time they did, they finished 3-5 in conference. NW 24 Sparty 20
Minnesota (+6) at Maryland
Greg: Minnesota lost a yawner to Iowa last week. And they haven’t really beaten anyone good. This will be their last loss before they rattle off three W’s in a row to become bowl eligible. While Maryland was exposed a bit last week against Penn State, I think they rebound in this one.
Maryland 38 Minnesota 31
Pat Janssen: Neither team has really beaten anyone of substance. I think Minnesota, while not a national championship contender by any stretch, got lulled into one of those typical Iowa games. I think Iowa sucks, but they make other teams look like they suck too (except North Dakota State, of course). The problem for Minnesota is that Mitch Leidner actually does suck (Seriously? This guy is a pro prospect?). I think the Gophers defense remains strong and wins in spite of its offense (kind of a theme the last few years for Goldy). Gophers 17, Terps 10
Brian: Maryland is better than people think, so I tend to believe that they will be the winning team. But, I am interested in seeing if the Minny offense will be better considering that Mitch Leidner seemed to be hurt last week and will be out this week. Averages dictate that Minnesota will be better, but it probably won’t matter.
Jill: I think Maryland wins this one but I will be interested to see if Minnesota can actually find some offense. Terps 24 Minny 17
Mike: Who’da thunk that the Turtle would be favored in this one? Well, a backup quarterback for the Goofers might be the reason. I thought Maryland would beat Penn State last week, but the Terps got throttled instead. I figure they bounce back this week at home. Terps 27, Goofers 20
Andy: Maryland. No Leidner and a defense that’s sprung some leaks against spotty competition (Iowa’s offense doesn’t qualify as spotty - I think DC Aquinas could hold them to 21) is probably in trouble on the east coast. Maryland’s heads will be screwed back on right after a weekend in State College, aka America’s Creeper. Terps 34 MInny 21
Ohio State (-10) at Wisconsin
Greg: I’m not crazy. I’m not picking an upset. But I do think Wisconsin beats the spread. What did Indiana do successfully against the Buckeyes, and can Wisconsin replicate that and do it better? I honestly think this will be a one-score game.
Buckeyes 27 Bucky 23
Pat Janssen: I am one crazy mofo! Sure, Ohio State dicks around and can choose to put its foot on the gas pedal whenever it wants. Sure, Wisconsin is still a bit anemic on the offensive side. Sure, it makes no sense. Sure, I’m probably picking the Badgers because I want a top 10 showdown in Madison that Gameday will probably ignore so they go cover a Tennessee game for the fourth time this season. But honestly, Wisconsin’s defense will keep every game low-scoring enough to give them a chance. And at home, I think they take advantage of that chance. Badgers 21, Buckeyes 20
Brian: I don’t buy that Wisconsin has a good offense at all, but their D is not bad at all. The Buckeyes are trying to stay focused and this will help on the Offense. O H covers this one, but it’s not very high scoring at all.
Jill: Someone compared 2016 Wisconsin to 2009 Nebraska. It is a pretty good comparison. Dat defense will give them a chance but it is hard to see them scoring enough points to stick with the Buckeyes. Ohio State 23 Wiscy 17
Mike: Wisconsin’s defense isn’t bad, but Ohio State’s offense is deadly. It’s a beat-down in Mad-town. Buck-I’s 37, Buck-E’s 16
Andy: The national game of the week by a landslide. Wisconsin is coming off the bye to play their 3rd Top 10 opponent winning the 1st outright & covering the second. The over/unders for the two games were 30 and 21 respectively. Their defense is fresh and their offense will go nowhere, so let’s keep riding this pony as they are getting another pile of points. Bucks 19 Wiscy 13
Alabama (-12.5) at Tennessee
Greg: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Tennessee is the most overrated team in the top ten (Top 11 if you go by the Coaches’ Poll). I like Josh Dobbs. I think he’s a great talent and by all accounts a wonderful human being. But the tide rolls in Knoxville (and I humbly request we stop putting Alabama in these predictions, because every time I pick them to win, I feel like I die a little on the inside).
Bama 42 Tenn 24
Pat Janssen: Greg has said it before, and I’ll say it again. Tennessee is the most overrated team in the top 10. I, however, do not think that highly of Josh Dobbs (at least as a football player). Alabama is not the most dominant Alabama team we’ve ever seen, but they might be the most dominant in relation to the rest of the SEC that there’s ever been. The SEC is not good right now, and I think Bama exposes that. Tide 47, Vols 14
Brian: I don’t know if Butch Davis shit that horseshoe out in College Station, but it got rattled a little bit. I also think that Bama is going to be looking to play a complete game. They did beat Arkansas last week by stomping on their will, but the defense simply could not get off the field. Josh Dobbs makes enough mistakes that Alabama wins by more than a score, but iffy at best if they cover or not.
Jill: Soooooo much blood. Roll Tide 38 Vols 24
Mike: I really didn’t want to put this one on the board, but it’s actually one of the better games this week. Well, Vegas seems to think so. I personally disagree. Tennessee found ways to win in previous weeks; they won’t this week. Tide 42, Vols 17
Andy: This one shouldn’t inspire any drunk Bama wives to stage dive into Vols fans with high heels and slurred, twangy cuss words flying through the Knoxville afternoon. That slow start shit that the Vols have patented this year is going to get painful. I’m tacking on another touchdown because fuck Tennessee for making me throw my hat into the menu board after that Hail Mary against the Dawgs. Lane Kiffin is still a cow-faced tool but: Tide 48 Vols 24
Nebraska (-3.5) at Indiana
Greg: Who’s in? Who’s out? Who’s able to go for the Big Red? I’m so excited for football. Last weekend was horrible without the Huskers on Saturday. Which...I mean...that’s PROBABLY a #firstworldproblem. Indiana did beat Michigan State (like a few other teams, so I don’t count that as a grand accomplishment) and they played Ohio State closer than they maybe should have. BUT...JT Barrett ran all over the place. And I see that as potential for Tommy Armstrong. Plus...Indiana has never won a homecoming game (that’s what I read anyway). And it won’t begin this year.
Huskers 34 Hoosier-daddy’s 24
Pat Janssen: I hate all the injuries. This wasn’t a super deep team to begin with. But let’s be real here. Ohio State let Indiana stay in that game the same way they did last season, and Michigan State has proven to be a different Michigan State team than normal. Indiana’s defense is much improved, and their offense looks more pedestrian than normal, so they’re hard to peg, but I do not think they are of the same caliber of even this incredibly wounded Nebraska team. Huskers 37, Hoosiers 21
Brian: I did both five to win and lose yesterday, and I simply think that Nebraska is going to be able to send out 11 and 12 personnel and get what they want numbers wise in the box. A healthy Farmer comes back, and Newby will be able to spell TA’s runs to a minimum.
It does worry me on how good Indiana is on 1st & 2nd downs, so if the Huskers can get a fair amount of 3rd downs on Indiana’s O, they will be the better crew out there. I think Nebraska wins this game, gets bowl eligible to shock Gerry DiNardo, and can focus on putting 90 on a Ross Els defense.
Jill: Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Nebraska dinks around for three quarters in a tight game. Then they score 21 in 10 minutes to make it look good. Huskers 35 Indiana 24
Mike: I think Nebraska’s trend of slow starts bites them this week. The Hoosiers are the best team the Huskers have played this season, and I don’t think a fourth quarter comeback will be enough. Hoosiers 34, Huskers 28
Andy: The opened at -8 on Monday and dropped to -6 in five minutes with the free-fall continuing to -4 or -4 1⁄2 by that evening. The -3 1⁄2 shows a fairly amazing drop, especially for a Husker fan base that tends skewer lines with our eternal optimism even in lean years. Indiana is good, not great but we are going to be minus Westerkamp & Carter.
I think we are more talented. We seem to be a little smarter even though our coaching staff not stepping on their own dicks against lousy teams so far this year is being mistaken for growth & genius in my humble opinion. Two factors work against us, but there is one in our favor that should be enough.
1) Our slow starts haven’t hurt us against crap competition so far, but we can’t keep that up
2) Westerkamp and, to a lesser extent, Carter are our 3rd and long bail out guys and they’re both gone.
1) This is not the lights out Indiana offense that’s reared up the last couple of years. They may not be in position to take advantage of a slow start.
Also, I think we can continue our trend of trucking lesser teams in the 4th quarter.
At the beginning of the year, I picked this as the game we shouldn’t lose but will. Time to do an about face (screw it, I’m not running for president, I can change my mind every few weeks): Huskers 34 Hoosiers 21