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Nebraska vs. Illinois: Week 5 Predictions

Who are we picking this week? Read and find out once again!

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NCAA Football: Nebraska at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Mike: Usually we skip the Friday games, but that’s tough to do this week with a Top 10 matchup.

Andy: There’s a few quality games, not a great weekend, not a lousy one. But, hey! Having all the bar TV’s tuned to CFB is never a bad thing. And it definitely beats the shit out of another night of watching pale Cubs bros fans screaming at foul pop-ups and whiffing on high fives.

Greg: Friday night lights are reserved for high school football!

Pat Janssen: Sup?’

Brian: I’m not saying I’m glad the bye week is right around the corner, but I really am.

Jill: Is this the part where I complain about the games Mike picked for us before I scroll down and see which ones are in the queue?

Stanford (+3) at Washington

Greg: Washington has a high-powered offense, but let’s look at the competition...Rutgers, Idaho, and Portland State? At least they had a challenge last week against a .500 Arizona team. (This is where I was going to make a statement about how good Stanford is based on the teams they have played, but USC and UCLA are both at the bottom of the Pac-12 South standings, soooo.......) This game comes down to who has Christian McCaffrey and who doesn’t.

Have’s 38 Have-Not’s 28

Andy: Washington, along with UCLA, got a great of deal weird pre-season love that didn’t seem all that warranted. Unlike UCLA and with a non-con schedule that could make a Viagra-free Bill Snyder erect, Washington has had the good sense to avoid competition of any substance thus far. With not many answers for opposition defenses basically putting eight spies on McCaffrey, Stanford struggled some in their first 3 games. But they won them all because that’s what Stanford does these days. The Tree 31 Washington 21

Pat Janssen: Everything’s basically been said already. Stanford hasn’t looked great, but Washington has felt like a trumped up paper tiger (or an SEC team, if you will) ever since the preseason rankings came out. It finally seems like the Chris Peterson magic is rubbing off on the Huskies, but it’s going to take more than the dark arts to stop Christian McCaffrey. Stanford 28, Washington 21

Mike: Here’s your stat of the week. Christian McCaffrey hasn’t scored in a true road game yet. This game’s in Seattle, you say? OK. Udub 24, Tree 20

Brian: I guess we find out how good either team is. I don’t buy Washington too much, but that Stanford Defense may not be that great. But, seems like Tree likes to play tough up in the Pac Northwest. Shaw’s gang by a TD.

Jill: Does anyone else look at the college football rankings just to see how many votes North Dakota State is getting? And then look at the rest of the list and think “Is this really the best in college football this year?” What does that have to do with this game? The winner of this one has a decent shot at being a top 5 team and I’m not sure I believe either one is. Which of course means that one of them will boatrace the rest of the PacAfterDark, waltz into the playoff, and destroy Alabama for a natty. I’m bad at this.

Get to my prediction already? OK. Stanford is on the road, has several injured starters, and an inexperienced QB. Unless Washington goes full-Iowa (Note: NEVER go full-Iowa) and forgets which jersey number Christian McCaffrey wears, the Huskies win this one. Dawgs 32 Tree 21

Wisconsin (+10.5) at Michigan

Greg: I stole this from USA Today:

Michigan ranks fourth nationally in scoring offense, tied for 13th in scoring defense and yards allowed per play, tied for fifth in rushing touchdowns and seventh in first downs. The Wolverines are ninth in penalties, tied for first in sacks, first in tackles for loss and 12th in passing defense. By the various metrics – blocked kicks and punts, in the return game – the special teams have ranked among the nation’s best.

Each team comes in 4-0. Who would have thought that a three-score win over Colorado would be Michigan’s biggest win of the season.

But who could have foreseen that Wisconsin would play a part in the ousting of Les Miles at LSU and the further humbling of Notre Dame (that’s the transitive property, folks...Wisconsin > Michigan State > Notre Dame.

At the Big House, I just think that Michigan is too much for Wiscy. Let’s put a number on it like 45-31

Andy: I’m not saying Michigan can’t cover those points at home. And I usually have some faith in bookies when spreads seem a little off. But, I can’t help but feel that the Harbaugh bluster is responsible for a chunk of these points. Wisconsin has shown no issues with walking into enemy stadiums and coming out with wins. They’ve already been battle tested this year and on the road to boot. They’re 4-0, ranked 8th with two wins against teams ranked in the top 10 and are getting zero respect. The Wolverines could be looking at a serious mouth-punch here. Wiscy 27 Michigan 21

Paul: This one is really a coin flip. I agree with Andy that media’s fascination Harbooger has a lot to do with their ranking. Michigan’s offense is its forte, and defense is definitely where Wisconsin is shining. So for that reason I’ll say UW 21 UM 19.

Pat Janssen: Maybe it’s the part of my heart that’s desperately hoping for a top five matchup in Madison between the Huskers and Badgers, but I honestly think Wisconsin is going to win this. It was that same part of my heart that thought Wisconsin would beat LSU and Michigan State. And currently left ventricle (I think that’s the part of my heart that’s been pumping blood into my semi-erection for the Badgers so far this season) is currently 2-0. Also, it’s time the Harbaugh hype train gets derailed. Voting almost purely with heart, penile bloodflow and just a scoach of brainpower, I’m saying we stay on track for a Gameday showdown between Sconnie and the ‘Skers. Badgers 27, Wolverines 21

Mike: This line has me thinking that Vegas knows more than I do at this point. Or maybe it’s just Weasels throwing money away in Vegas. I’m going to take the points this week in the battle of vermin. Weasels 28, Badgers 26

Jill: Count me among those who thought the Badgers would struggle without Dave Aranda. However, that Wiscy defense is like a blunt force instrument. The only thing that can stop them are injuries and unfortunately they keep adding a new name there every day. The Badgers may, or may not, have found a real quarterback and seem to chug along even when Clement gets hurt again. It is also probably a bad thing to not have a reliable kicker in a road game where Wiscy is going to need every point they can get. I think Michigan wins, but I’ll pick the Badgers to cover the spread. Fightin’ Harbaughs 28 Bucky 19

Louisville (-2) at Clemson

Greg: Well, That Louisville team is pretty dang good. And while Clemson is also undefeated, their wins haven’t been as convincing (South Carolina sort of beat themselves).

I know I was singing a different tune a couple weeks ago, but Louisville is a legit contender. Clemson tomorrow and a November 17 date with Houston and they could march into the CFP.

I think the Cardinals win this one in convincing fashion.

Louisville 61 Clemson 38

Andy: So be honest - 10 years ago, did you ever think you’d see a Saturday night prime-time Top 5 match-up between two ACC teams, neither of whom were named Florida St. or Miami? Me either.

Anyhow, Louisville is on fire and should waltz right into Death Valley on a Saturday night with Heisman favorite Lamar Jackson and destroy poor, stumbling Climpson. It could happen - just ask Jameis Winston. This is Lamar’s first trip to that nuthouse. Lousiville Fan will make the trip, but visitors to that lovely stadium tend to be a little quieter when seated next to an orange face-painted 300-pound behemoth with a naked man-tit hanging out of his shirtless overalls who shows off the knife when Louisville Fan stands up to cheer after that last first down. I mean, Big ‘Un is smiling big with paw prints on his cheeks as he spits dip juice in his cup, but from that moment on, Joe Clyde from Kentucky is less...enthusiastic.

Also, Clemson’s D has been pretty tight. Loo-ville 34 Clemson 31

Paul: Louisville is really, really good. They roll. UL 52 Clempson 37

Pat Janssen: This is either the week that Clemson finally comes to life, or it’s the week that the anxiety of being a team with the hopes (and anxieties) of a big season catches up to them. I say it’s the latter. Cardinals 43, Tigers 31

Mike: This was a 20-17 game last season. Lamar Jackson is good, but he’s not going to turn this into a WAC shootout. But it will be a win for the ‘Ville. Ville 34, Clempson 23

Brian: Man o man o man what a game. Gonna find out what Lamar Jackson can do in a raucous crowd, and a D that isn’t too bad. Deshawn Watson too. Man.... take the home team here. Gonna be a good game. Clemson by the home field 3 points.

Jill: The Browns and Bears front offices are just counting down the days until one of them gets to draft Watson. Both of these teams are remarkable, but Lamar Jackson is on fire right now. Gonna take the Cardinals 34 Clemson 31

Oklahoma (-3.5) at TCU

Greg: If Oklahoma doesn’t improve, not only will Bob Stoops not be there next year, he may not survive the season. Things don’t get any easier now with a trip to Fort Worth. TCU’s lone loss this season is to Arkansas. Meanwhile, Oklahoma’s only win is over Louisiana-Monroe. I just don’t see where Oklahoma wins this game, but I think it’s close.

TCU 27 Oklahoma 24

Andy: I’ve been rambling, so let’s make this one quicker. OU is better than they’ve shown, TCU is probably in rebuild mode. Okies 37 Toads 24

Paul: It’s time for Big Game Bob needs to update his resume. TCU over OU, 31-24

Pat Janssen: It’s been a rough start for Oklahoma this year, but I just don’t think TCU is that good this year. The Sooners are reeling, but it’s not like their two losses are the most embarrassing things ever. TCU had some sleepwalking moments against South Dakota State and Iowa State. I think the Sooners will outright. Boomer 31, Super Frog 21

Mike: I suspect Ohio State is that good this year, so I’m not going to hold that loss against them. Soondoggies 42, Froggies 27

Brian: Sooners are in trouble, and playing away from Norman won’t help. That being said, TCU may not be able to stop em. But, I think TCU can outscore em. Frogs win and Sooners in trouble.

Jill: Big game Bob is going to do just enough this year to put Okie fans in that “Nebraska” position of fighting over whether or not to fire a decent coach for the chance to rejuvenate the program. Or tank it for a while. Boomer Sooner 24 TCU 21.

Illinois (+21) at Nebraska

Greg: As a “Husker Faithful” who was at that debacle last year in Champaign (with my pregnant wife, no less...because she’s the best), I’m very excited for the return. Nebraska can not falter in the month of October. Take it one game at a time.

Poor Lovie Smith...good guy (by all/most accounts), but Illinois is bad. I mean...bad.

Huskers 56 Illini 17

Paul: There won’t be any inexplicable losses to the worst teams in the Big 10 this year. Illinois keeps it close early, but NU pulls away in the second half. NU takes a 7 point lead into half time, Final is a more respectable 55-24 Huskers.

Pat Janssen: I’ve been banging this drum for a few weeks now, but the best thing to ever happen to 2016 Nebraska football was 2015 Nebraska football. This period of four games against the Illinois and Indiana schools was sure to set up a letdown game, except for the fact that the Huskers lost to three of the four last year. Pretty hard to take any team lightly when they beat you the year before. Plus, Illinois is in the same position Nebraska was last year: a new coach doing things dramatically differently. Nebraska is in that prime year two position, while the Illini are still figuring things out with the new staff. I called for a drubbing last year, and I was proven horrendously incorrect. I don’t think I’ll be proven wrong this year. Huskers 51, Illini 17

Andy: Do you think Coach Riley would like to have a do-over on that whole “rollout pass to Ozigbo but don’t really pass it” play in Champaign last year? I think he would like to have a do-over. Well, this Saturday is as close as he will get unfortunately, and I’m betting he won’t make the same mistakes twice. Expect us to keep pounding the rock as part of a balanced offense against an Illini defense that actually isn’t awful giving up about 13 less yards per game than the Blackshirts.

Speaking of balanced offense, we’re averaging 242 YPG on the ground & 243 through the air through 5 games. Sure hoping we can get that evened out this weekend. The ground game got a huge boost last Saturday from Mikale Wilbon who was released from coach prison against Northwestern rushing 6 times for 55 yards which lowered his season YPC to 10.1 (his only previous tote being a 16 yard gain against Fresno). Unless he starts throwing balls into the stands from the 1, here’s hoping the carries increase.

OK, Illinois’ defense is awful and those stats above are totally skewed by their Murray St. beatdown and this one will probably be ugly, especially in the 2nd half. It’s not last year, it’s not raining, and we will not suddenly go airborne at brain-fartingly shocking times. Right, Coach Mike? Right???? Huskers 52 Illini 21

Mike: Lovie has some rebuilding work to do in Champaign. And Riley’s finally figured out how this team works. No more excuses. It’ll be a slow start (again), but Nebraska hits cruise control in the second half. Huskers 45, Illini 10.

Brian: The Nebraska OL issues do worry me a little bit, there’s something about being healthy and having a depth issue to make you worry. And the Illini DL is not terrible at all. But Nebraska’s Defense should be able to get through and make a big time day. I don’t think Nebraska covers the 21 for sure, but at the same time, it’s a little bit of payback and relief to get to the bye week without a loss. 37-17 Nebraska.

Jill: What I want to see this weekend from the Huskers...that Dylan Utter’s snaps were due to the terrible NW field last week and no adventures in that department this week. I want to see special teams get 11 guys on the field (and only 11 Coach Read, you don’t get to put extra out there to make up for the time you only had 10 on the field). I want MOAR interceptions by the Blackshirts (I’m greedy) and to see Ryker Fyfe mopping up most of the fourth quarter. Is that too much to ask? Oh, and hang on to the damn ball. Huskers 45 Illinois 17