Mike: I’d like to forget my predictions from last week...can we start over? Speaking of which, could we take about a half dozen or so of last weekend’s games and play them this weekend? My goodness, what a stinker schedule this week. No matchups between two ranked teams anywhere to be found.
Greg: Unlike Mike, I actually did forget my picks last week. Take THAT, long term memory!
Pat Janssen: We made picks last week?
Brian: BAH GAWD WE DID FUNNYMAN.
Andy: I actually killed a few picks descriptively last week - NU, Wiscy & the aTm. I should fake an illness at this point, so people can marvel at my lost genius while sending thoughts and prayers - and maybe some Pepperjax gift cards which are far more useful in damn near any circumstance. Instead, I’ll forge ahead & start falling on my dick as I’m normally accustomed to do. Pass the Bactine.
David: C’mon, Mike! These can’t actually be the best games of the week. Wait...they are? Man, this week is a letdown after the greatness of last week. Maybe what was to be expected.
Penn State (+4.5) at Pitt
Greg: The Battle for the Part of Pennsylvania That Matters. Pitt Panthers will win this bout based on...damn, I shouldn’t comment first. I can’t copy/paraphrase anyone else. Pitt 31 PSU 20
Brian: Good lord why haven’t we had this game in so long! It’s a perfect litmus test for both teams; a PSU gang that has underachieved with a bunch of coaches and hot wives, with a Pitt gang that has a HC that loves that DISREPECKT that he learned from his last job.
Home field will not really matter here, but I think that Pitt will get the job done behind a good D that will make Christian Hackenburg not look like the failure here.
Pat Janssen: BIG TEN! BIG TEN! BIG TEN! Maybe we just don’t chant it because it only has two syllables. Or maybe because it’s dumb to root for a conference. That said, the Nits prove that karma doesn’t have much of an effect on college football games. PSU 27, Pitt 21
Mike: We Are! Not Good! Victims of Pedey 31, Enablers of Victimizers 24
Andy: This should be about as enjoyable as scooping and bagging those little piles of dog poo in the yard. Both won last week against token weaklings but the only statement their offenses made was...well, not much of anything. People will watch this and fondly remember the T-formation for its explosiveness. Just because Penn St. still deserves decades of misery for being such a stain on civilization: Pitt 11 Penn St. 6
David: Yeesh, I don’t think much of Penn St. this year. I think Pat Narduzzi is going to be a big success at Pitt, but not sure it’ll happen this year. I think this will be an ugly, close game. The Panthers will get the best of the Lions this time, 19-14.
Ranchbabe (Jill): Ugly football will be ugly. Pitt 17 PSU 13
Virginia Tech (+9.5) vs. Tennessee at Bristol Motor Speedway
Greg: They’re saying it could be the largest crowd ever for a football game (I’m assuming college or otherwise)...150,000, give or take? History in the making. Etc etc. I know Tennessee looked bad last week. Perhaps even “exposed,” or in football terminology, “they are who we thought they were.” But I don’t see them faltering this week. I do think it will be a one-score game, but the Vols are going to take it.
Brian: I really feel for the people spending money for this game, I really do. The place is well intentioned but too big, the End Zone seats are pointless, and it’s going to feel awkward. Oh yes, don’t forget how Tennessee will claim that last week’s near loss to Appalachian meant a wake up call. Justin Fuente is the real deal, Butch Jones is the real joke. Hokies by a TD.
Pat Janssen: I keep getting the feeling that Tennessee will win this fairly comfortably and be let off the hook for looking like crap against Appy. But I refuse to live in a world where such a travesty could exist (I know I just mentioned the absence of karma in college football. Shut up). Turkeys 31, Charity Workers 27
Mike: This is one of those sporting events that’s more about atmosphere than the sporting event. That doesn’t make this a bad thing, mind you. You could make the same arguments against the NHL’s Winter Classic, yet fans spend hundreds of dollars to sit outside in freezing weather to watch hockey with bad sightlines. Meanwhile, Bristol is known as the loudest track in NASCAR because of the shape of the bowl. How will this translate to college football? I suspect the atmosphere of the event will more than make up for it, especially if this is a one-time event. As for the game, while I suspect Rocky Top was caught looking ahead, I’ll give a nod to the Fightin’ Fuentes. Hokies 27, Vols 21
Andy: Couldn’t agree more with, Mike. The Winter Classic comparisons are spot on. Great TV event, but after attending one at TD Ameritrade, my view is that it served little purpose as a fan experience other than to say, “Yeah, I was there.” I suspect that for most people, the players will look like the tiny, loping pipe cleaner shaped guys from Intellivision Football. The game? I think Va Tech springs a little surprise on the Vols. Hokies 30 Sons of PED Peyton 23
David: I think the visuals, on TV at least, will be better than the actual game itself. I think Tennessee gets back up off the mat and plays well this week. Remind yourself that Rocky Top was supposed to be in Lincoln this week, which probably would have made it the game of the week. Instead we get Oregon next week (upgrade) and have to wait to tussle with the Vols. Tennessee wins this one big. Everyone gets to see the pretty pictures early, ends up watching the Arkansas/TCU game by the end of the first quarter. 47-14, UT.
Jill: I still think Tennessee is overrated and should have never gotten the hype they had. I’m also not sure if VT is going to be able to take advantage. I want them to win, so I’m going to pick them anyway. Hokies 34 Vols 28
North Carolina (-7) at Illinois
Greg: I’m a little surprised that NC is only favored by a touchdown based on the fact that a 50-point win over a bad FCS team is still a win over a bad FCS team. I don’t get the hype of Lovie Smith, and I don’t think this game will be that close. Tarheels 35 Illini 24
Brian: This is a odd game to pick, one would think Carolina could just walk into the B1G and take it. That being said, I think Lovie and his staff & team realize how much of a footprint it would make to get the home win here. I don’t think they pull it off, as Carolina is just too good on D. However, I think the Illini play better than most people think.
Pat Janssen: I’m not picking Illinois because of the sudden hype surrounding an Illinois victory over a bad team. I’m picking Illinois because I think North Carolina (and that Georgia loss) are not as strong as they appear. The Heels lost more than most people realize after last season, and Georgia was a fairly pedestrian team one year ago. A fairly pedestrian team with the same quarterback issues and a rookie head coach. I’m not sold on either team, but BIG TEN! BIG TEN! BIG TEN! Illinois 28, North Carolina 25
Mike: I think Lovie Smith will be a winner at Illinois...but not this week. Tar Heels will roll in this one. BOOM! Heels 38, Illini 27
Andy: Can the Tar Heels walk into a lion’s den in Champaign and deal with the tidal wave of sound that will crash down on them with every offensive snap??!!!! Uh, yep. Lovie ain’t worth the 34 points they got stomped by last year. Heels 40 Illini 22
David: North Carolina lost their first game of the year last year before reeling off 11 straight wins before getting stomped by Clemson in the ACC Title Game. They manhandled Illinois last year. I picked UNC to go to the playoffs, so I can’t really pick against them here if I want my prediction to come true. Illinois will play well early, looking to make a statement at the start of the Lovie Smith era, but UNC will be too much and pulls away in the 2nd half. 38-17, Heels.
Jill: I agree with David. This might be a surprisingly good game but UNC pulls it off. Tar Heels 31 Illini 21
Texas Tech (+5) at Arizona State
Greg: I used to know a little about these teams - but that was long ago. I’ll give this one to the Sun Devils because they have home field advantage and win by 10. These aren’t the Mike Leach Red Raiders of old.
Brian: Well, who did Todd Graham offer from Nebraska this week? Wait, no one? Ok. On one hand, Kliff has a stud at QB while Arizona St. seemed to struggle a bit vs. Northern Arizona for the first 2 1⁄2 quarters.
Pat Mahomes is the real deal, but I still don’t think they know what Defense is in Lubbock. That being said, they’re going against a team that could only throw for 180 yards. Granted, ASU ran for 300 on em, but they also gave up 370. Wreck em.
Pat Janssen: This isn’t the point at which the Red Raiders start folding. That happens later in the season. TTU 1,437,019, ASU 1,437,012
Mike: This one should be a 4 1⁄2 hour shootout, with Sparky outlasting the Raiders. Sparky 52, Air Raid 44
Andy: Playstation Bowl 2016. This is going to be like adjusting the difficulty settings to beginner and playing real time 10 minute quarters. Tech 69 Sun Dogs 63
David: I don’t know much about these two teams other than Kliff Kingsberry is the head coach at Tech. Y’all seem to think this’ll be a high scoring affair. I’m good with that. This is gonna be a fun little Pac-12 After Dark match-up. The Sun Devils will get the edge at home, barely: 45-44.
Jill: All.The.Touchdowns. Sun Devils 55 Tech 48
Wyoming (+24) at Nebraska
Greg: The return of some key defensemen as well as what we hope to be a repeat of the solid and grounded offensive playcall will really help the Big Red this week as they entertain Craig Bohl and the neighbors to the west. That’s a long drive on I-80 after a loss. I’m all-too-familiar with that drive after a loss in Lincoln. I don’t think Wyoming will have anything to celebrate this weekend as Nebraska covers the spread.
Brian: Well well well, here we go with this. The prodigal son brings his hard-nosed MWC team into Lincoln, wanting revenge with guys that didn’t get snuffed by the Huskers in crootin.
I think last week’s Offensive gameplan leans into wondering how much the staff is going to save themselves from having to deal with trying to win a game with Tommy Armstrong’s arm. The less that happens, the merrier. That being said, expect a healthier DPE, Westerkamp and a Reilly that has arrived to help the passing game.
On Defense, I don’t know if they’ll get a bigger test in the Secondary than they did last week vs. Fresno State, but it’ll be similar. The one thing I keep hearing about is being focused, and I don’t think by the way Riley and staff treated Saturday’s postgame and Monday that it’s going to be an issue. It will be a long morning, but in the end, the game will be won by the Huskers by double digits, and then we worry about the Ducks.
Pat Janssen: I thought the spread seemed a tad high last week, and that bore itself out. This one feels right on the money. Wyoming has a few more known quantities offensively than Fresno State had, but I was fairly impressed with what Nebraska showed against the Bulldogs. Nebraska maybe had a few more quality defensive efforts last season, but none were as complete as last week’s game against Fresno State. This is the part where you say, “But it was freaking Fresno State, you dumbass.” And this is where I reply with, “Yeah, but we also gave up scads of passing yards last year against Southern Miss, a guy who’d just gotten back from a Mormon mission and MITCH FREAKING LEIDNER! Also, don’t call me names.” I’ll take improvement where I can get it, and it looks like there has been some in the offseason. And as Brian said, this seems like a Husker recruiting staff that’s expecting something a little closer to perfection. I love the hell out of Mike Riley, but the thing that scared me about him coming into this program was what appeared to be an attitude that celebrated big wins but didn’t sharpen the knife for perfection. Nick Saban doesn’t buy In-N-Out after his team beats a top five program. I think Mike Riley is starting to sense the urgency that comes with being at a big program. It’s why he was so hard on his team’s performance this past week, and it’s why his defensive coordinator is now coaching safeties. Right now I see a team hellbent on starting a long march up the rankings. Huskers 48, Cowboys 17
Mike: Nebraska will need to throw more this week...but not as much as they did when losing last season. I’m not sure what to make about Danny Langsdorf’s comments about their Fresno State game plan - especially when they started off pounding the rock. Hopefully it’s just to confuse Craig Bohl and Wyoming. This game has concerned me as a trap game all summer long; I’d suggest taking the points, if you are inclined to invest some money this week. Huskers will win, though. Huskers 38, Cowboys 24.
Andy: A quick look at the power rankings shows Fresno at a solid #120 and Wyoming at #122 - although if I was Jeff Sagarin, I’d think about giving the algorithm a tweak after seeing the Northern Illinois team that the Cowboys just beat in triple OT ranked 30 spots higher at #92. I’m fully aware that I haven’t bought into the new sprinkles & confetti world of the Riley Era, but a quick check down previous schedules shows that successful seasons (championships or serious runs at them) are not foreshadowed by dicking about with early season inferior competition late in the game. And make no mistake, there’s more than few 1-AA teams out there that could handle Fresno.
I believe Wyoming will be a tougher test than the lowly Bulldogs and a win against an always solid N. Illini program (ask Ohio St. who escaped 20-13 against them last year) to start the season has me thinking that our staff is not looking ahead to Oregon just yet. We’ll find out more about our gutted defensive line this week as Brian Hill is a beast who rushed for over 1600 yards last year. If we can keep him in check, that’s a good sign.
Wyoming’s D, however, is a sieve and after giving up 329 yards through the air last week, expect to see us put the ball in the air more Saturday. Another script like last week (tight 1st half, pull away late) wouldn’t surprise me, but talent & depth-wise Bohl is still bringing a knife to a gunfight. Even if things starts tight, we should be fine as long as Riley & Langs keep it balanced and don’t panic by having Tommie whip it around 50 times full Air Raid style if we find ourselves tied 17-17 in the 2nd. I say it’s not a problem and we kick it into gear quicker than last week. Wyoming covers but GBR 41 Cowboys 21
David: This will be a more physical challenge for NU than the Bulldogs (who I think will be better than most people expected by seasons end) were last week. I think the Huskers had to get beyond the emotions of the offseason and that will help the Huskers this week, but they need to beware of a letdown because of it, because the Cowboys will come in here all charged up. I wouldn’t be suprised in the least if the Cowboys punch the Huskers in the mouth and lead at halftime. The Huskers will wear the Cowboys down in the second half, Tommy and the wide recievers will get more involved in the game plan, DPE has an electrifying return and Tre Bryant will have Husker fans talking after the game. Huskers pull away late, 48-28.
Jill: Early heartburn for Huskers fans as the Cowboys stick around longer than we’d like. Both defenses struggle but the Huskers do a better job of adjusting and use superior athletes to shut things down better in the second half. Huskers 45 Cowboys 24