Mike: Sadly, it’s the last game of the season. But there’s some sort of weird corporate trophy on the line.
Patrick: Nebrasketball season!
Jill: I refuse to acknowledge this trophy. Nebraska only has one trophy game in the B1G and that involves a broken chair.
Andy: I feel like military and corporate interests can survive without a deep-rooted connection in the Husker-Hawkeye rivalry. Disappear that thing in the ether with Diaco’s silly UConn - Central Florida trophy and let some former players and coaches spend a weekend coming up with something, have the schools make it sans flags and corporate logos and give it to the winner each year. Done.
It’s rivalry weekend. Let the hate flow through you.
Land of Lincoln Game
Northwestern (+6.5) at Illinois
Patrick: University of Illinois 14 Northwestern University 9
Jill: Someone has to win this one, right? The new overtime rules prevent any ties? If so, I’ll take Bert’s boys. Illini 24 Wildcats 7
Jon: This is one of those years for Northwestern. Illinois seems to have progressed decently - I wonder if Pat Fitzgerald will fire his DC Jim O’Neil after this season. Illini 24, Northwestern 10
Mike: With so few returning starters, you had to expect Northwestern to struggle this season. I did expect, however, they’d improve more as the season went on. Illini 28, NW 9
Andy: And my excitement immediately fades. Unless there’s a gunshot-filled TD run like the one in The Last Boy Scout, I won’t even be bothering with the highlights. Illinois will play down to its opponent much like against Rutgers. Huskies 15 Illini 14
Paul Bunyan’s Axe
Wisconsin (-7) at Minnesota
Patrick: University of Wisconsin 21 University of Minnesota 14
Jill: Braelon Allen is scary. Minnesota has a good defense, but not that good. Badgers 34 Gophers 21
Jon: Wisconsin has gotten their act together. Minnesota understands their game, i.e., what they’re doing, but they just don’t have the athletes, ALTHOUGH if Tanner Morgan can be good the Gophers can definitely win. It’s at Minnesota, so maybe that provides an edge. The Gophers win the Big Ten West IF they beat Wisconsin AND Nebraska beats Iowa. That’d be kind of cool just because it would be someone else besides Wisconsin. Minnesota 24, Wisconsin 23
Mike: But that’s not gonna happen. Badgers 27, Goofers 13
Andy: I doubt Wisconsin while stacking up to slow the run will do the Goof Bastards the privilege of having their D-backs play 15 yards off the receivers like the Huskers did in the first half of that game. Wiscy 30 Minnesota 13
Land Grant Telephone Trophy Game
Penn State (-1) at Michigan State
Patrick: Michigan State University 20 Pennsylvania State University 17
Jill: Can Sparty recover from the shellacking they got at the hands of the Buckeyes? I think so. MIchigan State 28 Penn State 24
Mike: Battle of the contract extensions! In this case, gimme Franklin. Nitts 31, Sparty 23
Andy: I want to take a moment to thank Michigan St. for signing possibly the dumbest head coaching contract in the history of them. And given some of unbelievably silly deals over the years, that’s saying something (I’m looking at you Notre Dame - possibly our previous champ for opening the purse strings after a close loss.)
10 years and $95 million for a dude with a career college head coaching record of 16-14 and no conference or division titles. And coming off of a 56-7 beatdown which finally exposed a lousy defense. The Spartans are improved this season but going 9-3 doesn’t exactly feel like a reason to put a guy between Saban and Dabo on the salary scale. PSU 31 Sparty 23
Just another Game
An Ohio State University (-8) at Michigan
Patrick: University of Michigan 23 Ohio State University 21
Jill: This might be one of the more competitive and fun “The Game” games since the fourth down spot. Or, it could be a huge blowout if the Buckeyes perform like they did last week. Buckeyes 31 Wolverines 21
Jon: Michigan has progressed. Jim Harbaugh has hired a better set of coaches. They’ve gotten better. Unfortunately, MY GOD OHIO STATE has an offense that will destroy everything they encounter from here on out, with the possible exception of Georgia. Ohio State 45, Michigan 21
Mike: The Buckeyes are just too much for Michigan. Bucknuts 45, Weasels 34
Andy: Gotta admit here - I’m just looking forward to another game vs. the Buckeyes which ends with Harbawl’s face twisted in pain once again and eyes bugging out under the ol’ cap and glasses. Two reasons - 1) most of the time he just looks like a sketch artist’s rendering of most any serial killer currently on the loose and 2) I just can’t stand the jackass.
Buckeyes 43 Rodents 24
Ferris Wheel Game
Iowa (-1.0) at Nebraska
Patrick: University of Nebraska 10 University of Iowa 9
Jill: Without Adrian, I have my doubts that the offense can move the ball like they have been. I also hope Logan Smothers erases those doubts quickly. A young QB making his first start against an opportunistic defense is likely to cough up a turnover or two but, unlike past years, I don’t think it will lead to a chain meltdown. Let’s also hope special teams don’t #SpecialTeams this week. Even with Iowa’s offense being not-good (they are improving) I think the Blackshirts can keep Nebraska in this one. Wow - a lot of things have to go right.
OK, I’m going to do it. A late field goal wins the game for the third year in a row. Only this time, it is Nebraska that ends up on top. We’ve seen every weird possible way a team can lose, this team deserves a weird win no one saw coming. Nebraska 28 Iowa 25
Mike: Iowa’s offense is terrible. I’m not sure about Nebraska’s offense without Adrian Martinez, though, but I think it’s better than Iowa’s. Huskers 21, Squawkeyes 18
Andy: Given Iowa’s offensive struggles, I was feeling very good about this game, but Adrian’s shoulder surgery may let the boobirds know just how many of these games we wouldn’t have even been in a position to screw up at the end.
I believe we outmatch Iowa in most head-to-head categories. Smothers is fast and tough and I believe he can replace Martinez in the running game, especially a Martinez who hasn’t been at full speed in weeks.
The passing game has become the X-factor. Smothers didn’t look particularly good throwing the ball in the Spring Game but it was an extremely windy day, so those observations may mean little. I’m not counting on him to throw for our 275 ypg average. However, with this receiver corps’ height and ability to find space, if he can throw just well enough to keep the Iowa defense honest, it may be enough.
Most importantly, these guys never stop fighting. I’ll always remember that.
Huskers 24 Iowa 22