Nate M: I’m just glad that Nebraska isn’t playing on a Friday night this week. Didn’t that just feel wrong?
Mike: I’m not exactly a huge fan of Black Friday football, but I get why that has become a tradition. (It doesn’t go back nearly as far as fans think. Prior to 1991, Nebraska typically didn’t play Thanksgiving weekend.)
Jill: It’s Dakota Marker game day!
Andy: Welp, we won games we really had to win which haven’t been so easy anymore. Now we’re gonna find out a little more about this team.
Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State +4) at Texas Christian
Nate M: I will continue to push Mike Gundy to be the next head coach at Nebraska. I think he will beat TCU by double digits. Easy. Peasy. Lemon. Squeezy.
Mike: Gundy makes a lot of sense at Nebraska, and his agent sure wanted him to be in consideration eight years ago. But TCU and Max Duggan has been the team in 2022... Froggies 41, Pokes 35
Jon: Every coach Nebraska might be interested in is cursed. Good job, guys, of destroying Mike Gundy’s chance in this game. Max Duggan is interesting to watch. Oklahoma State... they’re still trying to get over the good-to-great bar. It won’t be today. TCU 38, Okie State 34
Jill: Mike Gundy would be fun to have around. Max Duggan would be really fun to have around. Okie State 73 TCU 67 (This is Big 12 football after all)
Andy: I dunno - I like Gundy as a coach, but I can’t help but wonder how quickly he would adjust his style to the Big 10. I also wonder why he’d leave a successful program at his alm mater for a rebuild job. Oh well, he’s got problems enough this weekend and I think TCU is currently the better team. Frogs 38 Cowboys 31
Minnesota (-6.5) at Illinois
Nate M: Two teams that want to play football the way I wish Nebraska could play football. They will run it right down your throat. I wonder if this game could be played in under 2 hours. That would be awesome.
I’m picking Bret Bielema to beat Minnesota and maybe Nebraska fans should start thinking that maybe Bielema could be a coach here at Nebraska.
Mike: I think a lot of people just threw up in their mouth at that prospect...but there’s no doubt that Bert has done an amazing job at Illinois the last season and a half. But not this weekend; Mohammed Ibrahim should be back for Minnesota, and that’s the difference in this game. Goofers 35, Fightin’ Berts 27
Jon: So... Nate now curses Illinois. This is a good thing as Nebraska needs Minnesota to win this and knock Illinois back down into the shit pile that is the Big Ten West. Plus, the Gophers already had their shit game against Purdue. And Mo is back. I think. Gophers 24, Bert 17
Jill: I’m interested in the result of this game. I don’t want to watch it. Illinois looks legit. (Did I just type that?) What the heck. I’ll pick Bert too. Illini 18 Gophers 15 (This is Big 10 football after all)
Andy: Both teams are playing lockdown defenses and both run pretty balanced offenses. However, Minnesota’s offense has been producing more. In addition, Minnesota is coming off of a bye week which might be advantage #2 in a battle of physical teams. Also, I’m leaning toward the Gophers since a Minny win would make the Purdue-Huskers game a battle for the top of the West. PJ’s Weird New Face 23 Bert’s Fried Foods 15
Penn State (+7) at Michigan
Nate M: Michigan went into halftime tied with Indiana last week. Then they blew the doors off of them in the second half. I think Michigan will continue and beat Penn State by 10.
Mike: Michigan is on a roll; I don’t think this one will be all that close. Weasels 38, Nitts 20
Jon: The Weasels are more of a complete team. Is there a single name on Penn State’s roster you recognize? Sean Clifford? That should tell you what you need to know. Michigan wins but it’s not easy. Michigan 28, Penn State 21
Andy: Both teams are good? But neither is playing to the level of their respective rankings. However, they are both winning. Michigan’s weaker non-con schedule (though not by much) padded their numbers some and I think these two are pretty evenly matched. Let’s give the lean to the Weasels since they’re at home and also because Penn State still deserves to be burned to the ground and the earth salted afterwards. Michy 27 Joe Pa’s Statue 24
Wisconsin (-7.5) at Michigan State
Nate M: Jim Leonard’s team will win easily. Maybe by 20.
Mike: I have a suspicion that Mel Tucker’s contract extension is going to be a major problem for Michigan State very soon. Maybe not this season, but boy, did Sparty overcommit. Bucky 35, Sparty 20
Jon: Sparty noooooooooooo... on that contract extension. Good for Mel Tucker. Him and his giant head are making bank. He’s gonna get beat again. There’s something wrong at MSU that isn’t just about talent. Wisconsin 31, Sparty 17
Jill: Badgers by big points. Sparty No. Wiscy 34 Sparty 14
Andy: A blowout of hapless Northwestern doesn’t convince me Wisconsin is suddenly a machine again anymore than the Huskers’ last two wins mean they’re headed for a bowl. However, Mel Tucker and Sparty have been fully exposed this season after a charmed 2021. (The $95M man’s career record - 20-18. Winning seasons 1 in 3 seasons on the way to 1/4) What is that buyout anyway?)
Anyway - this one looks like it should be close, but the Spartans have just been wiped out for four straight weeks, whereas I will give Leonhard credit for last week’s breath of life. Let’s say Wiscy 36 Mich State 24
South Dakota State at North Dakota State
Jill: I snuck this one in when Mike wasn’t looking. Can the Jackrabbits keep the Dakota Marker for the third year in a row? It is a clash of the FCS titans. #1 vs #2. Have my doubts, but I’m still going to pick the Jackrabbits (in case any of you thought otherwise). SDSU 36 NDSU 28
Nebraska (+13.5) at Purdue
Nate M: This is pretty easy. Nebraska loses by 17+ points.
Mike: Purdue is a helluva lot better than Rutgers and Indiana. This game looks a lot more like the Oklahoma game than either of the last two weeks. Boilers 38, Huskers 17.
Jill: I’m with Nate. I think Nebraska has gotten better under Mickey Joseph, but not by enough to get out of West Lafayette with the win. Boilers 40 Huskers 21
Jon: This game is all about mindset. Nebraska’s defense has a completely different mindset than they did against Oklahoma. My full preview and prediction:
Andy: I’m going to stick with the pick I made in the Q&A with Purdue earlier this week.
First off, Purdue was my pick to win the West in our preseason roundtable and I’m still 100% behind that. Finding a way to win back-to-back 4th quarter Big 10 games was a huge turnaround from the 1-3 start and the listless Oklahoma blowout. But we do have to be honest - beating an undermanned Indiana and outmanned Rutgers does not mean we’re back.
However, you have to start somewhere and Purdue is exactly the measuring stick we need right now.
Our newly salty pass defense gets the biggest test by jumping to arguably the best arm in the conference. This isn’t just on the defensive backfield however. The bell is most definitely ringing for the pass rush. Aidan O’Connell has a great arm but his run game more resembles a Manning than a Kyler/Lamar. Pressure will be a requirement against a QB who will be throwing 40-50 times.
Overall, I would actually say we match up fairly well with Purdue except for our glaring weakness. Purdue can be passed on but will Casey get time? Will Anthony Grant get the minimal blocking necessary for our ground game to be effective enough that Purdue can’t rush with abandon all night? As before the Rutgers game, I still have my doubts. So, on paper, a Purdue cover and then some seems a pretty simple proposition.
But - something has changed. Enough to pick the upset in a night game in West Lafayette? Not that. But I think the new scrappiness, 2nd half adjustments and defensive improvements will result in a team which won’t go away in this one. Purdue 28 Huskers 23