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Week 8 Predictions: Huskers vs. NW Wildcats

Northwestern v Nebraska Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images

Mike: This kind of seems like a “should win” game that’s probably a bit of a “must win” as far as fans are concerned.

Tyler: I'm forcing myself to take Coach Rhule's advice and go 1-0 every week. It's harder than it sounds. Considering as of today, none of our remaining 6 games have me shaking with fear. Maybe I should watch a scary movie.

Jill: I never feel good about a game against the Wildcats.

Jarek: Considering the road team has a propensity to win more often than not, this screams trap game to me...but I’ll be honest, I feel like things go better when I’m in a bad mood.

Jackson: This is one of those games in previous years Nebraska would overlook coming off a conference win. However, this year I feel like Rhule has the guys locked in and is focused on the wildcats.

Andy: Some offensive consistency. Run the damn ball. Stop the run. Pressure the QB. Notch a win. And get some perks…playa.

Penn State (+4.5) at Ohio State

Mike: I’m going to go all-in here. The wrong team is favored. Nitts 27, Bucknuts 24

Tyler: The Fightin' Franklin's leave The Horseshoe Faithful silent and head out of Columbus with a W. Penn State 21, Ohio State 17

Jill: Ohio State looks mortal but the game is in the Shoe. My instincts say Penn State but I’m talking myself into a Buckeye win... I. Will. Resist. Lions 28 Buckeyes 24

Jon: This game is about Penn State’s defense. Ohio State just seems to have some mental issues where they’re not all on the same page all of the time. It doesn’t matter against most teams, but it will against Penn State. We’re all picking the Nitts? Wow. Penn State 27 Ohio State 24

Jarek: This has to be Penn State’s best chance to beat Ohio State in a few years. It just seems like this is the most complete team James Franklin has put together in Happy Valley. I’m not sold on the overall play of Ohio State, they were lucky to escape Notre Dame and have struggled early in games. I feel like this could finally be the year where Ryan Day’s seat gets hot from losing one game a year a little earlier than usual. Penn State 24, Ohio State 21

Jackson: Penn State has won so much under Franklins tenure and never quite been able to break through. They seem to always be overshadowed by Michigans and Ohio St’s of the Big Ten. Penn State has been flying a bit under the national radar this year and this will be the game that puts them in the national light. Gimmie Lions 28, Buckeyes 24

Andy: Color me a non-believer. “Not quite” is the current Penn State DNA when it comes to the Bucknuts - they are hardwired to lose. The streak will break at some point but the place for that is a Saturday night in Happy Valley, not brunch in Columbus, OH, while hoping some chode in a Terrell Pryor Starter jersey hasn’t keyed your car because you forgot the cover the Pennsylvania plates. An Ohio St. University 27 Statue Worshipping Perverts 20

Rutgers (-5) at Indiana

Mike: There’s six more games in the Tom Allen era...and this one won’t wear well. Rutgers 38, Hoosiers 17

Tyler: Rutgers being Bowl Eligible before us is kinda sad, but as long as we both get there, who cares who's first? Scarlet Knights 24, Hoosiers 13

Jill: Indiana is a hot mess and Rutgers looks [checks notes] good? Well here we are. Scarlet Knights by 10.

Jon: Indiana should just go ahead and terminate Tom Allen. Maybe they’d show some life. Rutgers should easily win this. Rutgers 31 Indiana 10

Jarek: This one should be more straightforward for Rutgers than last week’s straightforward game against Michigan State was. Rutgers probably won’t be as sloppy giving the ball to Indiana, while the Hoosiers are good at giving the ball away themselves. Indiana has proven to not have much spark this season, and that continues. Rutgers 31 Indiana 20

Jackson: I’m riding the Rutgers hype train this year. Glad this will be the game that’ll get them to a quick bowl game to start the year. Tom Allen’s Indiana flashed during the Penix era but that time has past. Rutgers 24, Indiana 10.

Andy: I’m not a huge Rutgers believer but after a scrappy start, Indiana looks like hell. The Rutgers offense is a bit of a mess, but the Hoosier defense is an open road. Indiana just had a bye week and needs another after Michigan. Rutgers 29 Indiana 17

Minnesota (+3.5) at Iowa

Mike: They are playing for a pig, which is arguably more attractive than Brian Ferentz’s offense. Why do I have a feeling this one is going to look like a baseball score? Squawkeyes 11, Goofers 6

Tyler: It's funny that a team with ZERO offensive pulse is favored to win this game. But unless the entire Hawkeyes Defense comes down with the Flu, Minnesota and Khaki Mr. Clean can't find a rhythm for their offensive woes either. I Owe Ah 16 Min A So Ta 10

Jill: I do not want to acknowledge that this game exists. Acknowledging it might create a singularity that consumes all of space and time. As bad as Iowa’s offense looks, I agree with Mike and Tyler. They are better all around than the Gophers (and the game is at Kinnick). Hawkeyes by 4 1/2. Don’t ask me how that happens. I told you...singularity.

Jon: Minnesota is not good. Iowa is 23 good. PJ Fleck has yet to beat Captain Kirk and as much as I’d love to see that, there isn’t much of a chance of it happening. Gophers have too many flaws. Iowa 9 Minnesota 3

Jarek: P.J Fleck and his pretty Botox can’t out ugly the absolute nightmare the demon spawn during the whole year, little lone Halloween season, that is Brian Ferentz’s offense. The real question is this: what is less painful, watching this game or sticking my balls in a bear trap? I’m going with the bear trap. Iowa will somehow chug along with another ugly defensive masterclass of punt and let the opposing offense implode. Iowa 12 Minnesota 6.

Jackson: This will be the classic ‘beautiful?’ Big Ten game. Expect Iowa’s defense to score more than there offense per usual. In all seriousness, Minnesota and Khalicakmanis have looked extremely underwhelming through the mid point of the season, and Iowa’s defense will hold and find a way to break off a big run or 2. Im still taking the historic low under at (30.5) Iowa 13, Minnesota 7.

Andy: I think I’d rather eat my own s**t than watch 30 seconds of this fuckery. Iowa 5 Minnesota 3

Wisconsin (-2.5) at Illinois

Mike: How long is Tanner Mordecai out? Just asking. Badgers 20, Illini 14

Tyler: I think the Illini found something in their big back running game last week. They will feed him and hopefully open up things for Altmeyer. I don't even know who Tanner Mordecai's back-up is...I'm picking Bielema to stick it to his old team this week. Illinois 24, Wisconsin 20

Jill: I don’t trust either of these teams. When in doubt, pick the home team? I have a really hard time picking Illinois... I’m going to do it anyway. No, I’m not. Badgers 14 Illini 12 This game is entertaining compared to Iowa/Minnesota.

Jon: Wisconsin just... isn’t. Illinois 24, Wisconsin 21

Jarek: I like Illinois here...even if my brother-in-law who used to teach in Champaign has been yelling at me even since I told him I was taking the Illini here. I don’t think Illinois plays a game as piss poorly as they did against Nebraska, while I’m not overly certain Wisconsin will improve offensively without Tanner Mordecai. Illinois also won by a last second field goal the last time it was at Illinois, I believe the same happens again. Illinois 20 Wisconsin 17

Jackson: After Mordecai went down and Illinois pulled off an unexpected win over a good Maryland team, this game is going to be much closer than anticipated 2 weeks ago. I like Illinois riding on some great momentum straight into badger stadium to pick up the W. Gimmie the Illini 20, Wisco 17.

Andy: I dunno where that win over Maryland came from, but it simply can’t erase what went on before that. And while I don’t know who was behind him, color me pretty unimpressed with Tanner Mordecai, so I’m not sure how big a dropoff there is to be concerned about. (Of course, I said the same thing about Iowa not knowing they had an immobile backup who struggles to hand off.) Let’s say Wisconsin 31 Illinois 20

Northwestern (+11.5) at Nebraska

Mike: My old friend AJ the Huskerh8r always insisted that the biggest problem with Nebraska football was the fans. I used to scoff at that, but now I’m not so sure that he might not have had a point. Certainly the fan support with sellout crowds despite having a team that hasn’t been to a bowl game since Barack Obama was president is mostly a positive. But the noise from some sectors of the fan base isn’t helpful for a team that seems to have literally forgotten how to win.
Matt Rhule recognizes this, and is trying to drown out the outside noise by focusing on going 1-0 this week. Especially this week, as Northwestern is the football program that keeps bringing banana peels to Lincoln for Nebraska to slip up on. They have their own issues in Evanston, and as long as Nebraska focuses on being the best they can be this week, the Huskers should be fine. NU 24, NW 9

Tyler: I think Coach Rhule was very deliberate and strategic in the way he handled both his Press Conferences on Monday and Thursday. He came out and named HH the starter going forward. He was adamant about the work the Freshman Receiving Corp has put in the past two weeks to prepare for their moments going forward. He kinda put us fans in our place a little bit too. Which, make no mistake about it, some of us need. You're either on one side of the spectrum or the other. We win out and we're popping Champagne on our way to Indy, or we stumble lose out on postseason, and we're calling for Rhule & Co. Jobs, etc. after Year 1.
Year Freaking One?
First off, Northwestern will lose. We will win. My prediction 38-21. We cover, and we find an identity on offense going forward. Is it enough to win out? I don't know. Is it enough to get us to a Bowl? I believe so. Could we lose 5 of the next 6 and sit at home without another postseason? Possibly. But I am much more impressed with what has, and is going on in Memorial Stadium behind closed doors. This team is truly building a foundation on which wins will come, because those in charge won't take shortcuts or risk integrity for a Win. But losses might come too. Either way, I think the end result will be more satisfying than we even realize at this moment. Get it done this weekend, guys! If We Die, We Die! #GBR HUSKERS 38, Northwestern 21

Jill: Wow! Mike and Tyler did real analysis and homework and stuff. These games are always entertaining if you are a Husker fan. They are either nail-biters or Husker domination. I feel better this year about Nebraska’s ability to not dissolve into a puddle of turnover goo if a game gets tight in the fourth quarter. So, there’s that? Huskers 24 Wildcats 17

Jon: Something changed against Illinois and that goal line stand for Nebraska. I don’t think we’ll have much trouble with Northwestern. Nebraska 24, Nerds 10

Jarek: First of all, I’m really not sure what to make of the 11.5 between these two usually are played much closer than this. However, the last time the fake NU (Northwestern) came to Lincoln, they were sent home with a resounding ass whooping. Is it possible that can happen again? Of course it can. Nebraska is better at running the ball, while Northwestern has one of the worst run defenses in the entire country. Go Big Red! Nebraska 31 Fake NU 10

Jackson: It feels like you always have to sweat the Northwestern game, they look like a different team every single year. This year, given the circumstances, they seem to be doing much better from a record prospective than a lot of people thought by this point in the season. With both teams coming off a bye week it will be intresting to see which team can throw a punch the other coach didn’t prepare for. Besides some of the obvious on-the- field advantages Nebraska has all over the defense and at the TE/QB position. This game could could rely on how well each coach prepared and used their bye week time correctly. I like Matt Rhule. I like this culture built on a strong foundation. And I like this momentum we’re riding on. 3 of the last 4 make it 4/5! #RDV 1-0! IF WE DIE WE DIE!!! CORNHUSKERS 27, Those Weird Purple Cats 10.

Andy: I think the biggest boost for Nebraska in this game is going to simply be a previously dinged up group with an extra jump in their step after an extra week to recover. The run game is our strength and defending it is their weakness. Despite how obvious it seems we should expect it, Braun may not be able to resist the temptation to load the box. If they do, and we can mix things up successfully, Haarberg may have his first 200 yard day passing.

It strains me to say it given the history of this rivalry, but I actually like us to cover this spread. Their offense will struggle mightily and if we take advantage of our edge in the running game to keep them on the field, we can stress an already shaky Northwestern D. Then they can gloomily do whatever post-game shower weirdness trips their trigger.

Or maybe they’ll just unexpectedly ruin Husker hopes yet again in which case a drunken Saturday night of horrors can only be eased by the fact I won’t remember a minute of it. Still… Huskers 31 Northwestern 10