Not a lot of confidence in NU this week.
This is probably going to be the most boring Northwestern-Nebraska game since the Huskers joined the Big Ten. Lots of stalling, but the Nebraska offense will take some shots, and ultimately, that will prove to be an effective strategy.
Nebraska 24, Northwestern 13
If we've learned anything about the Northwestern-Nebraska series, it's that these teams play exciting games. The trend will continue on Saturday. This one won't come down to a long field goal or hail mary, though. Instead, Ameer Abdullah will break off a long rushing TD midway through the fourth quarter, the Huskers will tack on a field goal, and NU's offense will sputter in crunch time.
Nebraska 27, Northwestern 17
Just like last week (and frankly the previous games in the Northwestern-Nebraska series), Saturday night will feature an unconventional, unexpected type of play that may give one team a pretty big edge. Last week, Minnesota returned a kick for a touchdown immediately following a Northwestern score. Will Northwestern be the recipient of one of those types of plays? As I wrote following the Minnesota game, that shouldn't be the determining factor for Northwestern. The team shouldn't have to rely on those plays but the coaching staff seems content to do so. Unless I see a big change where Northwestern does something to go out and take the game from Nebraska, I don't see the Wildcats pulling off the upset.
Nebraska 28, Northwestern 20
Lately I've been focusing on how Northwestern and its opponent stack up on paper to make my prediction, instead of listening to my gut. And my gut is apparently a much better picker, so I'm going with the 'Cats. Turnovers and red zone defense help Northwestern to a one-point victory.
Northwestern 24, Nebraska 23
Northwestern can't continue to try to sustain long drives like it has been -- it is, quite frankly, a terrible formula for success. And especially against a talented Nebraska defensive line, I think this NU offense turns in it's worst performance of the season, and the defense, despite putting in a decent performance, succumbs in the end to a potent Nebraska attack.
Nebraska 24, Northwestern 7
It seems that every game Northwestern plays is a 50/50 proposition, and this feels no different. Yes, the ‘Cats played great against Wisconsin, but they were equally disappointing in a mind-numbing loss against Minnesota. This one really does feel like a toss up to me, so I'm going to go with the ‘Cats simply because they're playing a homecoming game under the lights, and when it's a toss up it's never a bad idea to go with the team playing a homecoming game under the lights.
Northwestern 27, Nebraska 21
The University of Nebraska Lincoln (UNL) may be the better team, but I don't think they are that much better, and certainly not 7 point favorite on the road better. If you take out University of Nebraska Lincoln's (UNL) 19 point 4th quarter comeback against Michigan State, their resume is simply this: "they took care of business and lost to an elite team". Yes, Im calling "beating a 2-2 at the time and now a 4-3 Miami team" taking care of business. Who thought that day would come? NU has played more quality teams than the University of Nebraska Lincoln aside from MSU. I anticipate Randy Gregorys role to be diminished, NU has done a fair job game planning against elite DE's to take them out of the picture. The biggest thing NU's defense has going for them is their ability to limit big plays which helps drastically minimize Abdullahs role in the game as well. Abdullah has been known to cough the ball up against NU, and UNL as a whole has always seemed to do so against NU. This year they are in the bottom half in Turnover Ratio and NU nearing the top 10. I think if NU can keep Armstrong in check with Abdullah neutralized, not have any bone head illegal formation penalties, capitalize on turnovers, NU will pull off the upset.
Northwestern 29, Nebraska 27
To put it simply, Nebraska is a better team right now. Both teams feature good defenses, but Nebraska's offense is just better. They have put together an above average passing game to make this a multi-dimensional offense, something Northwestern has not really faced this year. What may be most worrisome is that while Nebraska ranks 25th and 45th nationally in rushing S&P+ and passing S&P+, respectively, they rank 15th nationally in S&P+ on passing downs (54th on standard downs). When the Northwestern defense manages to get Nebraska into third and long situations, they absolutely need to get off the field at a high rate. On offense, Siemian's health continues to be a concern. I think the offense has the potential to be effective enough to score points and avoid short drives to avoid losing the field position battle, but the odds of that happening are not high. In addition, they'll need to win the turnover battle and do well on special teams, an area in which Nebraska also hold a bit of an advantage. I'm 0-5 in predictions in FBS games, though, so here's hoping I'll be 0-6.
Nebraska 28, Northwestern 21
Nebraska can score a lot of points on anyone. Northwestern can't. The defense struggles valiantly, but NU falls well short due to a lack of offensive support.
Nebraska 27, Northwestern 17
Nebraska is the most complete team in the West and they're coming off a bye. But for some reason, maybe it's the homecoming excitement on campus, I have a feeling Northwestern wins this one late.
Northwestern 27, Nebraska 24
Northwestern has played well this season in front of home crowds wearing red in October. I expect this trend to continue.
Northwestern 22, Nebraska 17