Big Ten season has descended upon us, and Northwestern opens conference play with arguably the best team in the West division: the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Here’s how our writers think Week 4 will go for the Wildcats. Be sure to add your prediction below!
Zach Pereles: Nebraska 26, Northwestern 24
These teams seem destined to play close games—four of the past five have been within three points—no matter how big the supposed difference between the two teams is. Northwestern will keep this close and capitalize on some careless play from Tommy Armstrong Jr., but the better team will come out on top late.
Will Ragatz: Nebraska 34, Northwestern 20
Last week’s win restored some life to the program and its fans, but expecting a second straight victory is difficult simply because Nebraska is significantly better than Duke. Northwestern’s youthful secondary is going to have a tough time keeping Alonzo Moore and Jordan Westerkamp out of the end zone in this one and the Wildcats won’t have the offensive firepower to keep pace. But then again, I’m 0-3 on picks this year so what do I know?
Sam Brief: Nebraska 31, Northwestern 17
Yes, Northwestern earned a much-needed win last week against Duke, but Nebraska’s was better—a 35-32 win over a legit Oregon team. Mobile quarterbacks have given Northwestern’s defense a headache in recent years, and Tommy Armstrong is just that. I expect him to have minimal issues against Northwestern’s front seven (even with a more healthy Anthony Walker). Nebraska by two touchdowns.
Zach Wingrove: Nebraska 34, Northwestern 14
Northwestern’s improved passing attack was a nice breath of fresh air last week against Duke, but I think this week it comes back to earth and the offense will struggle to put points on the board. On the defensive side of the ball, the Cornhuskers’ offensive line is easily the most talented o-line Northwestern has faced this season and I don’t expect the Wildcats’ front seven to get any pressure on Tommy Armstrong. I expect Armstrong to carve up the Wildcats’ depleted secondary and I think Nebraska wins this game with ease.
Josh Burton: Nebraska 20, Northwestern 13
The win against Duke was huge for the Wildcats to get out of their early-season doldrums, but Nebraska—with an improved Tommy Armstrong Jr.—is not the best of matchups for Northwestern. The Cornhuskers’ senior quarterback has limited his interceptions (just one) through three games and has the ability to burn the Northwestern defense both through the air and on the ground. Unless Justin Jackson gets some help from his battered offensive line and has a huge game, Northwestern probably won’t have enough offense to outscore Nebraska.
Caleb Friedman: Nebraska 28, Northwestern 17
Clayton Thorson is coming off arguably the best game of his career, but even a repeat of his performance against Duke will probably not be enough this week. Thorson was still erratic throwing the ball, and Nebraska will be far better equipped to capitalize off of his mistakes than Duke was. The Cornhuskers pose the toughest physical challenge of any team the ‘Cats have faced all year, which doesn’t bode well given how NU’s offensive and defensive lines have fared this season. Northwestern will hang around early on, but Nebraska will pull away in the second half.
Josh Rosenblat: Nebraska 27, Northwestern 13
The big stat I’ll be watching during this game: Clayton Thorson’s yards per passing attempt. He is leading the Big Ten in pass attempts through three weeks, but is fourth-worst in yards per attempt and last in completion percentage. Northwestern’s passing game needs to get more efficient. Also, the 11 sacks he’s taken this season are easily the most in the conference as well. The Wildcats can’t match up with Nebraska if those numbers are going to persist.
Martin Oppegaard: Northwestern 24, Nebraska 23
I can’t say I have a great explanation for this, but I’m going back to the well one more time. Northwestern was able to pull out a win over Nebraska in Lincoln last year, and although this is an improved Cornhusker team, it’s still Week 1 in the Big Ten and anything can happen. It remains to be seen if Tommy Armstrong can play turnover free football in conference play, and I think Northwestern’s defense bends but doesn’t break in this game. Under the lights, all black uniforms, first Big Ten game? Northwestern pulls it out.