It’s all in front of the 2-0 Wildcats, who face a rested Nebraska team.
Our staffers shared their predictions for this weekend’s matchup, and surprisingly, everyone is in agreement.
If you want to see Rodger Sherman’s weekly picks, head on over to the Inside NUsletter.
Lia Assimakopoulos: Northwestern 30, Nebraska 27
Nebraska will certainly be Northwestern’s toughest test yet as its dynamic offense is coming off a bye week, and the Wildcats are fresh off a draining win in Iowa. However, Northwestern’s budding offense will capitalize on the weaknesses of Nebraska’s defense, and Peyton Ramsey will lead his team to its third consecutive victory in a close game down to the wire.
Eli Karp: Northwestern 27, Nebarkas 23
I’m still expecting to pass hundreds of Nebraska fans at Canal Shores on my walk to Ryan Field. The Husker offense has a lot of potential, but the Husker defense is not very good. I suspect that though UNL will come out with a lot of energy, that might do them more harm than good. It’s always tight between these two teams, and I see no reason why it should be different this time around. Ramsey has his best day yet, and NU moves to 3-0.
Colin Kruse: Northwestern 24, Nebarkas 14
After Brandon Joseph ruined my not-so-optimistic prediction last weekend, I have some more faith in the Fighting Fitzes and their steady, bend-but-don't-break approach to the game of football. Northwestern will surely benefit from the first-half suspensions of starting defensive backs Deontai Williams and Cam Taylor-Britt, carried over from the Huskers’ loss to Ohio State. Perhaps these brief absences will encourage Mike Bajakian to establish the pass game and unlock Peyton Ramsey to attack a temporarily depleted UNL secondary. The ‘Cats should take an early lead and then rely on the same factors which got them out of Kinnick with a victory (winning the turnover battle and chewing up clock with the run game).
Daniel Olinger: Northwestern 31, Nebraska 24
As someone who has watched his fair share of Ohio State football, Nebraska actually held up better than I expected. The joint quarterback run game of Adrian Martinez and Luke McCaffery put up 165 combined yards on the ground even with lost yards through sacks, and the defense held OSU to 17 points before the closing moments of the first half. That said, the ‘Cats are not only a good team right now, but a team that has fully bought into its identity. The quarterback makes all the right plays, the O-Line and run play isn’t overwhelmingly great, but generates enough consistent production that the offense can fall back on it when needed and the defense has morphed from a simple bend but don’t break unit to a task force of playmakers that truly won the game for NU last week. 3-0 here they come.
Mac Stone: Northwestern 27, Nebarkas 21
Northwestern struggled out the gate last week against Iowa, but I fully expect the ‘Cats to have shored up those mistakes come this week. That doesn’t mean Nebarkas will be a walk in the park. Adrian Martinez is good, especially on the ground. I’ll be intrigued to see how the ‘Cats decide to defend against him. With that being said, I think NU has the advantage in terms of defense, which is what will end up getting them the win and pushing them to 3-0.
Jack Izzo: Northwestern 27, Nebraska 24
Northwestern’s offense has proven that it can be effective at moving the ball down the field. Its defense has proven it can get stops and turnovers, although it did struggle with quarterback pressure against Io_a. But Nebraska did manage to put up a respectable 17 points against Ohio State. Both teams favor the run, although Wan’Dale Robinson at wide receiver will be threat for UNL. Luckily for the ‘Cats, Northwestern is simply better defending against the run. However, Northwestern-Nebraska often comes down to the wire, and I’d be surprised if that isn’t true here.
Ben Chasen: Northwestern 34, Nebraska 24
Nebraska’s offense is really fun to watch. Wan’Dale Robinson is as shifty and speedy a receiver as there is in the Big Ten, and the two-quarterback setup makes the Huskers unpredictable and potentially explosive. That said, their defense has a lot of growing to do, particularly against the pass, and losing leading defensive backs Cam Taylor-Britt and Deontai Williams for the first half to targeting suspensions doesn’t help. The ‘Cats will capitalize on this and pull ahead early, and while I expect UNL to strike back, NU will hold on late to secure a 3-0 start to the season headed into some of the most critical games of the season.
William Karmin: Northwestern 27, Nebraska 17
There is a chance Nebraska comes out fired up for this game and finds a way to win. In this scenario, UNL would be an instant favorite to win the West. With that said, I still expect Northwestern to continue its emergence within the division. NU as a favorite has lost a lot of early-season games in throughout Fitz’s tenure. But Fitz rarely, if ever, allows his team to overlook inferior West division teams. I expect NU to win this matchup pretty easily in a contest between two teams trending in opposite directions.
Didi Jin: Northwestern 31, Nebraska 20
After winning a close contest in Iowa City despite a dismal first quarter, the ‘Cats will come out firing in this one in an effort to claim sole position of first place in the B1G West. I expect Mike Bajakian to be more aggressive with his play calling—particularly in the passing attack—against a Husker defense that was torn up on the ground and through the air in Week One. Although Nebraska’s run game is impressive and comes to Evanston with nearly two weeks of preparation, I have confidence in the Northwestern defense to get the stops when it counts. Give me 300 yards passing and two touchdowns from Ramsey as well.
Liam Warin: Northwestern 24, Nebraska 14
If Bajakian’s past two games are any reflection of his play calling tendencies, this game is going to be a lot like 1950s football, with lots of ground-and-pound, hammer-the-ball-down-your-throat-run-game. Nebraska will look to run its QBs early and often with the occasional slot reception from Wan’Dale Robinson, while Northwestern will establish the run on early downs. Ramsey will make just enough clutch third-down throws to spark three touchdown-scoring drives and a field goal. This game comes down to Adrian Martinez’ ability to beat a Northwestern secondary against which newer talents in Taulia Tagovailoa and Spencer Petras struggled. I am not confident that Martinez can throw his way to a victory — especially with limited passing opportunities.
Josh Miller: Northwestern 28, Nebraska 20
Corn Nation’s Andy Ketterson said it best when he said this game is a contrast of styles. Nebraska’s offense, featuring stud wideout Wan’Dale Robinson, showed flashes of explosiveness in its week one matchup against Ohio State and come into Ryan Field ranked 23rd in offensive SP+. The Husker secondary is porous, however, and Northwestern’s stout run defense should cause problems. I expect Northwestern’s consistency on both sides of the ball to outweigh one or two big plays from Nebraska. Peyton Ramsey will put up 250 yards and two touchdowns, one of which will go to wideout Kyric McGowan coming off an impressive day at Iowa.
Sarah Effress: Northwestern 28, Nebraska 17
The ‘Cats should be confident this week coming off of Saturday’s win at Iowa—that being said, confidence without cockiness is key. Nebraska’s offense is good, but if Ramsey continues his consistency in the passing game, the combination of Bowser, Anderson and McGowan on the offensive side of the ball could have Bajakian’s squad shining this weekend. I would jinx it if I said I think the Wildcats have this one in the bag, but looks like the ‘Cats could very well be off to a 3-0 start.
Michael Barthelemy: Northwestern 31, Nebraska 23
Northwestern is riding high after a thrilling win over the Hawkeyes a week ago, and that momentum should carry them past the Cornhuskers. The ‘Cats strong group of linebackers should contain the Nebraska quarterback duo of Martinez and McCaffrey. UNL has an unreliable defense that the ‘Cats should run all over, similar to what they did to Maryland. Look for Nebraska to try and make a late push, but I can’t see them coming out with a win. The Wildcats go 3-0 and continue to benefit from not having to play Akron.
2-0: Eli Karp, Lia Assimakopoulos, Dan Olinger, Mac Stone, Ben Chasen, Sydney Supple, William Karmin, Liam Warin, Didi Jin, Andrew Katz, Sarah Effress
1-0: Noah Jones
1-1: Noah Coffman, Colin Kruse, Jacob Brown
0-1: Josh Miller