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Northwestern - Nebraska Predictions

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Get ready for a thrilling battle of Mediocre Big Ten West teams!

Northwestern v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

Daniel Olinger: Nebraska 22, Northwestern 21

Both of these teams are hard to decipher for diametrically opposed reasons. For Northwestern, they’re coming off a season of immense success that has quickly dissipated following rather decisive defeats to the only two teams that could have posed any challenge to them. Meanwhile, Nebraska has played up quite a few levels in their past two skirmishes, pushing two of the Power Five’s few remaining unbeatens to the absolute brink, yet they have fallen short, and are still tainted by an opening loss to Illinois that becomes more confusing by the day. Personally, I have to roll with Nebraska as their defense is the most trustworthy of the four main units that’ll be on the field this Saturday. Be ready for weird scores aplenty in this one too, as Nebraska’s historically bad special teams unit has been one of, if not the biggest problem in all three of their losses, and combined with Pat Fitzgerald’s unabashed confidence in going for two should the situation call for it, a wacky final score is more than likely.

Ben Chasen: Nebraska 23, Northwestern 20

In games between NU and UNL, neither side has come out with a win of more than 11.5 points — the current point spread advantage given to the Huskers — since 2014, when Big Red walked out of Evanston with a 38-17 bashing of its hosts, and each of the four clashes between the two teams since 2016 have been decided by less than one score. I don’t think that streak of (at least relatively) close games ends tonight. However, when I look across the board, Nebraska has been the better team since its Week Zero (lol) loss to Illinois. Add in a raucous home environment, and I just don’t think there’s enough there for Northwestern to start the bulk of conference play with a victory.

Mac Stone: Nebraska 30, Northwestern 17

I said in the Q&A with Corn Nation that I couldn’t pick against the ‘Cats. That was then, however, and this is now. I don’t see how Northwestern has any realistic shot at winning this game with the struggles seen at quarterback and on the defensive side of the ball. Nebraska, aside from its loss to Illinois, has looked good and almost upset Michigan State in East Lansing before a brutal collapse. The Cornhuskers also played Oklahoma close down in Norman. There’s no reason they shouldn’t win tomorrow night in Lincoln and drop the Wildcats to 2-3.

Michael Barthelemy: Nebraska 19, Northwestern 16

I still have some faith in this Northwestern defense (who knows why is a question for another day) to hold opponents down a bit, but the same can’t be said for the offense. With the uncertainty at quarterback, it’s hard to see the ‘Cats prevailing in this one. Evan Hull will provide much of the offensive firepower, but he is not quite polished enough as a runner in my eyes to tear up a Big Ten defense for four quarters. Northwestern will keep it close, because these two always do, but in the end Adrian Martinez will make too many plays with his legs that Ryan Hilinski simply cannot.

Jacob Brown: Nebraska 34, Northwestern 7

This is going to be a rough one folks. I don’t think Nebraska is particularly good, but their strengths play perfectly to Northwestern’s weaknesses. On the defensive side, Northwestern struggles to set the edge. With incredible mobility, Adrian Martinez is going to create havoc for Northwestern outside the pocket, whether it be bootlegs that draw the linebackers in and open up a pass downfield, or simply Martinez out-running everyone on Northwestern’s defense. Furthermore, Nebraska has a legit deep-ball threat in Samori Toure that will force Northwestern’s secondary to play deeper than they’d prefer. This will allow Martinez to pick apart Northwestern’s linebackers, who have struggled quite often so far this year. On the other side of the ball, Ryan Hilinksi has some serious problems. Without mobility, he will need his offensive line to give him significant time to stay in the pocket and set his feet. The accuracy is also a huge concern, especially against a Nebraska team that is second in the Big Ten with five picks on the year. Northwestern’s run game will have a tall task on it’s hands, as Nebraska’s linebacking core is one of the best in the B1G with Garrett Nelson already possessing 7 TFL on the season, and to boot, teammates Luke Reimer and Nick Henrich help him with 9.2 and 7.8 tackles per game respectfully. Nebraska moves the ball with ease, Northwestern doesn’t move it much, and this one ends in ugly fashion.

Eli Karp: Nebraska 24, Northwestern 17

The Huskers will significantly outgain Northwestern, but the true question is whether Jim O’Neil’s defense will look passable against Power Five competition for the first time in three tries. Sure, Nebraska is inconsistent from game to game and even drive to drive, which usually keeps things interesting, but I just don’t see the ‘Cats having enough consistency of their own to earn the road win.

John Olsen: Nebraska 27, Northwestern 10

The ‘Cats and Huskers have one common opponent, Michigan State, so far this year. Let’s take a quick look at how both teams fared against the Top 20 Spartans.

Total Yards Gained: Northwestern 400, Nebraska 442

Total Yards Allowed: Northwestern 511, Nebraska 183

Stopping Kenneth Walker II: Northwestern allowed 23 carries for 264 yards and four touchdowns, Nebraska allowed his 19 carries to go for 61 yards and zero touchdowns.

By using Sparty as a measuring stick, there’s a clear gap, especially defensively, between these two teams. Add to those stats the fact that Hunter Johnson had a career day on offense against MSU and has now been benched, and I don’t really have much hope for the ‘Cats.

Myles Gilbert: Northwestern 23, Nebraska 20

I’m going to be optimistic here. Northwestern is at an inflection point in the 2021 season, and Fitz’s teams have been in very similar situations in years past, overcoming September struggles with decisive wins on the road against conference opponents in the following months. Remember when Northwestern started 1-4 in 2018 with home losses to Duke and Akron? That season, which culminated in an appearance in the Big Ten championship game and a Holiday Bowl win, turned around when the ‘Cats traveled to Michigan State as 10.5-point underdogs and won convincingly. This week, Northwestern travels to Lincoln after a shaky September, once again as double digit underdogs. Considering that eight of the last 10 matchups between these two teams have been decided by one score, I expect this to be a close one. I’m taking the ‘Cats here because I think Fitz outcoaches Scott Frost when it really matters late in the game, and Nebraska, just by simply being Nebraska, finds a way to lose it.

Colin Kruse: Nebraska 20, Northwestern 10

A rock fight ensues, and the ‘Cats offense can’t take advantage of a relatively solid defensive output. Scott Frost lives another week.

Bradley Locker: Nebraska 31, Northwestern 20

To me, this game largely boils down to how well the ‘Cats can contain Adrian Martinez — not just through the air, but on the ground. All week, Pat Fitzgerald and other NU players raved about Martinez’ dynamic playmaking skills, and I think they’re simply going to be too much to handle. Opposing a Jim O’Neil linebacking corps that is especially poor at wrapping up on their tackles, I project Martinez to set a new single-game career high in rushing yards, surpassing his 157 against Rutgers last year. With a fatigued defense that likely will struggle to get off the field, Ryan Hilinski, Evan Hull and the Northwestern offense are going to have to do some heavy lifting. Good luck against a defense that held both No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 17 Michigan State to just 23 points each.

Andrew Katz: Nebraska 27, Northwestern 20

The Cornhuskers have nearly beat two top 20 teams and are better than their record suggests. However, their two wins are as unimpressive as NU’s. Nebraska’s mediocre run defense gives me slight hope that Evan Hull and Northwestern can formally start conference play on the right foot, but for the ‘Cats to emerge victorious, they’ll need to control the tempo and win the turnover battle. The latter is definitely possible with Adrian Martinez as the Cornhuskers’ starting quarterback, but I still think the ‘Cats will fall short in Lincoln.

William Karmin: Northwestern 24, Nebraska 20

I truly do not understand how Nebraska can be a double digit favorite after starting the season with a loss to Illinois. Northwestern may not be good, but just because Nebraska hung around with MSU last week does not mean they are either. Nebraska is not a world-beater, and if Hilinski plays average while the defense contains Adrian Martinez (two big ‘ifs’, admittedly), Northwestern rolls. I am counting on that scenario happening.

Season Standings

Jacob Brown: 4-0

Andrew Katz: 3-1

Gavin Dorsey: 2-1

Mac Stone, Ben Chasen, Daniel Olinger, William Karmin, John Olsen, Bradley Locker: 2-2

Michael Barthelemy, Meredith Revsine: 1-0

Eli Karp: 1-1

Didi Jin, Lia Assimakopoulos: 1-2

Sarah Effress, Colin Kruse, Brian Paget, Nik Mehrotra, Isaac Diaz, Sydney Supple, Jackson Gordwin: 0-1