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Friday Forecast: Back on Track this Week Against NIU?

September 13, 2019

Friday Forecast is back after a year-long hiatus last season. The Hail Varsity staff is picking the Husker game and five of the best non-Nebraska games each week. 

Here's how everyone’s doing against the spread after two weeks:

  • Brandon Vogel: 1-11
  • Erin Sorensen: 3-9
  • Greg Smith: 7-5
  • Jacob Padilla: 5-7
  • Derek Peterson: 4-8

Northern Illinois at Nebraska (NEB -14, O/U 54) 

BV: This is a tough number. Most of the major power rankings have Nebraska between nine and 11 points better than Northern Illinois. The Huskies are still pretty stout defensively, particularly against the run. If Nebraska’s pass game looks better than it has through two games, no problem. The Huskers can pass to set up the run. But this feels like a slow burn of a game. I’m guessing this is still a game going into the fourth quarter. Maybe Nebraska tacks on a late score to get over the number for the first time this season. Against my better judgment—though given my record so far, maybe that’s a good thing—that's what I’m going with. PICK: Nebraska 35 Northern Illinois 17 

ES: It’s hard to believe the record in this series is 1-1. I’ll never forget that loss two years ago. It felt like the beginning of the end for that staff but it was also difficult to understand the magnitude of what was ahead. Two years later, Nebraska looks a lot different. I think Northern Illinois is a pretty good team, but at some point it’s going to click for a full game for the Huskers. Better be this week. PICK: Nebraska 35 Northern Illinois 20 

GS: I like Nebraska to win the game but I don’t like them to cover. If I made the short trip to place a wager on this, I’d hammer the unders too. I just don’t trust the Huskers’ offense until I see it now. That defense, on the other hand, is salty. PICK: Nebraska 24 Northern Illinois 17 

JP: I’ve picked Nebraska to cover the last two weeks and I was obviously wrong. Am I crazy enough to pick the Huskers again? You betcha. PICKNebraska 35 Northern Illinois 20 

DP: Like Greg, I like Nebraska to win but Northern Illinois to cover. This is a pesky team with a strong defense and a grad transfer at quarterback. Regardless of how Nebraska plays, I just don’t see this being a blowout. Northern Illinois hasn’t lost a game by 30 since 2016 and it was within four of Utah last week before the Utes pulled away late. That game ended 35-17, which is Brandon’s pick for this one and I could just as easily see that happening. But I’m not picking Nebraska’s offense to explode again until I see it actually happen. PICK: Nebraska 27 Northern Illinois 17

No. 5 Oklahoma at UCLA (OKLA -23.5, O/U 73) 

BV: This line is up 3.5 points from what it opened at and that’s still not enough. UCLA’s defense is only giving up 23.5 points per game, but it hasn’t exactly faced two offensive juggernauts. A juggernaut arrives this week and there is zero chance in my mind that the Bruins’ offense (14 points per game so far) can keep up. PICKOklahoma 45 UCLA 20 

ES: Nothing about this matchup is working in UCLA’s favor. PICK: Oklahoma 45 UCLA 14 

GS: I find this spread to be incredibly low. UCLA is flat out terrible. The Sooners will be locked in on the road and you’ll hear their fight song a lot. PICK: Oklahoma 56 UCLA 14 

JP: Boomer. PICK: Oklahoma 49 UCLA 17  

DP: The Chip Kelly columns are going to be hot. PICK: Oklahoma 48 UCLA 10 

No. 9 Florida at Kentucky (FLA -8.5, O/U 48.5) 

BV: I like Florida here in a revenge play after the Gators’ three-decade winning streak over Kentucky was snapped in Gainesville last year. Florida’s defense is legit and I don’t think the Wildcats will move it well enough to keep pace. PICK: Florida 28 Kentucky 16 

ES: The loss of Terry Wilson changes things with Kentucky quite a bit. Even if I was confident in the Wildcats winning with him, I’m definitely not confident without him. PICK: Florida 27 Kentucky 17 

GS: This game is quite interesting. Florida will be looking for revenge after last season’s loss to Kentucky. I have a hard time seeing the Wildcats winning after starting QB Terry Wilson went down but I’m not sure I can count on the Gators offense just yet. I think it’ll be close though. PICK: Florida 21 Kentucky 14 

JP: I don’t love Florida, but it’s hard for me to pick Kentucky starting a back-up quarterback who looked to be thoroughly average in his playing time last season. Working in a new quarterback against a defense like Florida’s isn’t exactly an ideal spot to be in. PICK: Florida 24 Kentucky 13 

DP: Florida’s win streak over Kentucky was something that was bound to end at some point, but when you have a multiple-decade win streak over a hated rival, you never want to be the group of players that ends it. And you absolutely don’t want to snap it in front of the home crowd. A lot of those same guys are heading to Lexington and I think that’s enough to come out with a win. PICK: Florida 37 Kentucky 24 

Stanford at No. 17 UCF (UCF –8.5, O/U 61) 

BV: I still can’t believe Stanford is flying all the way across the country to play at one of the best G5 programs in the country. I mean, when that was scheduled, maybe UCF wasn’t quite what it is now, but still. The Cardinal will make things more difficult than normal for the Knights’ offense, but UCF just has more firepower. PICK: UCF 35 Stanford 20 

ES: Let’s go Knights. PICK: UCF 35 Stanford 21 

GS: My gut has me rolling with the Cardinal in this one. The Bounce House can get rocking but Stanford has been there, done that. Score one for the Pac-12. PICK: Stanford 27 UCF 23 

JP: This is a tough one for me to call. UCF hasn’t been challenged at all through two weeks, so I’m not sure what to make of the Knights. They’ve played two quarterbacks so far, neither of which is McKenzie Milton. Stanford gets its quarterback back on the field after KJ Costello missed last week’s game against USC. The Cardinal let me down last week and even with Costello in the lineup they only mustered 17 points in week one against Northwestern. That won’t be enough against the Knights. PICK: UCF 31 Stanford 20 

DP: The fastest team in football against one of the slowest? This has the potential to get really weird. I like UCF, but mostly because I just don’t think Stanford has the offensive ability to keep up. PICK: UCF 35 Stanford 20 

No. 19 Iowa at Iowa State (IOWA –2, O/U 43.5) 

BV: Everyone’s still waiting for the Iowa State team that some viewed as third-best in the Big 12 to show up. Being off last week could help the Cyclones, but Iowa’s humming along through two games. PICK: Iowa 24 Iowa State 17 

ES: I guess I’m taking Iowa, but I feel like I could have flipped a coin. PICK: Iowa 24 Iowa State 21 

GS: This rivalry is one that I don’t think is appreciated enough around the country. The games can get weird and I like that. Mehki Sargent is an underrated back who will stress the Cyclones defense. Nate Stanley will do just enough for them to squeak one out. PICK: Iowa 20 Iowa State 17 

JP: I’d normally pick the Cyclones in this game because they always seem to make it interesting and I like seeing the Hawkeyes lose, but that week one performance against Northern Iowa scared me off. PICK: Iowa 21 Iowa State 17 

DP: Iowa State’s defense is second nationally in stuff rate and Northern Iowa made things incredibly close but wasn’t very explosive either. The Cyclones have the better quarterback and they’re at home. I like Iowa State to end a four-game losing streak to its in-state rival. PICK: Iowa State 28 Iowa 24 

TCU at Purdue (TCU –2.5, O/U 52.5) 

BV: Losing linebacker Markus Bailey hurts a ton for Purdue. The Boilermakers’ defense wasn’t exactly burning up the charts through two games and Bailey was that group’s leader. With Sindelar’s status uncertain and TCU coming off a bye, this feels like a tough spot for Purdue. PICK: TCU 35 Purdue 30 

ES: Read what everyone else here said. They’re all right as to why you should pick TCU to win this one. It’ll still be close though. PICK: TCU 30 Purdue 27 

GS: What a sneaky good chess match of coaching staffs. Gary Patterson versus Jeff Brohm would be fun on the whiteboard let alone the football field. Purdue quarterback Elijah Sindelar is off to a terrific start but is in the concussion protocol. If he can’t go (game-time decision) things will be tough on the Boilermakers. I’ll play it safe. PICK: TCU 28 Purdue 27 

JP: I can’t quite figure out this Purdue team. They lose to Nevada in week one then bounce back and beat Vanderbilt by two scores. Which version of the Boilermakers is for real? With the injuries Purdue is dealing with, I’ll side with the Horned Frogs this year. Rondale Moore can’t throw to himself, but he might have to if Sindelar can’t go. Their back-up quarterback is a redshirt freshman who hasn’t thrown a pass at the collegiate level. I will be curious to see how the Horned Frogs handle their own quarterback situation, however. Max Duggan, the freshman from Council Bluffs, significantly outplayed starter Alex Delton in pretty equal playing time against Arkansas-Pine Bluff in Week 1. PICK: TCU 31 Purdue 28 

DP: TCU handled Arkansas Pine Bluff in a 39-7 season-opening win but the offense also fumbled seven times and had six drives end in a field goal. Not exactly the cleanest opener. The Horned Frogs have had a week off to work on issues and they’re getting a Purdue team missing its best defensive player (Markus Bailey) and possibly its quarterback, as others have noted. PICK: TCU 32 Purdue 27 

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