The Huskers are coming off a dramatic win last week, looking to keep momentum alive as they chase bowl eligibility. Nebraska needs to win two of its final four to secure a 6-6 record and a spot in the postseason, but that fight starts with Northwestern this weekend.
As always, the Hail Varsity staff is back to offer their predictions on the Huskers as well as other marquee games across the country. Brandon Vogel is currently leading the way on the season-long leaderboard with 275 points, followed by Jacob Padilla (270 points), myself (270 points) and our new last-place man, Greg Smith (255 points).
Our weekly Friday Forecast is presented by the Gamblers Assistance Program, the Nebraska Council on Compulsive Gambling and Choices Treatment Center. If you or someone you love has a problem with gambling, call the state-wide help line at 1-800-522-4700.
No. 2 Alabama (-21.5) vs. No. 19 LSU
BV: Given what we now know about Florida State, this is the best team the Tide has faced so far? Won’t matter. PICK: Alabama 31, LSU 7
GS: The Tide will be more locked in than usual for a Saban vs LSU game because they got slighted (in their minds) by the playoff committee. PICK: Alabama 42, LSU 20
JP: LSU has rebounded nicely from that lost to Troy and Derrius Guice is healthier than he’s been all year, but Alabama is still Alabama. PICK: Alabama 40, LSU 17
DP: Don’t pick against Nick Saban (until the SEC title game). PICK: Alabama 35, LSU 7
No. 20 NC State vs. No. 4 Clemson (-7.5)
BV: Good season, Wolfpack (minus that South Carolina thing), but teams like the Irish and Clemson are on another level. PICK; Clemson 30 NC State 16
GS: My gut tells me here that Clemson will continue improving and quietly remain in the hunt for the playoffs. NC State is solid but not ready for primetime. PICK: Clemson 28, NC State 20
JP: NC State had strung together a nice streak of wins, but none of them came against ranked teams. Notre Dame (who handled them last week) and Clemson is as tough of a two-week stretch as anyone in the country will play this year. PICK: Clemson 31, NC State 20
DP: Clemson wins with Kelly Bryant back and nearing full strength, not big, but a win’s a win. PICK: Clemson 24, NC State 14
No. 11 Oklahoma State (-2.5) vs. No. 5 Oklahoma
BV: Line feels just about right, Cowboys are at home and they’re going to help the Big Ten crack the CFP rankings. PICK: Oklahoma State 35, Oklahoma 31
GS: Oklahoma keeps it rolling and picks up an impressive victory behind the playmaking of Baker Mayfield who is lurking in the Heisman discussion. PICK: Oklahoma 31, Oklahoma State 24
JP: This is as good of a quarterback duel as we’ll see all season. Oklahoma State has the home field advantage, but I think Oklahoma is the better team. This could be a situation where whoever has the ball last wins, but I’ll bet on Baker Mayfield. PICK: Oklahoma 38, Oklahoma State 35
DP: THE FU MANCHU IS BACK and it’s the best time of the year. Oklahoma State’s defense has been much better than expected and this one is in Stillwater. I’ve said since before the season started Oklahoma State would win this one, so I’ll go with them. Prove me wrong Baker, my current Heisman front-runner. I also think these two meet again later and Oklahoma wins that one. PICK: Oklahoma State 42, Oklahoma 35
No. 24 Michigan State vs. No. 7 Penn State (-8.5)
BV: Penn State needs help to get back in the Playoff race, but that won’t stop the Lions from trying do it themselves by padding Barkley’s numbers and running it up. PICK: Penn State 35, Michigan State 14
GS: Penn State is going to have a hangover after the Ohio State loss and Sparty pulls the upset. PICK: Michigan State 21, Penn State 17
JP: Despite last week’s loss to Ohio State, Penn State is a very good football team. I don’t think that’s true of Michigan State. Gimme the Nittany Lions in a bounceback game. PICK: Penn State 38, Michigan State 20
DP: I got an email the other day asking me to vote Barkley in all of the upcoming postseason awards. With the Playoff now probably dashed for them, I expect the Nittany Lions to unleash Saquon Barkley and let him run things up. Penn State 42, Michigan State 17
Nebraska (-1) vs. Northwestern
BV: Nothing about this sets up well for the Huskers. Northwestern knows what it is. Does Nebraska? Mark me down for one of those “culture wins” Tim Miles was talking about on Monday. PICK: Northwestern 27, Nebraska 20
GS: This game will be won on the arm of Tanner Lee. It will be close because Nebraska will be one-dimensional. PICK: Nebraska 24, Northwestern 17
JP: Nebraska’s injury woes are giving me pause here because I want to pick the Huskers. Michael Decker, Luke Gifford and Jaylin Bradley are all significant losses, and it sounds like Aaron Williams won’t be full-go even though he’ll be available. Even so, what the heck. Tanner Lee does lots of cool stuff and the Huskers survive. PICK: Nebraska 30, Northwestern 27
DP: Northwestern gets out to a big lead. Nebraska struggles to run it effectively. Tanner Lee brings them back. PICK Nebraska 31, Northwestern 28
BONUS: No. 10 Miami vs. No. 13 Virginia Tech (-2.5)
BV: Hi, everyone. Justin Fuente is 17-5 at Virginia Tech so far. After this win, of course. PICK: Virginia Tech 42, Miami 38
GS: Miami will be looking to make a big statement after a lot of talk about not having played anybody. I think they put it on the Hokies. PICK: Miami 41, Virginia Tech 21
JP: The only reason Miami is ranked ahead of Virginia Tech is that the Hokies have played Clemson already this year. PICK: Virginia Tech 28, Miami 20
DP: The lower ranked team is favored on the road against an undefeated team? How does that happen? Because Virginia Tech is the better team. PICK Virginia Tech 35, Miami 30
Our picks today are for entertainment purposes only. Between 6 and 8 million Americans meet the criteria for gambling addiction, and many more are affected by another individual’s gambling problem. Don’t gamble more than you can afford and if it stops being fun seek help.
Problem gambling is not a bad habit or a moral weakness. It’s a serious condition. But with help, problem gamblers can put the game in perspective and make decisions to improve their lives.
If you or someone you love has a gambling problem, in Lincoln call Choices treatment center 24/7 at 402-476-2300 or statewide call The Nebraska Council on Problem Gambling 24/7 at 1-800-522-4700. Help is free so call today.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.