Nebraska is playing on a Friday night this week which means most of Husker nation will get to watch some other college football games guilt-free this weekend. And fortunately for us, there are a number of interesting matchups to pick from.
Hail Varsity’s Brandon Vogel, Greg Smith, Jacob Padilla and myself are back for another round of picks. The top of the leaderboard got much closer after Smith and I each missed four of the six games we picked last week. The updated standings: Smith (110 points), Peterson (110 points), Vogel (105 points) and Padilla (100 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. 12 Virginia Tech vs. No. 2 Clemson (-7.5)
BV: Clemson has passed all tests thus far, and if the Tigers can get by this tricky trip they’ll already have a lot of hay in the barn. I think they’ll get it done here as well, but they’ll have to sweat it for most of the game. PICK: Clemson 31 Virginia Tech 21
GS: I’m not sure if I will be picking against Clemson again this season. With that being said, this will be a tough game as GameDay will be in Blacksburg and that’s a tough place to play at night. Clemson’s defense is the real deal though and they lead the way. PICK: Clemson 21, Virginia Tech 10
JP: The Fighting A.J. Bushes haven’t seen anything quite like the Clemson defense to this point. Virginia Tech won’t go down easy, but go down it will. PICK: Clemson 34, Virginia Tech 27
DP: The fact that this game is in Blacksburg at night gives me pause when picking Clemson. The Hokies are legit this year and their freshman quarterback, Josh Jackson, hasn't made freshman mistakes to begin the season. That being said, he hasn't faced a defense like the one he'll face in the defending champs. I'm going with them in a tight, exciting game. PICK: Clemson 24, Virginia Tech 21
No. 16 Washington State vs. No. 5 USC (-3.5)
BV: USC should win, but where’s the fun in that? All the fun is on the Wazzu side (now with defense!), and I like the Cougars to win it outright at home. PICK: Washington State 31 USC 30
GS: USC hasn’t put together a complete offensive game yet as Sam Darnold is second in the nation in interceptions this season. Wazzu’s defense is improved but not enough. PICK: USC 45, Washington State 28
JP: USC’s pass defense has been pretty solid so far this season and the high-powered Cougars will have a hard time finding as much success through the air as they usually do. On the other side of the ball, the trio of Sam Darnold, Ronald Jones II and Deontay Burnett will be tough to deal with. PICK: USC 34, Washington State 28
DP: Washington State is more defense than usual this season despite the always fun Mike Leach still roaming the sidelines, but I like USC to continue finding ways to get things done. PICK: USC 31, Washington State 24
No. 10 Wisconsin (-15.5) vs. Northwestern
BV: Expect Northwestern to play above its weight here. Won’t be enough to win, but the Wildcats get a narrow cover. PICK: Wisconsin 28 Northwestern 14
GS: Nebraska fans should be rooting for Northwestern to beat up on Wisconsin though there is a small chance of the Wildcats pulling off the upset. Bucky covers here. PICK: Wisconsin 31, Northwestern 10
JP: Justin Jackson is going to have a difficult time running the ball against a stout Wisconsin defense, and Clayton Thorson has not progressed like some thought he might. PICK: Wisconsin 34, Northwestern 17
DP: This one’s not going to be pretty. Wisconsin is really good, Northwestern is not. PICK: Wisconsin 42, Northwestern 17
Michigan State (-3) vs. Iowa
BV: Michigan State may have been better than the score showed last week against Notre Dame, but the wrong team is favored here. PICK: Iowa 24 Michigan State 17
GS: Dare I say Iowa is being sold a bit short right now. Once again this is a solid football team that does the fundamentals well but isn’t going to wow you. I like Wadley to run the ball well against Sparty and lead them to victory. PICK: Iowa 14, Michigan State 10
JP: I believe in Noah Fant. PICK: Iowa 20, Michigan State 17
DP: Iowa has played up this season (against Penn State) and they've played down (Iowa State). Sparty is no Penn State but I still see them taking a win at home. PICK: Michigan State 21, Iowa 17
Illinois vs. Nebraska (-5.5)
BV: The extra week off for Illinois is a bit scary, but I think the offense picks up a little more steam for Nebraska. A tiny bit. PICK: Nebraska 27 Illinois 17
GS: This has the potential to be a strange Friday night game but Nebraska’s running game will prove too much for the struggling Illini. The thing that could derail Nebraska here is turnovers, but I think you’ll see a heavy run game plan. PICK: Nebraska 28, Illinois 10
JP: Tanner Lee has to start turning his season around in this game, and with a strong running game complementing him I think he will. Chayce Crouch, like Rutgers’ Kyle Bolin last week, is not a good enough quarterback to pick apart the Nebraska defense. PICK: Nebraska 31, Illinois 17
DP: I'm not really sure what we're going to see in this one. I could see Illinois taking it, I could see Nebraska winning a close one, I could see Nebraska's offense randomly blowing up and having a good game. I'm going to stay cautious though. PICK: Nebraska 24, Illinois 20
BONUS: Tennessee vs. No. 7 Georgia (-7.5)
BV: Here it is, Butch Jones’ de facto playoff game. Win and the Vols theoretically stay in the East Division race. Lose and they’ve got no shot. Feels like the beginning of the end of the Butch era to me. PICK: Georgia 28 Tennessee 14
GS: Under no circumstances would I pick Tennessee to pull the upset right? Stranger things have happened. Rocky Top! PICK: Tennessee 31, Georgia 30
JP: I’m done picking against Georgia and I won’t pick Tennessee again after that debacle of a loss to Florida. PICK: Georgia 31, Tennessee 17
DP: Wouldn't it be funny if I picked against Georgia again? PICK: Georgia 35, Tennessee 23
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.