Friday Forecast returns!
Each Friday, the Hail Varsity staff will pick the Huskers’ game against the spread, as well as five of the most intriguing non-Nebraska games of the week.
South Alabama at No. 24 Nebraska (Nebraska –36.5, O/U 66.5)
Brandon Vogel: That’s a big number and I think it accurately reflects the quality gap between these two teams, but a lot has to go right to cover a line like that. Look at it this way, Nebraska will probably get either 13 or 14 drives in this game. If it shuts out South Alabama, it would still have to score touchdowns on six of those drives to cover. All of that said, I think thing are going to go mostly right for the Huskers.
Nebraska 49, South Alabama 10
Erin Sorensen: I can’t believe I’m going to take the over, but I’m going to take the over. Brandon pretty much covered what you have to look at with this game, so I won’t bore you by essentially repeating the same thing. What I will say is that the Huskers are also re-introducing stunting and tumbling with its cheer team on Saturday, so we’re back in the ‘90s. Let’s roll.
Nebraska 51, South Alabama 10
Greg Smith: That is such a big number. I think Nebraska has improved a lot. Still, I need to see it first before I can pick them to cover that type of number. Nebraska wins big but not that big.
Nebraska 49, South Alabama 21
Jacob Padilla: Nebraska beat Bethune-Cookman by 36, Minnesota by 25 and Illinois by 19 last year. South Alabama is probably better than Bethune-Cookman but is certainly worse than the Gophers and Illini. So, how much has Nebraska improved? That is an awfully big number to cover, but the offseason is meant for optimism right?
Nebraska 52, South Alabama 13
Derek Peterson: South Alabama doesn’t have the defense to slow down Nebraska. And the Jags will be running into a Nebraska front seven that is bigger, nastier and looking to prove a point. This is not a good matchup, and it’s not a good environment for a new quarterback to be making his second career start. Take the over. Nebraska gets 2019 started in a big way.
Nebraska 56, South Alabama 17
Houston at No. 4 Oklahoma (Oklahoma –23, O/U 79.5)
BV: The Holgorsen angle makes this one interesting. Thanks to his time at West Virginia, he’s plenty familiar with the Sooners. But the Cougars are replacing a ton of production on offense. Oklahoma led the country in scoring last year and Houston was fifth, so you’d think this one could get points-y, but I’m not sure the Cougars have the horses to quite keep up yet.
Oklahoma 52, Houston 24
ES: Houston has one of the most explosive offenses in the country, which is led by senior quarterback D’Eriq King. I don’t know if I think the Cougars can keep up until the final whistle with the Sooners, but they’ll give Oklahoma a run for its money (especially with it being the first game with a new defensive coordinator).
Oklahoma 45, Houston 28
GS: I don’t trust Oklahoma’s defense one bit. I also think the Jalen Hurts experience at OU will not go as smoothly as they hope from the first game. D’Eriq King will move the ball all over the Sooners defense. I like OU in a close game here.
Oklahoma 42, Houston 35
JP: For the first time in a long time, Oklahoma might not have the best quarterback on the field on Saturday. D’Eriq King is a stud, and he’s got some skill talent around him. Unfortunately for the Cougars, they lost a lot on defense and are breaking in a new defensive coordinator. I don’t think they’ll be able to keep up with the Sooners, but they’ll at least make it fun.
Oklahoma 45, Houston 31.
DP: Dana Holgorsen offenses give Oklahoma fits and D’Eriq King is one of the sleeper guys in college football. I wonder how Alex Grinch’s unit looks in Game 1. Twenty-three seems rather large, so I’ll say Houston covers.
Oklahoma 42, Houston 30
No. 11 Oregon vs. No. 16 Auburn (Auburn –3.5, O/U 56)
BV: Really interesting season for Auburn and Guz Malzahn here. I think the Tigers have a really high ceiling and really low floor. Malzahn made the decision to start true freshman quarterback Bo Nix, and that might determine how high Auburn can go. If he’s good, the Tigers could be even better than their preseason ranking. But this is his first game and it’s not against a Week 1 cupcake. I think Auburn gets the win, but Oregon gets the cover.
Auburn 31, Oregon 28
ES: Which quarterback do you trust more, the four-year starter or the true freshman? Oregon has the veteran in Justin Herbert. Auburn is rolling with the newcomer Bo Nix. It would be easy to pick based solely on that, but we’ve seen what a freshman quarterback can do in Year 1. It’ll also be interesting to watch Oregon’s offensive line match up with Auburn’s defensive line… This game could get interesting. I’m going to trust my gut, even if I don’t know if I agree with it.
Oregon 31, Auburn 28
GS: Oregon has a lot going for itself. Star quarterback, big-time offensive line and some program momentum. That said, I don’t believe in them. It’s just my gut feeling about them. I’m taking Auburn all the way around who I think is better than people realize.
Auburn 27, Oregon 17
JP: Like Erin, I’ll take the senior over the freshman, especially in the first game of the season.
Oregon 28, Auburn 24
DP: I love me some Justin Herbert, and Oregon pairs a star quarterback with one of the best offensive lines in the country. The offense has the edge in this one with Auburn starting a true freshman quarterback and I think that’s enough to win outright.
Oregon 27, Auburn 23
Northwestern at No. 25 Stanford (Stanford –6.5, O/U 47)
BV: Big opportunity here for Northwestern to send a message and say that its (pretty fluke-y) Big Ten West Division title last year wasn’t a fluke. We’re going to know a lot about Stanford before September is over. After this game the Cardinal play at USC, travel all the way to Orlando to face UCF and then return home to take on Oregon. I love Northwestern here to cover the 6.5 points, but I can’t quite take the Wildcats to win it outright.
Stanford 24, Northwestern 21
ES: Northwestern might cover. I guess I’m just not picking them to cover.
Stanford 31, Northwestern 24
GS: Northwestern isn’t very good. That could apply to any season, even last year.
Stanford 17, Northwestern 3
JP: Stanford isn’t in the Big Ten West and therefore Northwestern’s strange division invulnerability does not apply to this game.
Stanford 27, Northwestern 20.
DP: Stanford can’t afford to lose this football game if it wants to accomplish big things this season. The Cardinal take advantage of a team working through some new faces in new places.
Stanford 34, Northwestern 20
South Carolina vs. North Carolina (South Carolina –11, O/U 63)
BV: I think South Carolina is going to be good this year, but it has a schedule from hell with Alabama and Texas A&M in the cross-division draw and the annual rivalry game against Clemson at the end of the year. This is almost a must-win for the Gamecocks against a North Carolina program starting over under Mack Brown.
South Carolina 34, North Carolina 21
ES: Look, South Carolina is just the better team here. The Gamecocks are going to win this one comfortably.
South Carolina 31, North Carolina 17
GS: These are two teams I don’t know what to do with. I think South Carolina will be pretty good. I think Mack Brown will help improve the Tar Heels. I don’t see a double-digit win for South Carolina.
South Carolina 28, North Carolina 20
JP: I’ve paid zero attention to any of the Carolina programs this offseason, so I’ll just bet against Mack Brown.
South Carolina 35, North Carolina 24
DP: There are only five active coaches with a national championship ring in college football this season. Mack Brown is one of them. Yay, North Carolina.
South Carolina 41, North Carolina 17
Boise State vs. Florida State (Florida State –6.5, O/U 51)
BV: Really hoping the weather cooperates and we get this one in as it’s one of the more fascinating Week 1 games. Florida State has a ton to prove after last year’s struggles and if they lose here things are going to get dicey for Willie Taggart, even if it’s a loss to a rock-solid program like Boise State. A bunch of computer rankings have the Broncos as an outright favorite here. I’m not ready to go that far, but Boise State should at least cover.
Florida State 35, Boise State 31
ES: I don’t want Florida State to win this one, but they’re going to win this one. I think they’ll cover too. I hate it all.
Florida State 28, Boise State 21
GS: This is a rare season-opener must-win for Florida State. Things will get tricky for Taggart if they lose this game. So I’ll go with FSU big.
Florida State 38, Boise State 27
JP: Alex Hornibrook didn’t win the starting quarterback job in Tallahassee, so I’ll go ahead and pick the Seminoles to win.
Florida State 30, Boise State 24
DP: This is a really good Boise defense going against a young quarterback and an offensive line replacing two starters. But this is also a really good Florida State defense going against a true freshman Boise quarterback. So, things should be tight. Screw it. Noles, outright.
Florida State 27, Boise State 20
***All lines are taken at the time of publication.