Hail Varsity’s Brandon Vogel, Erin Sorensen, Mike Babcock and Chris
Schmidt are back, alongside Opendorse’s Blake Lawrence, to hedge their
bets once again on another weekend of college football games. We also invited Jacob Padilla to join us this week. Watch out, world.
Feel free to chime in with your own picks too. We’d love to hear your thoughts.
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.
Wisconsin (-7) at Northwestern
BV: Everyone has noted the Badgers’ strange struggles in Evanston and Northwestern is playing at a really high level of late. But with Wisconsin getting the win it needed last week, I think it will come out pretty focused and survive on the road. PICK: Wisconsin 24, Northwestern 20
ES: It would be great if Northwestern won but I don’t see Wisconsin letting that happen. The Badgers want to get to Indianapolis and they’ll stay in the race. PICK: Wisconsin 21, Northwestern 17
CS: The Wildcats are playing good football and almost had a major road win at OSU last weekend. The Badgers are fantastic on D and their run game is stellar. Wisconsin shakes the negative trend of ranked road losses at Northwestern. PICK: Wisconsin 24, Northwestern 21
MB: This game has significant implications in the Big Ten West Division. Nebraska’s best victory to date is probably against the Wildcats, who have improved and are playing at home. Expect the type of game the Huskers’ Nathan Gerry predicted last week’s game against Wisconsin would be, a slug-it-out boxing match. PICK: Wisconsin 23, Northwestern 21
JP: The Wildcats have stepped it up significantly since the Huskers beat them a few weeks ago, but that Wisconsin defense is going to be tough to deal with. Nebraska fans may be rooting for the Wildcats, but I think the Badgers get it done. PICK: Wisconsin 24, Northwestern 17 (PUSH!)
BL: Wisconsin has played its best football against its best opponents. I think they’ll overlook the Wildcats and suffer a surprising loss in Evanston. PICK: Northwestern 21, Wisconsin 20
Iowa at Penn State (-7.5)
BV: I think this could be trouble for the Nittany Lions. They have everything to play for, a shiny (and surprising) CFP rank and the home crowd, but Iowa’s probably not getting enough credit here. PICK: Iowa 21, Penn State 20
ES: I’m going to give this one to Iowa. It’s about time for the Hawkeyes to rain on someone’s parade. Sorry, Penn State. I think it’s going to be you. PICK: Iowa 21, Penn State 17
CS: Penn State looks and feels much different than earlier in the season. A win over Ohio State will help put a bounce in anyone’s step. Iowa will play well, but Penn State’s front four will decide this on defense. PICK: Penn State 28, Iowa 17
MB: The Nittany Lions have won four in a row since losing at Michigan 49-10. And Happy Valley isn’t particularly accommodating, particularly at night. Ask Ohio State. Iowa can’t afford another conference loss. PICK: Penn State 24, Iowa 17
JP: Penn State looks to be steadily improving as the season rolls on, while the Hawkeyes seem to be all over the place. I think Penn State’s CFP ranking is a bit lofty, but even so I think they get it done on Saturday. PICK: Penn State 27, Iowa 21
BL: Really wanted to pick Iowa in this one, knowing it would throw the B1G into a proud discussion about league wide parity. But I don’t see them winning in Happy Valley. PICK: Penn State 27, Iowa 17
Oklahoma State at Kansas State (-2.5)
BV: Mighty surprised by the line here. Minus the fluke loss to Central Michigan, Oklahoma State is the team we thought it would be in the preseason. Just too much offense for Kansas State to pull off a win. PICK: Oklahoma State 38, Kansas State 31
ES: The line is really throwing me off. Guess we’re in for a good game, or at least we can hope. I’ll take the Cowboys though, even if it’s a close one. PICK: Oklahoma State 34, Kansas State 31
CS: Upset time? Sounds right. Kansas State will find a way to get Oklahoma State out of rhythm and off balance. The Wildcats will also either get a special teams or defensive score. PICK: Kansas State 31, Oklahoma State 28
MB: The Cowboys have won only once in Manhattan since 1988. But Kansas State ranks 107th nationally in pass efficiency defense. Mason Rudolph needs to capitalize on that. PICK: Oklahoma State 31, Kansas State 28
JP: The Cowboys have scored less than 37 points just twice this season – that fluke loss against Central Michigan and a somewhat competitive loss to Oklahoma. K-State beat Iowa State by less than a TD. Give me Okie State. PICK: Oklahoma State 41, Kansas State 30
BL: Mason Rudolph is one helluva talent for Okie State, but I’ll take the QB for the Cats in this one. Jesse Ertz makes Manhattan roar on Saturday with a big win. PICK: Kansas State 35, Oklahoma State 31
Alabama (-7.5) at LSU
BV: It’s no fun picking Alabama, but it makes no sense to go the other way. The Tide is outscoring teams 43.9-14.9 on average this season and has beaten four ranked teams this season by an average of more than 27 points. Sign me up for that. PICK: Alabama 35, LSU 21
ES: I’ve learned not to pick against Nick Saban so I’m not going to. In fact, I may never pick against Saban ever again. It just doesn’t end well for me. PICK: Alabama 31, LSU 17
CS: Rest or rust question for both teams as they’ve had a week to get ready for this annual showdown. The Tigers are full of optimism and the line is actually below double digits. Ask yourself this: can a former Purdue QB beat that Alabama defense? No. And will Lenny get loose against a team that allows 70 rushing yards per game? No. Roll Tide. PICK: Alabama 24, LSU 13
MB: When Leonard Fournette was sidelined by an ankle injury, Derrius Guice stepped in, giving the Tigers a double-barrel running threat. But the Tide will keep on rolling. PICK: Alabama 45, LSU 27
JP: The Tide is rolling right now and I don’t think the Tigers have enough firepower to keep up. Gaudy point totals against over-matched teams hide the fact that LSU doesn’t even have a quality win at this point. PICK: Alabama 35, LSU 27
BL: Leonard Fournette is back for the Tigers, and he should try his damnedest to make a dent in the nation’s best Rush Defense (Bama only allows 70 rushing yards/game). But it won’t be enough. The Tide continues to Roll. PICK: Alabama 24, LSU 13
Nebraska at Ohio State (-17)
BV: Is this the week a Mike Riley Nebraska team finally loses big? The oddsmakers think so, but with the way Ohio State has played over the last three games — and Nebraska’s ability to hang around — I think there’s reason to think the Huskers can be in the game, but they’ll need better quarterback play and that might ultimately be the difference. PICK: Ohio State 31, Nebraska 21
ES: My heart wants Nebraska to win. My brain just can’t see it happening. I’ll take the Buckeyes to win but I think the Huskers cover. PICK: Ohio State 28, Nebraska 21
CS: Great chance for Nebraska yet again to show what it’s about on a big stage, against the program everyone has been chasing. I don’t foresee Ohio State and Urban Meyer staying in the offensive funk. Ohio State is too talented and athletic for Nebraska. The Huskers will hang around for a bit but ultimately Ohio State will be too much. PICK: Ohio State 31, Nebraska 17
MB: The Huskers should have silenced some doubters with their effort at Wisconsin. But apparently those who set the line aren’t convinced just yet. As has been the case of late, the health of the Husker offensive line is of concern. Nebraska’s defense will be tested by the Big Ten’s best in total offense and rushing offense. PICK: Ohio State 41, Nebraska 30
JP: Nebraska has really earned my respect because of its ability to hang tough against anyone they play. That being said, with the state of the offensive line and the recent play of Tommy Armstrong Jr., I can’t pick a Nebraska win, though I do think they’ll cover. PICK: Ohio State 31, Nebraska 20
BL: Observe. Opponent. Ohio State. Opportunity. Ozigbo. O-Line. Ominous. Out and Up. Oops. Overthrown. Out-Scored. Not Out-Played. (Translation: Nebraska plays proud but OSU takes it at home.) PICK: Ohio State 31, Nebraska 24
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.
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.