Huskers among six Big Ten squads rising in FPI

The playing field in the Big Ten west begins to level out, which benefits the Huskers.

After Nebraska’s 35-21 win over Indiana in Week 5, the Huskers moved to 2-3 overall on the year and picked up their first FBS win of the 2022 season. As such, they saw their ranking in ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) rise a few spots.

Although the FPI model still has a bleak outlook for Nebraska’s chance at a bowl bid, the Big Ten West has not shown that they have a true powerhouse and there are a wide range of possibilities of how the rest of the Huskers’ season can go.

Illinois destroyed Wisconsin and head coach Paul Chryst’s job there, Purdue took down Minnesota, Northwestern kept it close in a 17-7 loss to No. 11 Penn State and Iowa is still 3-2, despite having one of the least effective offenses in the country. Nebraska has certainly thrown themselves into the mix, at least for the moment.

Overall, the Big Ten had six teams rise in the rankings, five teams drop, and three teams holding steady compared to last week’s ranking. Find out where they all stack up in the big picture of college football below:

Wisconsin vs Northwestern Prediction, Game Preview

Wisconsin vs Northwestern game preview, prediction, and breakdown for the Week 6 game on Saturday, October 8

Wisconsin vs Northwestern prediction, game preview, how to watch. Week 6, Saturday, October 8


Wisconsin vs Northwestern How To Watch

Date: Saturday, October 8
Game Time: 2:30 ET
Venue: Ryan Field, Evanston, IL
How To Watch: BTN
Record: Wisconsin (2-3), Northwestern (1-4)
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Wisconsin vs Northwestern Game Preview

Why Wisconsin Will Win

There’s always someone who has it worse.

Wisconsin is having problems – more on that in a moment – but Northwestern hasn’t done anything right outside of a great final few drives against Nebraska back in Ireland.

Wisconsin can’t overcome turnovers, but Northwestern is doing its part to make up for it with 12 giveaways over the last four games, no running game, and an offense that stopped scoring.

With defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard taking over the interim reigns after Paul Chryst was fired, expect an even more jacked up performance from the D, and watch out for the ground game to get back to form against a Wildcat defensive front that’s getting run over.

However …

NFL Expert Picks, Week 5

Why Northwestern Will Win

Don’t be so sure that Wisconsin can run.

24 carries, two yards. that’s what the Badgers did in the program-changing 34-10 loss to Illinois. But that was just part of the problem – turnovers were the larger issue.

Three giveaways against Illinois and three in the loss to Washington State were devastating, and if history is any guide, Wisconsin can’t do anything right when it screws up against Northwestern.

Over the last nine meetings, the Badgers are -13 against Northwestern in turnover margin. Northwestern needs those Badger mistakes to get by, but …

– Schedules, Previews CollegeNFL

What’s Going To Happen

This isn’t going to be a case of a team rising up after the head coach is gone, but Wisconsin will come up with a solid performance because the team on the other side is just that bad.

The Wisconsin offense still won’t be anything special, but the offensive line will take it very, very personally that it got destroyed last week by Illinois. The defensive side will keep the Wildcats to under 300 yards of total offense.

CFN Expert Picks, Week 6

Wisconsin vs Northwestern Prediction, Line

Wisconsin 34, Northwestern 13
Line: Wisconsin -10, o/u: 44.5
ATS Confidence out of 5: 3.5
Wisconsin vs Northwestern Must See Rating (out of 5): 3

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Wisconsin vs Illinois Prediction, Game Preview

Wisconsin vs Illinois game preview, prediction, and breakdown for the Week 5 game on Saturday, October 1

Wisconsin vs Illinois prediction, game preview, how to watch. Week 5, Saturday, October 1


Wisconsin vs Illinois How To Watch

Date: Saturday, October 1
Game Time: 12:00 ET
Venue: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI
How To Watch: BTN
Record: Wisconsin (2-2), Illinois (3-1)
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Roundup: Overrated, Underrated, What it all Means
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Think, Know, Believe: Football Smack Talk
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Wisconsin vs Illinois Game Preview

Why Illinois Will Win

Illinois is playing like Wisconsin wishes it could.

No, the Illini ground game isn’t cranking up massive numbers, but Chase Brown leads the nation in rushing for the steady attack. The defense has been a rock against the run, leads the nation in pass efficiency defense, and it’s dominating the time of possession battle.

How do you beat Wisconsin – at least if you don’t have Ohio State’s talent?

Run the clock, win the turnover battle, and pound away and stand up to the physicality. The Illini have the balanced attack now to do it all against a Wisconsin team that’s spinning its wheels.

NFL Expert Picks, Week 4

Why Wisconsin Will Win

Throw out the blowout loss to Ohio State – that team is going to rip apart everyone.

The Badger running game still works just fine, even if it’s not the soul-crushing force the program is known for.

Again, forgetting what happened last week and how the defense looked, Wisconsin should be able to hold up against Brown and generate enough pressure on QB Tommy DeVito to matter.

The defense is forcing takeaways, the offense going to be able to beat the Illini at their own ball control game, and …

– Schedules, Previews CollegeNFL

What’s Going To Happen

Bret Bielema has the team in place to beat the reeling Badgers.

It starts with the takeaways. Wisconsin has no ability whatsoever to overcome adversity, and it’s going to turn it over twice to the attacking Illini defense.

But the Badgers have a defense, too.

Yes, Illinois does what Wisconsin does. Wisconsin does it a bit better.

Don’t expect a lot of points. The Badgers will survive with a few big second Half stops.

CFN Expert Picks, Week 5

Wisconsin vs Illinois Prediction, Line

Wisconsin 23, Illinois 17
Line: Wisconsin -7, o/u: 43.5
ATS Confidence out of 5: 2
Wisconsin vs Illinois Must See Rating (out of 5): 3.5

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ESPN’s College GameDay makes their picks for week 4 including ND at UNC

Was it ND or UNC???

The crew of ESPN’s College GameDay headed out to Knoxville, Tennessee for the Top-25 matchup where Tennessee hosts Florida. The panelists of Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, Desmond Howard and Pat McAfee were joined by former Volunteer track and field star and current WWE Raw Women’s Champion Bianca Blair, who goes by the ring name Bianca Belair. Here are the games and their picks for this weeks slate.

Contact/Follow us @IrishWireND on Twitter, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Notre Dame news, notes, and opinions.

Follow Mike on Twitter: @MikeFChen

Ohio State vs Wisconsin Prediction, Game Preview

Ohio State vs Wisconsin game preview, prediction, and breakdown for the Week 4 game on Saturday, September 24

Ohio State vs Wisconsin prediction, game preview, how to watch. Week 4, Saturday, September 24


Ohio State vs Wisconsin How To Watch

Date: Saturday, September 24
Game Time: 7:30 ET
Venue: Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH
How To Watch: ABC
Record: Ohio State (3-0), Wisconsin (2-1)
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Ohio State vs Wisconsin Game Preview

Why Wisconsin Will Win

You 100% sure this Ohio State defense is where it needs to be?

It was the biggest topic of conversation around the program this offseason – could the D rise up to a national title level?

It’s been great so far, but Notre Dame, Arkansas State, and Toledo aren’t proper tests to see just how strong this group really is, and now the Badgers are showing up after getting everything rolling against New Mexico State in a 66-7 win.

No, Wisconsin isn’t going to throw for 335 yards like it did last week, but it’s going to pound, and pound, and pound some more. Get ready for the game to slow down a bit as the O tries to hold on to the ball for well over 35 minutes.

And then there’s the other side.

Wisconsin’s defense might not be the best in the nation like it was last year – at least statistically – but it held down Cameron Ward and the Washington State offense, gave up one decent drive against Illinois State, and so far has allowed just one touchdown pass.

Notre Dame was able to hold up against the Buckeye onslaught, and Wisconsin’s defense is even better.

However …

CFN Expert Picks, Week 4

Why Ohio State Will Win

Ohio State isn’t screwing up.

One. The Buckeye offense lost just one fumble against Arkansas State, and that’s it for the turnovers. One. The team got hit with just one penalty in the 77-21 annihilation of a solid Toledo team.

How did Wisconsin lose to Washington State? It turned it over three times and committed 11 penalties. This isn’t a team – or a program – that reacts well to adversity. All it might take is one giveaway and a few third-and-long moments to screw it all up.

Get up early with a few scoring drives, make Graham Mertz have to throw to get Wisconsin back in the game, and bad things are going to happen.

On the other side, as good as the Wisconsin defense might be, it’s about to get hit hard by the Ohio State offense that’s got the balance, the line, and the ability to take over right away.

To do that, it starts with …

Week 4 Schedule, Predictions, Game Preview

What’s Going To Happen

CJ Stroud. 73% completion rate, 941 yards, 11 touchdowns, no interceptions.

Even with Jaxon Smith-Njigba hurting, the machine keeps on rolling, TreyVeon Henderson and Milan Williams are running well, and the offense is operating at a whole other level.

Wisconsin will have a few decent drives with Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi pounding away early, but it’ll all come apart late in the second quarter.

The Buckeyes will start well, sputter as the Badger defense settles in, and then …

Turnover. The Ohio State D will come up with a pick, Stroud will connect on a TD pass three plays later, and that will be that.

NFL Expert Picks, Week 3

Ohio State vs Wisconsin Prediction, Line

Ohio State 37, Wisconsin 17
Line: Ohio State -19, o/u: 57
ATS Confidence out of 5: 2
Ohio State vs Wisconsin Must See Rating (out of 5): 4

College coaches all over America this week are raising awareness and research dollars for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a progressive genetic disorder that takes the lives of young men. Fans can donate to Coach To Cure MD online or by texting the word CURE to 501501 to give $25.

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Huskers continue to fall in ESPN’s FPI rankings after Week 3

ESPN’s projections for the Huskers are not optimistic

The Nebraska Cornhuskers fell sharply in ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) rankings following their 49-14 loss to No. 6-ranked Oklahoma. The Huskers are now 1-3 on the season after wrapping up their non-conference slate against the Sooners. This Saturday is the first of two bye weeks for Nebraska before they begin Big Ten play at home against Indiana on October 1.

The FPI metric, according to ESPN, “measures team’s true strength on a net points scale; expected point margin vs. average opponent on neutral field.” The FPI also projects teams’ record, chances to win out, chances of winning out the rest of the season, including conference championship games, winning their conference, making the College Football Playoff, and winning the National Championship.

The Big Ten had a subpar showing overall, with six teams moving up in the rankings and eight teams taking a tumble.

Read below to see where the Huskers and the rest of the Big Ten stack up:

Wisconsin vs New Mexico State Prediction, Game Preview

Wisconsin vs New Mexico State game preview, prediction, and breakdown for the Week 3 game on Saturday, September 17

Wisconsin vs New Mexico State prediction, game preview, how to watch. Week 3, Saturday, September 17


Wisconsin vs New Mexico State How To Watch

Date: Saturday, September 17
Game Time: 3:30 ET
Venue: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI
How To Watch: BTN
Record: Wisconsin (1-1), New Mexico State (0-3)
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Wisconsin vs New Mexico State Game Preview

Why New Mexico State Will Win

Force turnovers and take your chances from there.

All teams have problems if they’re turning the ball over, but few over the years melt down harder than Wisconsin.

There’s a certain rhythm and control this programs needs to operate.

Normally it all works, but when the mistakes start flowing – like in the Notre Dame debacle last season, several times against Northwestern over the years, and last week against Washington State – the system breaks down.

The Badgers controlled the game against the Cougars, outgained them by almost 150 yards, and had plenty of opportunities in the 17-14 loss, but late mistakes and just two really strong plays from the Wazzu offense were enough.

However …

CFN Expert Picks, Week 3

Why Wisconsin Will Win

New Mexico State has forced two takeaways in three games, and it doesn’t have the ability to capitalize even if it generates the errors.

There won’t be anything happening on the ground. Wisconsin hasn’t looked quite right overall so far, but he’s allowing just 2.3 yards per carry.

There won’t be anything happening through the air, either.

New Mexico State is having an impossible time completing for forward pass, hitting just 42% of its throws in three games.

Wisconsin should be able to control the lines without any sort of a problem, and it should be able put this away with just a few early scores – as long as there aren’t a ton of turnovers along the way.

Week 3 Schedule, Predictions, Game Preview

What’s Going To Happen

Aggie head coach Jerry Kill has been around the Madison block before, but he doesn’t have any semblance of talent compared to some of his former Minnesota teams.

New Mexico State will try hard. It has tough tacklers in a decent linebacking corps, but the lines are about to get destroyed, the Badger offense will come up with something strong, and all will be right with the world again for one week.

And then comes the trip to Ohio State. For now, just being 2-1 with an easy victory will be good enough.

CFN Week 3 Predictions

Wisconsin vs New Mexico State Prediction, Line

Wisconsin 45, New Mexico State 3
Line: Wisconsin -37.5, o/u: 46.5
ATS Confidence out of 5: 3.5
Wisconsin vs New Mexico State Must See Rating (out of 5): 1.5

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Photos: The Lido at Sand Valley nears completion of stunning historic recreation of New York masterpiece

Strategy, difficulty and beauty on full display in these photos of Sand Valley’s new Lido course.

NEKOOSA, Wis. – You can’t let your mind wander on a single shot at the new Lido course at Sand Valley in Wisconsin. Not on a putt. Not on a chip or pitch. Not on a single approach, and certainly not on a tee shot. Every swing demands your attention, and there might be no greater compliment for a golf course.

Built as a recreation of the famed Lido on Long Island in New York that was purchased and then demolished by the U.S. Navy during World War II, the new Lido is a stunning test of every aspect of a golfer’s game, especially the mind. It’s no exaggeration to call it the most strategic course – at the very least among a handful of contenders – in the United States.

The original Lido was designed by Golden Age architects C.B. Macdonald and Seth Raynor, with several individual holes designed by contestants in an architecture contest that included Alister MacKenzie. It was built along the shore on soil dredged from the sea floor, then shaped by teams with horse-drawn equipment. The new reproduction and its many template holes were meticulously laid into place by Tom Doak with a giant assist by Peter Flory, a Chicago-based banker (and Golfweek’s Best course-rater ambassador) who used old photography to generate a digital replica of the New York original. Doak used those digital models to recreate the old layout as closely as possible.

Judging by two rounds this author played with Flory in early September, it’s easy to guess the hickory-equipped golfers of the 1920s had their hands full on the original.

Bunkers seemingly are everywhere. The Lido offers plenty of width, with fairways sometimes playing more than 100 yards wide as they overlap, but the traps appear to be unavoidable, especially the first time a player goes round. Woe to any golfer who gets out of line.

Sand Valley Lido during grow-in
The 11th fairway (center) of the Lido at Sand Valley is flanked on either side by No. 17 (left, in the opposite direction) and No. 2 (right, playing in same direction as 11 with the green in the upper right). With several options for avoiding all the bunkers, the 11th effectively plays more than 100 yards wide. (Golfweek)

Players must stand on each tee and plot their way to the flag. It’s an exhilarating exercise that every course designer should strive to produce, but nowhere is such strategizing more important than at the Lido. A well-struck shot on the wrong line, even one that finds short grass, might as well have found a bunker closer to the proper line. It’s an awkward moment when you realize you picked the wrong angle off the tee – you can see the flag ahead on the green, but you can’t even begin to imagine how to get close in regulation when playing into the new and bouncy putting surfaces.

But if players take the time to study the various pathways offered for the tee ball and choose wisely, then the greens open up. That flag that appears tucked from one side of the fairway probably is reasonably approachable from the opposite side. You have to play the holes backward in your mind before you ever swing.

It’s all complicated by the bunker design. Many of these fairway traps would be better described as trapdoors, with their tops even to the surrounding grades. Most modern course designers flare their bunkers into hillsides or manufactured inclines, giving the players visual clues as to where they should play and what they must avoid. Many of the fairway bunkers at the Lido, by contrast, are flat on the ground and often hidden beyond rolling terrain. It’s hard to stand there and know exactly where all the trouble waits because you can’t see half of it. If your caddie tells you to avoid an area, even if it appears safe from the tee, take that advice to heart. Flory pointed out that the best well-known example of similar bunkering is the Old Course at St. Andrews, where nasty traps often lurk just out of view.

Even those traps you can see aren’t necessarily easy to avoid, and many of the greenside bunkers in particular have fearsomely steep faces – nearly vertical and more than 8 feet high in some cases. Just the intimidating sight of such bunker faces will send some players wayward.

The trouble doesn’t end with the tee shots and bunkers. The waste areas and steep grassed banks surrounding many of these greens present incredibly difficult chips, pitches and blasts to elevated putting surfaces that feature beautiful tiers and ridges. From short and center of many greens, the flags are reasonably approachable to players with solid short games, but most attempts from pin-high or long grow exponentially more difficult. The more you challenge the course in an attempt at a low score, the more the course challenges you back.

So yes, the Lido is difficult. It’s also beautiful, fascinating and incredibly fun. It’s in no way impossible to play, so long as golfers think. As soon as a round ends, most players will want another shot at it to try different routes. A golfer could play it a dozen times and never replicate all the same routes.

Key examples are the fourth, a par-5 that offers a safer route to the left or a risky drive rightward to a small patch of fairway flanked by sandy waste areas. Players who pull off the riskier tee ball are rewarded with a reasonable chance to reach the green in two shots, but those who miss into the sand are faced with a tough second shot over water just to reach the safety of the main fairway.

Sand Valley Lido during grow-in
The tee shot at the par-5 fourth of the Lido provides for a longer, safer route to fairway on the left or a tougher, longer carry to a small patch of fairway to the right that significantly shortens the hole. (Golfweek)

The par-4 11th is another great example of width providing options. Flanked by the 17th fairway to the left and the second fairway to the right, players have a choice of vectors over, around and short of a minefield of bunkers and scrub. In our first round together, Flory went well right off the tee while I fired one off to the left just to be obstinate. We both hit solid tee shots, and our golf balls finished 118 yards apart as measured by laser rangefinder. Flory’s line paid off with a birdie 3, his first on the Lido, while I made a 7.

There are plenty of such examples, especially as the wind and its directions changes. On the wide-open, treeless expanse upon which this Lido was built, the breezes tend to be stronger than at the resort’s other two existing courses, Mammoth Dunes by David McLay Kidd and the eponymous Sand Valley by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.

We wanted to share some of the photos of our two days at the Lido. Keep scrolling for those, but first the answers to several frequent questions in the days after our trip:

  • The Lido is still growing in, and the course will not officially open until the summer of 2023.
  • The resort is allowing small groups of members to play nine-hole preview rounds now while the grass is still taking hold, but many of the bunkers do not yet have sand (as you will see in the photos below). It is still very much a work in progress.
  • The Lido will accept very limited resort play. It will be a private course operated by the resort, but don’t expect to just show up as a guest and play on a weekend. Details on how to obtain a round on the Lido are still forthcoming. Plan to stay at the resort for any chance, and book earlier as excitement about the Lido builds among golf architecture fans.
  • Golfweek will present plenty of more coverage on the Lido before it opens, including Flory’s take on how it all came together. We just want to provide a sneak peak on how it all looks and plays.

Now, for those photos:

Cameron Ward a mixed bag in Washington State’s upset win vs. Wisconsin

Washington State upset No. 19 Wisconsin on the road, but quarterback Cameron Ward’s performance was a roller-coaster

It was one thing for Cameron Ward to put up huge numbers at Incarnate Word, or toss a trio of touchdown passes against Idaho last week.

Saturday gave him a chance to truly test his mettle, thanks to a road trip to face No. 19 Wisconsin at Camp Randall.

Ward’s performance ended up being a roller-coaster of sorts, but one that ended on a high note, with the Cougars pulling out a narrow upset victory.

The highly touted transfer completed 17 of his 28 pass attempts for 200 yards and a touchdown, showing off his sky-high ceiling multiple times throughout the game. He also threw a pair of interceptions that are sure to fuel any doubters who think Ward won’t be able to have the same success he did last year against stiffer competition.

The most important stat of the day was the W the Cougs went home with, though, and while wins aren’t really a quarterback stat, the fact that Ward went into a hostile environment and led his team to an upset win over a ranked opponent will definitely garner some favor with NFL scouts.

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Mobile ticketing problems plague Notre Dame, other programs

This system is flawed.

I’ve never liked mobile ticketing. Sure, it’s more technologically efficient and environmentally friendly, but I’ve never liked it. Taking paper tickets away robbed fans of physical memories of being at games, and that just doesn’t sit well with me. Teams already were moving away from it before COVID-19 hit, but that ensured that it was going away and never coming back.

I’ve always worried that something would happen that would cause the whole idea of mobile ticketing to backfire. For instance, someone’s battery might drain right before they reach the gate. If nothing else, someone having to restart their phone for whatever at the front of the gate would cause a long line of people waiting to get in.

Well, it happened ahead of Notre Dame’s home opener against Marshall:

While the Irish did come up with a solution before the system eventually was restored before kickoff, I only can imagine the lines this caused:

If this doesn’t convince teams that mobile ticketing without a backup system ready to go immediately doesn’t work, nothing will. I hate that so many fans are being inconvenienced in a way that is entirely avoidable. And it’s not only the fans at Notre Dame Stadium. Look where else it happened: