Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong will start Saturday against Illinois. (Credit: The Associated Press)
Published Friday, October 4, 2013 AT 1:11 PM / Updated at 2:05 PM
Tom’s Friday Tailgate, Oct. 4
Tom Shatel Omaha World-Herald

Love October. Best time of year. Baseball playoffs. Change in temperature. Mostly, conference football. I love conference football games. Let the season drama play out.

1. Tommy Armstrong. The training wheels come off Saturday. The Kid is in charge and the stakes go considerably up. This won’t be South Dakota State’s defense. I don’t expect Armstrong to have the same success, at least not with the same ease, against a Big Ten defense. I wonder, too, if Tim Beck will give him more. Hunch is, Beck will keep it simple and Armstrong will look good, look smooth like he belongs. And we’ll all have a really big story.

2. Nebraska 42, Illinois 28. I think Beck will try to get physical with the Illini, use some option and certainly some play-action. Armstrong won’t be perfect, but he’ll have command. The defense will be the defense. Husker fans will breath a sigh of relief.

3. Iowa 28, Michigan State 10. That’s a ton of points against Sparty’s defense, but the Hawkeyes have some mojo going, the quarterback has confidence and they’re playing at home. Maybe it will be closer. Either way, bring your brass knuckles to this one.

4. Ohio State 31, Northwestern 28. ESPN Game Day in town. Return of their star running back. Buckeye defense vulnernable to run. Imagine the headlines and ramifications in Big Ten country of a Wildcat win. But this game is why Urban Meyer is Urban Meyer.

5. Stanford 28, Washington 14. We already know smart kids go to Stanford. Apparently, mean, tough defensive players do, too.

Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads, right, reacts to a call against his team during the second half against Texas on Thursday. (Credit: The Associated Press)

6. Iowa State. My heart goes out to Cyclone fans for Thursday night’s gut-punch. But it also reminded me of Nebraska’s last-second loss to Texas in the 2009 Big 12 championship game. The kick out of bounds and the 15-yard penalty. Moral to the story: you can’t put your fate in the hands of Big 12 officials when it comes to Texas. Or, KU basketball. But then, you already knew that.

7. Kansas 24, Texas Tech 21. Charlie Weis is going to get one. And while I think Kliff Kingsbury will eventually grow into the legend of the wild west, his offense isn’t there yet.

8. Georgia 45, Tennessee 31. Remember when the SEC media types used to rip on the Big 12 for playing flag football? Guess it’s what they call good football now.

9. Chiefs 28, Titans 7. Oh, sure, Jake Locker’s hurt now. Signed, Bitter Charger fan.

10. Saints 31, Bears 21. The Saints don’t need a dry carpet under a roof. This offense is rolling, behind Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham. Rob Ryan is pushing the right buttons on defense.

11. Lions 31, Packers 28. I should know better than to pick against Green Bay at Lambeau, but the Pack running game is banged up. The Lions look different this year. This is a good place to find out.

12. Peyton Manning 49, Cowboys 35. This will be highly entertaining Sunday theater, unless your name is Monte Kiffin.

13. Golf season. This is usually a good month to get the handicap back up for the spring, but the temps are about to drop tonight. I have a 55-degree rule. I’ll play if it’s at least 55 but there can’t be any wind. Good luck with that this weekend.

As always, have fun. This is college football.

About Tom Shatel

Tom Shatel is a columnist for The Omaha World-Herald. You can get in touch with Tom on Twitter (@tomshatelOWH), or send him an email at