TV show turns to Playstation game to make predictions

Updated: October 24, 2003, 1:11 AM ET

LINCOLN, Neb. -- It's a Nebraska tradition for businesses across the state to post predictions for the next Cornhusker football game on their marquees or storefronts.

The Nebraska Educational Television show "Big Red Wrapup" takes a computer-age approach to that practice, using the EA Sports' NCAA College Football 2004 Playstation 2 game to forecast outcomes.

"It's a fun segment to add a little lightheartedness to the show," host Kevin Kugler said. "Hopefully, people aren't taking it too seriously."

A production intern, Brad Young, sets up and runs the computer game on the Thursday before the following Tuesday's show. Young programs criteria such as venue, weather conditions and lineups. Then the computer plays the game, with no human influence.

Videotape captures the computer game as it unfolds, with big plays shown during the segment called "Big Red Projection."

So far, the computer has correctly predicted the winner in four of six games.

Nebraska was picked to lose 21-14 to Texas A&M last week, but won 48-12.

The computer predicted a 24-3 Husker victory at Missouri the week before, but the Tigers won 41-24.

This week's prediction: Nebraska 31, Iowa State 6.

Kugler said he and a couple of members of the show's crew came up with the idea to use a computer game to make predictions. EA Sports was happy to approve the show's use of the game, Kugler said.

Producer-director Jim Carmichael said he likes the segment because it gives viewers something they can't see anywhere else.

"Most people can get clips of the upcoming opponent on all the news stations during sportscasts, so we don't necessarily want to rehash that," Carmichael said. "We wanted to do something kind of clever and show the upcoming team -- whether it was correct or not."

Viewer reaction has been mixed.

"We've heard it called 'cute' and 'interesting,' " Carmichael said. "My 82-year-old dad said he doesn't understand any of it, but he likes watching it.

"One person in Broken Bow wrote how stupid it was and how when it comes on they turn the show off. They said it was a farce, and how could we be doing something like that?"

The predicted loss to A&M didn't go over well.

"A guy said, 'Shame on you and 'Big Red Wrapup' for predicting a Husker loss,' " Kugler said.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index