The national game picks from Thursday can be found here.
#22 Michigan (-16) v. Maryland - 12:00 p.m. - Big Ten Network
Thanks to Hurricane Joaquin, this game was moved up from a 8 p.m. kickoff in College Park. After starting off the season with a 24-17 loss to Utah (which is looking a lot better after the win by the Utes in Eugene last week), Michigan has surrendered 10 points in the past three weeks. The Wolverines are ranked second nationally in total defense and they should be able to feast on a Maryland offense that has turned the football over nine times in the last two weeks. The Wolverines just have to hope they get the Jake Rudock who was effective against BYU last week and not the one who threw five interceptions in the first three games.
Maryland is a special kind of dumpster fire right now. It's bad when your best offensive options are a punt returner and a kicker. Caleb Rowe has thrown nine interceptions so far this season and it wouldn't be surprising to see him add to that total against a stingy Michigan defense. I'm not a huge fan of laying over two touchdowns in what will be windy and possibly wet conditions, but this is way too much of a mismatch. Michigan's running attack in combination with their defense will have Maryland struggling to get to double-digits in the in College Park
Michigan 28 Maryland 10
Iowa v. #19 Wisconsin (-7) - 12:00 p.m. - ESPN
For the first time since 2009, Iowa has started the season 4-0. Last week the Hawkeyes dismantled North Texas to the tune of 62-16 in Iowa City. With C.J. Beathard at quarterback and Jordan Canzeri at running back, Iowa so far this season has gotten good offensive production. That will definitely be tested this week against a Wisconsin team that hasn't given up a touchdown since the season opener against Alabama.
With the combination of Taiwan Deal and Dare Ogunbowale, Wisconsin hasn't missed running back Corey Clement too much. That all could change this week against an Iowa rushing defense that is ranked 12th in the country. It feels weird to go into this game thinking the quarterbacks will be the big difference after all the success both schools have had running the football over the years. 12 of the last 13 games between the schools have either seen Wisconsin win by less than seven points or been an Iowa victory. I'm gonna roll with the trends in this one and take the points.
Wisconsin 23 Iowa 20
Purdue v. #2 Michigan State (-22.5) - 12:00 p.m. - ESPN2
Here we go again, Michigan State with another large spread against a team they should lay the woodshed to. Last week I thought the Spartans were going to breakout and leave Central Michigan in the dust to cover their first spread of the year. Sadly it was another matchup where Michigan State couldn't quite get the points necessary to cover. Now Michigan State likely won't have left tackle Jack Conklin for this game, but that shouldn't hurt them too much against a Purdue team that just fell to Bowling Green in West Lafayette last week.
Purdue quarterback David Blough got his first start last week, and threw for 340 yards against Bowling Green. I wouldn't think too much with that though since the defense of the Falcons is terrible. This week Blough will have Shilique Calhoun breathing down his neck. I'm sure whatever side I take in this game will be wrong since I don't have a good feel for this game. Last year Purdue hung with Michigan State and covered and even for as bad as they've been this year, I'll bank of the trend of Michigan State not covering these big spreads to continue.
Michigan State 38 Purdue 20
Minnesota v. #16 Northwestern (-4) - 12:00 p.m. Big Ten Network
Will either team reach double-digits in this game? Last week had to be considered an offensive explosion for the Golden Gophers after a season-high 27 points in the win against Ohio. Minnesota has made a living so far in close games, with all three of their victories coming by three points. Mitch Leidner threw for a career-high 264 yards against the Bobcats last week, but it is hard to imagine him replicating that against a Northwestern defense that is only allowing opponents 137.8 yards per game through the air.
Last week wasn't pretty for Northwestern against Ball State, but all that matters is the Wildcats stayed undefeated. The win came at a price though, with a couple of key defenders picking up injuries that have them listed as questionable for the game. At least Northwestern will have running back Justin Jackson healthy, who rushed for a career-high 184 yards against Ball State. Jackson has been a workhorse for the Wildcats, racking up 118 carries on the season, which is the most in the country. In a game like this where defense is going to rule the day, I have to take the points. Since Minnesota is all about winning by a field goal this year, I'll pick them to pull the upset by a three-pointer.
Minnesota 16 Northwestern 13
Army v. Penn State (-27) - 12:00 p.m. - ESPNU
All Army does is run the football. The Black Knights are averaging nearly 300 yards per game on the ground, but I wouldn't bank on them coming that close against a Penn State defense that is stout against the run. Army has lost to Fordham, UConn, and Wake Forest this year, which should tell you everything you need to know about the Black Knights.
Christian Hackenberg should be able to look a little bit like a quarterback against the bad Army defense, and Penn State might need him to be more productive than normal since running backs Saquon Barkley and Akeel Lynch are questionable with injuries. Penn State will win this game, but I don't see a huge blowout. The last time the Nittany Lions won by more than 27 was last September against Massachusetts. With Army's running game, the clock should keep moving, which will shorten the game. As long as the defense of the Black Knights gets a few stops then taking the points in this one should be good.
Penn State 34 Army 14
Nebraska (-6.5) v. Illinois - 4:00 p.m. - Big Ten Network
Four games into the year and I still have no idea what to think of either of these teams. Nebraska has been so injured and unlucky early in the year that I just don't know if they are really this bad or if they'll pick things up as the season goes on. The Cornhusker defense has been uncharacteristically bad this year, giving up 453 yards per game to opponents through four games. At least quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. has done his best in trying to pick up the slack for the awful defense, tossing at least two touchdowns in each game.
Illinois is halfway to being bowl eligible for the second straight year! What a time to be alive! In place of the injured Mike Dudek, Illinois found themselves a pretty good receiver in Geronimo Allison. Add in the versatility Josh Ferguson gives them at running back, and Illinois could grab a few games in the Big Ten. I don't know if this is one of those games, but I know weird things always happen in Champaign. Bill Cubit's bunch keeps it close at least, but Nebraska gets one to fall their way in the final moments.
Nebraska 34 Illinois 30
#1 Ohio State (-21) v. Indiana - 3:30 p.m. - ABC/ESPN2
The Buckeyes came closer last week, but fell just short of covering a 30+ point spread. Cardale Jones looked a lot better against Western Michigan, and had it not been for a couple of underthrows, Ohio State would've covered the spread. Still, there are plenty of reasons for optimism going forward with the Buckeyes since their offensive line looked a lot better than it did the past few weeks. If Jones can clean up those underthrows and hit some of his receivers deep, the running game will open up a lot more for Ezekiel Elliott, who has rushed for 100 yards in each of Ohio State's four games this year.
Ohio State's offense has been an area for concern early in the year for many, but the defense has definitely done their job, and then some. Raekwon McMillan tackled everything against Western Michigan, and you have to think Joey Bosa is due for a big game in which he records a couple sacks. The Silver Bullets can't sleep on Indiana running back Jordan Howard, who is the nation's second leading rusher behind Leonard Fournette. The UAB transfer has rushed for 145 yards or more in each of Indiana's four victories on the season.
Excitement is high in Bloomington with the 4-0 start to the season for the Hoosiers, but it comes crashing back down to earth on Saturday. Let's not lie to ourselves and say the teams Indiana have beat so far have been anything special. The Hoosiers beat Southern Illinois by a point, Western Kentucky by three, and Wake Forest by a touchdown. I know I should be a little hesitant of taking Ohio State with another large point spread, but I'll take my chances laying the points. Indiana will probably have more fans in the stands than usual, but Buckeye fans always travel well to Bloomington, so I'm not gonna get caught up in home-field making a difference. Ohio State takes advantage of an Indiana defense that is still pretty bad.
Ohio State 48 Indiana 23