If yesterday's national picks got lost in the Thursday shuffle, you can find them here
Northwestern v. Nebraska (-7.5) - 12:00 p.m. - ESPN2
Even though Northwestern has looked awful the last two weeks, this line perplexes me. The Wildcats lost to a Michigan team that was on a tear, followed by an underrated Iowa team last week. Sure the losses by Northwestern were both by a wide margin, but they can't really be as bad as they have looked the past two weeks. What the Wildcats need to get back to doing is running the football, which they haven't been able to do the last two games since they've faced such big deficits putting them in passing situations.
After two heartbreaking losses, Nebraska finally was able to get an easy win last week, laying the woodshed to Minnesota 48-25. I'm still not convinced everything is fixed with Nebraska though, because they are allowing over 340 yards per game through the air. Last week the Cornhuskers let Mitch Leidner throw for 301 yards. I don't think Leidner threw for 301 yards total in the seven years he has started for the Golden Gophers. Clayton Thorson hasn't exactly lit it up threw the air this year, but if Leidner can throw for that much, there's no telling what Thorson can do. Northwestern doesn't snap their losing skid, but they take the game down to the last possession, with Nebraska finally getting a close win.
Nebraska 28 Northwestern 24
Wisconsin (-6) v. Illinois - 3:30 p.m. - Big Ten Network
The Big Ten season hasn't exactly been pretty for Wisconsin, but they are at least keeping themselves within shouting distance of Iowa, which could be big if the Hawkeyes falter down the stretch. Running back Corey Clement dressed last week against Purdue, but didn't see any action. Still, that means Clement is getting close to being able to play, and when he is ready the trio Wisconsin has in the backfield could be tough to corral.
Somehow Illinois is just a couple wins away from bowl eligibility and just had a week off to get ready to host the Badgers. The bye week doesn't sound like it was enough to get running back Josh Ferguson healthy though, who even if he played, was probably going to find running room tough against the tough Wisconsin defense. The Badgers have dominated this series of late, winning the last six games between the schools. I think they make it seven in a row, but Illinois puts up a pretty good fight and keeps the game tight.
Wisconsin 20 Illinois 17
Penn State (-6.5) v. Maryland - 3:30 p.m. - ESPN
Ohio State's last two opponents square off in College Park tomorrow afternoon, and both will be looking to rebound from the beating the Buckeyes gave them. Penn State looks to have found their running back of the future in Saquon Barkley, but each week Christian Hackenberg is getting beaten to a pulp behind that garbage offensive line. At least Hackenberg doesn't have to try and elude Carl Nassib, who leads the country with 11.5 sacks so far this season.
Let the Mike Locksley era begin! Quarterback Perry Hills ran all over the Buckeyes a couple weeks ago, but it's hard to think he'll enjoy the same success against the tough Nittany Lions front. Maryland doesn't have a whole lot going for them right now, but maybe the coaching change and the bye week will light a fire under them. Last year the Terrapins snapped a 29-game losing streak against Penn State, and will be wearing throwback uniforms to commemorate their only other win back in 1961 over the Nittany Lions. Will it be enough? I don't think so. But I'm also not confident in laying nearly a touchdown on the road with this Penn State squad.
Penn State 23 Maryland 20
Indiana v. #7 Michigan State (-16.5) - 3:30 p.m. - ABC/ESPN2
Just when it looked like Indiana might be on the brink of having a decent season, they go back to doing Indiana things. Following the Ohio State game, Indiana got shelled by Penn State. Last week the Hoosiers returned home, where they blew a 25-point lead against Rutgers in the second half and lost 55-52. It's still unknown if Indiana will return running back Jordan Howard, who has missed the last two games due to injury, but at least the Hoosiers still have Nate Sudfeld at quarterback, who threw for 464 yards in the loss last week.
This has all the classic makings of a letdown game for Michigan State after last week's improbable win over Michigan in Ann Arbor. The Spartans have struggled with bigger point spreads this year, and I could see them failing to put away a Indiana offense that can move the ball. At least Connor Cook will get a chance to pad his stats against the suspect Hoosier defense, which should help to keep the Spartans off of upset alert. The Hoosiers pull within two touchdowns late in the game.
Michigan State 45 Indiana 31
#1 Ohio State (-21.5) v. Rutgers - 8:00 p.m. - ABC
Guess who's back, back again. J.T.'s back, tell a friend. The past two weeks it has been obvious that the Ohio State offense has been running a lot better with J.T. Barrett at the helm, and Urban Meyer finally made the switch at quarterback on Tuesday. With Barrett taking the snaps, Ohio State is able to utilize more of an up-tempo offense, which made them so dangerous for most of the year last season. With the questions at quarterback this season, there has been one constant in the offense. Ezekiel Elliott has rushed for over 100 yards in every game this year, and it wouldn't be that much of a shock to see that streak continuing now that offenses have to respect Barrett's ability to run the football.
Rutgers took Michigan State down to the wire under the lights in Piscataway just a few weeks ago, but we have seen that Michigan State might not be quite as good as we thought heading into the season. Still, you can't dismiss the Scarlet Knights, especially if wide receiver Leonte Carroo is able to play. Carroo has gone for over 100 yards and three touchdowns in each of the past two games, so if he plays, the Buckeyes will have to devote a lot of attention to him. Rutgers can also run the ball too, which Ohio State hasn't exactly been strong in stopping lately.
Last week Ohio State covered their first spread since the first week of the season against Virginia Tech. I have picked the Buckeyes to cover in every game this year, but I don't think I can here. Rutgers will play Ohio State tough under the lights, and while it won't be as close as the Michigan State game, the Scarlet Knights still stay within three touchdowns. J.T. Barrett and the offense will look fine, but with a bye week on deck, the Buckeyes don't totally destroy Rutgers.
Ohio State 41 Rutgers 24