Big Ten action not enough for you this week? Check out this week’s picks for the best national games here.
Last week ATS: 7-4-1 (2-3 National, 5-1-1 B1G)
Season ATS: 34-38-2 (13-17 National, 21-21-2 B1G)
Iowa (-1) v. Minnesota - 12:00 PM EST - ESPN2
Iowa has to be wishing it was still 2015, since 2016 has not been kind at all to the Hawkeyes. Not only has Iowa lost to North Dakota State and Northwestern, but they also struggled with Rutgers a few weeks ago. After being so solid on defense last year, it has been a bit of a surprise to see the Hawkeyes struggle so much this season, especially against the run.
Last week the Golden Gophers suffered their first loss of the season, and they only have themselves to blame after taking a 10-point lead into halftime. Running backs Shannon Brooks and Rodney Smith with look to exploit Iowa’s vulnerable run defense and keep the Hawkeyes on their toes to open the passing game up for Mitch Leidner.
This is the most Big Ten game out there since the winner gets a trophy of a pig, Floyd of Rosedale. Minnesota won in 2014 and Iowa took the trophy back in 2015, but I have a feeling the trophy is going to change homes against this year. Something is just off about Iowa this year, while aside for the second half and overtime last week, Minnesota has been playing solid football.
Minnesota 27, Iowa 24
Maryland (-2) v. Penn State - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network
How good has the hire of D.J. Durkin been for Maryland so far? The Terrapins are 4-0 and playing some really good football. Sure, their schedule has been pretty easy, but it’s what the team needed to build some confidence. Last week Maryland throttled Purdue behind 204 yards on the ground from Ty Johnson, who did his damage on just seven carries. The biggest change for Maryland this year is they aren’t turning the football over, something they did at an alarming rate last year.
Penn State was able to right the ship just a little bit last week with their overtime win against Minnesota, but Nittany Lion fans still have plenty to be concerned about. Running back Saquon Barkley is going through a bit of a sophomore slump, but then again he doesn’t have the greatest offensive line blocking for him.
The Nittany Lions are also still working through plenty of injuries on the defensive side of the football, something that might not bode well against a Maryland team that is finding their stride on offense. I went back-and-forth on this game, and while it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Penn State win again, somehow the Terrapins get their third win ever against the Nittany Lions.
Maryland 34, Penn State 27
Purdue v. Illinois (-10.5) - 3:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network
Purdue is about the only team out there that Illinois should be a double-digit favorite against. At least the Fighting Illini did hang around with Nebraska last week. On the other hand, Purdue was destroyed by Maryland and things aren’t going to get better anytime soon. I’ve already wrote more about this game than I probably should have since it’s going to be bad.
Illinois 38, Purdue 21
BYU v. Michigan State (-6) - 3:30 PM EST - ABC
After losing the first two games of their Big Ten schedule, Michigan State is probably happy to step by out of conference on Saturday. The last time the Spartans lost two games in a row was back in 2012. It’s no coincidence that the Spartans have lost both games that Riley Bullough has missed, and the linebacker is slated to miss this week’s game.
BYU won a thrilling 55-53 contest against Toledo last week, and while Michigan State doesn’t have the same offensive prowess that the Rockets do, the defense has to be a concern for the Cougars. BYU will need another big performance this week from running back Jamaal Williams, who rushed for 286 yards and five touchdowns last week.
Michigan State at least ends their losing streak this week, but they still have some work to do if they want to put a scare into Michigan and Ohio State later in the year. Quarterback Tyler O’Connor threw three touchdowns last week, so even though Michigan State lost, the senior actually played well. The Spartans finally get a win without Bullough before heading back into Big Ten play.
Michigan State 31, BYU 21
No. 4 Michigan (-30) v. Rutgers - 7:00 PM EST - ESPN2
The biggest question this week will be if Rutgers can actually score a point. Last week the Scarlet Knights were shutout by Ohio State, and that comes on the heels of scoring just seven points against Iowa. All Rutgers has to do now is try and figure out a Michigan defense that has given up 14 points or less in four of five games.
The Michigan offense left plenty to be desired last week against Wisconsin, but some of that was because of how solid the Badger defense is. While the offensive issues won’t show up this week against a lowly Rutgers team, it’s something to keep your eye on heading forward. There are plenty of questions about the kicking game for the Wolverines after they missed three field goals last week.
Jabrill Peppers will probably have a big game since he’s playing back in New Jersey and everybody will for some reason want to claim him as Heisman Trophy candidate. Because only special players can do things against Rutgers. Michigan has little problem with the Scarlet Knights, but at least Rutgers scores somewhere during the game.
Michigan 41, Rutgers 7
Indiana v. No. 2 Ohio State (-29) - 3:30 PM EST - ESPN
Ohio State just keeps on rolling, but it’s easy to see why fans might be a little nervous heading into this week after the Hoosiers almost upset the Buckeyes last year in Bloomington. I don’t think Ohio State will have quite the same scare, as Urban Meyer will have his team focused before a trip to Madison next week.
Indiana has been a very tough team to get a read on this year. A couple weeks ago they lost at home to Wake Forest, and last week they didn’t look all that great for a good chunk of the game against Michigan State before taking down the Spartans in overtime. Quarterback Richard Lagow has been solid for the Hoosiers this year, but he also threw five interceptions against the Demon Deacons. With the way Ohio State’s secondary is playing, I wouldn’t be surprised for the Buckeyes to get Lagow to commit a couple turnovers.
The Ohio State offense is really hitting on all cylinders right now, and I just don’t think Indiana will have what it takes to slow the Buckeyes down. Sure, the Hoosiers are better on defense than previous years, but that’s not saying much. Really it comes down to which weapons the Buckeyes will want to feature in this one. Whether it be Mike Weber continuing his growth at running back, or Curtis Samuel racking up even more all-purpose yards. The Buckeyes should again be able to score at least 45 points in this game, something they have done in each game this year.
The only thing I’m worried about in this one is Indiana is competent enough on offense that I could see them putting in a touchdown or two to get a late cover. But I also thought that might happen against Bowling Green and Tulsa and we saw just how that worked out. The Buckeyes will want to head into the Wisconsin game with an impressive performance, and they get that against an Indiana team that might be ripe for a bit of a letdown after their big win last week.
Ohio State 54, Indiana 20