The week’s Big Ten slate is just as ugly as the national games. I was able to find a couple decent national games to pick yesterday. If you missed them you can find them here.
Last week ATS: 4-8 (1-4 National, 3-4 B1G)
Season ATS: 59-69-3 (22-32-1 National, 37-37-2 B1G)
No. 10 Penn State (-7) v. Indiana - 12:00 PM EST - ABC/ESPN2
Last week Penn State continued their impressive play of late when they had little trouble taking down Iowa in State College. Running back Saquon Barkley was the workhorse in the victory, rushing for 167 yards and a touchdown, while adding a 44-yard receiving touchdown. Now the Nittany Lions will look to keep their dreams of making one of the New Year’s Six bowl games alive when they travel to Indiana.
It hasn’t exactly been pretty, but Indiana has won their last two games, and now is just a game away from bowl eligibility. The Hoosiers have had a lot of success on offense over the last two games, rolling up over 1,200 yards in the victories. Quarterback Richard Lagow threw for 394 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Rutgers last week, but also did throw two interceptions, running his total for the year to 13 picks.
I’m tempted to take the points with the Hoosiers here since it seems like Indiana gives ranked teams fits in Bloomington, but Penn State is just playing too well right now. Their offense is clicking and the Nittany Lion defense is getting healthy, which should propel them to a double-digit victory.
Penn State 41, Indiana 28
Northwestern (-14) v. Purdue - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network
We all know that Purdue is bad, but more often than not it seems like they find a way to stay within the number. The Boilermakers have the kind of passing offense, with six receivers with at least 27 receptions, that allows for them to at least put up some points. Quarterback David Blough has 20 touchdowns on the year, but the downside is he has thrown 13 interceptions.
The problem with Purdue is they can’t stop anybody on defense, especially on the ground. Running back Justin Jackson is 90 yards from cracking 1,000 yards for the year, and against this Purdue defense he should have that by halftime. Northwestern hasn’t been the greatest against the pass, allowing 260 yards per game, so that could help Purdue keep things within two touchdowns.
Northwestern is coming off a couple tough games against Ohio State and Wisconsin so the Boilermakers might be catching them at the right time. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Purdue give Northwestern a little bit of a scare here.
Northwestern 31, Purdue 24
Rutgers v. Michigan State (-14) - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network
With a combined 13 straight losses between these two teams, I guess somebody has to win here. Rutgers has at least been a little more competitive recently since going to Giovanni Rescigno at quarterback. Michigan State is a complete mess right now, and while they are certainly more talented, I don’t trust them laying this many points.
Michigan State 28, Rutgers 17
Rutgers v. No. 7 Wisconsin (-26) - 3:30 PM EST - ESPN2
After a stretch in which they faced Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, Nebraska, and Northwestern, Wisconsin can breathe a little easier this week. Illinois is just a giant mess right now, so it’s hard to see them slowing down Corey Clement and the Wisconsin rushing attack. Even if Illinois is able to slow the Badgers down on offense a little bit, I have no faith they can get anything against Wisconsin’s strong defense. The Badgers win their fourth straight game.
Wisconsin 44, Illinois 14
Minnesota v. No. 19 Nebraska (-7) - 7:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network
Aside from how well Penn State is playing, Minnesota might be the biggest surprise in the Big Ten this year. The Golden Gophers have benefitted so far from a ridiculously soft conference schedule, and they’ll be tested the next three weeks against Nebraska, Northwestern, and Wisconsin. What could help them navigate these games is the veteran leadership of Mitch Leidner at quarterback, along with running back Rodney Smith, who has 913 yards and 13 touchdowns on the year.
It is still unknown if Tommy Armstrong Jr. will be able to play on Saturday after he banged his head hard on the turf at Ohio Stadium last week. If Armstrong Jr. can’t play, Ryker Fyfe will take the snaps for Nebraska. Last week Fyfe went just for 5-18 against the Buckeyes, so losing Armstrong Jr. for the game would definitely slow the Nebraska offense.
Even though they have a lot to still play for, I think Nebraska is cautious with Armstrong Jr. and the senior doesn’t end up playing. This game will end up being tight throughout, and even though I think Nebraska is the better team, I think Minnesota somehow leaves Lincoln with the victory.
Minnesota 30, Nebraska 27
No. 3 Michigan (-22) v. Iowa - 8:00 PM EST - ABC
For just the second time this season the Wolverines are leaving the state of Michigan. The only other time Michigan left the mitten they waxed Rutgers 78-0. Saturday night’s game isn’t going to be a beatdown to that extent, but it’s going to be a beatdown. Don’t overthink this. Michigan will go up big and Harbaugh will do some weird stuff late in the game that adds to the evidence that he is clinically insane.
Michigan 38, Iowa 10
No. 5 Ohio State (-29.5) v. Maryland - 3:30 PM EST - ESPN
Was Ohio State’s performance last week a sign of things to come? After some inconsistent play recently, the Buckeyes looked like the buzzsaw that many knew they were capable of being in the 62-3 victory over Nebraska on Saturday night. Curtis Samuel got plenty of touches, J.T. Barrett was much improved throwing the football, and the defense returned two interceptions for touchdowns.
Maryland has fallen on hard times recently after a 4-0 start, losing four of their last five games. Quarterback Perry Hills has a shoulder injury, and even if he plays it’s unknown how long he’ll be able to tough it out. The Terrapins offense is best when it is running the football, averaging 232 yards per game. It’s hard to see them getting much against an Ohio State defense that is allowing just 119 yards on the ground.
If Ohio State is able to jump out to a big lead early it’ll force Maryland to throw the football, something they don’t do very well. I’m a little leery of laying so many points on the road after such a big win at home, but I think last week woke up an Ohio State team that was slumbering. Barrett has a big day, as he gets the two touchdowns he needs to pass Drew Brees’ Big Ten record for most total touchdowns.
Ohio State 48, Maryland 13