If you missed yesterday’s big national game picks for the week, you can find them here.
Last week ATS: 8-7-1 (2-4 National, 6-3-1 B1G)
Season ATS: 23-25-1 (9-10 National, 14-15-1 B1G)
No. 11 Wisconsin v. No. 8 Michigan State (-6) - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network
So far I’m 0-3 in predicting Wisconsin games this year. Last week I expected them to crush Georgia State and the Badgers barely squeaked out a victory. Silly Badgers. Now Wisconsin will be starting Alex Hornibrook at quarterback and it is yet another week in which running back Corey Clement is questionable heading into a game. If it wasn’t for a strong defense, who knows what Wisconsin’s record would stand at through three games.
Michigan State quieted a lot of doubters last week with an impressive performance in the victory against Notre Dame. Quarterback Tyler O’Connor can now add a victory in South Bend as Michigan State’s starting quarterback to his win in Columbus last year. Mark Dantonio always seems to have his teams ready to play ranked teams, with the Spartans winning six of their last seven against ranked teams.
I haven’t been very high on Wisconsin this year, and that’s not changing after last week’s performance. I just don’t see how they are going to score enough points to win this one. On the other hand, I could see the Spartans getting a couple of turnovers to set themselves up with good field position.
Michigan State 24, Wisconsin 13
Iowa (-13.5) v. Rutgers - 12:00 PM EST - ESPN2
Poor, poor Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights are going to be the sacrificial lamb for Iowa to take their frustrations out on after the Hawkeyes lost to FCS power North Dakota State last week. The loss was C.J. Beathard’s first as Iowa’s starting quarterback since 2014.
The only chance Rutgers has in this game is if they can get a huge game from Janarion Grant. The running back and kick returner is fourth in the nation with 562 all-purpose yards. It’s not too crazy to think that’ll happen though after Iowa surrendered 239 yards on the ground last week.
Even though it’s never good to lose to a FCS team, at least Iowa lost to the best FCS team out there. I wouldn’t doubt that North Dakota State could beat Rutgers right now. The Hawkeyes rebound with a big win against Rutgers in their Big Ten opener.
Iowa 38, Rutgers 17
Colorado State v. Minnesota (-17) - 12:00 PM EST - ESPNU
Last year Minnesota barely squeaked out a win against the Rams in Fort Collins, but it’s quite obvious that Colorado State isn’t quite as talented as they were last year. Mike Bobo’s squad got walloped by Colorado in the season opener, and while they have responded with two wins, it’s never an easy trip to Minnesota.
The Golden Gophers had last week off after starting the season with wins over Oregon State and Indiana State. Mitch Leidner has been solid so far this year for Minnesota, and there’s no reason to think he can’t continue to get it done both through the air and on the ground on Saturday.
This is one of those matchups where I feel like whatever side I’m on will end up being the wrong side. I don’t particularly like laying this many points with Minnesota, but with a week off I feel like they’ll be up to the task to cover it before heading into Big Ten play.
Minnesota 42, Colorado State 20
Nevada v. Purdue (-5.5) - 12:00 PM EST - ESPNews
This will already be Nevada’s second trip of the year to Indiana, as the Wolf Pack got run over by Notre Dame 39-10 in the second week of the season. Last week Nevada was able to rebound at home with a win over Buffalo in which they rolled up over 500 yards of total offense.
Purdue had a week to lick their wounds after a loss in West Lafayette to Cincinnati. Quarterback David Blough did throw for 401 yards against the Bearcats, but he also did have five of his passes caught by Cincinnati defenders.
It’s always dangerous to back Purdue when they are a favorite, but I think this case might be one of the few exceptions. At least the Boilermakers get a team from out west traveling east for an early kickoff. As long as Purdue gets a little production from their defense they should be able to earn Darrell Hazell his fourth career win against a FBS team.
Purdue 34, Nevada 24
Wake Forest v. Indiana (-7.5) - 3:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network
I have no idea how, but Wake Forest is undefeated heading into this week’s game against Indiana. The Demon Deacons have done most of their damage on the ground this year, but that could be tough against a Indiana defense that has surprisingly good against the run so far this year.
Indiana knows a win is crucial with games against Michigan State, Ohio State, and Nebraska coming up to start Big Ten play. After losing quarterback Nate Sudfeld and running back Jordan Howard following last year, the Hoosiers haven’t missed a beat with Richard Lagow and Devine Redding replacing them.
The Hoosiers thwart Wake Forest’s drive to open the season at 4-0 for the first time since they went to the Orange Bowl in 2006. While the Demon Deacons are definitely improving under Dave Clawson, the Hoosiers are just too much for them to handle.
Indiana 31, Wake Forest 14
Penn State v. No. 4 Michigan (-18.5) - 3:30 PM EST - ABC
Unlike previous years, Penn State is getting it done with on the offense side of the football while the defense struggles. The Nittany Lions defense took even more of a hit this week when it was announced linebacker Nyeem Wartman-Wright will be out for the rest of the year. Not only that, but two other Penn State linebackers are injured and their status is up in the air for Saturday’s game.
Michigan looked like they were in trouble early against Colorado last week, but they rebounded for a 45-28 win over the Buffaloes. Jabrill Peppers was all over the field on Saturday, so Penn State will have to be aware of where the junior is at all times. Wilton Speight so-so against Colorado, but should have an easier time against a struggling Penn State defense.
I keep looking for reasons to take Penn State in this one, but I just can’t find any. I know the Nittany Lions have Saquon Barkley but I think Michigan shuts him down, which puts all the pressure on quarterback Trace McSorley. That won’t go well. The Wolverines get a big win to open up Big Ten play.
Michigan 45, Penn State 21
No. 20 Nebraska (-7.5) v. Northwestern - 7:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network
Four out of the last five meetings between these two schools have been decided by three points or less. The only meeting that wasn’t came in 2014 in Evanston when Nebraska won 38-17. Why should this meeting be any different than their recent close history?
Nebraska is coming off a 35-32 win over Oregon, so they could be in a spot for a letdown. The Cornhuskers are better on offense and their defense is starting to click, so it makes no sense that this game should be close. Sometimes football makes no sense though. I just get the feeling that Northwestern’s defense will find a way to at least slow down Tommy Armstrong Jr. and company.
After seeing Northwestern in their first two games where they lost to Western Michigan and Illinois State, it makes even less sense that they could keep this game close. The Wildcats rebounded with a 24-13 win against Duke, and quarterback Clayton Thorson was effective not only on the ground, but also through the air. Add in Justin Jackson’s effectiveness at running back and this ends up being the most exciting Big Ten game of the weekend.
Nebraska 28, Northwestern 24