Looking for the picks of this week’s big national games? You can find them here.
Last week ATS: 4-9 (2-4 National, 2-5 B1G)
Season ATS: 27-34-1 (11-14 National, 16-20-1 B1G)
Northwestern v. Iowa (-13) - 12:00 PM EST - ESPNU
This game feels like it’ll be first one to 13 points wins. Last week Northwestern only scored 13 points in a loss to Nebraska, while Iowa somehow only managed to score 14 points against Rutgers. Northwestern running back Justin Jackson needs just 56 to become the fourth running back in school history to rush for 3,000 yards.
Not only did Iowa struggle against Rutgers last week, but they lost wide receiver Matt VandeBerg to injury. The Hawkeyes still have a strong defense that could help pick up the slack and lead them to victory even when their offense isn’t clicking.
I’m sure now that I’m going to take Northwestern here that Iowa will blowout the Wildcats last last year when the Hawkeyes won 40-10. I think this is just a few too many points for two teams that are struggling to find their identity right now. Even though the Wildcats won’t win, they at least keep it within the number.
Iowa 27, Northwestern 17
No. 8 Wisconsin v. No. 4 Michigan (-10.5) - 3:30 PM EST - ABC
Is this where the clock hits midnight for the Badgers and they remember they are a so-so Wisconsin team? I think this might finally be the week. I picked LSU in the first week of the season and Michigan State last week to knock off the Badgers and I certainly was wrong on both of those. Not only is Wisconsin dealing with some injuries heading into this one, but they’ll also be starting a freshman quarterback at Michigan Stadium. Not a recipe for success.
Michigan has lost 11 straight games against top-10 opponents, but that’s a streak they should be able to end this week. The Wolverines battered Penn State last week, rushing for 326 yards and six touchdowns in the 49-10 win. They’ll have a little more trouble solving the tough Wisconsin defense, but I’m confident it’s something they’ll be able to do.
I’ll probably pay a third time for doubting Wisconsin in this one, but it’s not like I have much success when I pick them to cover either. The Michigan defense faces Alex Hornibrook into some mistakes and puts the Badgers in an early hole that they just don’t have to offense to dig themselves out of.
Michigan 30, Wisconsin 17
Purdue v. Maryland (-10.5) - 3:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network
If Purdue wins, head coach Darrell Hazell will accomplish something that he has yet to during his time with the Boilermakers. Win back-to-back games. The Boilermakers rallied after falling behind Nevada last week to give Hazell his eight career win at the school. David Blough continued his strong play this year, throwing for 300 yards and two touchdowns.
After being a turnover machine last year, Maryland hasn’t committed a turnover through three games. Because of that, the Terrapins are halfway to bowl eligibility. Maryland has scored 123 points through their three games, and they should be able to put up a big number against a Purdue defense that isn’t very good.
While Purdue has a few pieces on offense that have came into their own this year, Maryland will just have too much in this one. D.J. Durkin stays undefeated as the Terrapins win by at least two touchdowns.
Maryland 38, Purdue 21
Illinois v. No. 15 Nebraska (-21) - 3:30 PM EST - ESPN2
The Fighting Illini had an extra week to stew over their loss to Western Michigan, and now they have a tough road test against an undefeated Nebraska team. Lovie Smith certainly has his work cut out with him with Illinois, and it’s likely that things will get worse before they get better this season. The Fighting Illini defense has been really bad this year, allowing nearly 500 yards on the ground over the past two games.
Mike Riley and the Cornhuskers have to be licking their chops when watching tape of the Fighting Illini defense. Last week Nebraska was able to rack up 556 yards of total offense over Northwestern, and they should have at least that this week. The only puzzling thing about that number is Nebraska was only able to score 24 points despite the high yardage output.
I think Nebraska will have no problems with Illinois in this one, but I keep seeing the Fighting Illini getting some late points to get the backdoor cover. If this spread was a few points lower I would probably take Nebraska, but at three touchdowns I’m not as optimistic.
Nebraska 42, Illinois 24
Minnesota v. Penn State (-3) - 3:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network
The Golden Gophers could be sneaky good this year in the Big Ten. While I don’t see them winning the Big Ten Championship Game or anything like that, they could mess around and win eight or nine games. Quarterback Mitch Leidner has been solid, and the running game has not only been effective, but also got last year’s leading rusher Shannon Brooks back last week.
I’m not sure if Penn State actually has any linebackers left for this game. Between injuries and suspension, the Nittany Lions might have to bring somebody out of the crowd to patrol the defense. Not a good thing heading into a matchup with a team that is running the ball so effectively.
Something just isn’t right at Penn State right now, and I think that continues into Saturday’s game. While Minnesota won’t be able to stop Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley as well as Michigan did, they’ll still be able to slow them down enough to earn the victory.
Minnesota 31, Penn State 28
No. 17 Michigan State (-7) v. Indiana - 8:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network
Who saw the Spartans getting punished by Wisconsin last week? It would say it made no sense after seeing what Michigan State did to Notre Dame, but we also saw last week that the Fighting Irish are pretty bad. One of the reasons the Spartan defense looked so bad against Wisconsin was because they were missing linebacker Riley Bullough.
Speaking of bad performances, Indiana lost at home to Wake Forest last week. No really, that was a thing that happened. It was a vintage Hoosier performance where they threw for about a billion yards and still weren’t able to win. JUCO transfer Richard Lagow has been solid for Indiana this year, and could find some holes against a beaten up Michigan State defense.
I’m torn on how this game is going to play out. I truly could see Michigan State coming out and making up for last week’s dud, but I also sort of like Indiana at home under the lights. I’m gonna bank on the loss to the Badgers last week being the start of a few losses this season for the Spartans, while maybe Wake Forest isn’t as bad as they have been in the past few years.
Indiana 35, Michigan State 31
Rutgers v. No. 2 Ohio State (-39) - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network
Ohio State gets back to work after they had a week off following their win against Oklahoma. The extra week to prepare isn’t good news for Rutgers, since Urban Meyer is 44-3 with more than a week to prepare for his opponent. Not like it likely will matter if Ohio State had to prepare last week, since they are only playing Rutgers.
It isn’t like Chris Ash is doing a bad job at Rutgers, since it is going to take quite some time for Ash to get things turned around. Add to the difficulty on Saturday, the Scarlet Knights will be without Janarion Grant, who will miss the rest of the season due to injury. Really Grant was Rutgers only source of consistent offense this year.
Ohio State won’t have any problems putting points on the board against the Scarlet Knights, since the Buckeyes have so many weapons. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Mike Weber have his first real big game after he has gone for 351 yards in his first three games as starting running back. Add in all that Curtis Samuel can do, along with the emergence of Noah Brown, and the Buckeyes should score at least 45 points for the fourth straight game.
Urban Meyer has to be a little torn on what to do in this one. While I’m sure he doesn’t want to beat up too bad on his former assistant, he also has former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano as his co-defensive coordinator, and I’m sure Schiano is going to want his defense to get after it. The Buckeyes come into this one ready to go, which sometimes can be a problem after the bye week and have get a big win in their Big Ten opener.
Ohio State 58, Rutgers 17