Last week ATS: 3-8 (2-3 National, 1-5 B1G)
Season ATS: 55-52-2 (22-20 National, 33-32-2 B1G)
Penn State-Ohio State isn’t the only game between ranked teams this weekend, as three more are on tap nationally on Saturday. You can find my picks for those games and three other intriguing national games here.
No. 5 Wisconsin (-26) v. Illinois - 12:00 PM EST - ESPN
Illinois was able to at least keep last week’s game against Minnesota close until giving up two touchdowns late, but Wisconsin is no Minnesota. The Badgers are going to run all over the Fighting Illini. Jonathan Taylor adds to his tremendous freshman year as the Badgers stay undefeated with a easy win over Illinois.
Wisconsin 54, Illinois 14
Rutgers v. Michigan (-24) - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network
How things have changed in just over a year. In early October 2016, Michigan laid a 78-burger on the Scarlet Knights in Piscataway. Now the Scarlet Knights have actually won two games in a row, while Michigan is completely lost.
Last week the Scarlet Knights gutted out a 14-12 win over Purdue, surviving a two-point conversion attempt from the Boilermakers late in the game. Rutgers still can’t do much on offense, and that won’t change against the Wolverines. Where Rutgers will need to find their points is by forcing John O’Korn into some turnovers that the Scarlet Knights can turn into points.
Can Michigan even score 24 points? Right about now I’m not all that sure they can. Take away the Ohio State game, and the only team that has scored at least 30 points against the Scarlet Knights has been Washington. Rutgers isn’t going to win, but they at least show some fight against a struggling Michigan team.
Michigan 27, Rutgers 14
No. 16 Michigan State (-2) v. Northwestern - 3:30 PM EST - ESPN
After last week I pretty much want to pick against Michigan State every week. I took Indiana as a touchdown underdog to the Spartans and all was looking good with the Hoosiers clinging to a 9-3 lead in the fourth quarter. Then the Spartans come out of nowhere to score two touchdowns in the last six minutes to cover the spread.
Northwestern earned their second win a row last week, outlasting Iowa 17-10 in overtime. I honestly have no idea what to think about Northwestern. They really haven’t done anything noteworthy this year. A couple wins here, a couple rather lopsided losses there. Just blah.
At what point is Michigan State’s luck going to run out? The Spartans have won four games in a row, all but eight points or less. I think Michigan State extends their winning streak to five before falling next week to Penn State. Even though I’m not crazy about taking the Spartans on the road here, I do like them at essentially a coin flip.
Michigan State 21, Northwestern 17
Indiana (-4) v. Maryland - 3:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network
Indiana squandered a golden opportunity to inject some excitement into the second half of their season last week when they blew a fourth quarter lead to Michigan State in East Lansing. Now the Hoosiers hit the road again, and will see if Peyton Ramsey can make some noise against a suspect Maryland defense.
On offense the Terrapins do have some pieces in running back Ty Johnson and wide receivers Taivon Jacobs and D.J. Moore. It’s just a shame they couldn’t stay healthy at quarterback, or they could have made a little more noise in the Big Ten.
After a couple of close losses, Indiana puts together a more complete performance Saturday against the Terrapins. The defense will carry the Hoosiers early on and eventually wear a beaten up Maryland team down. Indiana will return to Bloomington for next week’s game with Wisconsin with a little pep in their step.
Indiana 33, Maryland 20
Minnesota v. Iowa (-7.5) - 6:30 PM EST - FS1
Neither of these teams are very fun to watch right now. Minnesota slogged through a 24-17 win over Illinois last week, snapping a three-game losing streak. The Golden Gophers have issues at quarterback, with Demry Croft only completing five of his 15 passes last week. Luckily, Minnesota had Kobe McCrary and Rodney Smith to shoulder the load, combining for 256 yards on the ground.
Iowa is in just as rough a shape as Minnesota, with the Hawkeyes having lost three of their last four games. The Hawkeyes should be better on offense with quarterback Nathan Stanley and running back Akrum Wadley, but something just isn’t clicking. It’s like the loss to Penn State totally derailed the season for the Hawkeyes.
With both teams looking terrible of late, I just can’t bring myself to give a touchdown and the hook. Iowa wins in a game that is close all the way and doesn’t feature a whole lot of scoring.
Iowa 17, Minnesota 14
Nebraska v. Purdue (-5.5) - 7:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network
For as terrible as they have played this year, Nebraska is somehow still tied for second in the Big Ten West. The Cornhuskers got a much needed bye last week after getting housed in Lincoln by Ohio State. At least Nebraska saw something from redshirt freshman wide receiver J.D. Spielman, who is the nephew of Chris Spielman.
Things were looking good early on in the season for Purdue, but lately it has gotten dark for the Boilermakers. Last week Purdue fell to Rutgers 14-12, and now the Boilermakers have to find three wins in their last five games to become bowl eligible. The quarterback position is a bit of a mess right now, with neither Elijah Sindelar or David Blough performing well on a consistent basis.
Aside from Northern Illinois, Nebraska is at least beating teams they should beat on their schedule. Purdue is better with Jeff Brohm as their head coach, but I’m wondering if they came out of the gates a little too hot. There hasn’t been nearly as much excitement on offense lately for the Boilermakers. I trust Tanner Lee and what Nebraska has on offense to move the football a little more than I trust Purdue right now.
Nebraska 31, Purdue 27
No. 2 Penn State v. No. 6 Ohio State (-6) - 3:30 PM EST - FOX
Say goodbye to the cupcakes, Ohio State is playing a real football team. The Buckeyes are in the midst of their best offensive stretch in school history, racking up at least 500 yards in each of the last five games. It’ll be tough for Ohio State to extend that streak though, as Penn State is the nation’s leading scoring defense, only allowing 9.6 points per game.
Much like Ohio State, who has Penn State really played lately? Sure, Michigan is tough on defense but their offense is non-existent. A win under the lights at Iowa is nice, but since Penn State won in Iowa City the Hawkeyes have fallen off the map. The only thing we truly know about the Nittany Lions is that Saquon Barkley is really, really good.
I’m not expecting Ohio State to completely shut Barkley down, but I do think they are more likely to slow down the running back than Penn State is likely to shut down Buckeye running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber. The Ohio State running game will open up some holes in the improved Buckeye passing game which J.T. Barrett will exploit. The senior quarterback will break the tie with Drew Brees for most passing touchdowns in Big Ten history.
Unlike earlier this year when the Buckeyes laid an egg against Oklahoma, Urban Meyer will have his team ready to play. I’d love to see Ohio State blow Penn State out but I know the Nittany Lions are going to give the Buckeyes a tough game. I could see this game being within a touchdown for two or three quarters but by the end the Buckeyes end up winning by double digits.
Ohio State 34, Penn State 24