Last week ATS: 6-5 (3-2 National, 3-3 B1G)
Season ATS: 40-33-1 (14-11 National, 26-22-1 B1G)
If you missed yesterday’s national picks, you missed my NC State pick. The good news is there are five games left on Saturday to bank on.
No. 4 Penn State (-15.5) v. Northwestern - 12:00 PM EST - ABC
Penn State avoided any sort of letdown last week against Indiana, jumping out to an early lead and never really getting tested by the Hoosiers. It felt like Saquon Barkley scored a touchdown in every possible way last, even throwing a touchdown in the 45-14 victory.
Northwestern didn’t have nearly as much fun as the Nittany Lions last week. The Wildcats were looking good early on against Wisconsin, but the Badgers took over in the second half. Running back Justin Jackson has been inconsistent this year, but Northwestern is going to need him at the top of his game if they have any designs on pulling the upset.
At first I was thinking I was going to go with Penn State to cover here, but there are just too many points on the table to pass up. I could see this playing out a lot like Northwestern’s game last week against Wisconsin. Clayton Thorson can at least throw the football, which will help Northwestern cover in the end.
Penn State 38, Northwestern 28
Illinois v. Iowa (-18.5) - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network
After having a little faith in Illinois last week and the Fighting Illini letting me down, I’m done trusting Lovie Smith’s team. I can’t see Illinois getting anything going, especially against an Iowa team that is going to be angry after two straight losses. This is going to be an absolute destruction of the Fighting Illini by the Hawkeyes.
Iowa 41, Illinois 10
Minnesota v. Purdue (-3) - 3:30 PM EST - ESPN2
If Minnesota can’t even win at home against a Maryland team starting their third-string quarterback, how are they going to beat Purdue? The Golden Gophers looked pretty good early on in the season, but I’m wondering if that was a bit of a mirage after last week’s game against the Terrapins.
Purdue had a week off not only to rebound from their loss to Michigan, but it also allowed David Blough to recover from the shoulder injury he suffered against the Wolverines. The Boilermakers have had some issues against the pass this year, but that shouldn’t matter all that much against a Minnesota team that can’t really throw the football.
Purdue will have a couple suspensions for the first half of the game on defense after targeting calls against Michigan, but I think they will be able to keep Minnesota in check. If this game was in Minneapolis, maybe I’d take the Golden Gophers, but I just can’t see them beating an improved Purdue team on the road — especially after what we saw out of Minnesota last week.
Purdue 31, Minnesota 24
Michigan State v. No. 7 Michigan (-10.5) - 7:30 PM EST - ABC
Had it not been for Michigan State laying an egg against Notre Dame a few weeks ago, this could be a battle of undefeated teams in Ann Arbor. The Spartans were tough last week in a 17-10 win over Iowa, but we still don’t know just how good Michigan State is. Could Iowa have been suffering a hangover from the crushing loss to Penn State the week before, and the Spartans reaped the benefits? Saturday night’s game will be telling of where Michigan State stands.
Michigan will be without Wilton Speight for some time due to an injury, but Michigan fans don’t seem all that broken up that John O’Korn will be taking the snaps at quarterback now. There’s no question Michigan’s defense is one of the best in the country, but can the offense support the defense with some points in a rivalry game?
I’m a little nervous about laying double digits in a rivarly game, but I think Michigan is a tier or two above Michigan State right now. The Wolverines will harass quarterback Brian Lewerke all game long and force him into some turnovers that will give O’Korn some short fields to work with. The Wolverines will end up winning by at least two touchdowns.
Michigan 34, Michigan State 17
No. 9 Wisconsin (-12) v. Nebraska - 8:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network
Nebraska was able to extinguish some of the heat around the football program last week with an easy victory over Illinois. But a win over a terrible Illinois team isn’t going to cure everything, especially not with Wisconsin heading to Lincoln this week, and Ohio State visiting next Saturday.
Wisconsin has had an extremely balanced offense so far this year, passing for 226 yards per game, while running for 233 yards per game. The Badgers will likely be able to pass on the Cornhuskers, but they might not find as much success on the ground. The Wisconsin attack will be bolstered if Troy Fumagalli is able to play this week, after sitting out last week’s game against Northwestern due to injury.
If Nebraska is going to play well in one of the two home contests they have coming up under the lights, my money is on it being this week against Wisconsin and not against Ohio State. Wisconsin’s two trips to Lincoln since joining the Big Ten have been decided by a combined five points, so I’ll grab the points in what should be a contest decided by less than 10 points.
Wisconsin 28, Nebraska 24
Maryland v. #10 Ohio State (-30) - 4:00 PM EST - FOX
Somehow Maryland went to Minnesota last week and pulled out a win over the Golden Gophers with Max Bortenschlager at quarterback. Had Maryland had Tyrrell Pigrome for this game, I could see the Terrapins giving the Buckeyes more of a scare than they actually will this week. Plus, Pigrome is so fun to say, so we’ll miss out on that.
Ohio State continues to improve each week, which is not good news for Maryland. Last week the Buckeyes added a healthy dose of Mike Weber into the running game for the first time this season. We can’t really learn much from the win against Rutgers, since Rutgers is awful, but at least Ohio State did pretty much everything right in the victory.
The quarterback battle is going to be a huge mismatch in this one. Bortenschlager won’t find things to be nearly as easy this week against an Ohio State defense that has given up just 28 points in three games losing to Oklahoma. On the other side, J.T. Barrett continues to gain more confidence in his receivers, particularly Parris Campbell and Johnnie Dixon.
Thirty points is a lot against a Maryland team that does have some pieces in place. The Terrapins don’t have the most important piece right now, which will be the difference. Running back Ty Johnson will break a couple runs this week, but he won’t get any help from the rest of the offense, and once Maryland gets down they’ll have to abandon the running game. This will be another dominating performance from the Buckeyes, where it seems like the biggest question is what quarterback will relieve J.T. Barrett once the Buckeyes are up big.
Ohio State 52, Maryland 17