Last week ATS: 9-8-1 (4-1 National, 5-7-1 B1G)
Season ATS: 18-17-1 (6-4 National, 12-13-1 B1G)
If you weren’t paying attention and missed yesterday’s National picks, you can get them here.
B1G games (All games Saturday unless otherwise noted):
Illinois v. No. 22 South Florida (-17) - Friday 9/15 7:00 PM EST - ESPN
Don’t look now, but Illinois is 2-0! The rest of the Big Ten West should be on notice! Alright, maybe we are putting the cart before the horse here. Last week the Fighting Illini defense showed some improvement, holding Western Kentucky to just a touchdown in the 20-7 win.
If South Florida wants to be this year’s Group of Five darling, they desperately need this win against Illinois, the only Power Five school on their schedule. Quarterback Quinton Flowers has been a monster the past two years for the Bulls, and has started his senior season just as strong, throwing for four touchdowns and rushing for another.
South Florida has been prone to slow starts so far this year, and they actually tried San Jose State 16-0 early on in the season opener. Illinois will lose because Lovie Smith has plenty of experience losing in Tampa Bay as a head coach, but the Illinois defense is able to hold Flowers in check just enough to keep the score inside the number.
South Florida 34, Illinois 20
Air Force v. No. 7 Michigan (-24) - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network
Michigan may have won last week, but they looked like they were just going through the motions for most of the game. Ty Issac has been a bright spot on offense for Michigan, rushing for 247 yards through two games, but there hasn’t been much else that has stood out for the Wolverines on that side of the football. The defense is another story, as it has been stout through two games.
One thing is for sure in this game, Troy Calhoun will have the Falcons ready to play. In 2012 Air Force came to Michigan Stadium and gave the Wolverines a game, losing 31-25. While the Falcons won’t find their usual success on the ground, they’ll at least be able to chew up some clock and keep it somewhat close.
Michigan 33, Air Force 17
Northern Illinois v. Nebraska (-14) - 12:00 PM EST - FS1
At least Nebraska didn’t get mauled in Eugene last weekend like I thought they would. Despite falling behind early, the Cornhuskers showed some fight against a tough opponent in a hostile environment, which should help them when they step into Big Ten play.
Nebraska can’t start turning their attention to conference play just yet though, as they’ll host Northern Illinois on Saturday. Luckily for the Cornhuskers, this isn’t quite the Huskies squad of years past that might have Nebraska on upset alert. The Huskies did put a scare into Boston College earlier this year, but I can’t think of anything that doesn’t scare Boston College.
Nebraska’s defense has left a lot to be desired so far this year, but I feel like they’ll come out strong on Saturday. Tanner Lee will throw a few touchdowns, and Tre Bryant will rush for a couple more as the Cornhuskers put together four quarters of solid football.
Nebraska 38, Northern Illinois 20
No. 10 Wisconsin (-16.5) v. BYU - 3:30 PM EST - ABC
Wisconsin might have found their next star at running back just two games into the season. True freshman Jonathan Taylor took advantage of more playing time last week with Bradrick Shaw injured, and rushed for 223 yards and three touchdowns in the 31-14 win over Florida Atlantic. Taylor is just the fourth true freshman in Wisconsin history to rush for at least 200 yards in a game.
BYU has had a real tough start to the season. Not only did the Cougars struggled against Portland State in the season opener, and fail to cross midfield against LSU, but last week they not only lost to hated rival Utah, but they also lost quarterback Tanner Mangum to injury. I’m not sure there’s much left to go wrong in Provo.
I really hate giving this many points at LaVell Edwards Stadium, but these teams are just heading in opposite directions right now. If Mangum was available to play, I’d likely take the points, but I just think Wisconsin runs the ball right at BYU and eventually wears the Cougars down.
Wisconsin 35, BYU 17
Middle Tennessee State v. Minnesota (-9) - 3:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network
It wouldn’t be wise to sleep on Middle Tennessee State. The Blue Raiders just beat Syracuse last week, and last year actually went to Missouri and beat the Tigers. These two schools played in 2014, with Minnesota winning 35-24 in Minneapolis. Watch out for quarterback Brent Stockstill to make a few plays, as not only is he the son of head coach Rick Stockstill, but he has been the quarterback in Murfreesboro for about 14 years.
After a very uninspiring win in the season opener against Buffalo, Minnesota went out to Corvallis last week and took it to Oregon State. The Golden Gophers look to have found their next quarterback in Conor Rhoda, but he shouldn’t have to do much besides hand the football off to Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks.
Middle Tennessee State has played some tough competition to start the year, so they’ll be tested. It just feels like too many points for Minnesota to be laying to a team experienced at pulling upsets.
Minnesota 30, Middle Tennessee State 23
North Texas v. Iowa (-21.5) - 3:30 PM EST - ESPN2
There’s always no question that a hefty hangover follows El Assico, but just how bad will it be for Iowa? Luckily the Hawkeyes don’t have too much heavy lifting to do on Saturday against North Texas. Quarterback Nathan Stanley has been one of the better quarterbacks in the country so far this year, throwing eight touchdowns through two games.
This has the feelings of a trap game for Iowa after last week’s game against their rival, and next week the Hawkeyes host Penn State under the lights in Iowa City. North Texas can move the football a bit, which will help the Mean Green stay within shouting distance of the Hawkeyes.
Iowa 38, North Texas 24
Purdue v. Missouri (-7) - 4:00 PM EST - SEC Network
Purdue is actually fun again! Who would’ve guessed it? Jeff Brohm already has this Purdue offense flying, which could lead to some interesting games for Purdue in Big Ten play. David Blough only misfired on two of his 13 passes against Ohio, and threw for three touchdowns in the easy win.
Missouri fell back to earth a bit last week in a 31-13 loss to South Carolina. In the season opener against Missouri State, the Tigers threw 72 points up on the board, and they might need another big output if they want to pull out the win in Columbia. Blough and Missouri quarterback Drew Lock have a fun shootout on Saturday, with the Boilermakers getting another solid win.
Purdue 41, Missouri 38
Georgia State v. No. 5 Penn State (-37.5) - 7:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network
Georgia State lost to Tennessee State at home in the first week of the season. If the Panthers can’t even win a game like that, how are they gonna keep things somewhat close in Happy Valley. The Trace McSorley, Saquon Barkley, and the rest of the Nittany Lions put forward a big performance ahead of next week’s trip to Iowa.
Penn State 55, Georgia State 10
Bowling Green v. Northwestern (-21.5) - 7:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network
Bowling Green will be trying to avoid their second loss of the year to a Big Ten team, while Northwestern is looking for anything to go right after getting destroyed by Duke last week. As bad as the Wildcats looked last week, at least they didn’t lose to South Dakota, like Bowling Green did.
I thought Bowling Green was going to be better this year than they have been, yet again proving I know nothing. I’m sure Pat Fitzgerald ripped into his team all week after the loss to Duke, and they come out ready to play on Saturday night.
Northwestern 45, Bowling Green 17
Army v. No. 8 Ohio State (-30) - 4:30 PM EST - FOX
If there was ever a game for the Ohio State offense to get back on track and gain some much needed confidence, this is that game. The Buckeye secondary should at least be able to improve on their stats, which currently have them last in the country after Richard Lagow and Baker Mayfield have dissected the Ohio State secondary. Army is averaging 8.5 yards passing per game through two games, so it’s safe to say the Buckeyes will have to focus their attention to the ground and Army’s wishbone offense.
While Ohio State’s secondary is looking for some confidence, so are J.T. Barrett and the Buckeye wide receivers. Criticism started of Barrett and his receivers during the loss to Oklahoma, and has only gotten worse since. What Ohio State needs to do in this game is use running back J.K. Dobbins to set up the pass and try and make things a little easier for the receivers. Against Oklahoma, Ohio State abandoned the run, which put even more pressure on Barrett and his wideouts to make plays, especially when the Buckeyes fell further and further behind.
I just can’t stop thinking about 2014 when it comes to this Ohio State team. The Buckeyes start the year on the road, lose their home opener under the lights, and then rebound after the loss by throttling a lesser opponent. So far the 2017 Buckeyes have two of those three steps down, and I think Ohio State really lays it to Army tomorrow. Now it still remains to be seen if the 2017 ends the same way as the 2014 season, but I wouldn’t put it past Urban Meyer and Kevin Wilson to make the correct adjustments.
Ohio State 48, Army 13