Last week ATS: 9-3 (4-2 National, 5-1 B1G)
Season ATS: 39-52 (14-22 National, 25-30 B1G)
Had it not been for Michigan State laying an egg last week against Northwestern, MC&J would have been perfect on our Big Ten picks. There were a couple of games that made us sweat a little bit, as Indiana and Nebraska both hung on as heavy underdogs to cover, but the week as a whole was a step in the right direction.
If you missed yesterday’s national game picks for the week, check out which five games we are keying on for Saturday here.
Rutgers v. Maryland (-24) - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network
How bad is Rutgers? They are so bad that they are making Maryland look appetizing as a four touchdown favorite. At least the Terrapins have a little bit of a pulse, as they are working their way towards bowl eligibility. Rutgers quarterback Artur Sitkowski is a turnover machine, so I’ll bank on Maryland to put a whooping on the Scarlet Knights similar to what they did to Minnesota last month.
Maryland 45, Rutgers 10
Iowa (-5.5) v. Indiana - 12:00 PM EST - ESPN2
Ohio State fans saw last week that Indiana is no pushover. Quarterback Peyton Ramsey can sling the football and has some weapons at his disposal, and the Hoosiers could be even more dangerous if wide receivers Whop Philyor and Luke Timian return from injury. Indiana will need all they can get from the passing game, since they likely won’t be able to make much happen on the ground against a Iowa team that is only allowing 84 yards per game rushing.
The Hawkeyes had an offensive explosion last week against Minnesota, scoring 48 points on their way to winning the magical piggy that the two teams battle for. The Iowa pass defense did show some holes, which Indiana is a little more well-equipped to take advantage of than the Golden Gophers were.
Iowa is playing their second road game in a row, and I’m not the biggest fan of backing teams in that situation. I’m sure since I am showing a little faith in the Hoosiers that the Hawkeyes will end up blowing them out of the water, but I keep seeing this game going down to the wire.
Iowa 30, Indiana 27
Nebraska v. Northwestern (-5) - 12:00 PM EST - ABC
I’m not exactly sure how Northwestern is doing it, but they are playing better football since running back Jeremy Larkin’s football career was ended due to a spinal condition. The Wildcats are certainly feeling Larkin’s absence in the running game though, as they rushed for just eight yards last week. Luckily Northwestern has the veteran arm of Clayton Thorson to lean on.
The lone bright spot this year for Scott Frost’s Nebraska team has to be quarterback Adrian Martinez. The freshman accounted for over 400 total yards last week against Wisconsin. The bad news for Nebraska is that they are still looking for their first win on the season, but at least they do have some winnable games coming up.
Just one game after I said that I don’t like backing teams playing their second road game in a row, I’m going against myself. This is a little different situation since the Cornhuskers are extremely hungry to get Frost his first win as Nebraska’s head coach. The Wildcats are too one-dimensional for me to have any faith that they’ll put any sort of distance on Nebraska. I could definitely see the Cornhuskers winning, but even if they don’t they’ll put up their best effort of the season.
Nebraska 28, Northwestern 24
Michigan State v. No. 8 Penn State (-14) - 3:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network
I’ve officially jumped off the Michigan State train. I thought the Spartans might start putting things together and start showing that they belonged near the top of the Big Ten, but they have burned me the last two weeks. Last week’s loss to Northwestern was all I needed to swear off the Spartans until they show me they can compete.
Things are going to get worse before they get better for Sparty, as they’ll be taking on a Penn State team that has had some extra time to chew on their loss to Ohio State. Quarterback Trace McSorley might not get nearly as much on the ground this week against Michigan State’s stout rush defense, but he should be able to exploit a pass defense that is allowing over 300 yards per game.
Brian Lewerke has thrown at least one interception in every game this year, and I could see him throwing a couple more picks against the Nittany Lions. After losing to the Buckeyes, Penn State is going to have to put up some big performances to state their case for the College Football Playoff. I see that march starting with a pretty easy win against a lost Michigan State squad.
Penn State 38, Michigan State 17
Purdue (-10) v. Illinois - 3:30 PM EST - FS1
The Fighting Illini have to have a little bit of confidence after the way that they have played of late. Sure, a win against Rutgers doesn’t really prove much of anything, but at least Illinois was able to snap their streak of futility on the road in the Big Ten. It also can’t hurt the psyche of the Fighting Illini that they played Penn State tough for three quarters a few weeks ago.
After starting the season 0-3, Purdue has put together two good performances, and last week had a bye to relax a little bit. The Boilermakers seemed to have found something with David Blough at quarterback, but Rondale Moore could pretty much make anyone look good.
This feels like a few too many points for the Boilermakers to be laying on the road. With Ohio State on deck next week in West Lafayette, this could be a spot where Purdue is looking ahead. Illinois is tougher at home and they keep things within a touchdown on Saturday in Champaign.
Purdue 38, Illinois 31
No. 15 Wisconsin v. No. 12 Michigan (-9) - 7:30 PM EST - ABC
It’s time to see if the rebound by Wisconsin after a loss early in the season to BYU is for real. The Badgers won a tough road contest against Iowa a few weeks ago, and last week they weren’t really threatened by Nebraska. Jonathan Taylor registered his second 200-yard rushing game of the season, rolling up 221 yards against the Cornhuskers.
It would be nice if we could get a little more consistency from quarterback Shea Patterson, that way it would make figuring out Michigan a little easier. The Wolverines have been inconsistent this year, but they’ll definitely be amped for a rare game under the lights in Ann Arbor.
Michigan hasn’t covered two weeks in a row so far this year, but at some point that trend has to end. I’m banking on the Wolverines putting together a complete performance on Saturday night. As long as Michigan can keep Taylor in check with their strong rush defense, I can’t see Wisconsin having much of a chance in this game.
Michigan 27, Wisconsin 14
Minnesota v. No. 3 Ohio State (-30) - 12:00 PM EST - FS1
Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck is doing the best with what he has got, but he doesn’t have very much right now. Fleck’s Minnesota team has over 50 freshmen on their 112-man roster, and his veterans are all getting injured. Not only are the Golden Gophers without the services of running backs Shannon Brooks and Rodney Smith, but they lost cornerback Antoine Winfield Jr. a couple weeks ago.
The first half last week left plenty to be desired by the Ohio State defense, but they showed that they were light years better in the second half with the return of safety Isaiah Pryor following his targeting suspension that carried over from the second half of the Penn State game. It should be fun to see the Ohio State defensive linemen go up against Minnesota’s 400-pound freshman tackle from Australia, who will be making the first start of his career.
What more can you say about Dwayne Haskins? The sophomore quarterback keeps stockpiling touchdown passes. Haskins tied an Ohio State single-game record with six last week, and now leads the country with 25 on the season. At this rate, Haskins will hold Ohio State’s single season record before the calendar turns to November.
Last week, Ohio State played a pretty terrible first half defensively, and they still almost covered against Indiana. The Buckeyes won’t have the hangover from the Penn State game to deal with this week, which is bad news for Minnesota. Ohio State will harass walk-on quarterback Zack Annexstad all game long, forcing some turnovers to build off of last week’s defensive performance in the second half. The Buckeyes look sharp before hitting the road to take on Purdue next week.
Ohio State 56, Minnesota 14