Last week ATS: 5-8 (2-4 National, 3-4 B1G)
Season ATS: 68-82-2 (29-35 National, 39-47-2 B1G)
Picks for five of this week’s most interesting national games, they can be found here.
Michigan State (-1) v. Nebraska: 12:00 PM EST - FOX
This pick would be a lot easier if Michigan State would just announce Rocky Lombardi as their starting quarterback. Instead it sounds like Brian Lewerke will get the nod, and the junior just isn’t getting the job done. Really the only time Michigan State’s offense looked competent last week was when Lombardi was taking the snaps.
Nebraska took little time in shaking off their loss to Ohio State, beating up on Illinois last week 54-35. The problem with the Cornhuskers is that they are still vulnerable against the run. Last week the Fighting Illini was able to roll up over 380 yards on the ground against Nebraska.
Running back Devine Ozigbo has rushed for over 100 yards in five of the last seven games, but he’ll likely have trouble against one of the best rushing defenses in the country. What will help the Cornhuskers in this game is quarterback Adrian Martinez’s ability to throw the football. Michigan State will give Nebraska a test, but the Cornhuskers find a way to get their fourth win in the last five games.
Nebraska 27, Michigan State 24
No. 14 Penn State (-28) v. Rutgers - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network
Somehow Rutgers has found a way to cover their last three games, but their luck is about to run out. Penn State regained some confidence with their win last week over Wisconsin, and now they’ll be able to run up the score against a Rutgers team that doesn’t have much of anything to play for. Miles Sanders has a big day on the ground against the Scarlet Knights, who are giving up 230 yards per game on the ground.
Penn State 45, Rutgers 13
No. 22 Northwestern v. Minnesota (-2) - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network
Who is this Minnesota team that we saw last week? The Golden Gophers were phenomenal in their destruction of Purdue. With last week’s win, now all Minnesota needs to become bowl eligible is a win this week over Northwestern or next week at Wisconsin. Wide receiver Tyler Johnson will crack the 1,000 yard mark on Saturday, as he continues to be the favorite target of whatever Minnesota quarterback ends up starting.
I’m having a hard time figuring out what Northwestern has left to play for the rest of the regular season. Having already clinched the Big Ten West, the Wildcats could be playing for bowl positioning, but I could easily see them taking things a little easier to try and get healthier ahead of the Big Ten Championship Game in two weeks.
The Golden Gophers are a much different team at home, and Northwestern will find that out this week. Quarterback Zack Annexstad is questionable to play in this game, but I have a hard time seeing the Golden Gophers going away from Tanner Morgan under center with how well he has played during Annexstad’s three-game absence. Northwestern doesn’t go down easy, but Minnesota becomes bowl eligible on Saturday.
Minnesota 24, Northwestern 17
Iowa (-14.5) v. Illinois - 3:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network
Something has got to give on Saturday in Champaign. Iowa is allowing less than 100 yards per game on the ground, while Illinois is rolling up over 260 yards per game rushing. The Fighting Illini aren’t very good against bad teams, and they are even worse against teams that have half an idea of what they are doing.
It is a little concerning that the Hawkeyes have lost three straight games, but those three losses have come by a combined 12 points. Iowa takes out a lot of frustrations on an Illinois squad that has one of the worst defenses in the country,
Iowa 41, Illinois 24
Wisconsin v. Purdue (-4) - 3:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network
Earlier in the year this was looking like a battle that could determine the Big Ten West, but these teams have been very disappointing down the stretch. Wisconsin has lost three of their last five, with their two wins during that span coming against Illinois and Rutgers. Despite having running back Jonathan Taylor, who has rushed for 1,548 yards this year, the Badgers haven’t been able to get much done on offense.
It’s almost like the win over Ohio State broke Purdue. Since beating down the Buckeyes, Purdue has lost two of three games, with last week’s blowout loss to Minnesota being especially embarrassing. If the Boilermakers gave up 265 yards on the ground to the Golden Gophers last week, imagine what Taylor and the Badgers might be able to do.
I don’t have much confidence in either team right now, but I feel a Wisconsin win or very close loss is more probable than Purdue winning by more than four points. Purdue needs a win to become bowl eligible, but like last year, they’ll need a win over Indiana in their final game of the regular season to go bowling.
Wisconsin 23, Purdue 20
Indiana v. No. 4 Michigan (-28.5) - 4:00 PM EST - FOX Sports 1
The Hoosiers finally got a close result to go their way last week, beating Maryland 34-32 in Bloomington. Now Indiana is just a win away from bowl eligibility, but unless a miracle happens in Ann Arbor on Saturday, they’ll be needing a win next week against Purdue to make it to six wins.
Michigan has been incredibly dominate over the last month, winning their last three games by a combined score of 105-21. Shea Patterson has been smart with the football this year, throwing just three interceptions, and none over the last four games. Add in their strong running attack and stout defense and it’s easy to see why Michigan is in the thick of the race for a College Football Playoff spot.
I don’t think the that Wolverines will be challenged much this week against the Hoosiers, but they also aren’t going to unleash their full arsenal on Indiana. Jim Harbaugh will want to keep some things under wraps for next week’s huge game against Ohio State. This has the feel of around a 21-point win for Michigan as they close out their home schedule.
Michigan 38, Indiana 17
No. 10 Ohio State (-15.5) v. Maryland - 12:00 PM EST - ABC
Ohio State has dominated Maryland since the Terrapins joined the Big Ten, winning all four meetings by at least 21 points. The last two meetings have been especially lopsided, with the Buckeyes winning by a combined score of 124-17. It’s unlikely to see Ohio State reach 62 points like they have the last two years against Maryland, but they’ll put a healthy amount of points on the board.
Quarterback Dwayne Haskins is just 51 yards away from setting Ohio State’s single-season record for most passing yards in the season and is just two passing touchdowns away from tying J.T. Barrett’s single-season passing touchdown record. Haskins will pass Joe Germaine’s yardage record, and it’s very likely he at least tie Barrett’s record against the Terps.
The Buckeyes have gotten a boost on offense by being able to get their running game going over the past couple of weeks. After J.K. Dobbins ran for 163 yards against Nebraska, Mike Weber cracked the 100-yard mark against Michigan State for the third straight year. The Buckeyes are now 15-0 when either Dobbins or Weber rushes for at least 100 yards.
Maryland is in a world of hurt right now. The Terrapins not only lost a close game to Indiana last week, but they also lost starting quarterback Kasim Hill to a torn ACL for the second straight season. Quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome will take the snaps for the Terrapins this week, but he’ll likely lean on running backs Anthony McFarland and Ty Johnson, if the senior is healthy enough to play.
Ohio State just has too much talent and depth for Maryland to keep pace with the Buckeyes in this one. With next week’s matchup with Michigan on the horizon, Ohio State will want to head into “The Game” with a strong showing. Maryland hasn’t had much success passing the football this year, which will allow Ohio State to focus on stopping the run, which they have been better at lately. Much like the Wolverines, the Buckeyes win by 21 points this week.
Ohio State 45, Maryland 24