Last week ATS: 5-6-1 (2-3 National, 3-3-1 B1G)
Season ATS: 63-74-2 (27-31 National, 36-43-2 B1G)
Not a whole lot of excitement to report from last week’s B1G picks. We didn’t gain any ground, but we also didn’t lose any ground.
If you missed MC&J’s national game picks for this week, you can find predictions for six of this weekend’s most intriguing games here.
Wisconsin v. No. 20 Penn State (-9) - 12:00 PM EST - ABC
At the beginning of the year this matchup was looking like it could be a pretty important one, but Wisconsin and Penn State haven’t quite lived up to expectations this year. What has happened to Wisconsin has been especially surprising, as aside from running back Jonathan Taylor, the Badgers have looked pretty lifeless. Wisconsin’s season got even worse this week when it was announced defensive tackle Olive Sagapolu was lost for the rest of the season.
Penn State’s season hasn’t fared much better. After losses to Ohio State and Michigan State, the Nittany Lions had won two games in a row, but it all came crashing back down when they were destroyed by Michigan last week. Trace McSorley is banged up, but really who in the Big Ten isn’t in November?
I’m not really impressed by either team right now, so when in doubt take the points. After seeing what Michigan did to Penn State on the ground last week, Taylor has to be excited to try and add to the woes of the Nittany Lions. Penn State regroups from last week’s lost, but this feels like a game that ends up being close throughout.
Penn State 24, Wisconsin 21
Illinois v, Nebraska (-17) - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network
Illinois doesn’t do a lot right, but one area they’ve shown significant improvement in is their ability to run the football. Last week the Fighting Illini rushed for 430 yards against Minnesota, with Reggie Corbin racking up 213 of those yards. The problem is the Illinois defense is giving up over 500 yards per game.
Nebraska had a great shot at upsetting Ohio State last week, but the Cornhuskers fell just short of their third win of the season. Quarterback Adrian Martinez was impressive, accounting for over 300 yards of offense. Much like Illinois, defense is the root of a lot of Nebraska’s problems.
After giving up 229 yards on the ground to Ohio State, Illinois could see a lot of the same success against the Nebraska defense. I’m confident the Cornhuskers make it three wins in four games, but Illinois at least bleeds some of the clock with their rushing attack and keeps the score respectable.
Nebraska 41, Illinois 28
Maryland v. Indiana (-1.5) - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network
Ohio State broke Indiana. After entering the game against the Buckeyes 4-1, the Hoosiers have lost four straight games. The last two losses have been especially tough for Indiana, falling to Penn State and Minnesota by a combined 12 points. The Hoosiers had a bye last week to try and figure out how to put the pieces back together, but they have their backs against the wall if they want to avoid missing out on the bowl season for a second year in a row.
Even though Indiana has been bad over the last month, I’m avoid Maryland at all costs. The Terrapins have to be exhausted after everything that has gone on with the football program, and last week Maryland was only able to muster 100 yards of offense against Michigan State. I’m having a hard time seeing them staying within a field goal of the Hoosiers in this game.
Indiana 31, Maryland 21
No. 4 Michigan (-39.5) v. Rutgers - 3:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network
You kids wanna see a dead body? It won’t be quite the 78-0 beatdown that Michigan put on Rutgers in Piscataway two years ago, but the Wolverines should win this by at least 50 points.
Michigan 58, Rutgers 7
Purdue (-11.5) v. Minnesota - 3:30 PM EST - ESPN2
If Minnesota just gave up 55 points to Illinois, imagine what Purdue should be able due to the Golden Gophers. The Boilermakers rebound last week from their loss to Michigan State by outlasting Iowa 38-36 in West Lafayette. David Blough had a bounce back game, throwing for 333 yards and four touchdowns against the Hawkeyes.
After missing the last few games due to injury, there is talk Zack Annexstad could return and split snaps with Tanner Morgan. At least right now I don’t know if that’s the right move since Morgan hasn’t been playing that bad, but it’s not like Minnesota has much to lose. No matter what Minnesota decides to do, I just don’t think they have the horse to keep up with Purdue.
Purdue 44, Minnesota 24
Northwestern v. No. 21 Iowa (-10.5) - 3:30 PM EST - FOX
The good news for Northwestern is in the grand scheme of things, last week’s loss to Notre Dame didn’t hurt them all that much. Yes, it would have been nice to ruin the undefeated season of the Fighting Irish, but the Wildcats still control their own destiny in the Big Ten West. Northwestern is still having issues running the football, but even teams whose rushing attack has a pulse have a tough time accomplishing anything on the ground against Iowa at Kinnick.
There’s no place like home. After two straight losses on the road, Iowa need a home game to try and restore some of their confidence in the worst way. The Hawkeyes know a loss to Northwestern on Saturday would be the final nail in the coffin in their slim hopes of winning the Big Ten West.
After Northwestern has beaten the Hawkeyes by seven points in each of the last two years, the Hawkeyes get a bit of revenge with a win on Saturday in Iowa City. For as weird as the Big Ten West has been this year, don’t be surprised if this game comes down to the wire.
Iowa 27. Northwestern 20
No. 10 Ohio State (-4) v. No. 18 Michigan State - 12:00 PM EST - FOX
No matter if it is in Columbus or East Lansing, whenever I see Michigan State on the schedule I cringe. Aside from last year’s 48-3 obliteration of the Spartans by the Buckeyes, Michigan State normally finds a way to frustrate the hell out of Ohio State. Mark Dantonio is the only Big Ten coach to beat Urban Meyer twice since Meyer joined the conference in 2012. Ohio State teams under Meyer have won all three games in East Lansing, but those games have been decided by a combined 14 points.
Last week Ohio State was able to channel some of their magic on the ground of years past, rushing for 229 yards against Nebraska. J.K. Dobbins had his best performance of the year, racking up 163 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. It will be hard to build off that performance this week though, as Michigan State enters the game with the best rushing defense in the country.
The Buckeyes are still struggling to find success on defense, but they could gain some confidence against a Michigan State offense that has been ravaged by injuries this year. Leading wide receiver Felton Davis III is out for the year with an achilles injury, while Cody White is just coming back from a broken hand. Connor Heyward gave Michigan State’s rushing game a boost last week against Maryland, but for the most part the ground game of the Spartans has been largely ineffective.
Brian Lewerke returned last week after missing the Purdue game, but the Spartans might be better suited to start Rocky Lombardi, who threw for over 300 yards against the Boilermakers. Lewerke was just 11-20 for 87 yards in last week’s win. I feel like Lombardi could have better luck exploiting Ohio State’s suspect defense.
For most quarterbacks, competing 18 of 32 passes for 252 yards and two touchdowns would be a pretty good day, but Dwayne Haskins isn’t most quarterback. Haskins looked off for most of the day against the Cornhuskers, and now he has to try and regroup against a solid Michigan State pass defense. Even without Austin Mack, Haskins has plenty of talented receivers to spread the football around to, and in the end I think Ohio State’s depth at receiver wears on the Spartans.
If this line was more than a touchdown, I would likely be on the side of Michigan State, but I think the Buckeyes can manage this line. The Buckeyes aren’t playing sharp football right now, but this feels like a game Urban Meyer has his team ready for. Ohio State knows their backs are against the wall if they want to make the College Football Playoff and they get the job done and win by a touchdown.
Ohio State 30, Michigan State 23