Last week ATS: 9-8 (3-2 National, 6-6 B1G)
Season ATS: 17-19 (6-6 National, 11-13 B1G)
Saturday’s action gets started with a number of underdogs, but MC&J’s action gets chalkier as the day moves along. With any luck, our B1G season record will to the plus side of .500 by the time Saturday is over.
Kent State v. No. 11 Penn State (-35) - 12:00 PM EST - FS1
Penn State straight up embarrassed Pitt last week. Trace McSorley threw a touchdown pass for the 30th straight game, as the Nittany Lions hung 51 on their most hated rival. Now Penn State meets Kent State for the sixth time, outscoring the Golden Flashes 144-29 in their previous five meetings.
This will be the second Big Ten team that Kent State plays this year, losing to Illinois 31-14 in their season opener. Auburn transfer Woody Barrett has been serviceable at quarterback so far, as Kent State transitions to a more up-tempo offense.
Penn State will win comfortably, but Kent State won’t let this game get too far out of hand. The Nittany Lions have a bit of a shorter week coming up, having to hit the road to play Illinois on Friday night. The Golden Flashes find a couple of touchdowns against a Penn State defense that got torched by Appalachian State just a few weeks ago.
Penn State 45, Kent State 14
Troy v. Nebraska (-11) - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network
Oh, hello Adrian Martinez. The first true freshman to start an opener for Nebraska put together a tremendous debut, passing for 187 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 117 yards and two touchdowns before leaving with an injury. Running back Greg Bell joined Martinez in hitting the 100 yard mark on the ground, but the Cornhuskers lost their first game in school history when they’ve had two players rush for over 100 yards.
Nebraska head coach Scott Frost has said that they likely won’t know if Martinez can go on Saturday until pregame warmups.
However, Troy got destroyed by Boise State to open the season, but I think the Trojans are better than that performance. Nebraska avoids their first 0-2 start since 1957, but Troy at least makes Frost sweat a bit in his second attempt to get his first win as head coach at his alma mater.
Nebraska 31, Troy 23
Ball State v. Indiana (-14.5) - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network
It feels like Indiana has to be the worst 2-0 team out there. The Hoosiers did at least find themselves a bowling ball of a running back in freshman Stevie Scott who rushed for 204 yards in the 20-16 win over Virginia last Saturday.
Ball State gave Notre Dame a pretty good test last week, and the Cardinals have Indiana’s number, beating the Hoosiers three times in four meetings since 2008. Ball State will show last week’s performance was no fluke, as the Cardinals take the Hoosiers down to the wire.
Indiana 33, Ball State 30
Temple v. Maryland (-17) - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network
In last week’s game, Maryland had a first half hangover coming off of their win over Texas to start the season. Against Bowling Green, the Terrapins trailed 14-10 after 30 minutes. Then, Maryland reeled off 35 unanswered points in the second half to ruin any hopes I had of the Falcons covering.
Temple is pretty gross right now. The Owls are 0-2, losing to Villanova and Buffalo to start the season. Ty Johnson has a big game on the ground for Maryland, as the Terrapins head into Big Ten play with a 3-0 record.
Maryland 42, Temple 17
Rutgers v. Kansas (-2.5) - 12:00 PM EST - You can only watch this game if you have the true degenerate sports package
Eat at Arby’s
Kansas 23, Rutgers 16
BYU v. No. 6 Wisconsin (-22.5) - 3:30 PM EST - ABC
Wisconsin apparently didn’t set their alarms for last week’s game against New Mexico. Had the Badgers had their act together in the first half, they would have had no trouble covering last week’s spread against the Lobos. Instead the Badgers missed out on covering by less than a touchdown.
I don’t know what to think about BYU right now. They hit the road to open the season and beat Arizona, but then fell at home to Cal last week. Arizona might not be as good as we thought they’d be this year, and the Cougars could be headed for a second straight losing season.
Originally, I was thinking this might be too many points for Wisconsin to be laying against the Cougars, but a couple things keep sticking out to me. Last year, the Badgers went into Provo and decimated BYU 40-6. Also, Wisconsin will be getting back wide receiver Danny Davis from suspension. Not like they’ll need him much though with how Jonathan Taylor has been running the football.
Wisconsin heads into next week’s showdown with Iowa in Iowa City on a high note with an impressive victory over BYU.
Wisconsin 37, BYU 13
SMU v. No 19 Michigan (-36) - 3:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network
We all know that Michigan is going to win this game, so we might as well hope they stomp a mudhole in Craig James’ alma mater. The Wolverines need to do it to honor... well, you know where I’m going with this.
Last week the Wolverines dominated Western Michigan from start to finish, and the Mustangs are likely to get the same treatment this week. Those 36 points are a lot to lay against any team, but SMU has nothing to offer on offense. I’d be surprised if the Mustangs even make it to double digits.
Michigan 51, SMU 7
South Florida (-10.5) v. Illinois - 3:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network
Useless info time: Illinois is playing this game at Soldier Field, where Lovie Smith used to coach the Chicago Bears, against South Florida, who shares a stadium with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who Lovie Smith also used to coach.
Really the only other thing I know about the Fighting Illini is wide receiver Mike Dudek injured his knee and is lost for the year for what feels like the 46th straight season.
Apparently the 13th transfer is a charm for South Florida quarterback Blake Barnett. After starting at Alabama and transferring to Arizona State, Barnett seems to have found a home as Charlie Strong’s quarterback. So far this year, Barnett has eight total touchdowns.
Illinois doesn’t have the offense to keep up with South Florida. The Fighting Illini may hang around a bit early on, but Barnett and company pull away in the second half.
South Florida 44, Illinois 24
Miami (OH) v. Minnesota (-13) - 3:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network
As if this season wasn’t going to be tough enough, Minnesota lost running back Rodney Smith for the season last week. Freshman Zack Annexstad has been pretty good so far at quarterback, but he is going to need some help if the Golden Gophers have designs on going bowling this year.
Minnesota got quite a scare from Fresno State last week before cornerback Antoine Winfield Jr. saved the Golden Gophers with an incredible interception in the end zone to thwart the upset attempt of the Bulldogs.
Even with the injuries and inexperience that Minnesota is dealing with, they are still a couple tiers above the Redhawks. The Golden Gophers use a strong defense to set their offense up in some favorable positions, which allows Minnesota’s offense to gain some confidence with a few easy scores.
Minnesota 34, Miami (OH) 14
Missouri (-6.5) v. Purdue - 7:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network
Purdue, oh no baby! What is you doin’??? The Boilermakers just lost to Eastern Michigan, and now are 0-2 on the season. It figures that once Purdue cultivates a bit of a running attack to compliment their passing game, their defense is non-existent. Purdue is allowing over 400 yards per game so far this year.
Those numbers aren’t going to get any better this week against a dangerous Missouri attack. The Tigers have continued the roll that they finished the 2017 regular season on, running their streak of 40-point games to eight straight. Their quarterback Drew Lock has already thrown for eight touchdowns this year.
I keep trying to talk myself into Purdue in this spot, but I can’t pull the trigger. The Boilermakers are reeling, and now they’ll be taking on the wrong team to meet up with when your defense is struggling. Missouri gets some revenge for the 35-3 beatdown Purdue handed them last year.
Missouri 48, Purdue 34
Akron v. Northwestern (-21) - 7:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network
After starting the season on a high note, Northwestern crashed back to earth last weekend against Duke. The Wildcats moved the football, but weren’t able to put points on the board in the loss to the Blue Devils.
After their season opener against Nebraska was cancelled, Akron beat up on Morgan State last week. The Zips won’t have anywhere near as much success this week against a Northwestern team that will come into this game angry after last week’s loss. Quarterback Clayton Thorson looks better this week, while running back Jeremy Larkin continues his strong start to the season.
Northwestern 42, Akron 10
No. 4 Ohio State (-13) v. No. 15 TCU - 8:00 PM EST - ABC
Saturday night’s primetime showdown at JerryWorld will be the first true test for these ranked teams. The Ohio State offense has looked like a well-oiled machine, while the defense has been stout, aside from a few plays against Oregon State. With Urban Meyer fully returning from suspension next week, this will be Ryan Day’s final game as acting head coach.
Early on last week against SMU, TCU looked like they might be looking ahead to the Buckeyes. The Horned Frogs righted the ship and pulled away to a 42-12 victory over the Mustangs. Dual-threat quarterback Shawn Robinson has looked good so far for TCU, accounting for seven touchdowns this year.
It’s hard not to respect what Gary Patterson has done with TCU. Patterson has amassed a 162-57 record in Forth Worth, and has led the Horned Frogs to at least 11 wins in three of the last four seasons. The Horned Frogs have what it takes to challenge Oklahoma this year for the Big 12 title.
This spot is a little too big for TCU, though. The Horned Frogs may come out with some fire, but Ohio State just has too much speed and talent for TCU to sustain the early spark. Nick Bosa and the rest of the defense are going to give Robinson his first true test as a college quarterback. The test will end in pain.
Normally hitting the road for a sophomore quarterback making just his third career start would be a bit of a concern, but Dwayne Haskins isn’t your normal sophomore quarterback making just his third career start. Haskins has shown he is ice cold under pressure, as evidenced by how he stepped in for an injured J.T. Barrett last year against Michigan.
It doesn’t hurt Haskins’ confidence that he has a plethora of weapons on offense, either. The Buckeyes have five wide receivers who have at least 80 yards receiving this year, with Terry McLaurin leading the way with 172 on just five catches, three of those going for touchdowns.
The player who I think could make the biggest impact in this game is J.K. Dobbins, who is returning to his home state for the second time as a Buckeye. The sophomore fares a lot better than he did in the Cotton Bowl against USC, where he rushed for just 39 yards on 13 carries. Ohio State erases any doubt in the middle of the second half and go up by two touchdowns and don’t look back.
Ohio State 38, TCU 17