Last week ATS: 6-8 (1-5 National, 5-3 B1G)
Season ATS: 26-42 (7-17 National, 19-25 B1G)
Unlike last week’s national picks, MC&J actually showed some progress with our B1G picks. Not only did Ohio State cover another large number, but we nailed Purdue upsetting Boston College and Buffalo throttling Rutgers. It’s a step in the right direction, but plenty of work still needs to be done.
If you missed this week’s picks for six of the best national games, you can find them here.
Central Michigan v. No. 21 Michigan State (-29) - 12:00 PM EST - FS1
There aren’t many teams who have been worse on offense this year than Central Michigan. The Chippewas haven’t scored more than 20 points in a game this year, and were only able to muster a touchdown in an embarrassing 31-7 loss to Kansas a couple weeks ago.
Following a week off to regroup after a loss to Arizona State, Michigan State earned a 35-21 victory over Indiana last week. It wasn’t without issue though, with the Spartans nearly squandering a 28-7 lead in the fourth quarter.
Michigan State should get a boost to what has been a pretty pathetic running game so far this year, as L.J. Scott should be available after missing last week’s game due to injury. Scott has rushed for 103 yards so far this season, and is the only Michigan State player with over 100 yards rushing.
The Spartans have the pieces to be one of the best teams in the country this year, but so far they haven’t really put those pieces together completely in a game. With how bad Central Michigan has been this year, it is a prime opportunity for the Spartans to gain some confidence in the finale of the non-conference portion of their schedule. The Spartans score early and often on Saturday afternoon against their in-state foe.
Michigan State 48, Central Michigan 13
Indiana (-17) v. Rutgers - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network
Rutgers is an embarrassment. After beating Texas State 35-7 in their season opener, the Scarlet Knights have been outscored 149-30 over the past three games. The quarterback situation is a mess, with Giovanni Rescigno relieving true freshman Artur Sitkowski in each of the last three games.
Even though Rutgers is pretty much at rock bottom right now, I’m not exactly jumping to lay 17 points on the road with Indiana. At some point Rutgers has to show some competitiveness in a game, and I think you’ll see a little fire on Saturday. The Scarlet Knights at least will keep this game within two touchdowns.
Indiana 27, Rutgers 17
Purdue (-3.5) v. Nebraska - 3:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network
After starting the season with a trio of close losses, Purdue finally got into the win column last week, beating Boston College 30-13. After throwing for 572 yards in the loss to Missouri, quarterback David Blough continued his strong play, recording nearly 300 yards and three touchdowns through the air against the Golden Eagles.
Finally a clear answer at quarterback for Nebraska heading into a game. After getting injured in the season opener against Colorado, the status of true freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez has been iffy before each of the last two games. Martinez did start last week against Michigan, but did nothing against a talented Wolverine defense.
At some point Nebraska has to get their first win under new head coach Scott Frost. If it isn’t this week, the Cornhuskers could be waiting a while. I like what Purdue did last week against Boston College, but we shouldn’t forget that Purdue is still Purdue. Nebraska draws some energy from a crowd that is hungry for something positive to happen.
Nebraska 31, Purdue 28
No. 14 Michigan (-15) v. Northwestern - 4:30 PM EST - FOX
After starting the season with a tough loss to Notre Dame, Michigan has looked better each week. Quarterback Shea Patterson isn’t putting up huge numbers, but he is doing what the Wolverines need him to do. The pressure on Patterson has been eased a bit with Michigan’s running game clicking like it is. Karan Higdon is averaging nearly eight yards per carry so far this year.
Things have gone from bad to worse for Northwestern. The Wildcats may be coming off of a bye week, but they have lost to Duke and Akron in their last two games. As if those losses weren’t tough enough to stomach, running back Jeremy Larkin was forced to retire this week due to a spinal condition. Larkin had rushed for 346 of Northwestern’s 351 rushing yards this season.
Michigan’s last two trips to Evanston have seen the Wolverines struggle to single-digit victories, but that won’t be the case on Saturday. I’m having a hard time figuring out where the offense is going to come from for Northwestern. Now, even more pressure is on quarterback Clayton Thorson’s shoulders with Larkin no longer lining up at running back. The Michigan defense feasts on a lost Northwestern squad.
Michigan 41, Northwestern 14
No. 4 Ohio State (-4) v. No. 9 Penn State - 7:30 PM EST - ABC
Ohio State didn’t show any hangover last week from their hard-fought win over TCU the week before, running through Tulane 49-6. The big story of the game, as it has been the first three games of the year, was the performance of Dwayne Haskins, who threw five touchdown passes and only three incompletions in a half of football. Haskins now has 16 touchdown passes which is the second-most all-time for a Big Ten quarterback through four games of the season.
The Buckeyes have scored at least 40 points and rolled up over 500 yards in each of their first four games so far this year, and that has been with most of the damage done through the air. Despite averaging 233 yards per game on the ground, the running game for Ohio State has been mostly an afterthought. Mike Weber left last week’s game against Tulane with a foot strain, and even though Urban Meyer said that he will be available this week, it could lead to increased carries for J.K. Dobbins.
Penn State looked like they might be looking ahead to Ohio State last week, not taking the lead for good against Illinois until about midway through the third quarter. The Nittany Lions piled on the points in the fourth quarter, putting up 35 to make the score look a lot more lopsided than it really was. Miles Sanders rushed for 200 yards and three touchdowns against the Fighting Illini, becoming the first Penn State player to do so since Larry Johnson in 2002.
Who is leading the Big Ten in rushing touchdowns, you ask? Bet you wouldn’t have guessed it is Trace McSorley. After doing most of the work the last two years with his arm, McSorley has six rushing touchdowns to go along with his eight passing touchdowns. The senior quarterback doesn’t quite have the receiving targets that he did the past two seasons, but the Ohio State defense can’t focus all their attention on slowing down the Penn State running game.
In true homer fashion, I haven’t picked against Ohio State this year, and I’m not about to this week. If this spread was closer to a touchdown, I might have taken a stronger look at the Nittany Lions. Most of the questions about Ohio State going into this game are about how Dwayne Haskins will respond to the atmosphere in Happy Valley, but if his performances last year against Michigan, as well as this year against TCU are any indication, Haskins should be just fine.
I could see this playing out a lot like with TCU, where Ohio State is challenged for the majority of the game, but ends up winning by at least a touchdown. The Nittany Lions’ defense showed some holes to open up the season against Appalachian State, and after three impressive performances by the Nittany Lions, I could see some of those issues popping back up again. In the end, Ohio State has a little too much firepower for the Nittany Lions to handle.
Ohio State 38, Penn State 31