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Ohio State-Northwestern opens up Week 8’s Big Ten betting lines

The Buckeyes kick off this week’s Big Ten slate as a four touchdown favorite over Northwestern, while Michigan and Penn State close the weekend under the lights in State College.

Michigan State v Ohio State Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Last week ATS: 6-6 (3-3 National, 3-3 B1G)

Season ATS: 50-46-3 (21-18-2 National, 29-28-1 B1G)

Since Ohio State is playing on Friday night, MC&J is doing things a little different this week. Instead of posting picks for the best national games of the week on Thursday, we’ve moved them to Friday, with this week’s Big Ten picks taking the Thursday slot.

Last week we made no progress in our season record, but we also didn’t give any ground. We had some bad luck last week in a few games which erased what could’ve been a good week. Iowa had a shot to cover against Penn State, but the Hawkeyes couldn’t convert a two-point conversion late in the game, Michigan blew a 28-point lead against Illinois, and Florida couldn’t score late against LSU to cover. But we can’t dwell on the past too much, as there are plenty of games this week to turn our attention to.

B1G games:

No. 4 Ohio State (-28) v. Northwestern - Friday 10/18 8:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network

Friday night football in the Big Ten needs to be cancelled immediately. Leave it for conferences like the Pac-12 and ACC, but the Big Ten can do better than that. Hopefully the TV scheduling snafu the cancellation of Game 4 of the ALCS has caused, pushing this game from FS1 to the Big Ten Network, makes the Big Ten reconsider Friday night games in the future.

It doesn’t matter if Ohio State was playing Northwestern on Friday night, Tuesday afternoon, or Thursday morning, the Buckeyes are going to roll. Ohio State will come into this game fresh and ready to go after having a bye last week. The Buckeyes started off a little slow against Michigan State a couple weeks ago, but they easily handled Michigan State in Columbus. Quarterback Justin Fields already has 26 total touchdowns through just six games this year, while J.K. Dobbins is 174 yards away from rushing for 1,000 yards for the third straight year.

This isn’t anywhere close to the Northwestern team that put a serious scare into Ohio State the last time the Buckeyes played under the lights in Evanston in 2013. The Wildcats have serious issues on offense, as they are averaging less than 300 yards of offense per game. Quarterback Hunter Johnson didn’t play against Nebraska, but will play against Ohio State. With Chase Young lining up at defense end for the Buckeyes, Johnson might want to lobby the coaching staff to sit out another week.

Four touchdowns is a pretty big spread to cover on the road on the Big Ten, but Ohio State is the one team in the conference that can do it. The Buckeyes are loaded on both sides of the football, and even a lot of Ohio State’s backups could likely start for Northwestern. The Wildcats did keep things tight against Wisconsin a few weeks ago, but Ohio State won’t make the same mistakes the Badgers did to keep Northwestern in the game. The Buckeyes add to Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald’s problems with a blowout victory.

Ohio State 45, Northwestern 10

No. 6 Wisconsin (-31) v. Illinois - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network

Wisconsin has been incredible so far this season. The Badgers have only allowed their opponents to score in two of six games so far this year, and is allowing opponents less than 175 yards of offense per game. Illinois quarterback Brandon Peters sat out last week’s game against Michigan due to a concussion, but will start for the Fighting Illini if he’s cleared to play. Peters might be wise to try and sit out another week instead of having to go against the Wisconsin defense.

This game could be over early if Jonathan Taylor keeps rolling. The Wisconsin running back already has 825 yards rushing and 14 rushing touchdowns this season. Illinois is giving up over 200 yards per game on the ground to opponents, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Taylor go over 1,000 yards rushing for the season on Saturday afternoon.

The Badgers have dominated Illinois of late, winning their last nine meetings with the Fighting Illini. With Ohio State on deck for Wisconsin I was tempted to take Illinois, but I just don’t see where the offense is going to come from for Lovie Smith’s team. Unlike Michigan last week, when Wisconsin jumps out to a big lead the Badgers won’t let Illinois get back into the game.

Wisconsin 41, Illinois 7

Purdue v. No. 23 Iowa (-17.5) - 12:00 PM EST - 12:00 PM EST - ESPN2

Purdue put forth quite the performance last week against Maryland, beating the Terrapins 40-14. Backup quarterback Jack Plummer had his best performance since taking over for an injured Elijah Sindelar, throwing for 420 yards and three touchdowns. Now the Boilermakers turn their attention to Iowa, who they have beaten the last two years.

Iowa isn’t in a good place right now after losing the last two weeks to Michigan and Penn State. After Penn State ran for over 150 yards against the Hawkeyes, Iowa’s rush defense should get a break against a Purdue team that can’t run the football. Quarterback Nate Stanley should also be able to breathe a little easier after being hounded by Penn State’s pass rush last week.

This game would be a little easier to predict if Purdue had Rondale Moore back from injury, but it doesn’t sound like the wide receiver will play. Even without Moore, I think Purdue still finds a way to cover. Iowa is a little beaten up after losses to the Wolverines and Nittany Lions, but they stop their skid on Saturday. A two touchdown win over the Boilermakers sounds about right.

Iowa 31, Purdue 17

No. 20 Minnesota (-28.5) v. Rutgers - 3:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network

Rutgers has been shut out in three of four Big Ten games this year, while Minnesota is undefeated and getting better every week. No reason to overthink this, the Golden Gophers should have no problems with the Scarlet Knights.

Minnesota 44, Rutgers 3

Indiana (-5.5) v. Maryland - 3:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network

Indiana has actually been pretty decent this year. It feels really weird to say that, but the only losses for the Hoosiers this year came at the hands of Ohio State and Michigan State. Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has been strong for Indiana when he has been healthy, throwing for over 280 yards and three touchdowns in each of the last two games.

Maryland continues to be unpredictable. After housing Rutgers two weeks ago to stop a two-game losing streak, their winning ways didn’t last long, as Maryland was blown out by Purdue last week. Quarterback Josh Jackson is still injured, meaning Tyrrell Pigrome will get another start for the Terrapins. Adding to Maryland’s problems, wide receiver DJ Turner has been suspended for the rest of the season, and running back Anthony McFarland Jr. is questionable for Saturday’s game.

Maryland is so backwards they’ll probably end up winning this week, but I just can’t back them here. Indiana’s defense has been stout this year against everyone but Ohio State and Michigan State. With Maryland’s offense missing a lot of pieces, I think Indiana gets another win closer to bowl eligibility.

Indiana 34, Maryland 20

No. 16 Michigan v. No. 7 Penn State (-9) - 7:30 PM EST - ABC

Penn State has been a lot better than I expected them to be this year. The Nittany Lions filled up early this season on cupcakes, which has allowed them to gain some confidence for some of their bigger tests later in the season. Penn State passed their first true test last week, beating Iowa 17-12 in Iowa City.

Now the Nittany Lions return home to take on the Wolverines in a “white out” on Saturday night. Quarterback Sean Clifford has been a solid replacement for Trace McSorley, tossing 13 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Running back Noah Cain has emerged in the Penn State backfield, rushing for 100 yards in each of the last two games.

What a weird game for the Wolverines last week. After jumping out on 28-0 on Illinois, Michigan let the Fighting Illini score 25 unanswered points to close the gap. The Wolverines responded by scoring the last 17 points of the game to secure the victory. Even though Michigan is winning, Shea Patterson isn’t inspiring a ton of confidence at the quarterback position. Patterson will be hounded on Saturday night by a relentless pass rush.

On the surface this seems like a lot of points for Penn State to be giving to another ranked team, but Michigan isn’t all that good. Don’t expect the Wolverines to be ranked in a couple weeks after they lose to Penn State this week and Notre Dame next week. The result won’t be quite as ugly as the 42-13 beating the Nittany Lions put on Michigan a couple years ago in State College, but Penn State forces Michigan into a few turnovers and send the Wolverines back to Ann Arbor with a double-digit loss.

Penn State 33, Michigan 17