Last week ATS: 7-6-1 (3-4-1 National, 4-2 B1G)
Season ATS: 32-28-2 (14-9-1 National, 18-19-1 B1G)
If you missed yesterday’s national picks, click that link right now because MC&J has a pick for tonight’s late game between Arizona State and Cal, along with a number of other picks for Saturday’s games.
No. 12 Penn State (-6.5) v. Maryland - Friday 9/27 8:00 PM EST - FS1
Oh, Maryland. What could have been. Imagine the hype going into this matchup if the Terrapins hadn’t soiled themselves against Temple a couple weeks ago. After scoring eleventy bajillion points in their first two games, all Maryland could muster against the Owls was 17 points. At least the Terrapins had a bye week to try and figure out how to get quarterback Josh Jackson and running back Anthony McFarland Jr. back on track.
Penn State looked pretty bad in a win over Pitt a couple weeks ago, but a win’s a win, right? Sean Clifford has been alright as he takes over for Trace McSorley, but this will be his first road start. At least if Clifford gets in trouble, the Nittany Lions have a solid defense they can lean on.
Penn State has dominated the series with Maryland, winning 39 of 42 meetings, including the last two by a combined score of 104-6. This year will be different. I think Maryland’s offense is better than what they showed against Temple. With this being a rare primetime game for the Terrapins, there will be some extra juice in the stadium which will propel the Terrapins to an upset.
Maryland 31, Penn State 27
Northwestern v. No. 8 Wisconsin (-25) - 12:00 PM EST - ABC
Have you watched Northwestern this year? They are absolutely dreadful. Quarterback Hunter Johnson has barely completed 50% of his passes, and thrown four interceptions. If I was a Northwestern fan, I’d rather have Hunter Mahan or Hunter Pence playing quarterback. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald seems to think he is smarter than everyone, but he is one of the most overrated coaches in America.
If Wisconsin plays like they did against Michigan, there aren’t many teams in the country that can beat them. Running back Jonathan Taylor rushed for 203 yards against the Wolverines last week, and he already has seven rushing touchdowns so far this season. What makes the Badgers dangerous this year is quarterback Jack Coan can actually throw the football.
After giving up their first points of the season against Michigan last week, it wouldn’t surprise me if Wisconsin pitched another shutout. Northwestern is that bad. If Michigan State can put 31 points against Northwestern, who knows what Wisconsin can do. Things get ugly in Madison for the Wildcats.
Wisconsin 41, Northwestern 10
Middle Tennessee State v. No. 14 Iowa (-24) - 12:00 PM EST - ESPN2
I never have confidence in Iowa when they are given a spread of over three touchdowns. In games like this, it feels like Iowa is essentially playing with their food. The Hawkeyes have the tools to win this game handily, but I feel like they’ll fart around just enough to give Middle Tennessee State a chance to cover the spread.
At least Middle Tennessee State have a little bit of experience this year in hitting the road to take on a Big Ten team. In their season opener, the Blue Raiders went up to Ann Arbor and only lost by 19 to Michigan. Quarterback Asher O’Hara has thrown for 785 yards and eight touchdowns, while adding 202 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown this year.
Iowa has a trip to Ann Arbor next week to take on Michigan, so it wouldn’t surprise me if the Hawkeyes got up by a comfortable amount and shut things down a little bit. This could allow for some points later in the game from the Blue Raiders which keeps the final margin around 21 points.
Iowa 38, Middle Tennessee State 17
Rutgers v. No. 20 Michigan (-28) - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network
At least it seems like Rutgers is playing hard. The Scarlet Knights aren’t playing well, but they are trying. All in the effort in the world might not mean anything this week, though. Quarterback Artur Sitkowski will again start for Rutgers since McLane Carter is in concussion protocol. Sitkowski is a turnover machine, already throwing 20 interceptions in just over 300 career passing attempts.
After last week’s embarrassing loss, I feel like the Wolverines are going to take their frustrations out on Rutgers. Shea Patterson isn’t 100% but I’m not entirely sure it matters. Both sides of the football for the Wolverines dominate Rutgers on Saturday. At least Michigan fans will get one Saturday of not feeling bad before their next dose of pain next week against Iowa.
Michigan 45, Rutgers 13
Indiana v. No. 25 Michigan State (-14) - 3:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network
If Brian Lewerke wants to tell us which version of himself is going to show up on Saturday afternoon in East Lansing, that would be great. When Lewerke is on, Michigan State is tough to beat, especially with their defense. But when Lewerke is bad, he’s really bad.
I want to believe Indiana can hang with, but whenever you try and put a little faith in Indiana, the only result is pain. The Hoosiers bounced back from their loss to Ohio State with an easy win over UConn, but pretty much everyone aside from Illinois has an easy win over UConn lately.
I’m still not sold on Michigan State this year. Last week’s win was over a really bad Northwestern team, so I’m taking it with a grain of salt. Indiana could throw both Peyton Ramsey and Michael Penix Jr. at the Spartans at quarterback, which I could see giving Michigan State some problems. The Spartans win, but they can’t help themselves in making things a lot tougher than they need to be. It’s what they do.
Michigan State 30, Indiana 20
Minnesota (-1.5) v. Purdue - 3:30 PM EST - ESPN2
Minnesota is undefeated, but just barely. Their three wins have come by a total of 13 points. The Golden Gophers will surely try to run the football against a Purdue defense that gave up over 300 yards on the ground to TCU a couple weeks ago. The Boilermakers will have a tough time slowing down a Minnesota backfield that includes Rodney Smith, Mohamed Ibrahim, and Shannon Brooks should be returning from an injury he suffered last year.
Unlike Minnesota, Purdue won’t have any success running the football. I wouldn’t blame them for not even trying to get any work done on the ground since they are so bad rushing. Rondale Moore will put up some numbers, but I don’t think they’ll be as big as Purdue will need since Moore will have the likes of Antonie Winfield Jr. covering him in the Minnesota secondary.
If Purdue hadn’t gotten smashed by TCU, I would like the Boilermakers here, but I just can’t pull the trigger. Minnesota is too balanced on offense and will force Elijah Sindelar into making a few turnovers. This will be the most entertaining game of the day in the Big Ten, but Minnesota will again find a way to pull out a close game.
Minnesota 34, Purdue 31
No. 5 Ohio State (-17.5) v. Nebraska - 7:30 PM EST - ABC
Saturday night’s game will be the first true road test for Justin Fields at Ohio State. Luckily the quarterback doesn’t have to do everything on his own, since he has a talented group of wide receivers to lean on, as well as J.K. Dobbins lining up next to him in the backfield. Fields has been incredible so far for Ohio State, totaling at least four touchdowns in each of his first four starts for the Buckeyes.
The scary thing about Ohio State is they are still getting better on offense. You can see how Fields is starting to connect with receivers like Chris Olave and Binjimen Victor, while Fields hasn’t even really utilized K.J. Hill that much. Even though Nebraska’s defense is improved from where it has been the last few years, it’s hard to see the Cornhuskers having an answer for the balanced attack that Ohio State can throw at them.
It’s not like Nebraska can’t move the football with quarterback Adrian Martinez, the Cornhuskers just haven’t seen a defense like what Ohio State has to offer. Chase Young is another planet right now with how he is playing. Through four games, Young already has seven sacks, and looks to have his sights set on Ohio State’s single-season record. Even more impressive about what Young is doing is that a number of starters on the defensive line have been injured this year, meaning Young is doing this while having all of the attention on him.
What has really helped Ohio State rebound from their pitiful defensive performance last year is the play of their secondary. Jeff Okudah picked off his first career pass last week, while Damon Arnette has started his senior season off strong. Expect Martinez to look JD Spielman’s way a lot, but Ohio State has the talent to keep Spielman from having a big game like he did two years in Lincoln when he caught 11 passes for 200 yards.
I could see Nebraska coming out of the gates hot in this game, possibly putting Ohio State down by at least a touchdown for the first time this year, but the Buckeyes will have too much depth for the Cornhuskers. Scott Frost has the Nebraska program headed in the right direction, but the next two years is when they’ll start to make a little more noise nationally. At halftime this game could be close, but I see Ohio State pulling away a bit in the second half.
Ohio State 45, Nebraska 24