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Ohio State’s Halloween showdown with Penn State is this week’s Big Ten spotlight game

The Buckeyes will look to push their record to 2-0 this year when they travel to State College. Plus, picks for the other five games on the Big Ten slate.

Nebraska v Ohio State Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Last week ATS: 5-8 (3-4 B1G, 2-4 National)

Season ATS: 29-25 (3-4 B1G, 26-21 National)

Last week was a pretty rough picks week overall for MC&J. I made the mistake of doubting Ohio State’s ability to cover, and there were a number of other games that came down to the end but didn’t fall on our side. I missed terribly on Minnesota, LSU, and Maryland. If that wasn’t bad enough, Oklahoma State and Baylor were close to covering, but that does us no good.

With six Big Ten games on the schedule this week, as well as a number of national games which will be posted tomorrow, let’s hope the wins start flowing again.

B1G games (All games Saturday unless otherwise noted):

Minnesota (-20) v. Maryland - Friday 10/30 7:30 PM EST - ESPN

Minnesota and Maryland both saw their 2020 seasons get off to nightmare starts on Saturday. The Golden Gophers weren’t able to keep up with Michigan, while the Terrapins gave up 43 unanswered points in a 43-3 loss to Northwestern.

P.J. Fleck’s team can’t possibly play as bad against Maryland as they did in the opener against Michigan. Running back Mohamed Ibrahim was one of the few bright spots for Minnesota, rushing for 140 yards and two touchdowns against the Wolverines. Ibrahim has to be pumped to take on a Maryland defense that gave up over 300 yards on the ground last week.

Taulia Tagovailoa started for the Terrapins against Northwestern, and it was a debut to forget for Tua’s younger brother. Tagovailoa tossed three interceptions and wasn’t able to get much going against the Wildcats. The sophomore could have a little more success against a Minnesota defense that lost a number of starters from last year’s team, but it’s hard to see it being enough to lead the Terrapins to a victory over the Golden Gophers.

Remember last year when Maryland hosted Penn State on a Friday night and was a touchdown underdog to the Nittany Lions? I was dumb enough to think the Terrapins would pull the upset. All that happened was Maryland lost 59-0. I won’t be fooled again by Maryland at home on Friday night. This spread is definitely bigger than last year, so there’s a better chance the Terrapins cover, but if Northwestern was able to dominate Maryland, imagine what a more talented Minnesota team will do.

Minnesota 41, Maryland 14

Michigan State v. No. 13 Michigan (-24.5) - 12:00 PM EST - FOX

The line for this game looks like a bit of an overreaction. The Spartans aren’t going to turn the football over seven times again this week. Michigan State lost last week essentially because they allowed the Scarlet Knights to score three touchdowns on drives that were less than 30 yards. The Spartans can’t afford to make the mental errors this week that they did last week, or else this game between in-state rivals is going to get real ugly, real fast.

Michigan actually got a bit of a running game going, which was something that hasn’t really been seen over the last few years. It was quite strange to see Zach Charbonnet run away from the Minnesota defense after not remembering him have a carry that went for more than three yards during his time at Michigan.

This feels like a few too many points for Michigan to be laying in this spot. Yes, Michigan State lost to Rutgers by double-digits last week, but they should regroup a little for this contest against their rival. Michigan should win comfortably against the Spartans, the Wolverines just don’t win by more than three touchdowns.

Michigan 42, Michigan State 24

Purdue (-7) v. Illinois - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network

The first thing I thought when I saw this matchup is that no matter who I pick, the final result is going to be the complete opposite of my prediction. Purdue has already frustrated me this year, beating Iowa without Jeff Brohm and Rondale Moore. At least Illinois was nice enough to do nothing against Wisconsin, just like many were predicting.

While Brohm will be back on the sidelines this week for the Boilermakers, it doesn’t sound like Moore will make his season debut this week. At least quarterback Aidan O’Connell has David Bell to throw to. Bell caught 13 passes for 121 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s win against Iowa.

The Fighting Illini offense wasn’t able to muster a point last week against Wisconsin, with the only touchdown by Illinois coming on a fumble return. The Badgers stifled quarterback Brandon Peters, only allowing the Michigan transfer to complete eight passes for 87 yards. Illinois could give Purdue some trouble if Peters is able to find favorite target Josh Imatorbhebhe early in Saturday’s contest.

Is Purdue for real? I might not go that far yet, but they are in a lot better place than Illinois. Wisconsin was able to wear the Illinois defense down last week, and while Purdue doesn’t quite have the size and physicality that the Badgers do, I think they could keep the Fighting Illini defense on the field for long stretches and gradually pull away. The Boilermakers win by at least 10 points in Champaign.

Purdue 31, Illinois 17

No. 17 Indiana (-10.5) v. Rutgers - 3:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network

It has to be weird for Indiana and Rutgers to both be hearing about how good they are. Indiana had the most thrilling victory of the first week of Big Ten action, as Michael Penix Jr.’s overtime stretch on a two-point conversion attempt secured the upset over Penn State. The win was the first by the Hoosiers over a top-10 team since 1987.

Meanwhile, Greg Schiano’s return to Rutgers got off to a promising start with a 38-27 win over Michigan State. The Scarlet Knights were able to force the Spartans into committing seven turnovers. The jury is still out on the Rutgers offense, as they only put up 276 yards against Michigan State.

I’m not convinced Rutgers is for real yet. The Scarlet Knights will get a boost at quarterback now that they have Nebraska transfer Noah Vedral, but they still need more pieces to be a consistent threat in the Big Ten. Indiana builds on last week’s comeback win, with a convincing win on Saturday setting the table for next week’s showdown with Michigan.

Indiana 34, Rutgers 14

Northwestern v. Iowa (-2.5) - 3:30 PM EST - ESPN

Is Northwestern’s offense for real or was last week’s performance just an anomaly? I’m not that surprised with how Peyton Ramsey was able to play in his first start for the Wildcats. What was unexpected was how well Northwestern ran the football. The Wildcats had four players run for at least 40 yards in the game, and were led by the 103 yards from Drake Anderson.

Will the real Iowa please stand up? It’s hard to be disappointed by an offense that racked up 465 yards, but the Hawkeyes missed a number of opportunities to put points on the scoreboard and put a nail in Purdue. The key for Iowa is going to be if they can get more out of Tyler Goodson and Mekhi Sargent this week. If the Hawkeyes can keep Northwestern’s offense off the field, they’ll be in good shape.

I’m not ready to buy into Northwestern yet. They beat up one of the worst teams in the Big Ten. Let’s slow down with the hype for a little bit. We can talk if they go to Iowa City and win. I think the Hawkeyes tighten up and win this game by at least a touchdown.

Iowa 31, Northwestern 21

No. 3 Ohio State (-13) v. No. 18 Penn State - 7:30 PM EST - ABC

It was incredible to see this spread rise when it was first released. The Buckeyes were just over a touchdown favorite on Sunday and now they are laying nearly two touchdowns. It’s easy to see why Ohio State is favored by that much, considering the Nittany Lions won’t have their usual “white out” atmosphere when they welcome the Buckeyes to Happy Valley on Saturday night.

Ohio State did a lot right in their season-opening mauling of Nebraska, but there are also a number of areas they’ll need to be better at if they want to be a national champion. What was most frustrating from the Buckeyes on Saturday were the problems they had against the run, allowing Nebraska to rush for over 200 yards. At least Ohio State was able to settle down as the game went on, only allowing three points in the second half.

Luckily for the Buckeyes they won’t have to try and slow down Penn State’s top running backs. Both Journey Brown and Noah Cain are out for the season, leaving the Nittany Lions to turn to sophomore Devyn Brown. That will put even more pressure on quarterback Sean Clifford, but at least he won’t have Chase Young breathing down his neck this year.

I’m just not sure where Penn State is going to find the points to keep up with Ohio State. The Buckeyes know the running game of the Nittany Lions isn’t much of a threat, so they can focus more on slowing down Penn State’s passing game. The biggest challenge will be to try and keep the ball out of tight end Pat Freiermuth’s hands. If Ohio State can do that, they should be in good shape. Jahan Dotson is Penn State’s best wide receiver, but he should be shadowed by Shaun Wade the whole game.

No chance I would be laying nearly two touchdowns at Penn State if fans were going to be attendance on Saturday night. Without fans, the Nittany Lions don’t have the super powers like we have seen in the last couple meetings under the lights in State College. It also won’t hurt that Ryan Day is going to coach circles around James Franklin.

I expect that we see a better performance out of the Ohio State rushing attack in this game. The Buckeye offensive line has to be disappointed with their performance in the season opener, and we’ll end up seeing a lot better effort from the big nasties. One of Ohio State’s running backs cracks 100 yards on the ground on Saturday as the Buckeyes win by at least two touchdowns.

Ohio State 38, Penn State 21