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Indiana looks to stay undefeated, Wisconsin-Michigan clash in Week 4 Big Ten action

Even though Ohio State is watching at home, there will still be some interesting Big Ten action on the slate this weekend

Michigan v Indiana Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

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

Season ATS: 40-37-2 (7-10-2 B1G, 33-27 National)

Last week was a pretty rough week. It all started with Boise State coming nowhere close to upsetting BYU and it didn’t get much better from there.

The Big Ten games this week lost a little luster when Ohio State’s game was cancelled since Maryland is dealing with COVID-19 issues. Have no fear, there are still games left to pick this week.

B1G games (All games Saturday unless otherwise noted):

Iowa (-3.5) v. Minnesota - Friday 11/13 7:00 PM EST - FS1

The battle for the pig trophy kicks off the Big Ten action this weekend. The Hawkeyes and Golden Gophers will battle for Floyd of Rosedale on Friday night in Minneapolis. Iowa has dominated the rivalry lately, winning seven of the last eight meetings, including last year’s 23-19 victory over Minnesota in Iowa City.

After 0-2 starts to the season, both Iowa and Minnesota were able to secure their first wins of the season on Saturday. The Hawkeyes did so by dominating Michigan State. Iowa was able to find their running game in the 49-7 win, rushing for 226 yards against the Spartans. Tyler Goodson and Mekhi Sargent will now try and keep the momentum on the ground going against a Minnesota defense that is allowing nearly 240 rushing yards per game this year.

To beat the Golden Gophers, Iowa will need to slow down Mohamed Ibrahim. The running back has rushed for over 200 yards in each of the last two games, and scored eight touchdowns on the ground. If the Hawkeyes are able to bottle up Ibrahim, it will put pressure on quarterback Tanner Morgan, who hasn’t been as sharp this year.

I can’t say I’m in love with either team this season, but I can see the Hawkeyes building on last week’s victory over Michigan State. The defense of Iowa has been pretty good throughout the year, while the same definitely can’t be said about Minnesota. Iowa slows down the rushing attack of the Golden Gophers, allowing for the offense to wear down an already weak Minnesota defense.

Iowa 31, Minnesota 21

No. 10 Indiana (-7) v. Michigan State - 12:00 PM EST - ABC

Which Michigan State team is going to show up on Saturday? The Spartans that turned the ball over 10 times in losses to Rutgers and Iowa, or the Michigan State squad that upset Michigan a couple weeks ago? Michigan State has had a real tough time running the football this year, which has put even more pressure on quarterback Rocky Lombardi, who has been inconsistent in three starts this year.

After struggling to find offense in their first two games of the season, Indiana broke out last week against Michigan, racking up 460 total yards. Michael Penix Jr. put together the best start of his college football career, throwing for 342 yards and three touchdowns against the Wolverines.

It would be easy to peg this as a “look ahead” game for Indiana with a trip to Columbus on deck next weekend, but I think we see a strong effort from the Hoosiers, who know how close to greatness they are this year. Indiana’s offensive weapons overwhelm Michigan State, who have struggled to move the football against teams not named Michigan. The Hoosiers snap a three-game losing streak against the Spartans.

Indiana 34, Michigan State 20

Penn State (-3) v. Nebraska - 12:00 PM EST - FS1

Nobody would have thought heading into this season that both Penn State and Nebraska would be a combined 0-5 after three weeks of action. After seeing their game against Wisconsin cancelled two weeks ago, the Cornhuskers played Northwestern tight last week, but fell short against the Wildcats. If Nebraska is going to want to earn their first win of the year, they’ll have to get more consistent play out of their quarterback position.

Last week was supposed to be a game for Penn State to get well after losses to Indiana and Ohio State to start the season. So far the bright spot for the Nittany Lions this year has been Jahan Dotson, who has caught 21 passes for 361 yards and five touchdowns this year. Other than Dotson, there hasn’t been much of note for Penn State. Quarterback Sean Clifford has struggled this season, throwing five interceptions already. While Clifford will remain the starter, we could see more of Will Levis on the field for the Nittany Lions.

Nebraska is better than their record indicates, while I’m not sure if that’s the case for Penn State. The Nittany Lions have been decimated by opt-outs and injuries on both sides of the football. Losses of guys like Micah Parsons, Journey Brown, and Noah Cain have been a big reason for Penn State’s struggles this year. I’ll gladly take the home underdog here to add to Penn State’s woes this year by narrowly defeating the Nittany Lions.

Nebraska 30, Penn State 27

Illinois v. Rutgers (-6.5) - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network

Even with everything that has gone on so far this year, I’m not convinced that Rutgers is at least a touchdown better than Illinois. The Scarlet Knights have gotten a lot of praise for their performance against Michigan State, as well as their second half effort against Ohio State. Can Rutgers move the football consistently without using trick plays? I’m skeptical.

It would be huge if either Brandon Peters or Isaiah Williams can return at quarterback for Illinois this week, but at least Coran Taylor has two starts under his belt if the Fighting Illini need to turn to him again. No matter who starts at quarterback, Illinois needs to get running back Mike Epstein involved early to try and open the offense up to hit Josh Imatorbhebhe through the air.

This game won’t be pretty to watch, which is why I am taking the points. I could really see this game decided by a late field goal. Rutgers pushes their record back to .500, while Illinois will still be searching for the first win of the season after this weekend is over.

Rutgers 24, Illinois 21

No. 23 Northwestern (-3) v. Purdue - 7:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network

Who could have seen this coming? Northwestern and Purdue battling for the lead in the Big Ten West halfway through the season. The Wildcats are getting steady quarterback player from Peyton Ramsey, while Paddy Fisher is leading a Northwestern defense that is one of the best in the Big Ten. The grit that this Northwestern team has shown has to get Pat Fitzgerald all hot and bothered on a regular basis.

We still aren’t sure what we have with this Purdue team. The Boilermakers are 2-0 but their wins have come against Iowa and a Illinois team that was short-handed. Purdue got an unexpected off week last week when Wisconsin wasn’t able to play because of their issues with COVID-19. The cancellation was a win in a way for Purdue, who not only didn’t have to play the Badgers, but it also gave Rondale Moore some extra time to heal up. It isn’t yet known if Moore will play this week.

I’m probably going to get burned for going against Purdue at home under the lights. Northwestern is the pick for this game since it isn’t yet known if the Boilermakers will have Moore available, but I’m going to assume that the wide receiver won’t be able to play. Even if he does, how long will it take Moore to get back into game shape? Northwestern will be too talented defensively even if a rusty Moore plays.

Northwestern 27, Purdue 21

No. 13 Wisconsin (-4.5) v. Michigan - 7:30 PM EST - ABC

The Badgers and Wolverines played in Ann Arbor back in 2018, with Michigan easily handling Wisconsin 38-13. The same definitely won’t happen on Saturday night at Michigan Stadium. Wisconsin may be coming off a COVID-19 outbreak within their team, but they are still one of the toughest teams in the country. Graham Mertz completed all but one of his passes in the season opener against Illinois. If Mertz is able to play on Saturday, expect him to have a huge game against a Wolverine secondary that has been torched the last two weeks.

Right now there isn’t much going right with Michigan. Joe Milton doesn’t look like the answer at quarterback, while the Michigan defense is struggling on the line and in the secondary. Things could get ugly on Saturday night when the Badgers will try and control the clock, wearing out a defense that already has their backs against the wall.

It all depends on how Wisconsin comes out of the gates. There’s no doubt the Badgers will be fresher in this game. The big question is how much rust will Wisconsin have to shake off. If the Badgers come out firing to start Saturday’s game, it’ll be a very long night for Harbaugh and the Wolverines. Even though Wisconsin hasn’t played in a couple weeks, I think they easily handle a dejected Michigan team.

Wisconsin 28, Michigan 17