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Indiana-Ohio State headlines the Week 5 Big Ten slate

Ohio State will try and continue their dominance of Indiana, while Wisconsin and Northwestern battle for Big Ten West supremacy.

Rutgers v Ohio State Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Last week ATS: 7-5 (6-0 B1G, 1-5 National)

Season ATS: 47-42-2 (13-10-2 B1G, 34-32 National)

Last week couldn’t have been more different when it comes to the B1G and National picks. The B1G portion was flawless, covering all six games. The National picks were pretty much the exact opposite, only covering one of the six games. Even with all that, we were able to finish on the right side of .500, gaining a couple games on the season record.

B1G games (All games Saturday unless otherwise noted):

Purdue (-3) v. Minnesota - Friday 11/20 7:30 PM EST - BTN

It was widely known that Minnesota was going to take a step back this year after losing most of their impact players on defense from last year’s team, but nobody thought the Golden Gophers would look this bad. Aside from running back Mohamed Ibrahim, Minnesota has been dreadful this year. The biggest disappointment has been Tanner Morgan, who is struggling to even complete passes this year.

Unlike Minnesota, Purdue has been competitive in all three games they’ve played this year. What the Boilermakers are doing this year is even more impressive considering Rondale Moore hasn’t taken the field yet. It is still unknown if Moore will make his season debut this week. Just as concerning for Purdue is on Wednesday head coach Jeff Brohm called starting quarterback Aidan O’Connell a “game-time decision”.

As concerning as O’Connell potentially missing this game is, I’d still trust whoever Purdue’s backup is more than Tanner Morgan right now. I know that Ibrahim will get his on the ground, I just don’t think the rest of Minnesota’s offense can do much of anything. The Boilermakers haven’t been blowing opponents out, but then again they don’t need to to cover this spread.

Purdue 31, Minnesota 21

Illinois v. Nebraska (-14.5) - 12:00 PM EST - BTN

Is Illinois smart enough to try and replicate what Penn State did last week that almost scored them a comeback against Nebraska? With Brandon Peters still sidelined, backup quarterback Isaiah Williams ran for 192 yards and a touchdown in the 23-20 win over Rutgers. Penn State was able to find some success on the ground with Levis against Nebraska, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see plenty of Williams on the ground. That is as long as Lovie Smith doesn’t decide to go with Peters at quarterback.

Even though Nebraska was able to secure their first win of the year last week, that doesn’t mean that all is fixed in Lincoln. Luke McCaffrey got his first start, accounting for almost 220 yards and two touchdowns. Even though the Cornhuskers have some talent, are they really worthy of being favored by more than two touchdowns against a gritty Illinois team? I’m just not buying it yet. While Nebraska should win, I don’t see them doing so by more than 14 points.

Nebraska 34, Illinois 24

No. 10 Wisconsin (-7.5) v. No. 19 Northwestern - 3:30 PM EST - ABC

It looked like the COVID-19 outbreak had little effect on Wisconsin. After not being able to play in two consecutive weeks, the Badgers wasted little time in dispatching Michigan last week. Now Wisconsin has beaten their two opponents this year by a combined score of 94-18. Quarterback Graham Mertz wasn’t quite as sharp against Michigan as his first start of the season, but he didn’t need to be since the Badgers had the game well in hand.

Everybody knew that Northwestern was going to be improved from last year, we just didn’t know they were going to be this good. Quarterback Peyton Ramsey has provided some stability behind center for the Wildcats, which has also taken some pressure off the defense since the offense has been able to control the football and keep the defense fresher.

Something has to give in this game. Wisconsin has been blowing teams out while Northwestern has been winning close games. The running game of the Badgers hasn’t been quite as effective this year, but it hasn’t had to be with what Mertz is doing through the air. Mertz will be in for a challenge on Saturday afternoon, as he hasn’t yet had to face a defense as tough as what the Wildcats and Paddy Fisher will throw at him.

Aside from Ohio State, Northwestern has played the Badgers the toughest over the last six years, winning three of those games, and losing two others by single digits. Saturday’s game is going to be a slugfest, so I’m happy to be getting more than a touchdown by taking Northwestern here.

Wisconsin 23, Northwestern 20

Iowa (-2.5) v. Penn State - 3:30 PM EST - BTN

There’s no doubt what has changed in Iowa over the last two games compared to their first two outings of the season. The Hawkeyes have been able to run the football in their two wins this season, going for over 200 yards on the ground against Michigan State and Minnesota. The defense of Iowa has also tightened up, allowing just 14 points over the last two games.

Penn State is a mess right now. After falling behind Nebraska big last week, the Nittany Lions did find a spark last week in Will Levis, who took over for Sean Clifford. James Franklin has yet to name a starter at quarterback for the Nittany Lions this week, but what does Penn State have to lose in giving Levis a shot?

I don’t think Penn State is quite as bad as their 0-4 record. The problem for the Nittany Lions is they have a terrible matchup this week. Iowa’s defense will cause fits for whoever starts at quarterback for Penn State. The only hope for the Nittany Lions is to shutdown the Iowa rushing attack, leaving the game in the hands of quarterback Spencer Petras, who is only completing 53% of his passes this year. If the Hawkeyes are able to keep the game on the ground, they shouldn’t have much issue with Penn State.

Iowa 28, Penn State 17

Michigan (-10.5) v. Rutgers - 7:30 PM EST - BTN

Michigan has been one of the biggest disappointments in college football this year. Not like that is any different from recent years, though. The Wolverines have lost three straight games after winning their season-opener against Minnesota. It’s quite obvious that Joe Milton isn’t the answer at quarterback, but there’s not anything the Wolverines can do to upgrade the position right now.

Rutgers has been a cute story so far this year. While the Scarlet Knights are definitely improved from what they’ve shown since joining the Big Ten, they still are pretty bad in the grand scheme of things. Noah Vedral has been a turnover machine, already throwing seven interceptions this year.

A lot of people are looking at Rutgers to possibly upset Michigan this week. While it’s funny to laugh about the Wolverines possibly losing to one of the Big Ten’s perennial cellar dwellers, I just don’t think it’s in the cards. This feels like one of those “get right’ weeks for Michigan. A relatively easy win over Rutgers won’t fix this season for the Wolverines, but at least it’ll make them feel good for a week.

Michigan 37, Rutgers 21

No. 9 Indiana v. No. 3 Ohio State (-20.5) - 12:00 PM EST - FOX

Death, taxes, and Ohio State dominating Indiana. The Buckeyes have won 24 straight meetings with the Hoosiers, and haven’t lost to Indiana since 1987. Ohio State has had little trouble putting up points on Indiana over the years, putting up at least 30 points in 16 straight games against the Hoosiers.

Ohio State had an unexpected week off last week after Maryland wasn’t able to play due to COVID-19 issues. Last time out for the Buckeyes was a 49-27 win against Rutgers. The game was a tale of two halves, jumping out to a 35-3 halftime before the Scarlet Knights were able to cut into the deficit thanks to some trick plays. Justin Fields was outstanding as always, and currently has more total touchdowns on the season than incompletions.

Along with Fields, Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave has done much of the heavy lifting for the Ohio State offense. After rushing for 110 yards against Penn State, Master Teague III didn’t find much running room against Rutgers, totaling just 60 yards on 12 carries. If the Buckeyes have any designs on making some noise in the College Football Playoff, they’ll need more from Teague and the rushing attack.

Of course Indiana is having one of their best seasons in school history in the middle of a pandemic. The Hoosiers have already beaten Penn State, Michigan, and Michigan State for the first time in the same season. Now Indiana will be trying to beat the Buckeyes for the first time since 1987.

Indiana is paced by quarterback Michael Penix Jr. who has tossed nine touchdowns this year. Much like Ohio State, the Hoosiers have a couple of talented wide receivers in Whop Philyor and Ty Fryfogle. As if that wasn’t enough, Indiana can also turn to running back Stevie Scott III who has 319 yards rushing and five touchdowns.

Ohio State definitely has even more urgency for a big performance after having one of their scheduled games cancelled. Indiana is looking like it’ll be the toughest contest on Ohio State’s regular season schedule, which means the Buckeyes have to impress.

Even though I have complete confidence that Ohio State will win, I’m not convinced that they’ll be able to do so by three touchdowns. This is a very talented Indiana team who has the pieces to at least hang around in this game. The Buckeyes haven’t been very strong in the secondary this year, which Indiana will try and exploit with Philyor, Fryfogle, and tight end Peyton Hendershot. A two touchdown Ohio State win feels right, but a three touchdown win feels like a little too much.

Ohio State 38, Indiana 24