Last week ATS: 6-4-2 (2-2-2 B1G, 4-2 National)
Season ATS: 35-29-2 (5-6-2 B1G, 30-23 National)
If you missed yesterday’s national picks for Clemson-Notre Dame, Florida-Georgia, and five other big contests, you can find them here.
No. 23 Michigan (-3) v. No. 13 Indiana - 12:00 PM EST - FS1
After dominating Minnesota to open the season, Michigan fell on their face last week against Michigan State. The downfall of the Wolverines was the play of the offensive line, which had to replace four starters from last year. After running for 256 yards against the Golden Gophers, Michigan was only able to rush for 152 yards last week, with quarterback Joe Milton being the leading rusher with 59 yards.
Indiana may be 2-0, but there are some areas that the Hoosiers have to address. The Hoosiers are averaging just 279 yards per game, which is ninth-worst in the country. If the Wolverines can bottle up running back Stevie Scott III, it could make for a long day for quarterback Michael Penix Jr. At least if Indiana has to take to the air, Penix does have a trio of trusted receivers to try and find in Whop Philyor, Ty Fryfogle, and tight end Peyton Hendershot.
As hilarious as it would be to see Indiana beat Michigan, we have to remember that Indiana is still Indiana. This has a feel like one of those games where Indiana can take the next step as a program, only to see the Hoosiers lose in spectacular fashion. Indiana winning would be such a fun thing to see, and we all know how much Michigan and Jim Harbaugh hate fun. The Wolverines win by a touchdown on Saturday in Bloomington.
Michigan 31, Indiana 24
Nebraska v. Northwestern (-3.5) - 12:00 PM EST - BTN
I still have no idea what to think about Northwestern. The Wildcats fell behind early last week against Iowa before the Hawkeyes forgot how to play football. Indiana transfer Peyton Ramsey has been a massive upgrade over whatever the Wildcats had at quarterback last year. The running game has also been energized behind Isaiah Bowser and Drake Anderson.
After falling to Ohio State to start the season, Nebraska got an unexpected week off last week because COVID was running rampant through the Wisconsin program. The Cornhuskers will be shorthanded for the first half of the game, as Cam Taylor-Britt and Deontai Williams will be sitting out because of targeting penalties they committed in the second half against the Buckeyes.
This series has been incredibly tight since Nebraska joined the Big Ten, with seven of the last nine meetings being decided by a touchdown or less. I’m hesitant to take Northwestern here, but I do think they are the right pick. The Wildcats need to jump on the Cornhuskers early, especially with the losses Nebraska will have in the secondary in the first half. If Northwestern is able to build an early lead, it’s going to be really tough for the Cornhuskers to come back on Paddy Fisher and the defense of the Wildcats.
Northwestern 27, Nebraska 20
Michigan State v. Iowa (-6.5) - 12:00 PM EST - ESPN
Which Michigan State team do we get on Saturday? The team that turned the football over seven times in a loss to Rutgers? Or the team that didn’t commit a turnover in the win against Michigan last week? Quarterback Rocky Lombardi at least was able to show he can hold his own in Big Ten play, throwing for 323 yards and three touchdowns against the Wolverines.
Iowa is a mess right now. The Hawkeyes blew an early 17-0 lead against Northwestern last week to fall to 0-2 on the season. As if that wasn’t bad enough, just hours after the game on Saturday wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette was arrested for OWI. Smith-Marsette is suspended for Saturday’s game, which will give quarterback Spencer Petras one less target to work with. Petras has really struggled in his first season as starter, completing just 53.9% of his passes and throwing three interceptions so far through two games.
Even though this feels like a perfect spot for a letdown for Michigan State, I can’t pull the trigger on an Iowa team that is still trying to find their identity. The Hawkeyes very well could beat the Spartans, I just don’t see them doing so by a touchdown or more.
Michigan State 24, Iowa 21
Maryland v. Penn State (-25) - 3:30 PM EST - BTN
How impressive was Taulia Tagovailoa on Friday night? The Alabama transfer threw for 294 yards and accounted for five total touchdowns in the upset of Minnesota. Not only was Tagovailoa outstanding against the Golden Gophers, but running back Jake Funk rushed for 221 yards and a touchdown in the victory.
Penn State has a chance to get right this weekend. The Nittany Lions are 0-2 after losses to Indiana and Ohio State to start the season. Sean Clifford has done everything he can to try and lead Penn State to victory, he just hasn’t gotten much help on offense aside from Jahan Dotson and Pat Freiermuth making some big catches. The problem for the Penn State offense is they haven’t been able to do anything on the ground after losing Journey Brown and Noah Cain.
At least if there was a time for the running game of the Nittany Lions to start finding its legs, it is this week. Last week Minnesota gashed Maryland on the ground for 325 yards, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Penn State do the same, even with being shorthanded in the backfield. The Terrapins aren’t going to have anywhere close to the success against Penn State that they did against Minnesota. The Nittany Lions win comfortably to get their first win of the season.
Penn State 48, Maryland 17
Minnesota (-7) v. Illinois - 3:30 PM EST - BTN
Offense hasn’t been the problem for Minnesota so far this year. Running back Mohamed Ibrahim followed up his 140-yard rushing performance against Michigan with 207 yards and four touchdowns against Minnesota. The Golden Gophers also still have wide receivers Rashod Bateman and Chris Autman-Bell for Tanner Morgan to find through the air.
If there was ever anyone for Minnesota to get right against, it would be against Illinois. The Fighting Illini are allowing over 440 yards of offense per game in their two losses to open up the season. As if the defense wasn’t enough to worry about, Illnois is down to their fourth-string quarterback after Brandon Peters tested positive for COVID-19 and backup Isaiah Williams will be out for the game due to contract tracing, leaving Coran Taylor to start.
This has all the makings of a bounce-back game for Minnesota. The same could have been said last week against Maryland, but this week they’ll be going against a shorthanded Illinois team. If Minnesota can feed Ibrahim and setup the play-action, it’ll make for a long afternoon for Lovie Smith’s team.
Minnesota 38, Illinois 21
Rutgers v. No. 3 Ohio State (-38) - 7:30 PM EST - BTN
Ohio State will be hoping to give former defensive coordinator Greg Schiano a rude welcome back to Columbus. Schiano is now in his second stint as Rutgers head coach, and the first two games have seen improved play from the Scarlet Knights. Taking the snaps for Rutgers will be Nebraska transfer quarterback Noah Vedral, who has at least provided the Scarlet Knights with a little bit of stability, which is something they have been lacking for much of their time in the Big Ten.
Schiano won’t be the only former Buckeye returning to Columbus on Saturday night. Safety Brendon White transferred to Rutgers in the offseason after spending the first three years of his college career at Ohio State. White already has 17 tackles, an interception, and fumble recovery in his first two games with the Scarlet Knights.
While the defense of Rutgers shouldn’t give Ohio State a ton of problems, expect to see linebackers Olakunle Fatukasi and Tyshon Fogg around the football a lot. Fatukasi was named Bednarik Award Player of the Week for his performance against Michigan State, while Fogg was the leading tackler of the Scarlet Knights last year. Along with White, the trio has injected some energy into the Rutgers defense.
What more can we say about Justin Fields? The junior quarterback has as many incompletions as touchdowns this year, and is making a strong case for the Heisman Trophy. Fields has found wide receivers Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave early and often this season, with the duo being the first pair of Ohio State receivers to go over 100 yards receiving in back-to-back games.
Last week the Ohio State running game showed improvement from what we saw against Nebraska. Master Teague carried 23 times for 110 yards, notching the third 100-yard rushing game of his career. If the Ohio State offensive line can continue to make progress in clearing holes for Teague and Sermon, it’s going to be very hard for anyone around the country to slow down the Buckeyes.
Since Rutgers joined the Big Ten, the Scarlet Knights haven’t had any success against the Buckeyes. In their six meetings with Rutgers, Ohio State hasn’t won by less than 35 points. The Buckeyes haven’t scored less than 49 points in a game against Rutgers, and the combined score in those six meetings is 327-48.
Even though the Scarlet Knights have been better to start the year, it’s hard to see this game not being a blowout. While the goal of the Buckeyes is to win the game, just as important is to get out of the game healthy. Hopefully we only see Justin Fields for the first half, because if he plays any longer than that, it means the game is somewhat close. Even when Ohio State does put their backups in, the reserves still are probably better than the starters for Rutgers, so it takes some of the worry away of a backdoor cover by the Scarlet Knights.
The Buckeyes should be up by 35-38 points at half, and they should add a couple more scores to their lead in the second half.
Ohio State 63, Rutgers 14