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MC&J: Week 6 around the Big Ten will see Iowa & Michigan State try to stay undefeated

The Hawkeyes and Spartans will look to stay perfect when they take on unranked foes on Saturday.

NCAA Football: Penn State at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Last week ATS: 7-5 (3-4 National, 4-1 B1G)

Season ATS: 53-36-2 (24-16 National, 29-20-2 B1G)

If you didn’t catch yesterday’s picks for the most intriguing national games of the week, you can catch them here.

B1G games:

No. 10 Michigan State (-5) v. Indiana - 12:00 PM EST - FS1

The Hoosiers have definitely failed to meet expectations this year. Then again, expectations might have been a little too high for what Indiana is. Michael Penix Jr. entered the year coming off a knee injury, and he obviously hasn’t looked right this season. Also, the Hoosiers have had the misfortune of having already played Iowa, Cincinnati, and Penn State. Things aren’t going to get any easier with Michigan State this week, followed by Ohio State next week.

Michigan State has been one of the most improved teams in the country this year. Transfers have certainly helped Mel Tucker quickly right the ship in East Lansing, with running back Kenneth Walker III positioning himself as a Heisman Trophy dark horse. The Wake Forest transfer already has 913 yards and nine touchdowns this year. If Michigan State can stay undefeated, expect to hear more of Walker’s name in the conversation.

Although it’s tempting to take Indiana after they had a week to reassess things and possibly ready Jack Tuttle to play quarterback, I just like this Michigan State team too much right now. No matter who starts at quarterback for the Hoosiers, they are going to face a ton of pressure from the Spartans, which could result in some turnovers. The Spartans add to Indiana’s woes this season and win the Old Brass Spittoon.

Michigan State 34, Indiana 21

Nebraska (-4) v. Minnesota - 12:00 PM EST - ESPN2

Who is going to run the football for Minnesota? Mohamed Ibrahim and Trey Potts are both done for the year, leaving some running backs with little experience to tote the rock for the Golden Gophers. That puts even more pressure on quarterback Tanner Morgan, who doesn’t have the weapons this year that he has had over the last few years.

Nebraska just doesn’t have that clutch gene. It seems like any time that there is a game within a touchdown, the Cornhuskers find a spectacular way to blow it. We saw it last where they had Michigan on the ropes only to let the Wolverines find a way to win in Lincoln. Even with the loss, there are still some positives to take away from the game. Not only has the Nebraska defense been better this year, Adrian Martinez is running an offense that is averaging nearly 500 yards per game.

If Potts was healthy for this game, I would like the Golden Gophers to win here. Even coming off a bye week, Minnesota is just too banged up. Nebraska is going to know that Minnesota will need Morgan to pass the football to win, which is something that Morgan seems reluctant to do. Nebraska has too much offense for the Golden Gophers to match. The $5 Broken Bits of Chair Trophy returns to Lincoln.

Nebraska 31, Minnesota 20

Rutgers (-2) v. Northwestern - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network

This matchup is all kinds of gross. Rutgers is coming off a stretch that saw them play Michigan, Ohio State, and Michigan State, so you know the Scarlet Knights are ready for a bit of a breather. What better way to be able to relax a bit than play a Northwestern team that lost 56-7 to Nebraska a couple week ago.

I just think that Rutgers is a lot better coached team. This is the type of game that I feel like Greg Schiano will pull out some trickery, which will leave Pat Fitzgerald with that stupid look on his face. The Wildcats are a mess, and things aren’t going to get better anytime soon. Not only does Northwestern not have any reliable quarterback play, their key contributors from last year’s team that shocked a lot of people are gone. All of that is the perfect recipe for Rutgers to snap their three-game losing streak.

Rutgers 27, Northwestern 20

Purdue v. No. 2 Iowa (-12) - 3:30 PM EST - ABC

Iowa just went through the wringer with their win over Penn State. The Hawkeyes looked all but dead before an injury to Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford changed the momentum in the game. It’s obvious that Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras isn’t going to beat teams. Instead, the Hawkeyes are going to have to rely on their defense to make plays and set Petras and the rest of the Iowa offense up with short fields.

After starting the season 3-0, Purdue has lost two of their last three games. The good news for the Boilermakers is they had last week off to reset and prepare for the Hawkeyes. It’ll be interesting to see who will start at quarterback for Purdue, since both Aidan O’Connell and Jack Plummer have both taken snaps for the Boilermakers this year. No matter who starts for Purdue, they’ll have to be at the top of their game against one of the toughest defenses in the country.

I do like the Boilermakers in this game to at least cover. Purdue and Iowa have played a number of close games lately, with their last four meetings being decided by nine points or less. I could see the Hawkeyes having a bit of a hangover after last week’s physical contest. George Karlaftis and the Purdue defense help keep things tight in Iowa City.

Iowa 24, Purdue 17

Army v. Wisconsin (-14) - 8:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network

Both of these teams love to run the football, and are great at stopping the run. Army is averaging 318 yards rushing per game, while the Badgers are giving up just 41 yards per game on the ground. On the other side, Wisconsin is racking up 208 yards per game on the ground, while the Black Knights give up just 54 yards per game rushing. The difference is Wisconsin can at least throw the football a little bit.

I know it might be a scary thought to consider laying 14 points with Wisconsin right now against anyone. This feels like one of those games where the Badgers roll. Last week Wisconsin dominated Illinois, and I think we see more of the same this week. While Army might hang around for a bit, eventually the Badgers are going to wear down the Black Knights. Army is just a little too one-dimensional. Wisconsin shows they don’t respect the troops.

Wisconsin 31, Army 10