Last week ATS: 3-8-1 (2-5 National, 1-3-1 B1G)
Season ATS: 56-44-3 (26-21 National, 30-23-3 B1G)
This week’s B1G picks not enough for you? Predictions for some saucy national games on Saturday can be found here.
(All lines are courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.)
Northwestern v. No. 6 Michigan (-23.5) - 12:00 PM EST - FOX
It feels a little odd to say that a team coming off a bye week could be looking ahead. Michigan has a massive showdown against Michigan State next week, so you have to imagine that there are already thoughts amongst the Wolverines that the possible undefeated clash with their rival could be one of the biggest games in school history in the last decade.
There’s not much special about the Wildcats. Northwestern at least rebounded from a 56-7 loss to Nebraska with a 21-7 win over Rutgers. Ryan Hilinski has steadied things at the quarterback position for the Wildcats. The defense has also been pretty good, allowing seven points or less in three of the last five games, although those performances have come against Rutgers, Ohio, and Indiana State. Not exactly a murderers row of offenses.
Michigan should win this game comfortably. It won’t be a complete blowout, though. Northwestern will do just enough to stay within three touchdowns. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jim Harbaugh maybe pull back on the reins a little earlier than normal with such a huge game on the horizon next Saturday.
Michigan 35, Northwestern 17
Illinois v. No. 7 Penn State (-24) - 12:00 PM EST - ABC
This feels a lot like the first game we talked about this week. Penn State is coming off a bye week following their devastating loss to Iowa. Next week the Nittany Lions have a trip to Columbus to take on Ohio State in a game that will help to shape where the Big Ten East is heading.
If there was ever a time for Illinois to catch Penn State, this might be it. Sean Clifford was injured in the loss to Iowa, and there was an obvious drop-off with second string quarterback Ta’Quan Robinson taking the snaps. It’s unknown if Clifford will play this week against the Fighting Illini, but it’d be smart to rest Clifford ahead of next week’s game against the Buckeyes. Penn State will also be without starting defensive lineman P.J. Mustipher for the rest of the season.
Illinois has some problems of their own, as Bret Bielema took a shot at current players on the roster saying they weren’t “his players”. This could go one of two ways. Either the players could just give up, or it could light a fire under them. I think we see a little more spirited effort from the Fighting Illini this week. I think much like Northwestern, Illinois does just enough to stay inside the number.
Penn State 31, Illinois 10
Wisconsin (-3) v. No. 25 Purdue - 3:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network
I feel like a big sucker since I like Purdue a lot here. I’m sure suckers like me are why they built so many of those big buildings in Las Vegas over the years. Purdue just went into Kinnick Stadium and dominated Iowa, which is something we don’t see very often. Now they return home and are an underdog to a Wisconsin team that hasn’t looked good this year. It just doesn’t make sense to me.
Unlike previous years when Purdue has had a great offense, this year the Boilermakers actually have a little bit of defense. I bet that George Karlaftis is licking his chops thinking about chasing down Graham Mertz on Saturday. Mertz already has seven interceptions this year, and I could definitely see him throwing a couple more in West Lafayette
If David Bell can do what he did last week against a tough Iowa defense, I don’t see why he can’t at least make some plays against Wisconsin. The Boilermakers got over a huge hurdle when they beat Iowa last week. Now they know all they have to do is keep winning and they could shock the rest of the conference and earn a trip to the Big Ten Championship Game. There are still some hurdles for Purdue, but they clear another one at home on Saturday.
Purdue 24, Wisconsin 20
Maryland v. Minnesota (-5) - 3:30 PM EST - ESPN2
Which Tanner Morgan are we going to get on Saturday? The one who had trouble completing passes earlier in the year, or the one who looked like he couldn’t miss for most of the game on Saturday against Nebraska. The Golden Gophers definitely rallied after losing Trey Potts for the season, as Bryce Williams rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown against the Cornhuskers.
Maryland certainly isn’t going to feel bad for anyone else’s injury issues. The Terrapins lost leading receiver Dontay Demus Jr. in the loss to Iowa, followed by seeing Jeshaun Jones injured against Ohio State. This puts even more pressure on Rakim Jarrett to pick up some of the slack with Demus and Jones on the shelf. Taulia Tagovailoa has come back to earth the last two games, throwing seven interceptions against the Hawkeyes and Buckeyes.
Last year’s game between these teams was wild, with Maryland winning 45-44 in overtime. We aren’t going to see as many points this year, since both offenses are dealing with injuries. I just like how the Golden Gophers responded last week. The effort carries over to this week, while the Terrapins can feel their season slipping away.
Minnesota 31, Maryland 21
No. 5 Ohio State (-21) v. Indiana - 7:30 PM EST - ABC
Heading into this season, you know that Indiana had this game circled on their schedule. While the Hoosiers will still be pumped up to play the Buckeyes under the lights, the season hasn’t gone anywhere close to according to plan so far. Michael Penix Jr. is obviously still dealing with a knee injury, which has turned him into a turnover machine at quarterback. Indiana still has Ty Fryfogle and Peyton Hendershot, but the passing game hasn’t struck fear in opponents this year quite like this did last season.
Imagine how we would be talking about Ohio State right now had they been able to beat Oregon earlier this season. We might be looking at the Buckeyes ranked second in the country. Even with the loss, the College Football Playoff is still within reach for Ohio State since chaos has been the theme of the season so far around the country.
Much like in 2014 when J.T. Barrett found his footing after a rough start to the season, C.J. Stroud has looked phenomenal since sitting out against Akron. Stroud has thrown for 736 yards and 10 touchdowns over the last two games. The redshirt freshman quarterback has been so good that the Buckeyes haven’t needed a lot from TreVeyon Henderson, who was carrying the team early on in the season. Not having to use Henderson quite so much lately will also help keep him fresher for some of Ohio State’s bigger games later in the year.
I just don’t see how Indiana is going to be able to keep up with the Buckeyes on Saturday night. Jack Tuttle will get the nod for Indiana at quarterback, but he doesn’t strike a lot of fear in me when it comes to moving the offense for the Hoosiers. Tuttle threw a couple picks last week and only completed just over 50% of his passes. Ohio State’s secondary is gaining confidence, so I would expect to see them intercept at least two passes on Saturday night.
While I think that Jim Harbaugh and James Franklin might pull their starters a little earlier than normal this week if they have the game in hand, I don’t think Ryan Day will do the same. He’ll want his team riding high heading into next week’s game against Penn State. The Buckeyes also need so big wins since they could be the difference between making the playoff and missing out. Ohio State has won their last two trips to Bloomington by at least 28 points. Make it three in a row.
Ohio State 52, Indiana 21
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.