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MC&J: Michigan-Michigan State and Penn State-Ohio State bookend the Big Ten’s Week 9 Saturday

The Big Ten is closing out October in style, as a couple of their biggest contests of the year will take place on Saturday.

Ohio State v Indiana Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Last week ATS: 6-6 (3-4 National, 3-2 B1G)

Season ATS: 62-50-3 (29-25 National, 33-25-3 B1G)

Looking for something to compliment this week’s Big Ten action? I got picks for six entertaining national contests this week.

B1G games:

(All lines are courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.)

No. 6 Michigan (-4) v. No. 8 Michigan State - 12:00 PM EST - FOX

Michigan has done a lot of things well this year, I just haven’t been overly impressed by them. I know they beat Wisconsin in Madison, but we know that the Badgers aren’t anywhere close to what they have been. Aside from that the Wolverines have survived Nebraska and beat a bunch of nobodies.

Michigan State has had quite a turnaround under Mel Tucker. So much so that there are whispers that Tucker could be a candidate for the LSU job. I don’t think the rumors will be much of a distraction since the Spartans have had a bye week to get used to the talk. Michigan State will definitely be the biggest challenge the Wolverines have seen this year, both on offense and defense.

I know there is a thought that Buckeye fans should hope for the Wolverines to be undefeated headed into “The Game”. To me it doesn’t really matter that much since if Michigan State wins here, Ohio State could see an undefeated Spartan squad. I know that Michigan State has already overachieved, which could see them come back to earth here. I’m not buying it. Give me the Spartans to continue their wizardry over “Little Brother”.

Michigan State 28, Michigan 24

No. 9 Iowa v. Wisconsin (-3.5) - 12:00 PM EST - ESPN

First one with points on the scoreboard wins? Alright, it probably won’t be that glum when it comes scoring points in this one. It’s not going to be pretty, though. Wisconsin did at least show a little bit of growth last week, beating Purdue 30-13 in West Lafayette. The Badgers might have found a little something when it comes to running the football, as both Chez Mellusi and Braelon Allen ran for at least 140 yards last week. Wisconsin realized that anything that keeps Graham Mertz from throwing the football is good.

Words can’t describe how bad Iowa looked a couple weeks ago against the Boilermakers. A lot of the Hawkeyes flaws were exposed by Purdue. How Iowa is ranked in the top-10 is beyond me. Spencer Petras is a turnover machine, while the rushing attack of the Hawkeyes might have been hyped up a little too much.

It probably sounds a little crazy to think of backing a team laying more than a field goal. I know Iowa could keep things close because of their defense, I just don’t know where any offense is going to come from. Even if the defense can give the Iowa offense good field position, I can’t see drives ending with more than a field goal. Wisconsin gains a little more momentum with a gritty win.

Wisconsin 20, Iowa 13

Rutgers (-1.5) v. Illinois - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network

Only the sickest individuals would be caught watching this game over either of the first two games we have talked about. About the only person in this game that stands out to me is Illinois running back Chase Brown, who has rushed for over 200 yards in two of the last three games.

Rutgers is on a four-game losing streak while the Fighting Illini have to be feeling a little good about themselves after whatever that nine overtime game against Penn State was. Bret Bielema edges out Greg Schiano in the battle of coaches with four letters in their first name.

Illinois 24, Rutgers 20

Indiana v. Maryland (-5) - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network

It’s the battle of the team with battered quarterbacks taking on a team whose quarterback keeps seeing his wide receivers get injured. Both Indiana and Maryland are coming into this game riding three-game losing streaks, so something has to give.

I have no idea who is playing quarterback for Indiana, and I don’t care enough to try and find out. Even though Maryland is lacking a little bit on defense compared to Indiana, I’m not that scared since the Hoosiers have so much uncertainty behind center. Taulia Tagovailoa plays his best game in over a month, helping the Terrapins snap their losing streak.

Maryland 34, Indiana 24

Minnesota (-7.5) v. Northwestern - 3:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network

It’s probably obvious by now that I don’t think much of Pat Fitzgerald. I know he has won at Northwestern in the past, which is tough to do. This year’s Wildcats squad is not good at all. Unless Northwestern is playing a bottom tier team, they are in a lot of trouble. What’s Northwestern’s best win of the year? I guess you could say Rutgers, which isn’t saying much.

Minnesota easily could have packed things in after losing Trey Potts for the year. Instead, the Golden Gophers have won the two games since they lost Potts, and three games overall. It’s crazy that Minnesota could be playing in Indianapolis in December if they keep winning. What the Golden Gophers do isn’t flashy, but it gets the job done. They should be able to beat Northwestern by double-digits.

Minnesota 28, Northwestern 17

Purdue v. Nebraska (-7.5) - 3:30 PM EST - ESPN2

Even though Purdue just got humbled by Wisconsin, I feel like I’m missing something here. The Boilermakers still have a solid defense, and can move the football through the air, which is an area that Nebraska struggles to defend. Besides, we saw what happened the last time Purdue took a trip west of the Mississippi to play a conference foe.

Adrian Martinez has been doing a lot of good things at quarterback for Nebraska. It hasn’t resulted in many wins, though. The Cornhuskers love losing close games. I don’t know how they keep doing it, yet the keep finding mind-blowing ways to lose by a touchdown or less. Even if Nebraska wins this game, I don’t see them doing so by more than a touchdown.

Purdue 31, Nebraska 27

No. 20 Penn State v. No. 5 Ohio State (-18.5) - 7:30 PM EST - ABC

Less than a month ago this looked like it was going to be the best game of the last Saturday in October in the Big Ten. Even though there’s still a lot of intrigue with this game, it is taking a bit of a back seat to the Michigan-Michigan State game after Penn State has lost their last two games. The Nittany Lions are going to need a big effort on Saturday night in Columbus, or they’ll see their season spiral even farther out of control.

Finally we’ll get to see what Ohio State can do against a real team. It has been great to watch the Buckeyes put up big numbers against so pretty weak teams. Those big wins won’t mean anything if they can’t continue their momentum against Penn State on Saturday night. This is the beginning of a tough stretch for Ohio State. Even though their remaining games are all winnable, now we’ll see if they have the stamina to put themselves in position for a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game, as well as the College Football Playoff.

C.J. Stroud has been playing out of his mind since sitting out the Akron game, throwing 14 touchdown passes in the last three games. Not only has TreVeyon Henderson and the Buckeye wide receivers continued to eat on offense, Jeremy Ruckert has gotten into the mix in the red zone. As if Ohio State wasn’t dangerous enough, now opponents have another weapon to account for.

The Buckeye defense comes in to this game after registering 14 tackles for loss against Indiana. Sean Clifford isn’t exactly nimble, so it’d be wise for Ohio State to pressure the Penn State quarterback so that he doesn’t have time to even consider throwing the football to Jahan Dotson. If Ohio State is able to keep Dotson in check, they shouldn’t have much problem against the Nittany Lions.

If you told me a month ago I’d be picking Ohio State to win by three touchdowns, I probably would have thought you were crazy. A lot has changed since then. C.J. Stroud is playing flawless football, while the defense has righted the ship a bit. I know Penn State plays Ohio State really tough. This is one of those outlier games. The Nittany Lions are just too lost right now for me to consider them covering under the lights at Ohio Stadium.

Ohio State 42, Penn State 20

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details.