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MC&J: Ohio State looks for another big win, Penn State-Iowa take center stage on Week 6’s Big Ten slate

Before the Nittany Lions and Hawkeyes clash in Iowa City, the Buckeyes will be looking to send the turtles back into their shells.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 02 Ohio State at Rutgers Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Last week ATS: 13-3 (6-2 National, 7-1 B1G)

Season ATS: 46-31-2 (21-12 National, 25-19-2 B1G)

B1G games:

No. 11 Michigan State (-5.5) v. Rutgers - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network

Rutgers did have at least some optimism heading into last week’s game against Ohio State. All that has been washed away after the Buckeyes defeated the Scarlet Knights 52-13. Last year Rutgers did shock a lot of people with a 38-27 win over Michigan State thanks to seven turnovers by the Spartans.

This isn’t anywhere close to the same Michigan State team that Rutgers saw last year. The Spartans have stability at quarterback with Peyton Thorne. Teaming with Thorne is running back Kenneth Walker III, who has already ran for 680 yards and eight touchdowns this year. Aside from the 23-20 overtime win against Nebraska, the Spartans have scored in at least 38 points in their other four games.

Rutgers has come back down to earth a little bit the last two weeks. I just think the struggles of the Scarlet Knights are going to snowball for at least another week. Michigan State feels like “Ohio State Light” right now and we all saw what the Buckeyes just did to Rutgers. I really like the chances of Michigan State winning by at least a touchdown in this game.

Michigan State 38, Rutgers 23

Wisconsin (-10) v. Illinois - 3:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network

What is going to win out more in Champaign on Saturday? Bret Bielema’s quest for revenge or Wisconsin’s desire to get back on track? The Badgers have looked absolutely terrible pretty much the whole season. That doesn’t mean they still don’t have a talented team, though. The play from Graham Mertz has been gross this year, with the Wisconsin quarterback throwing six interceptions and just two touchdowns.

Speaking of gross, let’s switch gears to Illinois. Had it not been for the 257 yards and two touchdowns Chase Brown ran for last week, the Fighting Illini might be 1-5 right now. Illinois was able to beat Charlotte despite getting very little from quarterback Brandon Peters. The struggles on offense are putting even more pressure on an Illinois defense that isn’t very good.

I know that Illinois could get some extra juice from Bret Bielema going against the team he used to coach. I don’t think it will be enough. Illinois is about the only team Graham Mertz has had success against, throwing five touchdowns against the Fighting Illini last year in his debut as a starter. The Wisconsin defense takes out some frustrations on Peters and the Illinois offense.

Wisconsin 34, Illinois 17

No. 4 Penn State v. No. 3 Iowa (-1.5) - 4:00 PM EST - FOX

What a game this should be. I’m just glad Ohio State isn’t involved, especially considering what happened the last time the Buckeyes were in Iowa City. I can’t imagine what it would be like to actually be a fan of one of these two teams, since it is going to go put a little more focus into who might be playing in Indianapolis in December. If Iowa wins, they should have a clear path to the Big Ten West crown, while Penn State will have more work to do in the Big Ten East.

Last week Iowa was able to get their offense going, dropping 51 points on Maryland. A lot of that can attributed to the seven turnovers they forced. Penn State is going to take a lot better care of the football than the Terrapins did. Sean Clifford has already thrown 11 touchdowns this year, with Jahan Dotson being his favorite target.

I really want to take the Hawkeyes in this game since I would love to see the Buckeyes take on an undefeated Iowa team in the Big Ten Championship Game. Even though I know Kinnick is going to be rocking, I just can’t pull the trigger on Iowa here. Penn State’s defense is just as good as Iowa, and I like what the Nittany Lions are doing on offense a little more. In a game that is going to be razor-thin, I’ll take the slight underdog.

Penn State 20, Iowa 17

No. 9 Michigan (-3.5) v. Nebraska - 7:30 PM EST - ABC

After being the laughingstock of the Big Ten to start the season, Nebraska has actually been playing pretty good football of late. The Huskers took Oklahoma to the wire, went to overtime with Michigan State, and last week did whatever they wanted against Northwestern. Adrian Martinez has been getting it done both through the air and on the ground, scoring 15 total touchdowns already this season.

What Michigan has been doing the couple games hasn’t exactly been pretty, but all that matters is they keep grabbing wins. Cade McNamara is gaining confidence at quarterback even though it seems like he keeps losing receivers to injuries. The concerning this is the Wolverines have struggled to run the football in the last two games.

Let’s get weird! As nice as it would be to have Michigan enter The Game undefeated, I think they fall on Saturday night. After such a tough early start to the season, Scott Frost has turned things around a bit. Martinez has the offense rolling, while the defense is at least gaining a little bit of respectability. Frost gets his biggest win at Nebraska and goes a long way to saving his job with a win over a top-10 opponent.

Nebraska 27, Michigan 24

Maryland v. No. 7 Ohio State (-21) - 12:00 PM EST - FOX

Last week was the first Buckeye point spread I was on the right side of. Ohio State looked dominant against Rutgers in C.J. Stroud’s return at starting quarterback after sitting out the Akron game. This Ohio State is starting to look a little reminiscent to the 2014, as a new quarterback is starting to gain confidence. The Buckeyes still have a long way to go to get back in the College Football Playoff race, but they can at least feel good about themselves heading into their bye week with a big win over the Terrapins.

Life comes at you fast, right? Just ask Taulia Tagovailoa. Prior to last week’s game against Iowa, some were calling Tua’s brother a darkhorse Heisman Trophy candidate. Then Tagovailoa threw five interceptions in a 51-14 loss. As if the drubbing wasn’t bad enough, the Terrapins lost leading wide receiver Dontay Demus Jr. to a knee injury. This will mean even more will be expected out of Rakim Jarrett.

This will be a nice test for the Ohio State defense. The Buckeyes have righted the ship a bit over the last few games, only allowing 20 total points the last two weeks. Let’s not start saying everything is fixed though, since those wins came against Akron and Rutgers, who aren’t exactly offensive powerhouses. Still, repetition is key for the defense, and if they can continue the growth, it’ll make Ohio State a scary team down the stretch.

Aside from the 2018 game that was just all kinds of stupid, Ohio State has had no problems with Maryland since the Terrapins joined the Big Ten. The Buckeyes have never scored less than 49 points against Maryland. I don’t see that streak coming to an end this year, especially with how the offense has looked over the last two weeks. The Terrapins will put up a little more of a fight than Rutgers, but the Buckeyes still win easily.

Ohio State 55, Maryland 24