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MC&J: Ahead of The Game, Ohio State and Michigan will try and take care of their business

With just two weeks left in the Big Ten regular season schedule, scenarios on who will playing in Indianapolis in December are becoming clearer.

Purdue v Ohio State Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Last week ATS: 8-5 (4-3 National, 4-2 B1G)

Season ATS: 89-64-3 (43-32 National, 46-32-3 B1G)

Can Oregon beat Utah in Salt Lake City? Will Cincinnati stay undefeated? Picks for those games and five other intriguing national contests on Saturday can be found here.

B1G games:

(All lines courtesy of Draftkings sportsbook.)

Rutgers v. Penn State (-17) - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network

Rutgers has been bad against good teams and good against bad teams. So what is Penn State? Somewhere in between I’d say. I know, that doesn’t really help that much. Then again, we saw what happened to the Nittany Lions the last time they hosted a mediocre team. Illinois beat Penn State in nine overtimes.

I do feel like Rutgers has a little more to play for since they are a win away from bowl eligibility. On the other hand, Penn State had bigger dreams this year than how their season is going to end up. It’s possible the Nittany Lions don’t even reach eight wins in the regular season since they finish up with Michigan State next week.

Rutgers hasn’t scored in double digits against Penn State since 2014 when they scored 10 points. The Scarlet Knights score at least 10 points, I just don’t think they score much more than that. Penn State isn’t going to score much either, since Rutgers has done a decent job holding them in check over the last three meetings. 17 points just seems like a little too much for Penn State to be laying here.

Penn State 24, Rutgers 13

Purdue (-11) v. Northwestern - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network

Can anyone with any confidence take Northwestern, even with the Wildcats getting 11 points? Aside from the Iowa game, Northwestern lost the other three games in their four-game losing streak by at least 26 points. Purdue takes out their frustrations from last week’s loss to Ohio State on the Wildcats. Much like most of this MLB season, the home team at Wrigley Field gets handed a big loss.

Purdue 38, Northwestern 14

Illinois v. No. 17 Iowa (-13) - 2:00 PM EST - FS1

It feels like this game is going to be one of the weirdest of the college football season. Even when playing other opponents, these two teams have some really strange games. When they square off against each other, who knows what shenanigans we could see.

Iowa quarterback Alex Padilla has stepped in for Spencer Petras, and actually is playing a little better than Petras, but that’s not saying much. The Hawkeyes at least need to get a little bit of offense from their quarterback, since they haven’t had much success running the football, as they are averaging just 109 yards rushing per game.

If Illinois is going to keep things close against Iowa, the Fighting Illini is going to need a big effort from running back Chase Brown. As if taking on Iowa at Kinnick Stadium wasn’t tough enough, they’ll have to do so without head coach Bret Bielema, who will miss the game due to a positive COVID test. Even without Bielema, I still like the Fighting Illini to at least keep things close enough to cover the spread in an ugly game.

Iowa 17, Illinois 10

No. 6 Michigan (-14.5) v. Maryland - 3:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network

I really want to see Maryland push Michigan to the limit in College Park on Saturday, much like the Terrapins did to Ohio State in 2018 the week before the Buckeyes and Wolverines met in The Game. I’m having a hard time seeing that happening, though.

Taulia Tagovailoa is really good against bad teams. The problem is, Michigan has a really good defense. Not only is Tagovailoa down a couple wide receivers, his offensive line isn’t playing that great, which is a big problem against Aiden Hutchinson and the Michigan pass rush. Dating back to the Ohio State game, Tagovailoa has been sacked 15 times over the last five games. You can probably pencil the Maryland quarterback in for a couple interceptions in the game since he’ll have pressure in his face all afternoon.

Even though they are averaging over 440 yards per game. Michigan’s offense doesn’t really scare me that much. Hassan Haskins is a solid running back, and is nearing 1,000 yards on the season. Cade McNamara is a serviceable quarterback, but he doesn’t exactly strike fear in me with what he can do. This week the Wolverine duo will put up numbers in a pretty easy win. I don’t see the same happening next week for Michigan against the Buckeyes.

Michigan 38, Maryland 17

Nebraska v. No. 15 Wisconsin (-9) - 3:30 PM EST - ABC

After a rough start to the season, Wisconsin has really turned things around, winning their last six games by a combined score of 188-44. It’s no coincidence that the Badgers started finding a rhythm on offense when Braelon Allen was given more carries. The freshman running back has rushed for over 100 yards in each of the last six games.

Nebraska is the best team in the country at losing close games. All of the seven losses by the Cornhuskers this year have been by nine points or less. Nebraska was always going to have a tough time slowing down the Wisconsin rushing attack. That task got even tougher when it was announced that linebacker JoJo Domann, who was third on the team in tackles is out for the rest of the year.

At some point Nebraska is going to lose a game this year by double-digits. I am banking on this being that game. The Cornhuskers can’t go to a bowl game, and Scott Frost’s future for next year has been decided. There’s not much left for Nebraska to play for. This feels like a game where Wisconsin continues their strong play as they position themselves for a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Wisconsin 27, Nebraska 14

Minnesota (-7) v. Indiana - 3:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network

It feels like Indiana has already packed it in for this season. The Hoosiers have scored seven points or less in three of their last four games. It’s crazy to think that Indiana was ranked heading into the season. If only we could have seen what this team could do if they didn’t have to deal with so many injuries.

Speaking of injuries, I’m just going to assume that another Minnesota running back was lost for the season, since it seems to happen every week. Unlike Indiana, the Golden Gophers at least have bowl positioning to play for. While Minnesota has lost two straight games, Indiana is the perfect team to face to get right a little bit. Maybe the Hoosiers crack double-digits, I just don’t see them putting much more on the scoreboard than that.

Minnesota 23, Indiana 10

No. 7 Michigan State v. No. 4 Ohio State (-19) - 12:00 PM EST - ABC

After struggling against Nebraska a couple weeks ago, Ohio State turned back into the team that we thought they could be against Purdue. Garrett Wilson rejoined the team after missing the Nebraska game after being placed in concussion protocol, making up for lost time by becoming the first Buckeye since J.K. Dobbins against Michigan in 2019 to score four touchdowns in a game. C.J. Stroud did a great job of spreading the football around as Wilson, Chris Olave, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba all had at least nine catches against the Boilermakers.

The talented trio of receivers should be in for another huge day this week, as Michigan State has one of the worst pass defenses in the country. The Spartans are allowing 329 yards per game through the air, which has to have Stroud licking his chops to put up even more big numbers to bolster his Heisman Trophy campaign. Even Cade McNamara was able to throw for over 400 yards against Michigan State when the Wolverines and Spartans met last month.

If there is one player that has to scare Ohio State, it is Kenneth Walker III, who has rushed for 1,473 yards and 17 touchdowns. What the Buckeyes have to do to make Walker a non-factor in the game is to jump out to an early lead like they did last week against Purdue. If Ohio State can go up by three or four scores in the first half, Michigan State is going to be forced to pass the football more to play catchup. Going to a more pass oriented offense will also give the Buckeye defense more opportunities to force Payton Thorne into mistakes.

This isn’t going to be the 52-12 rout by Ohio State that we saw in East Lansing last year. The Buckeyes should win comfortably, though. I just don’t see how Michigan State is going to be able to keep pace with Ohio State’s offense. The Buckeyes have been solid against the run after the first two games of the year, so they should at least be able to keep Walker from putting up big numbers like we saw earlier in the season. Ohio State downs one team from Michigan and turns their attention to their the trip to Ann Arbor they’ll be making next week.

Ohio State 45, Michigan State 21

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