Last week ATS: 10-4 (5-2 National, 5-2 B1G)
Season ATS: 99-68-3 (48-34 National, 51-34-3 B1G)
Wash down your Thanksgiving dinner, or feast on some leftovers with this week’s national picks.
B1G games (All games Saturday unless otherwise noted):
(All lines courtesy of Draftkings sportsbook.)
No. 16 Iowa (-1.5) v. Nebraska - Friday 1:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network
Despite a 3-8 record. this season for Nebraska has been quite impressive. The Cornhuskers have found a win to lose seven games by eight points or less, and the other loss was a nine-point setback to Ohio State. You have to have some skills to blow that many close games. To close out the season, Nebraska won’t have Adrian Martinez, as the starting quarterback will miss the game due to injury. This leaves freshman Logan Smothers to take the snaps for Nebraska. I’m sure nothing will go wrong for Smothers against Iowa’s defense.
Not like Iowa is going to have a huge edge at quarterback on Friday. At least Alex Padilla has made a few starts for the Hawkeyes this year, so he won’t be as nervous as Smothers likely will be. Padilla hasn’t thrown for much while taking the snaps for the Hawkeyes, but he hasn’t had to do a whole lot with the running game and defense that is supporting him.
Iowa has dominated this series lately, winning the last six meetings with the Cornhuskers. Even though Nebraska has closed the gap lately, losing the last three by six points or less, they won’t enough to top the Hawkeyes this year. Iowa puts a little pressure on Wisconsin to win on Saturday by beating Nebraska in Lincoln.
Iowa 24, Nebraska 17
Maryland (-1.5) v. Rutgers - 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network
Usually there isn’t much intrigue when the two newest members of the Big Ten square off. This year is a little different since the winner of this game will get to the six wins necessary for bowl eligibility. Rutgers was pretty dreadful last week, not even totaling 200 yards in a 28-0 loss to Penn State. The Scarlet Knights have been allergic to the end zone for most of the year, scoring at least 20 points in just three games this season.
Maryland has had a little more success putting points on the scoreboard. The problem for the Terrapins has been keeping their opponents from scoring. At least by siding with Maryland here, we do at least have a quarterback with a pulse. Taulia Tagovailoa has been pretty good against bad teams this year, and Rutgers is certainly a bad team. Even though Maryland leaves a lot to be desired on defense, I can’t trust Rutgers to capitalize on the defensive shortcomings of the Terrapins.
Maryland 28, Rutgers 14
Penn State (-2) v. No. 12 Michigan State - 3:30 PM EST - ABC
I’m guessing that there is going to be a TV-MA rating on the broadcast of this game because of what Jahan Dotson is going to do to the Michigan State secondary. Last week a good portion of the Penn State team was dealing with illness, and they still beat Rutgers 28-0. The Nittany Lions should be closer to full strength this week.
As if losing how they do to Ohio State wasn’t bad enough, the Spartans are dealing with a number of injuries. Most notably, star running back Kenneth Walker III isn’t 100% because of an ankle injury. The Nittany Lions are tough against the run and should use a similar game plan as Ohio State to at least try to neutralize Walker.
Even though neither team has a shot at the Big Ten East crown, it feels like Michigan State is ready for the season to end, while Penn State might have gotten a little shot of adrenaline with James Franklin signing a 10-year contract extension.
Penn State 34, Michigan State 24
Indiana v. Purdue (-15) - 3:30 PM EST - FS1
How anyone could have any faith that Indiana is going to do anything positive on the football field right now is beyond me. Last week the Hoosiers had something called Grant Gremlin (I know that’s not his real last name but it certainly is funnier) and Donaven McCulley sharing snaps at quarterback. The duo went 8-19 for 77 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions. These two are supposed to keep up with Aidan O’Connell, David Bell, and the rest of the Purdue offense?
Not only will Purdue be looking to regain ownership of the Old Oaken Bucket after Indiana won the rivalry game in 2019, the Boilermakers will be looking to secure their first eight-win season since 2007. There’s no reason they can’t do this with ease, as Indiana is one of the most disappointing teams in the country this year.
Purdue 42, Indiana 13
Northwestern v. Illinois (-6.5) - 3:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network
Northwestern is one of the grossest football teams in the country this year. About the only player of note on the Wildcats is running back Evan Hull, who is 92 yards away from reaching 1,000 yards rushing this year.
Not that Illinois is a lot better than Northwestern. At least the Fighting Illini have been competitive in games this year. After Iowa bottled up the Illinois rushing attack last week, Chase Brown and company have to be excited to work against a Northwestern defense that is giving up over 200 yards per game on the ground. Illinois is still trying this year it seems like, which is more than I can say about Northwestern.
Illinois 27, Northwestern 17
No. 14 Wisconsin (-7) v. Minnesota - 4:00 PM EST - FOX
I give a lot of credit to Minnesota this year. The Golden Gophers could have folded after they lost Mohamed Ibrahim in the season opener. Then Minnesota went on to lose 47 more running backs this season due to injuries. Somehow P.J. Fleck led his team to seven wins. Although, you could see that some of the attrition was starting to catch up, as Minnesota lost their last two games before playing a layup game against Indiana last week.
Wisconsin has really found their rhythm after a rocky start to the season. Braelon Allen is looking like the next great Wisconsin running back, as he is coming off a career-high 228 yards rushing against Nebraska. The emergence of Allen has really taken the pressure off of Graham Mertz, who was looking like one of the worst quarterbacks in the country at the start of the season. While Mertz isn’t great by any means, he is at least serviceable now.
The Badgers know that if they win they are headed to Indianapolis next week to take on either the Buckeyes or Wolverines. Teams can’t run on Wisconsin, and it’s hard to see Minnesota getting anything going on the ground when they are down to their 82nd string running back. Badgers win by at least 10 points here.
Wisconsin 27, Minnesota 10
No. 2 Ohio State (-8) v. No. 5 Michigan - 12:00 PM EST - FOX
I’m surprised that Michigan didn’t start passing around some COVID after seeing what Ohio State did to Purdue and Michigan State the last two weeks. Last year these two teams didn’t play because of COVID-19. Not playing The Game is the closest Jim Harbaugh has gotten to a win against the Buckeyes since taking over as Michigan’s head coach.
The Wolverines are going to tell you that they have one of the best defenses in the country. Unfortunately for Michigan they haven’t played anyone with anywhere close to the firepower of the Buckeyes. Ohio State is averaging 47 points per game and 560 yards per game this year. Last week the Buckeyes could have probably put up 100 points on Michigan State if they really wanted to.
I know that Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara thought he was being cute with some of the comments he made about the Ohio State defense this week. All McNamara did was poke the bees nest. The Buckeyes have been improving on defense throughout the season, especially on the defensive line, where Tyreke Smith has emerged as a force. Even though there have been times where the Ohio State defense has given up some big plays, I’m not convinced that McNamara and the Michigan offense can find holes consistently.
I’m just not sure why exactly I’m supposed to be all that impressed with this Michigan team. Sure, they went into Madison and beat up on a Wisconsin team that was lost at the time. The only real big game the Wolverines have played this year, they blew a lead to Michigan State. The Buckeyes are light years better than everyone Michigan has played this year.
I feel like Ohio State is going to go up to Ann Arbor and dominate on Saturday. The Buckeyes know they are closing in on a spot in the CFP, so there’s no question their focus will be there. Michigan just isn’t on Ohio State’s level, whether it be on the field, or with their coaching staff. The Buckeyes emphatically make it nine in a row over the Tickle Bears.
Ohio State 49, Michigan 24