Last week ATS: 8-5 (4-2 National, 4-3 B1G)
Season ATS: 70-55-3 (33-27 National, 37-28-3 B1G)
Picks for the eight interesting national games on this Saturday’s schedule can be found here.
(All lines courtesy of DraftKings sportsbook.)
Illinois v. No. 20 Minnesota (-14.5) - 12:00 PM EST - ESPN2
Somebody must have a voodoo doll that they are using on Minnesota running backs this year. Instead of AIRBHG I think we can now change it to AMRBHG (Angry Minnesota Running Back Hates God). Trey Potts is the latest Minnesota running back to suffer a season-ending injury. Next up is freshman Mar’Keise Irving.
After beating Penn State a couple weeks ago, Illinois blew a very winnable game against Rutgers last week. The Fighting Illini have a serious problem putting points on the board, scoring at least 20 points in just two of their last seven games, and one of those 20-point outputs was the nine overtime mess against Penn State. When Chase Brown gets some traction running the football, the Fighting Illini aren’t all that bad. It might be tough to find some success on the ground this week though, as Minnesota is allowing less than 100 yards rushing per game.
If Minnesota keeps winning they could earn themselves a rematch with Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game. While the Golden Gophers win this week, it isn’t going to be pretty. It might take Minnesota a little bit to find their footing on the ground with another new running back. Illinois hangs around just enough to stay within the number.
Minnesota 24, Illinois 14
No. 3 Michigan State (-3) v. Purdue - 3:30 PM EST - ABC
Can Purdue ruin another undefeated season for a top-5 team? The Boilermakers already went into Iowa City and beat the Hawkeyes this year. Much like last month when Purdue caught Iowa after a big win against Penn State, the Boilermakers will get a Michigan State team coming off an emotional win over Michigan.
Kenneth Walker III has pretty much solidified a spot as a Heisman Trophy finalist. The Wake Forest transfer running back ran for 197 yards and five touchdowns last week, pushing his total this season to 1,194 yards and 14 touchdowns. Quarterback Peyton Thorne has been solid this year, but he also has thrown six interceptions. The Purdue defense could be able to force Thorne into some mistakes.
Michigan State has had some issues defending the pass this year — just look at last week when they allowed Cade McNamara to throw for 383 yards. Imagine what the Boilermakers and David Bell should be able to do on Saturday. Purdue plays spoiler again and sends the Spartans tumbling in the College Football Playoff rankings.
Purdue 27, Michigan State 24
No. 21 Wisconsin (-13) v. Rutgers - 3:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network
After a brutal start to the season, Wisconsin has found their stride lately, winning their last four games. The Badgers have been dominant in their last two games, shutting down Iowa and Purdue. A lot of the recent success for Wisconsin can attributed to freshman running back Braelon Allen, who has rushed for at least 100 yards in each of the last four games.
Rutgers somehow got a win against Illinois last week, scoring 10 points in the fourth quarter to earn the comeback victory. That doesn’t mean everything is fixed for the Scarlet Knights. The Badgers give up very little on the ground, which will put more pressure on quarterback Noah Vedral.
This feels like a game where the Badgers are going to wear down Rutgers. Wisconsin will chip away at the Scarlet Knights, and then in the second half the combination of Allen and Chez Mellusi will break off some big gains. If Rutgers had any sort of offense I might like them in this spot, I just don’t see them finding much success against a very strong Wisconsin defense.
Wisconsin 31, Rutgers 13
Penn State (-10) v. Maryland - 3:30 PM EST - FS1
Penn State is going to come into this game angry, as they are riding a three-game losing streak. The bad news for Maryland is the Nittany Lions are going to take out their frustrations on the Terrapins. Sean Clifford and Jahan Dotson have been great for the Penn State offense, they just haven’t been able to get much help from the running game. That could change this week since the Terrapins are giving up 160 yards per game on the ground.
Maryland was able to snap a three-game losing streak last week when they took down an Indiana team that is even more wounded than the Terrapins. Taulia Tagovailoa threw for 419 yards and two touchdowns. Tua’s little brother is going to have a hard time replicating those numbers against a Penn State secondary that has some impact players.
Just look at what Maryland has done when they have played any team with even the slightest pulse lately. They’ve gotten blown off the map. The Nittany Lions know they need something positive to happen before next week’s clash against Michigan. Penn State beats up on the Terrapins, denying Mike Locksley’s team bowl eligibility for at least a week.
Penn State 38, Maryland 21
No. 22 Iowa (-12) v. Northwestern - 7:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network
First team to score wins? That’s certainly what it feels like how this game will go. Iowa has scored just 14 points in the last two games, while Northwestern has 21 points in the same span. At least the Hawkeyes have a solid defense to lean on to try and force turnovers and set their offense up with short fields. When the Hawkeyes were winning they were +15 in turnovers. The last two games Iowa has turned the football over seven times.
It’s hard to find anything positive to say about the Northwestern offense. Even though statistically they are better than the Hawkeyes on offense, I have no faith that they will be able to move the football against an Iowa defense that is going to be really angry after their performances against Wisconsin and Purdue. The Hawkeyes will still be without Riley Moss this week, and it’s no coincidence that Iowa’s struggles have come with Moss on the sidelines.
I know I’m probably crazy for thinking Iowa can score 12 points, let alone win by 12 points. If I didn’t have to pick every Big Ten game, there’s no chance I would touch this one. Since I have to, I think we see a rebound from the Hawkeyes here. Much like Wisconsin against Rutgers earlier on Saturday, Iowa wears down the Wildcats and they end up winning by at least two touchdowns.
Iowa 27, Northwestern 10
Indiana v. No. 7 Michigan (-20) - 7:30 PM EST - FOX
Michigan has to be itching to get back out onto the field after blowing last week’s game against Michigan State. The Wolverines had the game against their rival in hand, they just couldn’t finish the job. Cade McNamara pretty much had the game of his life, throwing for almost 400 yards. While there were some suspect calls by the refs, that is something you have to put behind you if you want to return to national prominence.
Indiana finally put some points on the scoreboard last week. The Hoosiers couldn’t snap their losing streak though, falling for the fourth game in a row. Donaven McCulley threw for 242 yards and two scores last week, but he wasn’t facing anything like what he’ll see from Aiden Hutchinson and the Michigan defense.
The Wolverines are going to take out their frustrations on Indiana. I could see this looking a lot like when Michigan played Northwestern a few weeks ago. With such a young quarterback, I can’t see the Hoosiers doing much of anything on offense, which will put even more pressure on their defense. While the Indiana defense will make some plays, eventually it will become too much and the floodgates will open.
Michigan 41, Indiana 17
No. 5 Ohio State (-14.5) v. Nebraska - 12:00 PM EST - FOX
Ohio State got a real solid win last week against Penn State. It wasn’t a blowout like some, including myself, were thinking it would be. We should have known it was going to be one of those typical games against the Nittany Lions that makes you want to pull all your hair out. Had the Buckeyes been able to do a little bit inside the red zone, the final score might have looked a lot different.
Things should go a little different this week. This very well could be the last time that Ohio State takes on a Scott Frost Nebraska team. Frost is definitely on the hot seat, and last week’s loss to Purdue only turned up the heat. The Cornhuskers are 3-6, so its likely that Nebraska won’t find enough wins to become bowl eligible.
You can’t put Nebraska’s struggles on Adrian Martinez, since he has 23 total touchdowns this year. The offense of the Cornhuskers is averaging 470 yards per game this year, which means they’ll likely be able to find some holes against an Ohio State defense that is improving but still has lapses. The key for the Buckeyes will be to bend but don’t break.
When it comes to the Ohio State offense, Nebraska is going to have their hands full and then some. C.J. Stroud continues his stellar play, now having thrown 15 touchdowns and no interceptions in his last four games. TreVeyon Henderson was bottled up for a lot of the Penn State game, but he has proven that defenses can’t hold him down forever and eventually he is going to break a few big runs.
Ohio State hasn’t met much resistance in Lincoln recently. In their last two trips to the home of the Cornhuskers, the Buckeyes have beaten Nebraska by a combined score of 104-21. We’re likely to see another big scoreline on Saturday. Ohio State saw their streaks of 50-point games and 500-yard games snapped against Penn State, so expect to see the Buckeyes roll up the yardage and the points.
Ohio State 52, Nebraska 23