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MC&J: Can Ohio State beat Penn State by more than two touchdowns in State College?

The Buckeyes are looking for their first win by more than 14 points over the Nittany Lions in State College since 2009.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 22 Iowa at Ohio State Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Last week ATS: 5-7 (2-3 B1G, 3-4 National)

Season ATS: 57-67-3 (28-34-1 B1G, 29-32-2 National)

For my prognostications on Kentucky-Tennessee, TCU-West Virginia, and five other national games, you can find them here.

B1G games:

(All lines courtesy of Draftkings Sportsbook.)

Rutgers v. Minnesota (-14) - 2:30 p.m. - Big Ten Network

Minnesota is really reeling right now. The Golden Gophers are coming off a very unhappy trip to Happy Valley, falling to Penn State 45-17. It’s not hard to figure out what Minnesota is: Mohamed Ibrahim and a solid defense. Jump out in front of the Golden Gophers and they are going to have a tough time catching up since they are so reliant on the run.

Unfortunately for Rutgers, they aren’t a team that is going to get up a couple scores early on an opponent, unless it is some cupcake. The Scarlet Knights are going to try to run the football and put their defense in good position to possibly create some turnovers. The 24 points they scored last week against Indiana was their second-highest scoring output of the season.

Remember earlier in the year when Minnesota was trucking opponents? I’m not saying this game is going to look exactly like that, but this feels like a game where Ibrahim and company take out some frustrations on the Scarlet Knights. The Golden Gophers snap their three-game losing streak with a three touchdown win.

Minnesota 34, Rutgers 13

No. 17 Illinois (-7.5) v. Nebraska - 3:30 p.m. - ABC

Illinois doesn’t play the sexiest football, and that’s exactly how Bret Bielema likes it. Chase Brown has been a horse for the Fighting Illini so far this season, leading the country with 1,059 yards rushing. Syracuse transfer quarterback Tommy DeVito has been smart with the football and made plays when needed, throwing 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

How far has Nebraska fallen? A 43-37 loss to Purdue doesn’t seem like all that bad of a result for the Cornhuskers right now. Nebraska has some ok pieces on offense with quarterback Casey Thompson, running back Anthony Grant, and receiver Trey Palmer. Their defense is just so bad, though.

Lincoln certainly doesn’t have the same mystique that it used to. Illinois already went to Madison and opened a can on Wisconsin earlier this year, so their is no reason to think they can do the same at the home of another fading Big Ten program. The Fighting Illini are going to use Brown to control the clock and wear down an already weak Nebraska defense. Illinois continues to put themselves in position to take a trip to Indianapolis in December.

Illinois 31, Nebraska 17

Northwestern v. Iowa (-11) - 3:30 p.m. - ESPN2

Can these teams even combine to score 11 points? I’m skeptical. Last week Northwestern scored 24 points in a loss to Maryland, snapping a two-game streak in which they failed to reach double digits on the scoreboard. The Wildcats were at least able to get their ground game going a little bit, rushing for over 200 yards in the game.

We all saw just how bad Iowa is on offense this year. Offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz should be on trial for war crimes for the offense he is running. There is no imagination with anything Iowa does, and that just doesn’t work these days in college football. Who I feel bad for is the Iowa defense, because they have some good players that are getting absolutely no help from their offense. Honestly, the Iowa defense is the offense.

I’m not expecting Iowa to reinvent the wheel after the criticism that has been hurdled at the Kirk and Brian Ferentz, but maybe they at least introduce a few little wrinkles to build even the slightest bit of confidence. Even with everything I said about Iowa, they know how to beat bad teams. Just look at what they did to Rutgers, winning 27-10 on the road. Beating a Northwestern team that is terrible by a couple touchdowns isn’t asking all that much.

Iowa 24, Northwestern 10

Michigan State v. No. 4 Michigan (-23) - 7:30 p.m. - ABC

Which Michigan team do we get in this game? Is it the Wolverine team that blew the doors of Penn State, or is it the Michigan team that had decent wins against Maryland and Indiana but weren’t all the impressive? Jim Harbaugh’s team knows if they handle their business they are on a collision course with Ohio State. While the running game of the Wolverines gets a lot of attention, J.J. McCarthy should have a strong night against one of the worst passing defenses in the country.

A win against Wisconsin doesn’t just fix everything for the Spartans. Even though it was nice to add to the misery of the Badgers, the Spartans still have a bad defense. Last year Kenneth Walker III was able to make up for some of the defensive lapses with his incredible season, but Michigan State hasn’t found anyone that has come close to replicating what Walker did last year.

I know Michigan State has had Michigan’s number lately. This sort of feels like 2019 when Michigan smashed their rival in Ann Arbor. It’s hard to not see the defense of the Wolverines causing a lot of problems for Payton Thorne and the Spartans. Michigan is a lot better team than Michigan State, and it will show on Saturday night.

Michigan 44, Michigan State 17

No. 2 Ohio State (-14.5) v. No. 13 Penn State - 12:00 p.m. - FOX

Both Ohio State and Penn State come into this game off of big wins last week. The Buckeyes housed Iowa 54-10, while the Nittany Lions ran away from Minnesota in the second half on Saturday night. It is fitting this game usually takes place around Halloween since usually some really weird things happen, especially when it takes place in State College. Luckily this game isn’t under the lights, nullifying Penn State’s “white out” sorcery.

Even though Ohio State went into halftime up by 16 last week, the way some people were talking you would think they were down by 16. Sometimes it feels like fans expect the Buckeyes to play perfect football, and even the littlest thing will set people off. Even though Ohio State somehow played unacceptable football to some in the first half, they still scored 54 points in the game.

Right now it’s hard to think of anyone in the country that would be able to keep pace with Ohio State. The Nittany Lions have a decent offense, but you know what you are getting with Sean Clifford since there is plenty of tape on him from his 83 years as starting quarterback. Freshman running back Nick Singleton is going to be a problem for the Big Ten the next few years, though.

Each week you can see Ohio State’s defense gaining confidence, as they are becoming more comfortable running Jim Knowles’ defense. Last week the Buckeyes forced a bunch of turnovers against Iowa, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them force Clifford into some mistakes on Saturday. It’ll be interesting to see if Ohio State gets to Clifford early, does James Franklin turn to Drew Allar?

Penn State at noon doesn’t scare me anywhere close to how much Penn State at night in State College does. Even though the Nittany Lions have a tough defense, they aren’t unbreakable. Just look what Michigan did to them a couple weeks ago. There are going to be moments when the Buckeyes have some lapses on defense, but the offense is going to more than make up for them, notching another 50-point performance.

Ohio State 52, Penn State 27

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