Last week ATS: 11-3 (4-3 B1G, 7-0 National)
Season ATS: 75-75-3 (35-39-1 B1G, 40-35-2 National)
(All lines courtesy of Draftkings Sportsbook.)
Purdue v. No. 21 Illinois (-6.5) - 12:00 p.m. - ESPN2
I’m not really sure what to make of either of these teams. For both, the Big Ten West was in reach and they had no interest in trying to stake their claim to it. Last week Purdue did nothing against Iowa, while Illinois inexplicably lost to Michigan State. The good news for the Boilermakers and Fighting Illini is the division is such a mess they still have a good shot at earning a trip to Indianapolis in December.
Purdue has quarterback Aidan O’Connell and standout wide receiver Charlie Jones, but will they be able to do anything a stout Illinois pass defense? O’Connell has 10 interceptions this year, and Illinois has been great at creating turnovers. Then again, Illinois hasn’t really had to go up against a passing attack like what they’ll see from Purdue.
As much as I want to see even more chaos in the Big Ten West, I think Illinois recovers from last week’s loss to the Spartans. Purdue is just too inconsistent for me to trust in this spot. Illinois can lean on Chase Brown and their solid defense, while Tommy DeVito has shown he is good at managing the game for the Fighting Illini.
Illinois 27, Purdue 17
Rutgers v. Michigan State (-9.5) - 12:00 p.m. - Big Ten Network
Michigan State might have gotten things together just a little bit. The Spartans beat Illinois last week, played Michigan somewhat tough two weeks ago, and before that beat Wisconsin in double overtime. The Spartans know they have little margin for error if they want to go to a bowl game this year.
Rutgers looks like they have ran out of gas. After a 3-0 start, the Scarlet Knights have dropped five of their last six games. After a soft non-conference schedule, the competition has gotten tougher for Rutgers. There seems to be musical chairs at quarterback for Greg Schiano’s team, with a new starter every week. After being outscored 89-17 the last two weeks, I don’t see things rapidly changing for the Scarlet Knights.
Michigan State 34, Rutgers 14
Nebraska v. No. 3 Michigan (-30.5) - 3:30 p.m. - ABC
At first I thought 30 points was a lot to be laying in this spot. After looking at it more, it seems about right. Nebraska is awful, while Michigan does a really good job at beating up on bad teams. The Wolverines grind teams down. We saw it last week, where they had trouble with Rutgers in the first half before using their running game and defense to erase the deficit and cover the spread.
After trashing Nebraska in the first part of this pick write-up, now I’m going to state my case for why I’m taking them. Michigan comes off a night road game, and next week they take on Illinois. I could see them overlooking Nebraska just enough for the Cornhuskers to sneak out a 28-point loss. Maybe Nebraska gets a score or two early, and Michigan has to score 40-45 points just to cover. The Wolverines win comfortably, just not by more than 4 touchdowns.
Michigan 48, Nebraska 21
Maryland v. No. 14 Penn State (-10) - 3:30 p.m. - FOX
It wasn’t a very nice welcome back for Taulia Tagovailoa. The Maryland quarterback returned after missing the previous game, and was greeted in Madison with some hellacious winds, which limited him to less than 80 yards passing. The Terrapins couldn’t really get anything going against the Badgers in the 23-10 loss.
As expected, Penn State had no trouble dealing with Indiana. While the Nittany Lions aren’t in the Big Ten East race, they could possibly position themselves for a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl with a few more wins. We saw a little more of Drew Allar last week in the 45-14 win, but who knows how much he’ll get on the field this week, since James Franklin can’t get enough of Sean Clifford it seems
Maryland’s good enough to hang around here. The Terrapins do have some nice pieces on offense who should be able to find some success against a Penn State defense that is beatable. This might actually be the best game of the week in the conference since these two teams have the ability to put some points on the board.
Penn State 35, Maryland 27
Wisconsin v. Iowa (-1.5) - 3:30 p.m. - FS1
This definitely feels like the toughest game of the week to pick. Neither of these teams is an easy watch. Even though the Badgers have running back Braelon Allen, quarterback Graham Mertz can be sloppy at times with the football. Allen is likely going to have trouble finding much success on the ground since the Iowa defense is so tough.
Did Iowa find a running back? Kaleb Johnson ran for 200 yards in the win over Purdue last week. If Johnson can build off the performance, it will take a lot of pressure off of Spencer Petras. The Iowa quarterback has at least found a reliable target in Sam LaPorta, with the tight end catching three passes for 71 yards and a touchdown last week.
As tough as it is to trust Iowa, I do like the Hawkeyes here since they are playing the game in Iowa City. Wisconsin isn’t quite as solid in past years. It’s hard to see Allen finding any holes on the ground, which severely limits the offense of the Badgers. The Hawkeyes make Mertz beat them, and that only ends in sadness for Wisconsin.
Iowa 20, Wisconsin 13
Northwestern v. Minnesota (-17.5) - 3:30 p.m. - Big Ten Network
There aren’t 179 mile per hour winds forecasted for this game, so I’m just going to assume Northwestern is going to get back to being awful. We’ve seen that really the only reason the Wildcats stay close to tougher teams is when the weather is terrible. It happened against Penn State, and then last week against the Buckeyes. Even if the weather was bad, I feel like Mohamed Ibrahim would just run for like 400 yards.
Minnesota 31, Northwestern 10
Indiana v. No. 2 Ohio State (-40) - 12:00 p.m. - FOX
Ohio State has to have some pent-up anger to get out in this game. You know the Buckeyes have heard they are overrated, Ryan Day is a terrible coach, and they have no business being in the College Football Playoff after last week’s performance against Northwestern. Apparently everybody thinks it’s easy to play in rain and ridiculous winds. I’d love to see some people that were being overly critical try.
There is a little bit of merit to what some of the doubters are saying though. The Buckeyes didn’t come in with a great game plan. It feels like Ryan Day has to loosen up a bit with their play-calling. Just stick to what you are good at doing. There are times when it feels like Day and Kevin Wilson are trying so hard to fit a square peg into a round hole. You have C.J. Stroud and Marvin Harrison Jr. Stop trying to get so cute with things.
It doesn’t help that the Buckeyes have been dealing with some injury issues at running back. It feels like when TreVeyon Henderson is playing, Miyan Williams is out, and when Williams plays then Henderson isn’t available. When both are in the lineup, they push each other. When it is only one of them, they seem to get a bit complacent.
There’s a reason I didn’t say much about Indiana. It is because they aren’t much to speak of. Connor Bazelak throws the ball a lot, but it feels like a lot of that is because the Hoosiers are behind so much. Bazelak lost his best weapon a few weeks ago when Cam Camper was ruled out for the rest of the year with an injury. Indiana isn’t much of a threat to run the football, since they average less than 80 yards per game on the ground.
This feels like a game where the Buckeyes fix some things before a road trip to Maryland, followed by the showdown with Michigan in Columbus. The offense finds some success running the football against a defense allowing nearly 160 yards per game. Stroud puts up some big numbers, and while it’s not a performance that is going to win him the Heisman Trophy, it certainly will help prop up his numbers. Since I’ll be at the game on Saturday, I hope to celebrate Ohio State touchdowns early and often.
Ohio State 59, Indiana 14
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