Last week ATS: 3-10-1 (3-4 B1G, 0-6-1 National)
Season ATS: 85-92-4 (41-47-1 B1G, 44-44-3 National)
My picks for Notre Dame-USC, Iowa State-TCU, and a number of other national games on Saturday can be found here.
B1G games (All games Saturday unless otherwise noted):
(All lines courtesy of Draftkings Sportsbook.)
Nebraska v. Iowa (-10.5) - Friday 4:00 p.m. ET - Big Ten Network
It has been over a month since Nebraska has scored more than 14 points in a game. Over the last four games, all losses, the Cornhuskers have scored a combined 39 points. I have absolutely no idea how Nebraska is going to reach double figures against the Hawkeyes. Even though the Cornhuskers showed some fight last week against Wisconsin, there really is nothing left for them to play for since they come into this game at 3-8 and they know they’ll have a new coach next year.
Not that Iowa is some sort of offensive juggernaut, but the Hawkeyes' defense might be able to outscore Nebraska’s offense in this game. Since the loss to Ohio State, Iowa has been playing better football. Even though it isn’t pretty football, the Hawkeyes have done everything they have needed to do to put themselves in a position to win the Big Ten West for a second straight year.
Is there a chance Nebraska could play spoiler in this game? Of course, there is, especially given how Iowa’s offense moves at a snail’s pace. I’m not banking on it, though. The Hawkeyes smother an inept Nebraska offense on Friday, and as the game moves on you see the effort from the Cornhuskers dwindle.
Iowa 24, Nebraska 7
Rutgers v. Maryland (-14) - 12:00 p.m. - Big Ten Network
As crazy as this sounds, I like Rutgers to cover in this game. Both of these teams don’t come into Saturday’s game playing very good football, with the Scarlet Knights having lost four straight games, while Maryland has dropped three straight. The Terrapins looked better last week in the 43-30 loss to Ohio State, but how much of that can be attributed to the Buckeyes looking forward to Michigan?
One thing we have seen over the years is teams tend to struggle the week after playing Ohio State just because a game against the Buckeyes takes a lot out of you, especially if the game ends up being close. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Terps had a bit of a hangover in this game. I still think they beat Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights are just going to make them work a little harder for it.
Maryland 31, Rutgers 20
Illinois (-14.5) v. Northwestern - 3:30 p.m. - Big Ten Network
If you thought Nebraska’s offense was bad, wait until you see the Northwestern offense. The Wildcats have just 32 points over their last four games. The last time Northwestern scored in double digits was at the end of October. You almost feel bad for Evan Hull, who has 860 yards rushing and five touchdowns this year since he feels like the only Wildcat giving much effort on offense.
Illinois will be able to key on Hull since Northwestern started a create-a-player named Cole Freeman at quarterback last week. The Fighting Illini did a good job at adjusting to Michigan’s rushing attack after Blake Corum found some early space in the game last week. Honestly, Illinois should have beaten the Wolverines last week in Ann Arbor, but Michigan got some help from the officials.
Even though Illinois’ hopes of playing in the Big Ten Championship Game are essentially dead, there is still a lot for Bret Bielema’s team to play for here. Not only would a win snap a three-game winning streak, but it would also get the Fighting Illini to eight wins on the season, which would be the first time since 2007 that they have won more than seven games in a season. Chase Brown has a big day in an easy win for Illinois.
Illinois 34, Northwestern 10
Minnesota v. Wisconsin (-3.5) - 3:30 p.m. - ESPN
It almost feels like the wrong team is favored here. Wisconsin must be living off some of their past glory because right now Minnesota is a better football team than the Badgers. Wisconsin does have Braelon Allen, but the Golden Gophers have an even better running back in Mohamed Ibrahim. Even though Minnesota has questions at quarterback, let’s not pretend Graham Mertz isn’t a liability in big games.
Points in this game are gonna be at a premium, so getting 3.5 of them feels like a huge advantage. Those points are even bigger since Allen is dealing with a shoulder injury, which could limit him some in this game. The Badgers have just been too inconsistent this year for me to lay more than a field goal in what is always a heated battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe. The Golden Gophers win the rivalry trophy for a second straight year.
Minnesota 20, Wisconsin 14
Purdue (-10.5) v. Indiana - 3:30 p.m. - Big Ten Network
Indiana won at Michigan State last week in double overtime while throwing just seven passes in the whole game. The Hoosiers ran the football 44 times for 257 yards against the Spartans. Tom Allen’s team might be able to get away with that against Michigan State, but they won’t be able to do the same against Purdue, who might be playing for a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game if Iowa loses on Friday.
The Hoosiers are giving up over 270 yards passing per game. Aidan O’Connell has thrown 20 touchdowns this year and is 166 yards away from 3,000 yards passing this season. Expect to see a heavy diet of Charlie Jones on Saturday, with the Purdue wide receiver seven catches away from 100 grabs on the season. The Boilermakers won 44-7 last year to take back the Old Oaken Bucket. Purdue keeps possession of the rivalry trophy with a big win in Bloomington.
Purdue 30, Indiana 13
Michigan State v. No. 11 Penn State (-19) - 4:00 p.m. - FS1
Michigan State just lost to Indiana at home in double overtime. I don’t think we need any more reason to take Penn State in this game. The only two losses for the Nittany Lions this year have come to Ohio State and Michigan. Who knows, if the Buckeyes and Wolverines both make the College Football Playoff, Penn State could be in line for a spot in the Rose Bowl. The Nittany Lions have handled their business against bad teams throughout the year, and Saturday will be no different as they bring the Land Grant Trophy (no affiliation to us) back to State College.
Penn State 45, Michigan State 17
No. 3 Michigan v. No. 2 Ohio State (-7.5) - 12:00 p.m. - FOX
Ohio State has been waiting a year for another shot at Michigan. After the Buckeyes dominated the series from 2012-19, the Wolverines took one back last year in Ann Arbor, downing Ohio State 42-27. It’s quite obvious that Michigan fans and their head coach didn’t know how to act after the victory. Jim Harbaugh started spouting off some nonsense about Ryan Day being “born on third base and thinking he hit a triple”. Even though Day took the comment in stride, you know it has been eating at him since.
Day also knows how much pressure is on him. While one loss to Michigan is forgivable over time, two losses in a row would make him public enemy number one in Columbus. Day was already getting harassed in the produce section at Kroger after losing to Michigan last year, who knows what will happen to Day if the Buckeyes lose two in a row to the Wolverines?
Luckily for Day, I don’t see the Buckeyes falling on Saturday. The Game is being played in Columbus for the first time since 2018, so you know the crowd at Ohio Stadium is going to be on one on Saturday. While it’s not quite at 2006 levels when the rivals were the top two teams in the country, the winner of this game essentially assures themselves a spot in the CFP, and the loser might even get in as well depending on how things play out between now and next Sunday.
There are many people that are already chewing their fingers off in nervousness for this game. I’m not quite as worried as those people. Michigan is already dinged up at running back, with Donovan Edwards missing last week’s game, and Blake Corum leaving the 19-17 victory over Illinois. Even if Corum and Edwards play on Saturday, this isn’t the same Ohio State defense that Michigan ran all over last year. The Buckeyes are only allowing 3.1 yards per carry to opponents this year.
Not being as effective running the football as normal will force Michigan to rely on J.J. McCarthy to throw the football more. McCarthy is a very average quarterback, and that’s probably putting it nicely. If McCarthy is forced to make plays, then the Wolverines have already lost. There’s no chance that McCarthy will be able to match what C.J. Stroud is going to do on Saturday.
Not that Ohio State is perfect heading into Saturday. There is plenty of questions about who will be able to play at running back since Miyan Williams and TreVeyon Henderson are both banged up. Luckily for Ohio State, Dallan Hayden is finding his footing in the backfield, rushing for over 100 yards in each of the last two games. It feels like there is no way Williams and Henderson don’t play, but at least with how Hayden is playing, Williams and Henderson won’t be expected to do as much.
I moved to Columbus in 2005 and haven’t had to deal with the Wolverines winning at Ohio Stadium while I have lived here. That isn’t going to change this year. The Buckeyes know they have a shot at a national title this year. There have been games that haven’t gone according to plan, but Ohio State has survived every test so far. This game is what the team has been building towards and I think we see the crispest game for the Buckeyes this year.
The truest words ever came from the mouth of Don Robinson, aka The Rapping Bum. “Go Bucks. Michigan sucks. Help is on the way!”
Ohio State 41, Michigan 27
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.