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MC&J: Notre Dame-Ohio State undoubtedly tops Week 1’s slate involving Big Ten teams

Games involving Big Ten teams are sprinkled throughout the weekend ahead of the main event on Saturday night in Columbus.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Rose Bowl Game - Ohio State v Utah Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Week 0 ATS: 4-3 (2-3 National, 2-0 B1G)

By now you should know how this works. In a normal week, you’ll see picks for some of the big national games on Thursdays, followed by Big Ten picks on Fridays. This week is a little different since the Big Ten has a couple games on Thursday. Check back tomorrow for a healthy collection of national game picks in Week 1.

B1G picks (All games Saturday unless otherwise noted):

(All lines courtesy of Draftkings Sportsbook.)

Penn State (-3.5) v. Purdue - Thursday Sept. 1 8:00 p.m. - FOX

There is really only one thing you need to know about this game — it’s under the lights at Purdue. As a Buckeye fan, I’ve seen this horror movie before. Although Purdue doesn’t have Rondale Moore, or even a David Bell on their roster, Aidan O’Connell can still put huge numbers on the board. Over his last five games last year, O’Connell tossed 19 touchdowns and threw for at least 390 yards in four of those contests.

Even though Penn State has a lot of questions, it feels like we know what we are going to get with the Nittany Lions. Sean Clifford is entering his 53rd season as starting quarterback, so it’s not like he is going to show us anything new. I’m still not impressed by James Franklin, who is 11-11 in his last 22 games as Penn State’s head coach.

In a game that feels like a coin flip, I’ll gladly take 3.5 points with the home team. The Boilermakers not only win this game, they are going to finish this season with more wins than the Nittany Lions.

Purdue 31, Penn State 21

New Mexico State v. Minnesota (-36.5) - Thursday Sept. 1 9:00 p.m. - BTN

I’m pretty high on Minnesota in the Big Ten West this year. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Golden Gophers are taking on the Buckeyes in early December in the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis.

Having said that, I think this is A LOT of points. New Mexico State is really bad, but the Aggies at least already have a game under their belt this year, so they could be a little crisper than Minnesota. Plus, Minnesota might take it easy on former head coach Jerry Kill.

P.J. Fleck will get Mohamed Ibrahim some work in Ibrahim’s first game since suffering a season-ending injury in last year’s opener against Ohio State. Don’t expect Ibrahim to see 30 carries though, especially since Minnesota should have this game well-in-hand pretty early. The Golden Gophers win by somewhere in the 28-35 point range.

Minnesota 44, New Mexico State 14

Western Michigan v. No. 15 Michigan State (-23) - Friday Sept. 2 7:00 p.m. - ESPN

If Mark Dantonio was still Michigan State’s head coach, I’d feel a little better about banking on the Spartans to sleepwalk through an early season game against a directional state school. Still, I am confident in siding with the Broncos since Michigan State has a lot they are trying to replace from last year’s team that won the Peach Bowl.

Western Michigan is coming off an 8-5 season where they also beat Pitt. The Broncos are a solid squad that has become one of the most consistent programs in the MAC under Tim Lester. Western Michigan isn’t going to beat Michigan State on Friday night, but they will at least make the Spartans work for the victory. Michigan State wins, just not by more than three touchdowns.

Michigan State 38, Western Michigan 21

Illinois v. Indiana (-3) - Friday Sept. 2 8:00 p.m. - FS1

I know it’s dangerous to put a ton of stock in a win over a bad Wyoming team. But, how do we know that Indiana isn’t just as terrible as Wyoming? Last year the Hoosiers were 2-10, with their only wins coming against Idaho and Western Kentucky. Indiana could be even worse this year than they were last year.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 27 Wyoming at Illinois

Illinois could be a bit of a surprise team this year, and I think they will contend to qualify for a bowl game. While that might not seem like a big deal, it definitely would help the rebuilding process in Champaign for Bret Bielema. Chase Brown had a strong season debut on Saturday, rushing for 151 yards and two touchdowns. The Fighting Illini show that the wrong team is favored here.

Illinois 31, Indiana 24

Colorado State v. No. 8 Michigan (-30.5) - 12:00 p.m. - ABC

As much as I’d love to clown Michigan all season long, it will be a lot sweeter when Ohio State beats an 11-0 or 10-1 Wolverine squad. It is obvious Jim Harbaugh wants to be elsewhere. He was interviewing for an NFL job on National Signing Day. Any schools with any stones would’ve canned Harbaugh immediately for missing NSD.

Just look at what Harbaugh is doing with the quarterback position, refusing to name a true starter. Luckily the Wolverines have a Charmin-soft schedule, so taking time to decide between Cade McNamara and J.J. McCarthy won’t hurt them here. Michigan rolls a Colorado State team that will need time to recover from Steve Addazio.

Michigan 51, Colorado State 13

Buffalo v. Maryland (-24) - 12:00 p.m. - BTN

It feels like it has been a while since Maryland has had this much momentum going into a season. The Terrapins finished last season by pantsing Virginia Tech in the Pinstripe Bowl, closing 2021 with a 7-6 record. Back are Taulia Tagovailoa, Dontay Demus Jr., and Rakim Jarrett, which should lead to Maryland putting plenty of points on the board.

Former Michigan assistant Maurice Linguist had a rough first season as head coach of the Buffalo, posting a 4-8 record in 2021. The 2022 season is going to get off to a rough start for Linguist and the Bulls, as they don’t have the weapons on offense to keep up with Terrapins.

Maryland 49, Buffalo 20

Rutgers v. Boston College (-7) - 12:00 p.m. - ACC Network

We have a battle of former Ohio State assistants here as Greg Schiano brings Rutgers to Chestnut Hill to take on Jeff Hafley’s Golden Eagles. If you are looking for offensive fireworks, you came to the wrong place. This game isn’t going to be easy on the eyes, as both teams have struggled on offense recently.

If anything, Boston College has a little bit of an advantage with Phil Jurkovec returning as starting quarterback after missing a good portion of last season due to injury. Even though Rutgers has a solid defense and can get some trick plays to work, I think the Golden Eagles have enough on offense to win by at least a touchdown.

Boston College 27, Rutgers 14

No. 5 Notre Dame v. No. 2 Ohio State (-17) - 7:30 p.m. - ABC

If there are any games during the season to fade me on, it’s probably Ohio State games. There are times when I am looking through scarlet and gray glasses. Always remember, bet with your head and not with your heart. Unfortunately, since this is an Ohio State site, it’s unavoidable that I’m going to be betting with my heart in Buckeye games.

Now that we got that out of the way, Saturday night feels like a great night to beat up on some Notre Damers. It’s going to be even better to watch the Fighting Irish get crushed into fine dust after listening to some of the things tight end Michael Mayer and former Buckeye Marcus Freeman are saying heading into this game. Even more hilarious is former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire trying to come at Ohio State from every angle on Twitter. Unfortunately for Malik, he is having about as much success with that as he did on the football field.

I’ll give Notre Dame this, they are a very solid team. The Fighting Irish are probably ranked a little higher than they should be, but that’s likely to try and throw some more fire on this already hot opening weekend matchup. Mayer is one of the best tight ends in the country, the offensive line is experienced, and there are some really nice pieces on defense, especially Northwestern transfer safety Brandon Joseph. Even with all that, the Domers feel overmatched here.

Ohio State has a lot to prove, especially on defense this year. Jim Knowles has brought a new attitude to a defense that was brutal at times in 2021. Knowles also brought Tanner McCalister, one of his most trusted defenders, with him from Oklahoma State, which should help some of the growing pains as the Buckeyes play a new defensive system. This feels like one of those statement games where the Buckeyes are all over new starting quarterback Tyler Buchner, who will be making his first start in front of a raucous Ohio State crowd.

All this and we haven’t even talked about the Buckeye offense yet. You know the type of explosiveness that we can see from C.J. Stroud, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and others. At first I was thinking that more than two touchdowns was a little high, but the more I think about it, I just don’t see how Notre Dame keeps pace in this one. Ohio State knows how close they are to a national title, and they’ll start the year looking like they are capable of winning one.

Ohio State 48, Notre Dame 24

National pick:

West Virginia v. No. 17 Pitt (-7.5) - Thursday 7:00 p.m. - ESPN

I feel like I’m missing something here. I know Pitt won the ACC last year. I also know that Kenny Pickett and Jordan Addison no longer play for Pitt. Even though they brought in Kedon Slovis to replace Pickett, it feels like the Panthers might come back to earth a little this year after a memorable 2021.

West Virginia has a former USC quarterback of their own in JT Daniels. The addition of Daniels and offensive coordinator Graham Harrell should help to spark an offense that was inconsistent last season.

When these two schools were in the Big East, “The Backyard Brawl” was SPICY! The last time the rivals met was back in 2011, with West Virginia claiming a 21-20 win to earn their third straight victory over the Panthers. The Mountaineers make it four in a row over their northern rivals.

West Virginia 28, Pitt 24

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