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MC&J: Ohio State opens up their Big Ten schedule on Saturday night against Wisconsin

The Buckeyes head into their Week 4 contest at Ohio Stadium as 19-point favorites over the Badgers.

Toledo v Ohio State Photo by Ben Jackson/Getty Images

Last week ATS: 7-11 (5-7 B1G, 2-4 National)

Season ATS: 28-29-2 (15-16-1 B1G, 13-13-1 National)

National games:

(All lines courtesy of Draftkings Sportsbook.)

Maryland v. No. 4 Michigan (-17) - 12:00 p.m. - FOX

We should find out a little bit about Michigan in this game, since we haven’t really been able to learn much about the Wolverines in their first three games of the season. Jim Harbaugh’s team has won their first three games by a combined score of 166-17, but they have played three of the worst teams in the FBS, beating up on Colorado State, Hawai’i, and UConn.

I feel like I’ve seen this movie before from Maryland. The Terrapins seem like they’ve made a habit of starting the season with a couple wins before falling on their face in Big Ten play and struggling to make a bowl. Maryland is coming off a 34-27 win over a good SMU team. Now, Taulia Tagovailoa and the Terrapins have a whole different animal they’ll have to try and take down this week.

Maryland is going to provide a sizable step up in competition for Michigan. I don’t see the Wolverines not winning comfortably. though. Unlike SMU, Michigan is going to wear down the Terrapins using their running game and a strong defense. I think Tagovailoa makes some early mistakes that put Maryland in a hole they aren’t able to dig out of.

Michigan 45, Maryland 17

Central Michigan v. No. 14 Penn State (-27.5) - 12:00 p.m. - Big Ten Network

Penn State is coming off a very impressive win over Auburn, where they broke the spirit of the Tigers and their fans in a 41-12 win at Jordan-Hare. With all the talk of Michigan and Ohio State fighting it out for the top spot in the Big Ten East, the Nittany Lions are stating their case to be mentioned as a contender for the division title. Now Penn State will return home to play another MAC team, as they already easily took care of Ohio a couple weeks ago in State College.

The Chippewas have a bit of experience hitting the road to take on a Power 5 team after opening up the season with a 58-44 loss against Oklahoma State. Central Michigan can move the football, averaging 474 yards per game. Their problem is they have issues stopping their opponents, giving up 32 points per game. Running back Lew Nichols III is coming off a 2021 season that saw him rush for 1,848 yards and 16 scores.

Even though Penn State had little trouble with their first MAC foe this year after hitting the road the previous week, this feels like it could be a bit of sandwich game for the Nittany Lions, who will step back into Big Ten play next week. Not saying Penn State is in danger of an upset here, I just think the Chippewas could score a late touchdown or two that could at least earn them a cover.

Penn State 48, Central Michigan 27

Minnesota (-2.5) v. Michigan State - 3:30 p.m. - Big Ten Network

There are a couple questions we’ll see answered on Saturday afternoon in East Lansing. Are the Golden Gophers as good as some are thinking they are after easily starting the season 3-0? Are the Spartans as bad as they showed last week against Washington? I do think the Golden Gophers are a serious contender to win the Big Ten West, while Michigan State isn’t as bad as they played against the Huskies.

Minnesota has one of the best running attacks in the country, there is no doubt about that. What is concerning is how they’ll respond when they go up against a defense that can slow down Mohamed Ibrahim and Trey Potts. The Golden Gophers suffered a serious blow when top wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell was ruled out for the rest of the season due to injury. When the run game isn’t working, who will Tanner Morgan call on through the air now?

Michigan State’s problems on defense mainly come from teams that can pass the football. I don’t think Minnesota is going to challenge them through the air like Washington did. Plus, Mel Tucker will have his squad ready to go in this one as they try and get the taste out of their mouth from last week’s blowout loss. Michigan State wins this one straight up.

Michigan State 28, Minnesota 24

Indiana v. Cincinnati (-17) - 3:30 p.m. - ESPN2

Last year Cincinnati used an early-season win over Indiana to vault into the College Football Playoff conversation. We all know how the season for the Bearcats ended up, as they put together the best season in school history. Cincinnati has started off this season 2-1, and while they hung with Arkansas to start the season, the Bearcats weren’t all that impressive in a 38-17 win over Miami (OH) last week, falling behind the RedHawks 17-7 before getting their act together.

Indiana still feels like they are destined to find at the bottom of the Big Ten East, but the Hoosiers have started the season 3-0. Those first three games have been a grind, though. Indiana needed a late comeback against Illinois, trailed Idaho at half. and were taken to overtime by Western Kentucky last week. Missouri transfer Connor Bazelak has at least given the Hoosiers some stability at quarterback.

Cincinnati obviously isn’t the same team they were last year, and that’s to be expected after losing so many key players from last year. The Bearcats are making too many mistakes between turnovers and penalties for Luke Fickell’s liking. Cincinnati beats Indiana for the second year in a row, I’m just not convinced they’ll do so by more than 17 points.

Cincinnati 31, Indiana 23

Iowa (-7.5) v. Rutgers - 7:00 p.m. - FS1

There should be points awarded for punts in this game. Drop a punt inside the 20 and get a point. Inside the 5-yard-line? Two points. This game would be amazing if that was the case. I’m pretty sure we’d see Kirk Ferentz smoking a cigarette on the sideline if punts earned his team points.

Rutgers didn’t exactly impress in their win last week against Temple. All that matters to Greg Schiano is his team is 3-0, though. I do like the Scarlet Knights here because at least they do have a little creative spirit on offense. Iowa is a trainwreck, and a 27-0 win over a bad Nevada team in a game that had a lengthy weather delay isn’t going to change that. If we are taking Rutgers here, we might as well go big and take them to win.

Rutgers 20, Iowa 17

Miami (OH) v. Northwestern (-7) - 7:30 p.m. - Big Ten Network

Northwestern is such a weird team. The Wildcats go over to Ireland and beat Nebraska, then they return home and lose to Duke and Southern Illinois. The loss to Duke is sort of understandable after the Blue Devils started the season 3-0, but the loss to the Salukis is a real bad look. The Wildcats are really struggling on defense, which is something that shouldn’t happen to a Pat Fitzgerald team.

Luckily for Fitzgerald and the Wildcats, the RedHawks have a terrible offense, which is averaging less than 300 yards per game. Quarterback Ryan Hilinski has thrown for nearly 1,000 yards in three games, and should be able to add a big number to that total against a Miami defense that is giving up 274 yards per game through the air. Hilinski and the running of Evan Hull is a combo the RedHawks aren’t able to keep pace with.

Northwestern 31, Miami (OH) 20

Florida Atlantic v. Purdue (-20) - 7:30 p.m. - Big Ten Network

Last week’s Purdue game was one of the weirdest games I have ever watched. The Boilermakers had multiple chances to put Syracuse away, but Jeff Brohm’s team couldn’t stop making stupid mistakes. Brohm has to be kicking himself, because if it wasn’t for collapses against Penn State and Syracuse, Purdue would be 3-0 right now.

Florida Atlantic does have a solid quarterback in N’Kosi Perry, who has 10 touchdown passes this year. Unfortunately for the Owls, everything else has been pretty bad so far this year. Even though Florida Atlantic is 2-2, they are coming off a game where they were dominated by Central Florida. If the Owls can’t slow down John Rhys Plumlee, I can’t see them having any success against Aidan O’Connell and Charlie Jones. The Boilermakers get back in the win column with an easy victory in West Lafayette.

Purdue 48, Florida Atlantic 21

Wisconsin v. No. 3 Ohio State (-19) - 7:30 p.m. - ABC

Remember 2019 when the Buckeyes beat Wisconsin 38-7 in Columbus? This game has a similar feeling to the last time the Badgers were at Ohio Stadium. Wisconsin was able to hold the Buckeyes in check for a little bit before Ohio State pulled away. Wisconsin comes into this game with a mediocre quarterback and a really good running back. In 2019 the Badgers had Jack Coan and Jonathan Taylor, while this year they have Graham Mertz and Braelon Allen.

It feels like only a matter of time before the Badgers move on from Paul Chryst. The Wisconsin head coach isn’t a bad coach, he just doesn’t have much imagination. If Wisconsin waits too long, they might miss out on a strong head coaching prospect that is currently on their staff. Defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard feels like the only thing keeping the Badgers from falling into total obscurity in the Big Ten. What Leonhard throws at the Buckeyes is the only thing keeping me from thinking this will be a total blowout.

Don’t get me wrong, I still think this is going to be an easy win for Ohio State. The Buckeyes always show out under the lights, and they’ll be even more juiced up wearing the blackout uniforms. C.J. Stroud is getting better with each game this year, and he is putting up these numbers without his best wide receiver. I’m not sure where Jaxon Smith-Njigba is at health-wise, but even if he isn’t 100% the Buckeyes still have an embarrassment of riches at wide receiver. As if that wasn’t enough, Cade Stover is giving Stroud a real receiving threat at tight end.

If Ohio State is able to put points up early, I just don’t see how Wisconsin is going to keep pace. The game of the Badgers is when they get a lead, they keep the football away from their opponent and grind them out. That strategy isn’t going to work this week. Defensive coordinator Jim Knowles will smell blood and send his rushers after Mertz and force the quarterback into mistakes. The Buckeyes win this by at least three touchdowns.

Ohio State 44, Wisconsin 21

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