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MC&J: Ohio State closes out a five-game home stand as a 39.5-point favorite against Rutgers

Plus, picks for the rest of the action around the Big Ten on Saturday.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Last week ATS: 4-10-1 (2-6 B1G, 2-4-1 National)

Season ATS: 32-39-3 (17-22-1 B1G, 15-17-2 National)

Picks for Alabama-Arkansas, NC State-Clemson, and a number of other interesting national matchups this week can be found here.

B1G games:

(All lines courtesy of Draftkings Sportsbook.)

No. 4 Michigan (-10.5) v. Iowa - 12:00 p.m. - FOX

A win over Rutgers doesn’t change the fact that Iowa is still dreadful. The only reason the Hawkeyes won comfortably against the Scarlet Knights was because they were able to score two defensive touchdowns in the first half. The Iowa offense is only averaging 232 yards per game. They can’t throw it because Spencer Petras is awful, and teams know the Hawkeyes are going to have run the ball because Petras is so bad.

We found out a little more about Michigan last week in the win over Maryland. Even though the Wolverines won by a touchdown, it never really felt like they were in much danger of losing to the Terrapins. Blake Corum is stating his case to be a contender to be a Heisman Trophy finalist, running for 243 yards and two touchdowns last week.

Iowa might have a little confidence heading into this game since they have been so good in games against top-five teams at Kinnick, winning five of their last six. As soon as the game starts, the Hawkeyes will come crashing back to reality. Michigan is by far the better team, and they know how to handle their business. The defense of the Wolverines will cause even more problems for Petras than he already has, as this game looks like the Big Ten Championship Game from December where Jim Harbaugh’s team has little trouble with the Hawkeyes.

Michigan 34, Iowa 13

Purdue v. No. 21 Minnesota (-12) - 12:00 p.m. - ESPN2

I guess I’m not as tuned into the Purdue program as I should be, since I had no idea Aidan O’Connell wasn’t going to play last week. Even though the Boilermakers were able to beat Florida Atlantic, with Austin Burton stepping up and throwing three touchdowns with O’Connell not able to play. It sounds like O’Connell will be a game-time decision on Saturday.

Heading into last week’s game, I thought Minnesota might have a tough time with Michigan State, especially with top wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell sidelined for the rest of the year. The Golden Gophers proved me wrong, earning an impressive 34-7 win over the Spartans in East Lansing. Tanner Morgan had little trouble finding some of his other receivers, passing for 268 yards and three touchdowns, while Mohamed Ibrahim recorded another 100-yard rushing game.

As tempting as it might be to take Purdue here, I’m just not sold on the Boilermakers being able to pull the upset, especially with the status of O’Connell up in the air. Right now the Golden Gophers aren’t just beating teams, they are embarrassing their opponents. Minnesota keeps rolling with a showdown with Penn State in Happy Valley later this month looming.

Minnesota 38, Purdue 17

Illinois v. Wisconsin (-7) - 12:00 p.m. - Big Ten Network

Is Illinois a better team than Wisconsin right now? It’s not as crazy of a thought as it seems. Had it not been for a late collapse against Indiana, we would be talking about 4-0 Illinois. Honestly, Bret Bielema is putting something together in Champaign. The Fighting Illini aren’t going to be going undefeated anytime soon, but at least Bielema’s team is playing more respectable football than we have become used to.

Paul Chryst has the look of a man who just wants to sit in the corner at a Culver’s, eat his food, and for people to leave him alone. The Badgers are coming to a crossroads, since Chryst just doesn’t have the juice to lead the Wisconsin program anymore. Right now it feels like the Badgers have Braelon Allen and that’s about it. Graham Mertz makes too many mistakes, which is a big problem when your offense has trouble scoring points, at least against good teams.

You just know Bielema wants to go into Madison and beat his old team. I believe it can happen! Chase Brown continues to put up big performances, establishing himself as one of the best running backs in the country right now. The Illinois defense is also playing well, and should continue to do so against a Wisconsin offense that feels like a one trick pony. I’ll roll with the underdog to win straight up here.

Illinois 24, Wisconsin 21

Northwestern v. No. 11 Penn State (-25) - 3:30 p.m. - ESPN

In back-to-back weeks Northwestern has lost to Southern Illinois and Miami (OH). I just wish Northwestern could be booted from the Big Ten because they add absolutely nothing, and don’t say they have great academics because nobody cares about that. It’s not like the Wildcats have bad players, since Evan Hull is a good running back, and Ryan Hilinski is a serviceable quarterback. I’m just going to blame Northwestern’s meathead coach Pat Fitzgerald, even though for some reason people seem to love him.

Penn State should be able to beat up on Northwestern here. The Nittany Lions know that October brings huge contests against Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio State, so they can’t afford a bad performance against a team as bad as the Wildcats. One thing Penn State has done well so far this year is beat up on inferior opponents. Last week the Nittany Lions were a little sleepy against Central Michigan but still won 33-14. This week we see James Franklin’s team score early and often, as Nick Singleton has a big game running the football.

Penn State 45, Northwestern 14

Michigan State v. Maryland (-7.5) - 3:30 p.m. - FS1

At least Mel Tucker got his $95 million last year, because it’s hard to see Michigan State giving him the same contract based on results this year. A week after getting blitzed against Washington out in Seattle, it was more of the same for the Spartans as they returned home against Minnesota. Payton Thorne is a turnover machine, already throwing six interceptions this year.

Maryland was able to hang with Michigan for the most part last week, only losing by a touchdown to the Wolverines. Taulia Tagovailoa has already thrown for 1,100 yards and seven touchdowns this year, running a Maryland offense that is averaging 473 yards and 37 points per game this year. Rakim Jarrett did suffered a head injury last week and is a game-time decision. Tagovailoa is also considered a game-time decision but it’s likely he’ll play since he did return to last week’s game after suffering a rib injury.

A huge issue for Michigan State over the past couple years has been their inability to stop the pass. The Spartans let Tanner Morgan and his group of no-name receivers rack up 268 yards and three touchdowns threw the air. Imagine what Tagovailoa will be able to do against the secondary of the Spartans. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Tua’s little brother throw for 400 yards on Saturday.

Maryland 41, Michigan State 27

Indiana v. Nebraska (-4.5) - 7:30 p.m. - Big Ten Network

Indiana comes into this game at 3-1, but they really should be 1-3. The Hoosiers were destroyed last week by Cincinnati, as quarterback Connor Bazelak threw about 424 passes in the 45-24 loss. Honestly, it’s hard to see Indiana finding enough wins to be bowl eligible this year, even with their 3-1 start to the year.

Last time we saw Nebraska they were humiliated in Mickey Joseph’s first game as interim head coach following the firing of Scott Frost. I don’t think Nebraska is quite as bad as they showed in the game against the Sooners. At least they shouldn’t have to be playing at their best to beat Indiana. The Huskers can move the football, they just can’t stop anyone. That problem might not be as noticeable against Indiana, who has had struggles at time on offense this year. I just don’t see Nebraska losing this game, especially with a bye week to try and right the ship a little.

Nebraska 38, Indiana 28

Rutgers v. No. 3 Ohio State (-39.5) - 3:30 p.m. - Big Ten Network

Following the season opener agains Notre Dame, it has been smooth sailing for the Buckeyes, at least on the scoreboard. Not to say there hasn’t been some bumps in the road when it comes to injuries. Jaxon Smith-Njigba has played very little since suffering a hamstring injury early against the Fighting Irish. The smart move might be to sit Smith-Njigba the next two weeks, and after those games the Buckeyes have a bye, so it would give the star wide receiver time to heal for the rest of the season.

The reason why Smith-Njigba can recover without too much worry is because C.J. Stroud has had little trouble finding wide receiver Emeka Egbuka, Marvin Harrison Jr., and Julian Fleming. It also helps that Cade Stover is establishing himself as a dangerous threat at tight end for the Buckeyes.

Even if for some reason the passing game wasn’t working, the Buckeyes have the luxury of leaning on the running game, with TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams churning up yards. Last week the duo became the first pair of Buckeyes to run for over 100 yards in a game since 2020 when Trey Sermon and Justin Fields each hit the century mark against Michigan State.

Since Rutgers joined the Big Ten, it feels like they have been offensively challenged. Those issues become even more evident against a team like Ohio State. The Buckeyes have been great at putting teams away early on over the last three games. Against Wisconsin, Ohio State scored touchdowns on each of their first four drives. Rutgers just doesn’t have the weapons to keep pace.

This marks the ninth meeting between the schools since Rutgers joined the Big Ten in 2014. Ohio State has won all eight meetings, scoring at least 49 points in each contest. There’s no reason that should change this year, as the Buckeyes can pretty much name their score against the Scarlet Knights. Ohio State closes out their five-game home stand to start the season with an easy win.

Ohio State 59, Rutgers 14

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