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MC&J: Week 8 in the Big Ten will see Penn State and Ohio State clash

The Buckeyes are just over a field goal favorite when they host the Nittany Lions on Saturday afternoon.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 14 Ohio State at Purdue Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Last week ATS: 8-5 (5-2 National, 3-3 B1G)

Season ATS: 60-65 (25-38 National, 35-25 B1G)

My picks for the interesting games on Saturday outside the Big Ten can be found here.

B1G games

Rutgers (-5.5) v. Indiana - 12:00 p.m. ET - Big Ten Network

The Scarlet Knights are quietly having a really good season. Greg Schiano’s team is just a win away from becoming bowl eligible and we haven’t even reached November. Last week Rutgers trailed Michigan State 24-6 head into the fourth quarter, and they scored three touchdowns in the final quarter to beat the Spartans 27-24.

Last week Indiana jumped out to a 7-0 lead on Michigan and then failed to score the rest of the game, losing to the Wolverines 52-7. While getting smashed by Michigan was expected, the Hoosiers are getting nothing going on offense this year. Indiana has only scored more than 20 points in two games. The first was when they ran up 41 points on Indiana State, and the other was when they scored 29 points in four overtimes against Akron.

This game is going to be ugly. Laying this many points on the road with Rutgers isn’t something I’m crazy about, but the Hoosiers are awful on offense. At least the Scarlet Knights have shown some moments where they look competent on offense, and their defense is allowing less than 300 yards per game.

Rutgers 24, Indiana 13

Minnesota v. No. 24 Iowa (-3.5) - 3:30 p.m. ET - NBC

It’s wild that a team that is averaging less than 250 yards per game is 6-1 so far this season. Iowa is a mess on offense, and things are only going to get worse since Michigan transfer Erick All is injured and won’t play the rest of the season, joining quarterback Cade McNamara on the shelf. Last week Deacon Hill didn’t inspire much confidence behind center, completing just six passes for 37 yards in the 15-6 win at Wisconsin.

It’s not like Minnesota is setting the world on fire with their offense, though. The Golden Gophers can run the football a little, the problem is Iowa’s defense is so good it’s going to be hard for Minnesota to find any running room. This game will likely look a lot like Iowa’s game against Wisconsin last week. As bad as Hill and the Iowa offense has been, I can see them having a little success on their home turf. I haven’t seen anything from Minnesota this year to make me think they’ll be able to crack the defense of the Hawkeyes.

Iowa 20, Minnesota 10

Wisconsin (-2.5) v. Illinois - 3:30 p.m. ET - FS1

Things just keep getting worse for Luke Fickell. Not only has the Wisconsin offense not taken off quite like he was hoping it would, now quarterback Tanner Mordecai will miss some time with a broken hand. If Fickell was smart, he’d tell offensive coordinator Phil Longo to feed running back Braelon Allen early and often. I’m not sure Longo is smart enough to do that, though.

Illinois was able to slow some of the bleeding last time out when they beat Maryland 27-24. I can’t say that I think the win fixes everything, but at least it gives Bret Bielema’s team some confidence. The Fighting Illini still are having a tough time running the football, which is how they were able to find a lot of their success last season. Quarterback Luke Altmyer has at least calmed down on the turnovers of late, only throwing two interceptions over the last game after tossing four picks against Penn State.

Even with a backup quarterback, I think Wisconsin still finds a way to beat their old head coach. Allen finds space to run against a Illinois rush defense that is giving up over 160 yards per game, and Braedyn Locke will be more comfortable at quarterback since he has some time to prepare to start. Plus, Illinois’ defense isn’t close to the caliber of Iowa’s defense.

Wisconsin 23, Illinois 17

Northwestern v. Nebraska (-11.5) - 3:30 p.m. ET - Big Ten Network

Nebraska has actually strung together some wins recently, winning three of their last four games, with the only loss during that span coming to Michigan. Heinrich Haarberg has given the Cornhuskers a jolt at quarterback with his dual-threat ability. A few more victories for Nebraska and they’ll be bowl eligible for the first time in what feels like forever.

Northwestern also enters this game at 3-3. The forecast for the Wildcats doesn’t look as good, though. Last time out Northwestern only beat Howard by a field goal, and starting quarterback Ben Bryant is injured, which left Brendan Sullivan to take the snaps a couple weeks ago.

As little as I trust Northwestern, I’m not quite ready to lay this many points with the Cornhuskers. I certainly see Nebraska winning this game, I just feel like they’ll make it a lot more difficult than it needs to be. This game has shenanigans written all over it. Watch the Cornhuskers look terrible for most of the game and then end up winning by a late score.

Nebraska 24, Northwestern 20

No. 2 Michigan (-24.5) v. Michigan State - 7:30 p.m. ET - NBC

Michigan State has turned blowing second half leads into art over the last two games. The Spartans let Iowa score 16 unanswered points in the second half a couple weeks ago, losing 26-16 to the Hawkeyes. Last week, Michigan State led Rutgers 24-6 heading into the fourth quarter, but couldn’t leave New Jersey with a win, falling 27-24.

You just know Michigan is going to come into this game pissed off. Not only are they playing their in-state rival, they now have to deal with cheating allegations. The Wolverines better hand out their beatings while they can. I’m sure Michigan fans are going to hold candlelight vigils since they feel like they are being unfairly targeted by the NCAA.

The good news for Michigan State is they’re not going to have a second half lead to blow this week. The Wolverines have played nobody this year, but they are creaming the nobodies that they are playing. I see no reason why that changes this week. The Spartans will be hyped coming out of the gates at home but they are still a bad team.

Michigan 41, Michigan State 10

No. 7 Penn State v. No. 3 Ohio State (-4.5) - 12:00 p.m. ET - FOX

After dominating Purdue from start to finish last week in West Lafayette, Ohio State returns home this week to take on Penn State. This will be the seventh straight meeting between the teams where both programs are ranked heading into their clash. The Buckeyes have won six straight games in the series with the Nittany Lions, but the matchups usually come down to the wire.

Last year J.T. Tuimoloau was the difference in the game, as the defensive end had one of the greatest individual defensive performances in a game in college football history, registering two sacks and having a hand in four of Penn State’s turnovers. Marvin Harrison Jr. was also a beast in the game, with all 10 of his catches resulting in first downs. After scoring 30 points in the first three quarters of the game, the two teams combined to score 45 points in the fourth quarter.

This year Ohio State’s defense is playing at a higher level than they were heading into last week’s game. So far this season the Buckeyes haven’t given up more than 17 points in a game. The Silver Bullets will have to be at the top of their game, since Penn State has a quarterback in Drew Allar who hasn’t thrown an interception yet this season. Along with Allar, the Nittany Lions have three strong running backs in Kaytron Allen, Nicholas Singleton, and Trey Potts.

What is going to set the Buckeyes apart in this game is they have at least been in some high pressure situations, which is something Penn State can’t say they have had to deal with. Allar hasn’t had to play in a hostile environment like he’ll see in Columbus on Saturday. Even though Ohio State does have some injury issues, Kyle McCord continues to build off his positive performances over the last few weeks.

Ohio State 28, Penn State 20