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MC&J: Week 9 in the Big Ten will see if Ohio State can continue their streak of covering

The Buckeyes are 14.5-point favorite in Saturday’s night showdown with Wisconsin in Madison.

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

Last week ATS: 9-4 (4-3 National, 5-1 B1G)

Season ATS: 69-67 (29-41 National, 40-26 B1G)

My picks for Oregon-Utah and six other intriguing national games can be found here.

B1G games

Indiana v. No. 10 Penn State (-31.5) - 12:00 p.m. ET - CBS

One thing we know about Penn State is the Nittany Lions love to beat up on bad teams. That’s bad news for Indiana, especially after Penn State wasn’t able to get much of anything going last week in Columbus. There is the chance the Nittany Lions could have a bit of a hangover after loss to the Buckeyes, but the Hoosiers don’t have enough talent to take advantage of a sluggish start from James Franklin’s team.

Normally I wouldn’t be a fan of laying this many points in a Big Ten game. This is a different situation, though. Drew Allar and the Penn State offense are going to put points on the board often in this one. I just don’t see Indiana being able to stay close. A few weeks ago the Hoosiers came out hot and score a touchdown on Michigan early, only to allow the Wolverines to run off 52 unanswered points. This game against Penn State could have a very similar scoreline.

Penn State 48, Indiana 10

Maryland (-13.5) v. Northwestern - 12:00 p.m. ET - Big Ten Network

Just when you think Maryland has things figured out, then the Terps go all Maryland. The loss to Ohio State was understandable. The loss to Illinois was inexcusable. Mike Locksley’s team had last week off to regroup and figure out how they are going to snap their two-game losing streak.

Northwestern plays hard, they just aren’t a good team. It doesn’t help they fired their head coach prior to the season due to the hazing scandal, and they are now on their backup quarterback. Last week against Nebraska, Brendan Sullivan was 12-of-23 for 176 yards, and he tossed an interception. The biggest issue for the Wildcats is they can’t run the football, which will put even more pressure on Sullivan to make plays.

With a week off to recharge, I think we see a better performance out of Maryland, especially since they know a win will make them bowl eligible. The offense of the Terrapins has too many weapons for the Wildcats to slow down. I trust Maryland to win by more than two touchdowns more than I trust Northwestern to lose by less than 14 points.

Maryland 34, Northwestern 14

Michigan State v. Minnesota (-7) - 3:30 p.m. ET - Big Ten Network

If anyone is having problems with insomnia, this is the game for you. Michigan State is fresh off getting embarrassed by Michigan in East Lansing on Saturday night. Even if Michigan wasn’t stealing signs, it wouldn’t have mattered since Sparty is dreadful this year. Katin Houser doesn’t look like the answer at quarterback for Michigan State, but right now he’s the best they got, which is a scary thing to say.

At least Minnesota comes into this game feeling good about themselves after gritting out a 12-10 win at Iowa on Saturday. It’s not like the Golden Gophers set the world on fire though, as they amassed less than 250 yards of offense in the victory. Then again, it wasn’t like Minnesota was piling up the points before the game against the Hawkeyes.

As bad as the Spartans have been this year, I don’t like the idea of laying a touchdown with a Minnesota offense that has struggled to score points this year. Michigan State can’t possibly play as bad as they did last week. This game is an ugly affair that is decided by a field goal.

Minnesota 20, Michigan State 17

Purdue v. Nebraska (-2.5) - 3:30 p.m. ET - FS1

Are you ready to talk to your children about bowl eligible Nebraska? The Cornhuskers still have some work to do, but they are two wins away from being bowl eligible for the first time since 2017. Even though last week’s win over Northwestern wasn’t pretty, all that matters is Nebraska sent the Wildcats back to Evanston with a loss. Heinrich Haarberg has been serviceable at quarterback after taking over for Georgia Tech transfer Jeff Sims Jr.

The first season for Ryan Walters as head coach of Purdue has been a nightmare. The Boilermakers are 2-5, with their latest loss being a 41-7 stomping at the hands of Ohio State a couple weeks ago. Hudson Card doesn’t have the weapons to work with to put points up like the Purdue teams of the last few years, while Devin Mockobee and the running game have pretty much been non-existent.

I trust Nebraska a lot more than I trust Purdue right now. Matt Rhule is stacking wins in his first season in Lincoln, which is exactly what the program needs to do if they want to return to prominence. Scott Frost tried to run before the Cornhuskers could walk, which is a mistake that it seems like Rhule isn’t making. Nebraska gets one step closer to bowl eligibility with a win on Saturday.

Nebraska 28, Purdue 20

No. 3 Ohio State (-14.5) v. Wisconsin - 7:30 p.m. ET - NBC

Fresh off their 20-12 win over Penn State last week, Ohio State now heads to Madison to take on Wisconsin. Recent history hasn’t been kind to the Buckeyes at Camp Randall, as they have lost a couple games at the home of the Badgers since 2002, and their four wins have all been by a touchdown or less.

The scary thing about the Buckeyes is they aren’t hitting at all cylinders yet on offense. TreVeyon Henderson and Emeka Egbuka have been injured, while the play from the offensive line has been a disappointment. Even with those issues, the Buckeyes are still undefeated and look like they’ll cruise into Ann Arbor for a showdown with the Wolverines at the end of next month.

Wisconsin is battered and bruised heading into Saturday night’s clash. Running back Chez Mellusi is out for the season, while quarterback Tanner Mordecai is sidelined with a broken hand. With their backs against the wall, the Badgers are still a tough team to put away. Just ask Illinois, who blew a 14-point fourth quarter lead to Wisconsin last week.

If Ohio State is able to keep Braelon Allen in check, they should have no trouble winning this game. Allen is pretty much the only offensive threat Wisconsin has. A key for the Buckeyes will be to put up points early, forcing backup quarterback Braedyn Locke to have to throw the football to try and catch up.

While Wisconsin will be hyped to try and earn Luke Fickell a victory in a game against his alma mater, it’s not going to be enough. The Buckeyes have too much talent for the Badgers to match up with. Wisconsin has struggled to find their identity this season as they try and throw the football more. A game against Ohio State isn’t going to help any of that.

Ohio State 38, Wisconsin 17