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MC&J: Ohio State hosts Maryland in a battle of unbeatens in Week 6 Big Ten action

The Buckeyes are nearly a three-touchdown favorite over the Terrapins on Saturday.

Ohio State v Notre Dame Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Last week ATS: 7-8 (2-7 National, 5-1 B1G)

Season ATS: 47-49 (19-28 National, 28-21 B1G)

Along with my Big Ten picks for the week, you can find a hefty slate of national picks here.

B1G games

Nebraska v. Illinois (-3.5) - Friday 8:00 p.m. ET - FS1

This game is the “Dumpster Fire of the Week”. Even more fitting since there was a fire at Memorial Stadium earlier in the week. Nebraska is coming off a 45-7 loss to Michigan, while Illinois was pantsed by Purdue 44-19 in West Lafayette. I can understand the blowout from Nebraska’s standpoint since they were playing one of the best teams in the country, and Matt Rhule has a lot of work to do.

How Illinois has played this season is a little more concerning. Obviously there was going to be some regression after losing so much talent from last year’s team. I didn’t think they’d be this bad, though. I guess it’s progress Luke Altmyer hasn’t thrown any interceptions since getting picked off four times against Penn State. The Ole Miss transfer quarterback traded picks for sacks last time out, as Purdue was able to corral him six times.

In this game I have a little more confidence backing Nebraska. At least the Cornhuskers haven’t been all that bad on defense. If they are able to force Altmyer into some turnovers, it could put quarterback Heinrich Haarberg into some favorable scoring situations. Haarberg’s ability to run and throw should keep the Fighting Illini on their heels.

Nebraska 24, Illinois 20

Rutgers v. Wisconsin (-13.5) - 12:00 p.m. ET - Peacock

For most teams, losing a running back like Chez Mellusi for the year would be crippling. For Wisconsin, all it does is allow the Badgers to give the football to Braelon Allen even more. Allen ran for 116 yards and two scores last time out against Purdue two weeks ago. The issue for Wisconsin is their desire to throw the football more hasn’t quite clicked yet. After throwing 72 touchdowns over the last two years, Tanner Mordecai has more interceptions than touchdowns so far this season.

Following a 31-7 loss to Michigan, Rutgers was able to pound on Wagner last week, smashing their cupcake opponent 52-3. The Scarlet Knights still don’t have much pop on offense. Wisconsin has struggled at times to defend the pass this year, but that shouldn’t be much of a problem since Gavin Wimsatt is quarterbacking an offense that averages just over 150 yards per game through the air.

With a bye last week, Wisconsin got a chance to work on some things to try and get their offense more in sync. I know Rutgers plays hard for Greg Schiano, I just don’t think they can score enough points to stay within the number against the Badgers. Wisconsin wears down the Scarlet Knights and pulls away in the second half.

Wisconsin 27, Rutgers 10

Purdue v. Iowa (-1.5) - 3:30 p.m. ET - Peacock

If you thought Iowa had trouble scoring points before, things just got tougher after news broke that quarterback Cade McNamara will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. Now Deacon Hill will take the snaps for Brian Ferentz’s electric offense. Hill was 11-of-27 for 115 yards after stepping in for McNamara in the 26-16 over Michigan State last week.

Purdue righted the ship a bit last week with a 44-19 win over Illinois. Hudson Card threw two touchdown passes, while Tyrone Tracy Jr. ran for 112 yards and a score. The Boilermaker offense isn’t quite as feared as the last few years, but they are getting better. Unfortunately, I have a hard time seeing them finding much success this week against an Iowa defense that is going to be playing even harder since they know they’ll have to make some plays to try and help their offense put some points on the board.

Iowa 21, Purdue 13

No. 2 Michigan (-19.5) v. Minnesota - 7:30 p.m. ET - NBC

Michigan is one of just two teams in the country to win each of their first five games by at least 18 points, with Maryland being the other. The Wolverines have benefitted from a ridiculously easy schedule, but they have crushed those put in front of them. You can see the team playing better now that Jim Harbaugh is back from his suspension.

About Minnesota’s only hope in this game is to string together first downs and move at glacier speed. Keep the football out of Michigan’s hands since the Golden Gophers won’t be able to match scores since they don’t have any pop on offense, and the Wolverines have a strong defense. Minnesota has a couple good running backs in Darius Taylor and Zach Evans, I just don’t see them finding much room to run in this game.

This feels like it is going to look a lot like Michigan’s other games this year. Maybe the Golden Gophers become the first team this year to reach double figures against the Wolverines, but even if they get there I don’t see them getting much more than 10-14 points. Michigan keeps the Little Brown Jug.

Michigan 34, Minnesota 10

Maryland v. No. 4 Ohio State (-19.5) - 12:00 p.m. ET - FOX

The bye week for Ohio State came at a great time after the physical, emotional win over Notre Dame. Kyle McCord has played better each week, and we see TreVeyon Henderson returning to his 2021 form. Marvin Harrison Jr. has been inconsistent, but with the stable of receivers, Harrison doesn’t have to be on every game. Honestly, it’s just great he isn’t out for an extended amount of time after what happened to him in the third quarter against Notre Dame.

Maryland currently sits just outside the top-25 after their 5-0 start. Much like Michigan, Maryland has feasted on a weak schedule and handled their business accordingly. Things are going to get real for the Terrapins on Saturday. We already saw what Ohio State was able to do to a pass-happy offense when the Buckeyes shutdown Austin Reed and Western Kentucky. Obviously Taulia Tagovailoa will create more of a challenge, though. Tagovailoa not only has a number of productive receivers, Maryland has the ability to run the football with Roman Hemby and Colby McDonald.

Mike Locksley has done a great job building a team that hasn’t lost since falling 43-30 to Ohio State late last year. Had the Notre Dame game been last week, I could have seen Maryland benefitting from a bit of a hangover from the win. Unfortunately for Maryland, Ohio State had a week off to recover and prepare. The Buckeye defense has improved each week, so it could be tough for Tagovailoa to find his receivers, especially if Denzel Burke, Lathan Ransom, and Sonny Styles keep playing at a high level. Ohio State keeps their streak of scoring at least 43 points against Maryland alive.

Ohio State 45, Maryland 17