Last week ATS: 7-7 (2-5 National, 5-2 B1G)
Season ATS: 89-87-1 (40-51-1 National, 49-37 B1G)
My predictions for eight interesting national games on Saturday can be found here.
No. 3 Michigan (-19.5) v. Maryland - 12:00 p.m. - FOX
How funny would it be if Michigan ended up losing this week? I don’t see it happening, but it would be hilarious if the Terrapins gave acting head coach Sherrone Moore something to really cry about. The Wolverines played in a tough environment last week and didn’t have too much of an issue with the Nittany Lions, since James Franklin becomes an even bigger bum when the lights are brightest. Michigan didn’t have to attempt a pass over the last 40 or so minutes of the game, which is pretty wild.
Last week Maryland was finally able to earn bowl eligibility after trying for like a month. It wasn’t pretty though as the Terrapins beat Nebraska 13-10 in Lincoln. Can Maryland please do to Michigan what they have done to the Buckeyes a couple times? The Terrapins have pushed Ohio State to the limit on a couple of occasions in College Park a week before “The Game.”
I actually do like the points in this game. When Harbaugh was suspended earlier in the season, the Wolverines would jump out to a first half lead and pack it in. I feel like we see that formula on Saturday, especially with Michigan trying to keep everyone healthy ahead of next week’s game against Ohio State.
Michigan 31, Maryland 17
Rutgers v. No. 12 Penn State (-20.5) - 12:00 p.m. ET - FS1
There isn’t a number next to Rutgers, so Penn State will be fine this week since James Franklin is great at beating up on the lower tier of the Big Ten. You just know the Nittany Lions are going to be pissed off after Michigan came into State College and ran it down their throats. We’ll likely see the Penn State offense open up a little bit since they fired their offensive coordinator earlier this week.
Shut down the running attack of Rutgers and you’ll be fine. Last week Iowa didn’t give up a point to the Scarlet Knights, and it’s hard to see the Scarlet Knights scoring many points this week. I know this is a lot of points to be laying, I just think Penn State is going to take out a lot of their frustrations on Greg Schiano’s team.
Penn State 34, Rutgers 10
Michigan State v. Indiana (-4.5) - 12:00 p.m. ET - Big Ten Network
I definitely wasn’t expecting Indiana to put up 45 points last week. Honestly, the Hoosiers haven’t been playing bad football recently. Indiana pushed Penn State in State College, then they beat Wisconsin before going to overtime with Illinois. Quarterback Brendan Sorsby has played well during that span, tossing seven touchdowns. Even though the Hoosiers aren’t going bowling this season, they are still playing hard for Tom Allen.
Michigan State is dreadful. Trust me, I saw how bad they were in person last week. Obviously Indiana isn’t Ohio State, but at least the Hoosiers are trying, which feels like more than the Spartans are doing right now. The Spartans are just playing out the season and next Friday can’t come soon enough for them since their season will be over and they can go out and hire their next head coach. Indiana wins this by at least a touchdown.
Indiana 28, Michigan State 20
Purdue (-3) v. Northwestern - 12:00 p.m. ET - Big Ten Network
Don’t look now but Northwestern will be bowl eligible with a win. The Wildcats have to feel like their season has already been a success after the interim tag was removed head coach David Braun’s job title this week. Northwestern hasn’t been lighting things up on offense, but their defense has done a lot lately to put them in position to win some games. In the 24-10 win over Wisconsin last week, Ben Bryant threw a couple touchdown passes, while Cam Porter ran for around 70 yards.
Purdue’s offense exploded last week, putting up 49 points on Minnesota to halt a four-game losing streak. The Boilermakers ran all over the Golden Gophers, rushing for 353 yards in the win. I’m not convinced they can do the same against this rejuvenated Northwestern defense that has gotten better as the season has gone on. I’ll take the home underdog since they still have something to fight for.
Northwestern 24, Purdue 20
Illinois v. No. 16 Iowa (-3.5) - 3:30 p.m. ET - FS1
After John Paddock started in Illinois’ 48-45 overtime win over Indiana last week, Luke Altmyer will return to the lineup for this game according to Bret Bielema. Altmyer has been turnover prone this year, which is not good when going up against Iowa. The Hawkeyes did suffer a blow this week when Cooper DeJean was ruled out for the rest of the regular season, but there are plenty of other Iowa defenders that are capable of making plays.
We all know the Iowa offense is a tough watch. Even with how bad they are on that side of the football, the Hawkeyes still enter this game at 8-2. Teams with some pop on offense can get to Iowa, but Illinois doesn’t have the weapons on offense that they did last year. The Hawkeyes grind out another win as they continue to make their way to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game.
Iowa 21, Illinois 13
Nebraska v. Wisconsin (-4.5) - 7:30 p.m. ET - NBC
Why can’t you just be normal, Nebraska? You had bowl eligibility in your grasp and you’ve reverted to your form from the last few years, dropping the last two games by three points each. I have no idea what the Cornhuskers are going to do at quarterback this week. Last week Jeff Sims, Chuba Purdy, and Heinrich Haarberg all played in the 13-10 loss to Maryland.
Much like Nebraska, Wisconsin is also a win away from bowl eligibility, so whoever wins this game will be going bowling. Luke Fickell’s first season in Madison has turned into a nightmare, as the Badgers have lost their last three games. At least Tanner Mordecai returned last week, throwing for 255 yards in the 24-10 loss to Northwestern.
Although I’m concerned about the health of Braelon Allen heading into this game, I feel better about the Badgers heading into this game, which isn’t saying much. At least Wisconsin should show up at home in primetime to get their sixth win of the season.
Wisconsin 27, Nebraska 17
Minnesota v. No. 2 Ohio State (-27.5) - 4:00 p.m. ET - Big Ten Network
The Golden Gophers enter this game on a two-game losing streak. While quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis is playing well, pretty much everyone else on the team is struggling. Kaliakmanis is coming off a career-best passing performance against Purdue, yet the Golden Gophers still lost 49-30 in West Lafayette. Minnesota has a number of running backs that can run the football, but they’ll likely have a tough time against a stout Buckeye defense.
Ohio State is coming off one of their best performances of the year, dominating Michigan State 38-3. The game before the Michigan game can always be tricky since we never know just how tight Ryan Day is going to be with the offense. Either Day is going to try and keep things very vanilla, or he might throw some new looks into the game plan to give the Wolverines more to prepare for.
While this one could get out of control, especially after Minnesota gave up nearly 50 points to Purdue last week, I don’t see a four-touchdown win by Ohio State here. Best case scenario would be for the Buckeyes to get up by three touchdowns, take their starters out to keep them healthy and the clock moves faster than it ever has. We all know the Buckeyes have their eyes on next week’s game, so I don’t think we see the full arsenal from the Ohio State offense.
The biggest win for this game for the Buckeyes would be if nobody gets hurt and they head into “The Game” as healthy as possible. Aside from that, I don’t really care about the point spread. That being said, 28 points does seem like a lot in this case, so I’ll side with Minnesota to keep it somewhat close.
Ohio State 37, Minnesota 13