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MC&J: Ohio State as a 29.5-point favorite over Western Kentucky feels a tad high

Plus picks for the rest of the lined games involving Big Ten teams this weekend.

Youngstown State v Ohio State Photo by Lauren Leigh Bacho/Getty Images

Last week ATS: 10-9 (3-5 National, 7-4 B1G)

Season ATS: 22-22 (9-14 National, 13-8 B1G)

Big Ten action not enough for you? I made some picks for a few national games on Saturday, which can be found here.

B1G games:

Virginia v. Maryland (-15.5) - Friday 7:00 p.m. ET - FS1

Even though Maryland hasn’t blown away their competition so far this year, the Terrapins have handled their business. Maryland is averaging nearly 500 yards per game, and has scored 38 points in each of their first two games. Taulia Tagovailoa will get most of the headlines for the Maryland offense, but don’t sleep on Roman Hemby, who has 220 yards rushing and two scores through the first two games.

It has been a real tough year for Virginia after having to deal with tragedy near the end of last season. Last week, the Cavaliers fell 36-35 to James Madison, giving up nearly 400 yards to the Dukes. A big problem for Virginia is they can’t run the football, averaging just 56 yards per game through the first two games.

While it can be hard to trust Maryland with a big spread like this, they should roll the Cavaliers. Hemby should have a big game against a Virginia defense that is giving up 220 yards per game on the groud. If the Cavaliers are somehow able to corral Hemby, then they have to deal with Tagovailoa. I just don’t see how Virginia keeps this one close.

Maryland 42, Virginia 20

No. 7 Penn State (-14.5) v. Illinois - 12:00 p.m. ET - FOX

I knew Illinois was going to take a step back this season after losing a bunch of key players from last year’s team on both sides of the football. I just didn’t think things would be this tough for Bret Bielema’s team. Last season Illinois was able to use Chase Brown on the ground to control the clock and tire out opposing defenses. This year the Fighting Illini can’t get much going on the ground, as quarterback Luke Altmyer is their leading rusher with 139 yards and two touchdowns in the first two games.

If Toledo and Kansas didn’t have much trouble moving the football against Illinois, I can’t see the Fighting Illini slowing down Drew Allar and the Penn State offense. I know some weird things happen in Champaign, but that usually happens as the season goes on and the weather gets worse in Illinois. There isn’t any of those concerns for Saturday. The Nittany Lions keep rolling to start the year.

Penn State 38, Illinois 17

Louisville (-10.5) v. Indiana - 12:00 p.m. ET - Big Ten Network

After watching Indiana against Ohio State, it feels like it’d be easy to say the Hoosiers should get rolled in this game. I feel like Indiana is somewhat close to at least being a little competent, though. Tom Allen has decided that Tayven Jackson is the starting quarterback for the Hoosiers. The former Tennessee recruit was 18-of-21 for 236 yards last week against Indiana State.

Jeff Brohm should know what Allen and Indiana will try and do since Brohm faced the Hoosiers annually during his time as Purdue head coach. Louisville still feels like a bit of an odd team to me. The Cardinals needed a comeback to beat Georgia Tech in the opener, and we didn’t learn much of anything about them as they steamrolled Austin Peay last week. I’ll roll with Aaron Casey and Indiana to play some tough defense, while Jaylin Lucas breaks a couple big plays to keep the Hoosiers within shouting distance of Louisville.

Louisville 31, Indiana 24

Georgia Southern v. Wisconsin (-19.5) - 12:00 p.m. ET - Big Ten Network

I figured the Badgers would face a tough battle in Pullman last week against Washington State. I just thought they would find a way to head back to Madison with a close victory. What happened to the running game of Wisconsin? The Badgers ran for just 91 yards in the 31-22 loss to Wazzu. We knew Luke Fickell was going to bring more of a passing attack to Wisconsin, I just had no idea the running game would suffer so much.

Georgia Southern has an experienced transfer quarterback of their own in Davis Brin. The former Tulsa quarterback threw for 318 yards and two scores in a 49-35 win over UAB last week. The Eagles certainly have more confidence than the Badgers right now, as they are heading into this matchup with a 2-0 record. Maybe Wisconsin sees things click this week on offense, but I’m leery of laying nearly three touchdowns against a team that can move the football a bit.

Wisconsin 34, Georgia Southern 17

Minnesota v. No. 20 North Carolina (-7.5) - 3:30 p.m. ET - ESPN

Minnesota will face a serious step up in competition on Saturday when they head to Chapel Hill to take on North Carolina. The Golden Gophers squeaked by Nebraska in the opener and then beat Eastern Michigan 25-6 last week in Minneapolis. Darius Taylor exploded for 193 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries last week.

Now Minnesota has to take on a team that has a real offense. Drake Maye is considered one of the best quarterback in the country, while Omarion Hampton was a monster against Appalachian State, rolling up 234 yards and three scores in the 40-34 double overtime win. Even if the Golden Gophers are able to slow down the offense of the Tar Heels, I’m not convinced they have enough offense to keep on the scoreboard.

North Carolina 31, Minnesota 21

Northwestern v. No. 21 Duke (-18.5) - 3:30 p.m. ET - ACC Network

Northwestern finally won a game in the United States! Before their 38-7 victory last week against UTEP, the last win for the Wildcats in the land of the free came back in 2021. Ben Bryant was serviceable at quarterback for Northwestern, while Cam Porter neared 100 yards on the ground, finishing with 90 yards rushing against the Miners.

Duke followed up a 28-7 win against Clemson with a 42-7 triumph over Lafayette last week. The Blue Devils have a great shot at heading into the Notre Dame game with a 4-0 record, as they take on UConn after Saturday’s game against Northwestern. Riley Leonard has done a little bit of everything for the Blue Devils, while getting help from running back Jordan Waters, who has 175 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

Northwestern isn’t as bad as they showed against Rutgers, and will get a little better each week as the firing of Pat Fitzgerald continues to fade away. Duke wins the Nerd Bowl, but Northwestern keeps things respectable.

Duke 27, Northwestern 14

Western Michigan v. No. 25 Iowa (-28.5) - 3:30 p.m. ET - Big Ten Network

Every week when Iowa is favored by more than double-digits we have to ask if they are even capable of scoring that many points. This week is no different. The Hawkeyes enter this game coming off an emotional win over rival Iowa State in Ames last week. As if that wasn’t enough, next week they take on Penn State under the lights in State College. This feels like a sandwich game that the Hawkeyes will control but not run away with.

Iowa 28, Western Michigan 7

Virginia Tech v. Rutgers (-6.5) - 3:30 p.m. ET - Big Ten Network

Rutgers had little trouble with Temple last week, pushing their record to 2-0 on the season. I know the Scarlet Knights have been dominant so far this year, but lets not put the cart in front of the horse. The defense is good, I’m just not convinced the offense can consistently be productive. It probably sounds crazy to say this after Rutgers put up 452 yards last week, we just have to remember it was against Temple.

Virginia Tech certainly isn’t the team they were a decade ago. Having said that, are they really so bad that they are nearly a touchdown underdog against Rutgers? Losing to Purdue was tough, it just doesn’t mean the world is falling. I definitely trust Virginia Tech getting points here more than I trust Rutgers laying points against a Power 5 team.

Rutgers 24, Virginia Tech 20

No. 8 Washington (-16.5) v. Michigan State - 5:00 p.m. ET - Peacock

While some teams rally after a coach is suspended or fired, it’s so hard to believe that Michigan State is going to be ready to play on Saturday after the disgusting sexual harassment allegations were levied against Mel Tucker. The Spartans aren’t playing some directional Michigan MAC school here, they are playing Michael Penix and Washington, who are a serious College Football Playoff contender. I just don’t see how the Huskies don’t win this game by at least three touchdowns.

Washington 45, Michigan State 21

Northern Illinois v. Nebraska (-10.5) - 7:00 p.m. ET - FS1

Nebraska is still looking for their first win over new head coach Matt Rhule. The Cornhuskers were throttled by Colorado last week in Boulder 36-14. It’s obvious Georgia Tech transfer Jeff Sims isn’t the answer at quarterback. The issue is there isn’t anyone else worth starting for Nebraska.

As bad as the Cornhuskers have been, they have a couple things on their side this week. They’ll be playing in the friendly confines of Lincoln, and they’ll be hosting a Northern Illinois team that just lost to Southern Illinois. If Nebraska can’t handily win this game, then they are in even bigger trouble than we thought.

Nebraska 30, Northern Illinois 13

Bowling Green v. No. 2 Michigan (-40.5) - 7:30 p.m. ET - Big Ten Network

The game plan for Michigan while Jim Harbaugh is on suspension is quite obvious. Build a 28-35 point lead and then just sit on it. Even though there’s nothing wrong with how they are winning, they could be winning by a lot more if they really wanted to. It just feels like they are going to keep things pretty vanilla while Harbaugh is at home against these lesser opponents.

Michigan 44, Bowling Green 10

Syracuse (-2.5) v. Purdue - 7:30 p.m. ET - NBC

After a couple clunkers to start the season, you know NBC is hoping this game plays out like last year’s contest between these teams in Syracuse, which was absolutely bonkers. The Orange are rolling to start the year, averaging 586 yards of offense in their two wins. Garrett Shrader already has 543 yards passing and five touchdowns in wins over Colgate and Western Michigan.

Does Vegas know you don’t waltz into West Lafayette at night and leave with a win? As an Ohio State fan I certainly know this. Things haven’t been perfect for the Boilers to start the year, but they did outlast the storms and Hokies in Blacksburg last week. Hudson Card continues to gain confidence in the Purdue offense as they upend Syracuse in an entertaining game.

Purdue 35, Syracuse 31

Western Kentucky v. No. 6 Ohio State (-29.5) - 4:00 p.m. ET - FOX

Last week we saw signs of improved play from Kyle McCord, as he was impressive enough to be named the starting quarterback for Ohio State going forward. McCord figured out good things happen if you get the football to Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka, as the duo combined for three scores last week.

The Buckeyes still have some things to work on, though. Both the offensive and defensive lines aren’t playing up to their expectations. Also, the secondary has looked good, they just haven’t been tested by a team that wasn’t to throw the football. That certainly won’t be the case on Saturday. Western Kentucky quarterback Austin Reed led the nation in passing last year, and been outstanding in two wins this year.

At least Ryan Day won’t be crying about the new clock rules this year since Western Kentucky will try and play quicker than Indiana and Youngstown State. We could see some lapses on defense as they try and keep Reed and the passing attack of the Hilltoppers contained. The Buckeyes give up a few touchdowns which keep this game inside the spread, while also trying to prepare and keep everyone healthy for Notre Dame next week.

Ohio State 49, Western Kentucky 24