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MC&J: Wisconsin faces a tough trip to Washington State in Week 2 Big Ten action

With no B1G conference games this week, the battle between the Badgers and Cougars looks like the best contest involving a Big Ten team.

Buffalo v Wisconsin Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

Last week ATS: 8-10 (2-6 National, 6-4 B1G)

Season ATS: 12-13 (6-9 National, 6-4 B1G)

To check out my picks for Texas-Alabama, Ole Miss-Tulane, and six other national games, you can find them here.

B1G games:

Illinois v. Kansas (-3) - Friday 9/8 7:30 p.m. - ESPN2

Illinois was pushed to the limit by Toledo last week. The Fighting Illini of years past would have found a way to lose that game. Quarterback Luke Altmyer totaled nearly 300 yards, including a big pass late in the fourth quarter that put Illinois in position to win the game. The defense is a bit of a concern though, as they gave up 417 yards to the Toledo offense.

Kansas didn’t have quarterback Jalon Daniels last week against Missouri State. The Jayhawks didn’t need Daniels, as Jason Bean threw for 276 yards and two scores. Daniels has been cleared to play this week, although it is unknown if he will start tonight, or how much he’ll play in the game.

Illinois lost a lot from last year’s team, including star running back Chase Brown. Even though I like the direction the Fighting Illini is headed, I think Kansas gets the win in Lawrence tonight. Whether Daniels or Bean starts, I think they’ll have a little too much for an Illinois defense that has shown they have some holes.

Kansas 31, Illinois 24

Nebraska v. No. 22 Colorado (-2.5) - 12:00 p.m. - FOX

How fun was Colorado on Saturday? Travis Hunter is the next coming of Chris Gamble, while Shedeur Sanders threw for 510 yards and four touchdowns. The Buffaloes could have easily folded in the game after some of the TCU scores, but Deion Sanders pushed his team to keep making plays.

New coach, same old Nebraska. The Cornhuskers found another way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. If Nebraska can’t beat Minnesota on the road, what hope do they have in Boulder in Coach Prime’s home debut? I just don’t see how Nebraska’s anemic offense can keep pace with the Buffaloes. The other shoe is going to drop at some point on Colorado, it’s just not gonna happen this week.

Colorado 38, Nebraska 23

Purdue v. Virginia Tech (-3) - 12:00 p.m. - ESPN2

I already feel like picking this game is a lost cause. Whenever I pick one side of Purdue games, the other side hits (last week against Fresno State is a prime example). The same can be said about Virginia Tech games. What’s the point in diving deeper into my prediction for this game because it’s like going to be the exact opposite, so the best side in the game is going against my pick.

I’ll take the points with Purdue. The mystique of Lane Stadium isn’t nearly what it used to be.

Purdue 28, Virginia Tech 24

UNLV v. No. 2 Michigan (-36.5) - 3:30 p.m. - CBS

Are the Wolverines holding a candlelight vigil before the first snap for their fallen leader? Will there be a fundraiser for Jim Harbaugh’s family to help after his passing? Sorry, I’m hearing news that Harbaugh didn’t actually die, his team was just acting like he did. Apparently Michigan players and fans also don’t know what “self-imposed” means.

Michigan could have named their score against East Carolina. Instead, the Wolverines packed it in for the second half and did absolutely nothing. While the exact same thing could happen this week against another cupcake, I think Michigan gives a little more effort in the second half since it’ll be their first game on CBS after the Big Ten’s new media contract.

Michigan 51, UNLV 10

Iowa (-3.5) v. Iowa State - 3:30 p.m. - FOX

If any Iowa State players are reading this, just remember that betting is very bad and you shouldn’t do it. To everyone else, please keep reading. The Cyclones are without quarterback Hunter Dekkers, who won’t be available because of a betting scandal. In place of Dekkers, redshirt freshman quarterback Rocco Becht started against Northern Iowa, going 10-of-13 for 113 yards and two scores in the 30-9 win.

Even though they scored just 24 points, Iowa’s offense actually looked pretty good last week against Utah State. There are still questions about Cade McNamara’s health as he deals with a calf injury. If McNamara played last week, I have to believe he’ll be on the field for El Assico! A rejuvenated Hawkeye offense keeps Brian Ferentz on track for his goal of 25 points per game, while the defense makes life miserable for Becht and the Cyclones.

Iowa 27, Iowa State 14

UTEP (-1.5) v. Northwestern - 3:30 p.m. - Big Ten Network

At some point Northwestern has to win a game. This feels like their best shot to do so. The Wildcats can’t look as bad as they did last week. Ben Bryant is an experienced quarterback, and he should look better this week in his second game with the Wildcats. Northwestern should also be able to get their running game going a little more than they did against the Scarlet Knights, which isn’t saying much.

As bad as Northwestern is, I’m not ready to take UTEP as a road favorite against a Power 5 school. After the Wildcats win on Saturday, he should just retire because it’s not going to get any better than this for him.

Northwestern 20, UTEP 17

No. 19 Wisconsin (-6.5) v. Washington State - 7:30 p.m. - ABC

Even though it was only against Buffalo, the Badgers were clicking last week in the 38-17 win. While I thought Braelon Allen was going to be the star running back for Wisconsin, Chez Mellusi stole the show, rolling up 157 yards and reaching the end zone twice. Tanner Mordecai’s play was uneven, as he threw two interceptions against the Bulls.

Washington State might not have a conference to play in next year yet, but they certainly have a quarterback. Cameron Ward was outstanding in the 50-24 win over Colorado State, throwing for 451 yards and three touchdowns. The problem for the Cougars is they don’t have much of a running game, so if Wisconsin’s pass defense is good, it could be a long night.

This could be the best game of the week involving a Big Ten team. It’s never easy to go into Pullman and leave with a win, and Saturday night will be no different. I do believe Wisconsin squeaks out a win since they have a little more balance on offense. The Cougars are going to put up a fight, though. Ward has a monster game in a tight loss for Wazzu.

Wisconsin 34, Washington State 31

Charlotte v. Maryland (-24.5) - 7:30 p.m. - NBC

I can’t believe this game is the primetime NBC game this week. Then again, I guess NBC decided not to waste one of their bullets when pretty much everyone is going to be tuning into Texas-Alabama.

Much like Michigan, Maryland didn’t have to expend a ton of energy in a 38-6 win over Towson. The 49ers are coming off a 3-9 season, and they made a change at head coach, hiring something called Biff Poggi. Maybe Biff gets the program headed in the right direction, I just don’t see that happening on Saturday night against Taulia Tagovailoa and the high-powered Maryland offense.

Maryland 48, Charlotte 17

Eastern Michigan v. Minnesota (-20.5) - 7:30 p.m. - Big Ten Network

Are we sure Minnesota can even score 21 points? The offense of the Golden Gophers looked pretty inept last week against Nebraska. Running back Sean Tyler certainly isn’t anywhere close to as dangerous as Mo Ibrahim was for Minnesota over the last few years. The good news for the Golden Gophers is they still have a really good defense.

I’m not going to pretend to know much about Eastern Michigan. All I know is they used to have a quarterback named Brogan, and they play on a gray field in Ypsilanti. I feel like recently the Eagles have been alright against Power 5 schools when they were a heavy underdog. Minnesota wins, they just don’t run away from Eastern Michigan.

Minnesota 28, Eastern Michigan 13

Temple v. Rutgers (-9.5) - 7:30 p.m. - Big Ten Network

Rutgers had little trouble with Northwestern last week, bullying the Wildcats on Sunday. I feel like a 24-7 win for the Scarlet Knights is similar to a 49-10 win for a normal school. Rutgers plays solid defense and tries not to make too many mistakes on offense. Kyle Monangai is a good running back. he’s just not a game changer.

Temple hung with Rutgers last year, falling 16-14 to the Scarlet Knights. E.J. Warner should give Rutgers more issues than Ben Bryant did last week. Against Akron, Warner threw for 292 yards and two scores. Asking Rutgers to win by at least 10 points against a team with even the littlest bit of a pulse feels like a big ask.

Rutgers 24, Temple 20

Youngstown State v. No. 5 Ohio State (-41.5) - 12:00 p.m. - Big Ten Network

If you want to see a write-up for this game, check out the game preview that was posted on Friday morning. Since it’s Youngstown State, we all know Ohio State is going to win. The Buckeyes are more athletic and deeper. Anything else you need to know can be found in the preview.

Ohio State 55, Youngstown State 3