Let's face it: it's rivalry weekend. Once projected as a 16-point underdog, the Wolverines have shifted to 1.5-point favorites over Ohio State on Saturday and will seek a dash of relief from the team they just manhandled in Penn State.
Week 12 Results
Ohio State-Michigan State Over-L
Michigan-Penn State Under-L
Big Ten Record: 55-51
Northwestern vs Illinois (+3.5, 41)
One of the quickest ways to capsize in the odds business is to dissect a game by who needs a win to claim a bowl bid. I've quickly learned the hard way by taking that route. So, sitting at 5-6, the Fighting Illini desperately need a victory to turn what appeared to be a sullen season into a beneficial campaign.
Just peeking through Northwestern's results, it's been a well-oiled machine in certain spots. Versus mediocre opposition, however, has been a different story: a five-point win over Ball State, touchdown victory versus Purdue, and nail-biter at Nebraska.
The Wildcats are riding extremely high following a big W in Madison, but I think this is a game where Wes Lunt, Josh Ferguson, and Geronimo Allison all mesh for a flawless offensive execution. Let's go bowling, Illinois.
Pick: Fighting Illini +3.5
Penn State at Michigan State (-1.5, 41)
Twitter nearly broke. It nearly shut down the servers en route to a piling heap of flames. You see, I was too busy scoping out Maui Invitational lines when our fellow Drew Hallett surfaced the Michigan State-Penn State line, and frankly, none of us could latch on to reality.
Michigan State -1.5 vs. Penn State— Drew Hallett (@DrewCHallett) November 23, 2015
That line is loooooooooooow.— Drew Hallett (@DrewCHallett) November 23, 2015
Liar, Liar starring Drew Hallett as Jim Carrey.— Alex Kolodziej (@AlexK_47) November 23, 2015
What does Vegas know that we don't? https://t.co/Zw7lQdS0TJ— Brandon Justice (@BrandonCJustice) November 23, 2015
Whoa. https://t.co/dlZDp9c5yw— Anthony Broome (@anthonytbroome) November 23, 2015
So yeah, that just happened. Who knows if Connor Cook will play but here comes the boldest move maybe in our history of human existence.
Pick: Sparty -1.5
Rutgers at Maryland (+1, 59)
This game oughta be fun. Two of the bottom feeders exchanging blows while shouting "No, you're the worst team in the Big Ten, you rodent!"
I can't wait. Mark me down for the over here, plain and simple. Who knows, maybe Maryland will turn the ball over six times in its own territory? But, hey, that'd just be another Saturday.
Pick: Maryland-Rutgers Over 59
Iowa at Nebraska (+2, 58)
Perhaps the understudy of what should be a phenomenal weekend. The Iowa Hawkeyes sit at No. 3 in the AP poll and must win out to secure its spot in the College Football Playoff. Awaiting Saturday will be the Nebraska Cornhuskers, who have flourished in that so-called 'spoiler' role.
For such a down year in Lincoln, nothing would salvage it quite like stirring up mayhem in the conference with wins over Michigan State and Iowa. It'd be a spark of optimism for a team that has wallowed on the short end of the stick seemingly all season long.
Everyone's calling for the upset, and the line is actually moving down. People understand that Nebraska is capable of revving the engines when it matters, but here's my bold prediction of the weekend: Iowa in a rout. I'm not just going to back a club because it looks 'appetizing.' Too much on the line here for the Hawkeyes, and they breeze by the night sky setting.
Pick: Iowa -2
Indiana at Purdue (+7, 68)
The Hoosiers sure look like an easy play this weekend. I mean, after destroying the Terps out on the East Coast, a matchup with the Boilermakers spells trouble for the home team in West Lafayette. Indiana needs to pocket one more win to become bowl eligible, and Purdue probably doesn't give one damn at this point.
And it's clearly obvious that playing at home doesn't really give an ounce of an advantage: Purdue's defense has given up at least 35 points in all four home games. Hoosiers offense? Scorching. Sudfeld, please make a mockery of this secondary.
Pick: Indiana Team Total Over 38
Wisconsin at Minnesota (+2.5, 41.5)
Even at 8-3, it's difficult to weigh in on Wisconsin's output. It ducks past Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State and has suffered home losses to Iowa and Northwestern. It's been a brutal run for the Badgers in conference as they near one of the worst statistically against the spread.
Minnesota interim head coach Tracy Claeys has mustered up some tight-knit ball games versus Ohio State, Iowa and Michigan, while once again, one more win deems the Gophers bowl eligible. Wisconsin saw a dogfight last weekend, and Minnesota's home venue has seen its share of scoring.
I'll opt for the scenic route here.
Pick: Wisconsin-Minnesota Over 41.5
Ohio State at Michigan (-1.5, 45)
Well, here we are. I could plot as many points and tell you all there needs to be told, but it's nothing you guys and gals don't know.
What a stretch it's been for Michigan: overcoming adversity, scraping up a fruitful season, and even being in a position to grab hold of the Big Ten East. Well, that's something to hold your head high on.
We all know the topics surrounding Ohio State.
The one time that Michigan roots for the Buckeyes, Urban Meyer and his squad fail to perform and suffer defeat. The downpour that followed: once again we all know. The hysteria and chaos that ensued perhaps played a key role in line movement, as the Wolverines are now favored to win the game.
What seems like a surefire pick in the more motivated, complete team is something I'm staying away from. Michigan currently holds an edge in momentum and mentality. What we witnessed following the Buckeyes loss was a complete disaster.
What Ohio State still encompasses is a flurry of talent and a great coach. If you believe that the Buckeyes are just going to lay down because their running back conveyed frustration and declared himself NFL-bound upon the season's culmination, or that the players displayed grievance and a backlash to the loss, then I'm sorry, but you're sadly mistaken.
Just because a club lapsed doesn't mean they're just going to ease up on the gas pedal. It's a rivalry game. You can shun the Buckeyes' mentality all you want. But just when you sleep on this team and think that these guys are mentally battered because of some post game repercussion, that's when a star-studded, athletic offense quiets the Big House on the first possession.
These guys won a freaking national championship, and we're already calling the game because we're favorites and there's a bug in the locker room? Believe me, that's all wiped away, and the Buckeyes want nothing more than to celebrate on the yellow M in Ann Arbor.
With that being said, I think Ohio State actually comes out and punches Michigan in the mouth. That is, until a second-half surge lifts the Wolverines over the Scarlet and Gray.
"Last game of the year, Brent. Can't hold anything back."
Prediction: Ohio State 30 Michigan 31
Pick: Ohio State First Half (Pick 'Em)