Chaos descended upon the college football landscape last week. Five teams in the CFP Top 10 and seven in the CFP Top 20 lost, and they all fell as favorites — in fact, Washington was the only one to be beaten by a ranked opponent. This chaos made its mark in the Big Ten, too, when 24-point favorite Michigan, who had resembled a juggernaut through the first 10 weeks, saw its perfect season slip away as Iowa’s Keith Duncan drilled the game-winning field goal from 33 yards out as the clock ticked to 0:00.
But this form of chaos was limited to just Michigan-Iowa in the Big Ten. The favorites in the other six Big Ten games won outright, and only Nebraska didn’t win by double digits.
Last Week’s Results
Pick: Penn State -7 | Score: Penn State 45, Indiana 31 | Result: W
Pick: Rutgers +14 | Score: Michigan State 49, Rutgers 0 | Result: L
Pick: Northwestern -13.5 | Score: Northwestern 45, Purdue 17 | Result: W
Pick: Ohio State -29 | Score: Ohio State 62, Maryland 3 | Result: W
Pick: Under 39.5 | Score: Wisconsin 48, Illinois 3 | Result: L
Pick: Minnesota +7 | Score: Nebraska 24, Minnesota 17 | Result: D
Pick: Under 51 | Score: Iowa 14, Michigan 13 | Result: W
Last Week’s Record: 4-2-1
Season Record: 41-38-3 (51.8%)
That doesn’t mean, though, that chaos didn’t take other forms in the Big Ten betting world because Penn State-Indiana made sure of that. Penn State was a seven-point favorite, but, with less than five minutes left, the Nittany Lions trailed, 31-28. Yes, they had the ball in the red zone at this point, but they still needed multiple scores to cover the spread. And that’s when the chaos took effect. Saquon Barkley punched in a two-yard rushing touchdown to give Penn State a 35-31 lead, Indiana had a turnover on downs four plays later on its own 22-yard line, and Penn State proceeded to kick a quick 39-yard field goal. So now it’s 38-31 Penn State with 1:07 left, and Indiana has the ball. If you were me, who took Penn State -7, you’re just hoping for one more defensive stop. If you were someone who took Indiana +7.5, which was out there, you’re thinking you’re made.
And then this happens:
Final score: Penn State 45, Indiana 31. Penn State unbelievably covers.
This week, it’s unlikely that, in the Big Ten, chaos will take the form that wreaked havoc throughout college football last week because six of the seven Big Ten favorites are favored by double digits and four are favored by more than 20 points. Nonetheless, chaos could strike again in some other form with regards to betting. That chaos always lurks.
And, with only two full weeks remaining, it’d be great if more of it went in my favor.
This Week’s Picks
#2 Ohio State at Michigan State
Line: Ohio State -22.5 | O/U: 55
Ohio State’s offense has hit on all cylinders the past two weeks, rattling off 62 points back to back, while Michigan State’s offense needed a dose of Rutgers to explode for 49 points. However, don’t let that trick you into thinking we’ll have a shootout on our hands on Saturday. First, only one of Michigan State’s last eight games exceeded 55 total points. Second, Ohio State is feeling really good about itself after its last two wins and may look past 3-7 Michigan State towards that fantastic finale on Thanksgiving weekend. And, third, the East Lansing forecast for Saturday looks grim with a high of 42, 50-percent chance of rain, and wind blowing at 25 MPH. This will be a cold dreary day for football, and both of these offenses, particularly Michigan State’s, will need time to warm up.
Pick: Under 55
#7 Wisconsin at Purdue
Line: Wisconsin -28 | O/U: 49.5
As I stated last week, Purdue’s trend this season has been to cover the spread one week and fail to do so the next. Last Saturday, this meant that the Boilermakers would not cover the 13.5-point spread against Northwestern, and, despite bursting out to a 10-0 lead, they ultimately were handled by the Wildcats, 45-17. So this means that Purdue should cover this weekend, right? It does, and it actually might make sense because the idea of Wisconsin’s offense covering a 28-point spread on the road is worrying when it has scored more than 28 points only three times all season. Yes, the Badgers just torched Illinois with 48 points this past weekend, but can they do it back-to-back weeks? Ehhhh.
Pick: Purdue +28
Iowa at Illinois
Line: Iowa -10 | O/U: 45.5
Should we trust that the Iowa that showed up in an electric night game against Michigan will make the trip to Champaign for a noon snoozer? I think so. The two things that stood out about the Hawkeyes in their upset win were their running backs and their front seven against the run. Akrum Wadley and LeShun Daniels, Jr. combined for 37 carries and 169 rushing yards (4.6 YPC) against one of the nation’s best defenses, and now they will face an Illinois run defense that is 118th in S&P+. Expect both, particularly the elusive Wadley, to have big performances. And Iowa’s run defense held Michigan to 98 rushing yards and 2.8 YPC — both season lows for the Wolverines. Illinois’ only offensive strength is its ability to reel off long runs with Kendrick Foster, Reggie Corbin, and Ke’Shawn Vaughn (1st in Rushing IsoPPP). Iowa’s defense (35th in Rushing IsoPPP) can shut it down.
Pick: Iowa -10
Maryland at #18 Nebraska
Line: Nebraska -14.5 | O/U: N/A
Maryland has lost its last two games by a combined score of 121-6. It would be easy to assume that the Terrapins are shell-shocked and won’t be poking their head out to compete against 8-2 Nebraska in Lincoln. However, the Terrapins still are one win away from bowl eligibility, so I do not expect them to surrender this week. Plus, Nebraska has not been a team that has put opponents away with ease. The Huskers have won only one game by more than two touchdowns since Week 2, and that was a 15-point home win over Illinois. Add in that Nebraska’s rushing offense (#79 in S&P+) may not be one to exploit Maryland’s poor run defense, and I believe the Terps will make this interesting.
Pick: Maryland +14.5
Northwestern at Minnesota
Line: Northwestern -1 | O/U: 46.5
As I stated last week, similar to Purdue, Minnesota’s trend has been to cover the spread one week and fail to do so the next, and, each time that the Gophers have failed to cover the spread, it has been at home. Last week? Minnesota pushed on the road against Nebraska. This week? Minnesota hosts Northwestern in what is essentially a coin flip. The Wildcats may be 5-5 and the Gophers 7-3, but I’ve felt all year the Wildcats are better.
Pick: Northwestern -1
#8 Penn State at Rutgers
Line: Penn State -28 | O/U: 57.5
Penn State knows it needs to take care of business these next two weeks to put itself in excellent position to be the Big Ten East representative in the conference championship game. The Nittany Lions will be excited and focused for what lies ahead of them. Rutgers, who was just annihilated by 49 points by the only other Big Ten team not to have a conference win, is not excited for what lies ahead. They know what’s coming. It’s pain.
Pick: Penn State -28
Indiana at #3 Michigan
Line: Michigan -23 | O/U: 53.5
Fifteen of Michigan’s last 18 games and Indiana’s last three games have hit the Over. I don’t care. I’m taking the Under. Michigan’s offense is coming off its worst effort of the season and likely will be without starting quarterback Wilton Speight. Enter John O’Korn, who was neck and neck with Speight when battling for the job in the offseason. However, this is not your typical sieve Indiana defense. The Hoosiers actually have been ... above average on that side of the ball, ranking 47th in S&P+, and their strength has been against the run. That could create some issues for a Michigan team that likely wants to get its running game back on track and not put a ton of pressure on O’Korn in his first start of the season. Then, Indiana’s offense could be in for a long day. The Hoosiers do not have the same rushing attack that shredded the Wolverines for 307 yards last season. They are without Jordan Howard and are 100th in Rushing S&P+. Indiana’s strength actually has been its passing offense (17th in S&P+), but Michigan’s pass defense has been the nation’s best (#1 in S&P+) thanks to a disruptive pass rush and two lockdown corners in Jourdan Lewis and Channing Stribling. Plus, the Hoosiers have been one of the worst in the country in taking care of the football and finishing drives when in scoring position. That is asking for disaster against Michigan. Thus, the Under will be the big winner here.
Pick: Under 53.5