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Big 10 Betting Lines: Week 3

NCAA Football: Cincinnati at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to this week’s betting lines.

I went 8-5 last week, putting my total to 14-12 on the year. Not a bad start, but it can always be better. Don’t worry, betters, I promise it will be better this week! Anybody want to bet on my record being better?

All jokes aside, let’s get into this week’s picks.

Byes: Michigan State, Maryland. FCS Opponent: Rutgers. Cancelled Game: Indiana.

Illinois at No. 22 South Florida

Line: South Florida -18; O/U: 52

The Big 10 Friday night matchup this week is the worst team in the Big 10 against a slightly overrated South Florida team. Should be fun!

Just like Thursday Night Football for the NFL, Friday night for college football typically never ends in a good result. The game is always one-sided and over by the half. I expect this game to be just like that. South Florida should be able to handle the Illini easily. And if Illinois actually keeps this game close, maybe South Florida is more than slightly overrated.

Pick: South Florida -17

Georgia State at No. 5 Penn State

Line: Penn State -38.5; O/U: 53.5

After losing by a touchdown to Tennessee State two weeks ago, Georgia State has to go on the road to play against, currently, the top ranked team in the Big 10.

Penn State, without question, through the first two weeks of the season has the most lethal offense in the Big 10, if not the entire country. Trace McSorely, Saquon Barkley and Mike Gesicki are as good as they come in the conference, and they should easily rout Georgia State at home before the conference season begins. I know 38.5 is a lot of points to cover, but the fact of the matter is Penn State’s offense is that good and its defense should be good enough to limit Georgia State to three points, if not zero.

Pick: Penn State -38.5

Middle Tennessee State at Minnesota

Line: Minnesota -10.5; O/U: 50

Minnesota looked dang good on the road against Oregon State last week. P.J. Fleck is rowing his way back to Minnesota for a showdown against Middle Tennessee State, a game in which the Golden Gophers are only favored by 10.5.

MTSU went on the road last weekend and defeated Syracuse, but lost its home opener against Vanderbilt and only scored six points in the process. This team is confusing at the moment, but Minnesota is not. Fleck has his team prepared and I think Minnesota wins the game...but I am still going to take the under.

Pick: Under 50

Northern Illinois at Nebraska

Line: Nebraska -14; O/U: 58.5

Nebraska has looked shaky on defense during its first two games, and that’s putting it nicely. The Cornhuskers gave up 36 in a win against Arkansas State and 42 in a loss to Oregon. Now they return home to play against the Huskies of Northern Illinois, a team that lost by a field goal to Boston College and won by four touchdowns against Eastern Illinois.

I like Nebraska to bounce back this week. With it being at home and coming off a real close loss to a team like Oregon, Nebraska should have a bit of its confidence back. Giving up 36 to Arkansas State was strange, but giving up just a bit more to an offensive-minded team like Oregon is not. Give me the Cornhuskers.

Pick: Northern Illinois -14

No. 10 Wisconsin at BYU

Line: Wisconsin -15.5; O/U: 41

This seems like one of those games where we say that infamous phrase: “Vegas knows something that we don’t.”

Wisconsin has looked good its first two weeks, and should be able to pull out the win. However, BYU has given up just 52 points in its first three games of the season, 27 of those points being put on the board by LSU. Despite its record being 1-2, BYU has shown strides on defense each week and may be able to limit Wisconsin offensively.

The over/under is a tempting thing to pick, but I am ultimately going to pick the Badgers. This could be closer than what we think, but I think Wisconsin ends up winning this game by 20+ points, similar to what LSU did, while holding BYU to very little offense.

Pick: Wisconsin -15.5

Purdue at Missouri

Line: Missouri -7; O/U: 78.5

73 points is the over/under in this game? What is this, the Big 12? My goodness...

Purdue has actually looked much improved on offense so far with Jeff Brohm at head coach. David Blough struggled a bit against Louisville, but had a real nice bounce back game last week against Ohio during the Boilermakers’ home opener with nearly 300 yards and two touchdowns.

Missouri put up 72 on Missouri State, but also gave up 43 points. It also gave up 31 points to South Carolina a week ago. There are some obvious problems on defense, problems that Purdue should be able to pinpoint. I think Purdue wins outright.

Pick: Purdue +7

North Texas at Iowa

Line: Iowa -21.5; O/U: 53

Look. Iowa doesn’t have an explosive offense. But their defense, despite the showdown against Iowa State last weekend, has been pretty good. North Texas, on the other hand, has always been a dumpster fire in football. Giving up 54 points to SMU isn’t a good look. Giving up 14 points to Lamar is also not a good look. Hell, giving up any points to Lamar isn’t a good look.

There is no doubt in my mind that Iowa will win this game. But I think it’s almost always a safe bet to pick the under whenever the game involves Iowa.

Pick: Under 53

Bowling Green at Northwestern

Line: Northwestern -21.5; O/U: 57

Northwestern is coming off an embarrassing road loss to Duke, while Bowling Green is still trying to find its first win of the season, despite giving a pretty good fight to both Michigan State (for three quarters at least) and South Dakota. This game has (explicit) show written all over it.

Squeaking by Nevada and getting obliterated by Duke, a school that values basketball over literally everything, is no bueno for Northwestern. Justin Jackson and Co. should have been able to put up more than 17 on Duke, but it just didn’t happen. Maybe, just maybe, this is the year Pat Fitzgerald does so bad that the seat he is sitting on starts to burn his rear end a little bit. So until Northwestern convinces me otherwise, I am picking against them.

Pick: Bowling Green +21.5

Army at No. 8 Ohio State

Line: Ohio State -30.5; O/U: 53

If I had a Heisman vote, I would vote for Baker Mayfield for two reasons:

  1. He’s a fantastic quarterback and has the stats and big W to back up the case.
  2. Planting that damn flag at midfield of The Horseshoe. My God, what a savage.

Anyways, back to your regularly scheduled program... I think Ohio State rebounds in a big way this week and will cover the spread with ease. When the Buckeyes lost to Virginia Tech at home in 2014, which was also the second game of the season and a night game, they won 66-0 at home the following week. Yep, they were pissed off and wanted a big win. It’ll happen again this weekend.

Pick: Ohio State -30.5

Air Force at No. 7 Michigan

Line: Michigan -24.5; O/U: 53.5

Michigan was not able to cover the spread last weekend against Cincinnati, but I believe they will be able to cover this weekend against Air Force. The defense has flown around the field and should (KEYWORD: Should) be able to prevent the triple option with the speedsters at linebacker.

On offense, I expect Harbaugh to counter with Michigan’s three-headed monster that is Ty Isaac, Chris Evans and Karan Higdon. We didn’t see much of Evans or Higdon last weekend, but I expect the carries to be a little more evened out, despite Isaac’s early season dominance. We should see a good win heading into Big 10 play.

Pick: Michigan -24.5