The penultimate week of Big Ten play does not feature many exciting matchups. The West is still up for grabs, but none of the top four teams face off this weekend, and ostensibly the most important contest on the slate ironically boasts the largest spread — the disrespek! Go figure.
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No. 7 Michigan State at No. 4 Ohio State (-19), O/U 67.5 — 12:00 pm, ABC
ESPN SP+ Projection: Ohio State 39-22, 84 percent win probability
The winner of this one controls its own destiny, and normally a top-10 matchup this late in the season would have astronomical hype. Unfortunately for the Spartans, the Buckeyes own one of the nation’s best passing games, which is not going to go well for this leaky secondary. 19 points is a ridiculous spread for this type of matchup though, and State probably keeps pace until the final 20 minutes.
Pick: MICHIGAN STATE +19
Rutgers at Penn State (-18), O/U 46.5 — 12:00 pm, BTN
ESPN SP+ Projection: Penn State 31-14, 83 percent win probability
The Nittany Lions are far better than their record indicates and their defense is the real deal. Meanwhile, the Scarlet Knights are just one win away from going bowling, needing to knock off either Penn State on Saturday or Maryland next week to earn their first postseason berth since 2014. That hope remains alive after a losing, yet respectable performance this weekend.
Pick: RUTGERS +18
Purdue (-11) at Northwestern, O/U 47 — 12:00 pm, BTN
ESPN SP+ Projection: Purdue 28-20, 68 percent win probability
The Wildcats return to Wrigley Field for the first time in over 10 years, as they continue to try to convince themselves they are “Chicago’s Big Ten team.” Whether the games are in Evanston or the North Side, the outcome has not been great for Northwestern. The Boilermakers were smacked down by Ohio State as expected and have now fallen out of the rankings. Honestly, these big spreads seem a bit much this week.
Pick: NORTHWESTERN +11
Illinois at No. 17 Iowa (-13), O/U 38.5 — 2:00 pm, BTN
ESPN SP+ Projection: Iowa 29-12, 84 percent win probability
Ok, this one makes more sense. It has been a good bounceback for the Hawkeyes as they keep pace with Wisconsin for the division lead. It never is a high-scoring affair when Iowa is on the field, and the defense should be able to close out the year with a couple wins. The Illini have to hope this one stays very low scoring to have any sort of chance.
Pick: IOWA -13
Nebraska at No. 15 Wisconsin (-9), O/U 42 — 3:30 pm, ABC
ESPN SP+ Projection: Wisconsin 29-18, 75 percent win probability
The Badgers are frankly one of the conference’s best teams, even though the East has been taking over the spotlight, and a top-15 ranking at this point of the season is fully deserved. The defense has really buckled down after falling to Michigan, and this does not look like a fun one for the frustrating/ed Cornhuskers.
Pick: WISCONSIN -9
No. 6 Michigan (-14.5) at Maryland, O/U 56.5 — 3:30 pm, BTN
ESPN SP+ Projection: Michigan 34-21, 78 percent win probability
Forget the trap game. The Wolverines are 100 percent locked in and need some help from their archrivals in order to make next week’s contest for the division title. The Terrapins can move the ball a bit, but the Michigan defense should be able to lock them down overall. Both Vegas and S&P+ believe Maryland can score 21 — that seems pretty optimistic.
Pick: UNDER 56.5
Minnesota (-7.5) at Indiana, O/U 43.5 — 3:30 pm, BTN
ESPN SP+ Projection: Minnesota 30-20, 71 percent win probability
Kind of an interesting matchup here, as the Hoosiers are still winless this season in conference play. However, the Gophers have an outside chance at making some noise in the division race, and this is a favorable contest before hosting rival Wisconsin in what is turning into a big game next weekend.
Pick: MINNESOTA -7.5