Week 10 of the college football season brings another seven-game Big Ten lineup with every team in the conference in action.
Once again, we at Maize n Brew will take a look at each matchup and tell you what you need to know so that if you bet on these games, you can do so with confidence. And after a 2-5 performance last week — which brought my own record to 16-14 since Week 5 — a confidence boost would surely be helpful.
All times listed are Eastern. Odds brought to you by DraftKings Sportsbook.
No. 5 Ohio State (-14.5) at Nebraska, O/U 66 — 12 p.m., FOX
ESPN SP+ Projection: Ohio State 37-23, 79 percent win probability
I’m going to play it a little bold here. The Huskers are 3-6 and Scott Frost might need to win out to have any hope of returning to Lincoln for a fifth season. I don’t think they’ll go down without some sort of fight. Ohio State didn’t exactly look at its best last week against a slumping Penn State team, and all six of Nebraska’s losses, as is well known, have come by one score or less.
The Huskers aren’t about to suddenly break through in these types of games — it’s too late in the season for that — but they’re capable of playing up to the level of their competition just as they’re capable of playing down.
Take Nebraska to cover, if only barely. The under seems like a fine choice as well.
Pick: Nebraska +14.5
Illinois at No. 20 Minnesota (-14.5), O/U 44 — 12 p.m., ESPN2
ESPN SP+ Projection: Minnesota 35-17, 85 percent win probability
One of college football’s more unsung stories this season has been the Golden Gophers turning into a wrecking ball even after their top two running backs, Mohamed Ibrahim and Trey Potts, both suffered season-ending injuries. Minnesota’s on a four-game winning streak and ran for 634 yards in its last two wins over Maryland and Northwestern. It also held the Terrapins and Wildcats both under 300 yards of total offense. Illinois is averaging 14 points per game over its last seven. Don’t overthink this one.
Pick: Minnesota -14.5
No. 3 Michigan State (-3) at Purdue, O/U 53 — 3:30 p.m., ABC
ESPN SP+ Projection: Michigan State 28-22, 63 percent win probability
It’s pretty shocking to see the No. 3 team in the nation as only a three-point favorite at Purdue. Vegas doesn’t have much confidence in the Spartans, evidently, as even SP+ doesn’t think these two teams are that close.
This game has the feeling of one of those ugly, junkball Big Ten matchups where anything that can happen will happen. The spread is scary for that reason.
But I have no idea how the over/under ended up as high as it did. The Boilermakers’ defense is actually elite, allowing just 315 yards and 17 points per game, and not a single one of their games has produced more than 51 combined points.
Pick: Under 53
No. 21 Wisconsin (-12.5) at Rutgers, O/U 37.5 — 3:30 p.m., BTN
ESPN SP+ Projection: Wisconsin 28-14, 79 percent win probability
The over/under of 37.5 points is not very high, but here are some things to consider. The Badgers’ offense is essentially entirely reliant on their power running game, and Rutgers has shown it’s capable of dealing with that kind of attack. Readers of this blog will remember how the Scarlet Knights stacked the box and bottled up Michigan’s second-half offense when the Wolverines couldn’t adjust. They held Chase Brown, a guy who’s had two 200-yard games this season, to just 67 yards on 18 carries last week.
Wisconsin’s defense is allowing less than 50 yards per game on the ground, and Rutgers is averaging 13 points per game in Big Ten contests. That much speaks for itself.
If you’re set on picking against the spread, though, the Badgers are still your best bet.
Pick: Under 37.5
Penn State (-10) at Maryland, O/U 55.5 — 3:30 p.m., FS1
ESPN SP+ Projection: Penn State 30-23, 64 percent win probability
I think there are a couple ways you could go with this game.
The Nittany Lions’ red-zone defense kept them in the game against Ohio State, forcing four field goals. For the season, they’re allowing touchdowns on less than 30 percent of red-zone chances. That could push this one under.
As far as the spread goes, while Penn State’s offense has played poorly recently, last week seemed to be a bit of a breakthrough with Sean Clifford throwing for over 350 yards. Meanwhile, Maryland’s allowed 186 points in its last four games.
Pick: Under 55.5
No. 22 Iowa (-12) at Northwestern, O/U 40.5 — 7 p.m., BTN
ESPN SP+ Projection: Iowa 27-13, 78 percent win probability
The Wildcats have been outscored 74-21 in their last two games. I don’t have anything else interesting to say here.
Pick: Iowa -12
Indiana at No. 7 Michigan (-20), O/U 51 — 7:30 p.m., FOX
ESPN SP+ Projection: Michigan 35-17, 80 percent win probability
Michigan’s done pretty well with large spreads this year. The Wolverines have been favored by 20 or more points in three games and covered twice, and have covered six of eight games overall.
With that in mind, a superficial glance at this game says Michigan should be able to cruise to victory. But the Hoosiers’ rushing defense is actually decent. They allowed just 79 yards on 46 carries against Maryland and held Kenneth Walker III to 84 yards on 23 attempts and no touchdowns when they met in October.
If Michigan simply tries to crush Indiana’s throats on the ground, it might have more trouble covering the spread than expected. Whether the Wolverines win by more or less than 20, in my opinion, will come down to if Cade McNamara can build off the best game of his career last week.
McNamara’s averaged 34.5 passing attempts over his last four games (over 20 in the first half), and Michigan’s clearly made it a priority to get an aerial attack going lately. With that in mind, I’m taking the Wolverines.
Pick: Michigan -20