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Betting the Big Ten: Week 1

College football is back!

NCAA Football: Big Ten Championship-Northwestern at Ohio State Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks, you already know that college football is back! Week 0 was an unsatisfying appetizer, as there were no relevant games and the Big Ten was idle. That all changes starting tonight.

For the sake of clarity, all lines are being pulled from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Wednesday of the given week. As always, please enjoy yourself but bet responsibly.

Nebraska at Minnesota (-7), O/U 43.5, 8 p.m. Thursday

Minnesota has won the last four head-to-head matchups against Nebraska, with the last three being by exactly seven points, making this spread tricky. Matt Rhule is expected to start a complete rebuild this year, but he has some intriguing pieces left behind from the Scott Frost era.

The pick: Nebraska +7

Central Michigan at Michigan State (-14.5), O/U 45.5, 7 p.m. Friday

The Michigan State defense should be improved from last year, but the offense is a complete unknown. With Keon Coleman and Payton Thorne out the door, a new era will be ushered in. Central Michigan has historically played Michigan State tough, so I’ll take the points.

The pick: Central Michigan +14.5

East Carolina at Michigan (-36), O/U 51.5, Noon Saturday

Jim Harbaugh’s suspension has been discussed ad nauseum. With Sherrone Moore also suspended for the first game, quarterbacks coach Kirk Campbell will be calling the plays. Because of this, I expect J.J. McCarthy to sling the ball around the field early and often, by Michigan standards.

The pick: Over 51.5

Utah State at Iowa (-24), O/U 44.5, Noon

I expect Iowa to be much improved this year. The Hawkeye offense still won’t be great, but it should be well above the abysmal level from last season. With that being said, 24 points seems like an awful lot, especially since Cade McNamara is questionable. I don’t believe Iowa will have any trouble with Utah State, but 24 points is too many for me to be comfortable with.

The pick: Utah State +24

Fresno State at Purdue (-4), O/U 47.5, Noon

Purdue also begins a new era with Jeff Brohm out the door and Ryan Walters making his debut. It will be fascinating to see how the transition goes, as Brohm was clearly an offensive-minded coach and Walters was previously Illinois’s defensive coordinator. I like the addition of Hudson Card enough to have confidence in Purdue to cover.

The pick: Purdue -4

Ohio State (-30) at Indiana, O/U 59.5, 3:30 p.m.

This is the easiest pick of the week for me. The Buckeyes and Hoosiers habitually play in shoot-outs. With both Kyle McCord and Devin Brown expected to play, the Buckeye offense will be motivated to score, even when the game gets into blowout territory. In each of the last five head-to-head matchups, not only has the over hit, but more than 60 points have been scored. I’m a sucker for following trends, so give me the over.

The pick: Over 59.5

Buffalo at Wisconsin (-27.5), O/U 54.5, 3:30 p.m.

This game will be a good litmus test for Luke Fickell’s new offensive scheme in Madison. Tanner Mordecai seems aptly suited for it, but the rest of the offense will have some growing pains. With that being said, I don’t see a way Buffalo’s defense can slow down Braelon Allen and the Badger offensive line. Whether or not the air raid truly comes into effect, I don’t see how this game stays close.

The pick: Wisconsin -27.5

Towson at Maryland, 3:30 p.m.

No line available.

West Virginia at Penn State (-20.5), O/U 50.5, 7:30 p.m.

In the most intriguing game of the week, we get to see how Drew Allar handles a Power Five defense. Unfortunately for us viewers, that defense is West Virginia’s. Neal Brown is squarely on the hot seat as West Virginia projects to be one of the worst teams in the Big 12 this season. Penn State’s two-headed rushing attack should have no issue carving up the Mountaineer defense.

The pick: Penn State -20.5

Toledo at Illinois (-9.5), O/U 45.5, 7:30 p.m.

Toledo is projected by most to win the MAC West. The Rockets have playmakers across the board. Illinois, on the other hand, loses quite a bit of production from last year. However, Bret Bielema still has the Illini pointing in the right direction. If this were a noon game, I’d be tempted to pick Toledo in an outright upset, but the atmosphere in Champaign should be enough to keep Illinois on top.

The pick: Illinois -9.5

Northwestern at Rutgers (-6.5), O/U 39.5, Noon Sunday

The first game of the post-Pat Fitzgerald era at Northwestern should be fascinating to watch. As a standalone game on Sunday afternoon before the NFL season starts, all eyes will be on Piscataway, New Jersey. With how low the over/under is, I’m tempted to take the over and move on with my day. However, I’m higher on Rutgers quarterback Gavin Wimsatt than most.

The pick: Rutgers -6.5