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Betting the Big Ten: Spreads, lines and picks for Week 2

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NCAA Football: Iowa at Rutgers Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Almost exactly like my March Madness bracket every year, the first weekend of college football and my picks in this piece were looking pretty solid until all hell broke loose as the weekend went along. Still, I managed a respectable record and we will have to see how it all plays out in Week 2.

Here’s a recap of how we did:

Last week’s record: 9-5

Season overall: 9-5

I am not a betting man, but if I was, here’s what we’re looking at for Week 2.

Saturday, Sept. 7

All times listed as ET. Odds and picks via Vegas Insider as of this posting unless noted.

Vanderbilt at Purdue (-7.5), Over/under: 55.5

Both of these teams are coming off of a loss and will be looking to get a much-needed non-conference win on their resumes for bowl eligibility purposes. Given that Purdue has a little more punch offensively, I think I like them to win this game but expect it to be somewhat of a lower scoring game than what Vegas does.

Pick: Under 55.5

No. 21 Syracuse at Maryland (-1), O/U: 56.5

This one as of Tuesday is fascinating because the Orange opened as five-point favorites in the game, but it has slightly slid the way of the Terrapins in the last few days. Despite putting up 79 points against Howard, we’re not sure what the Terps are yet and I like Dino Babers’ chances of getting his team a win on the road.

Pick: Syracuse (+1)

Rutgers at No. 20 Iowa (-20), O/U: 50.5

Despite an offensive explosion of sorts from Rutgers over the weekend, that was probably their best chance for a victory all season long. They will come crashing back down to earth with a trip to Kinnick.

Pick: Iowa (-20)

Army at No. 7 Michigan (-23), O/U: 46.5

Like last week’s game against MTSU, I’m not so sure that Michigan covers, but cannot shake the feeling that the over hits in this one. The defense might have some slip-ups against the triple-option, but the offense, assuming they can hold onto the football and not get totally owned in time of possession, should have a chance to put some points on the board and sharpen things up.

Pick: Over 46.5

Cincinnati at No. 5 Ohio State (-16.5), O/U: 56

The Bearcats and former Buckeye assistant/sort of head coach Luke Fickell are a good football team, but they are going into a lion’s den this weekend. That said, I can see the emotions dying down from the first week of the season and Cincinnati giving them a football game.

Pick: Cincinnati (+16.5)

Eastern Illinois at Indiana (-34), O/U: 62.5 (odds from OddsShark)

Indiana struggled to separate from Ball State last weekend, but that should not be a problem in this game. I don’t see EIU giving them much of a battle, but also certainly do not see the over hitting in this one, either. However, I felt the same way about Maryland/Howard last weekend and we saw how that went. Similar vibes here, but will stick with my gut.

Pick: Under 62.5

Illinois (-20.5) at UConn, O/U: 62

I was both impressed with Brandon Peters yet do not feel a whole lot different about Illinois as a football team. They need to win some games to save Lovie Smith this season and they should be able to get one on the road. UConn is just so, so bad.

Pick: Illinois (-20.5)

No. 25 Nebraska (-3.5) at Colorado, O/U: 64.5

Nebraska struggled in its season opener in which it was a 36-point favorite, so to now go out to the other side of the country and play on the road is a bit scary, but Adrian Martinez and company have the good to get it done. I think they get the win and send a message on Saturday.

Pick: Nebraska (-3.5)

Central Michigan at No. 17 Wisconsin (-35), O/U: 51.5

Pray for Jim McElwain and my poor Chippewas. This will be extremely ugly. I do not see a scenario in which my alma mater is able to make this remotely interesting.

Pick: Wisconsin (-35)

Western Michigan at No. 19 Michigan State (-16.5), O/U 46.5

Michigan State always struggles in its Friday night opener, so to see them do so against Tulsa was not much of a surprise. Into Spartan Stadium come the Broncos from Kalamazoo, who will not be able to do much of anything offensively. The Spartans should be able to cover in this one. It would be somewhat concerning if they didn’t (for them, not Michigan fans of course).

Pick: MSU (-16.5)

Buffalo at No. 15 Penn State (-29.5), O/U: 57

A week or so after a strong offensive showing, Penn State is projected for more of the same in this one. However, I think Buffalo might be able to score a bit in this one and at least put a little bit of a scare into the Nittany Lions defense. Look out for this game to be weirdly interesting.

Pick: Over 57

Minnesota (-3) at Fresno State, O/U: 46.5

As someone who believes (and still does to a certain extent) that Minnesota is a sleeper in the Big Ten West, last week’s struggles were a bit of a shot to the ego. Fresno State gave USC a battle last week in a loss and now get to come home for a rematch with the Gophers, who beat them in Minneapolis last season. Last year’s game was a bar fight, but look for this to be a little more wide open this year.

Pick: Over 46.5