This week there are six games slated in the Big Ten with Penn State and Wisconsin on their bye weeks. All six games feature heavy favorites, as Nebraska being favored over Rutgers by 9.5 points is the tightest spread of the week. Strange week indeed! Nebraska is coming off a stunning and controversial win over previously undefeated Michigan State. Just another reminder for Rutgers fans of what might have been this season, after falling short against the Spartans. Let's look at this week's schedule.
Ohio State at Illinois 12:00PM ABC
Line: Ohio State -16
Ohio State is coming off a modest two touchdown victory against Minnesota in a game J.T. Barrett was suspended for. He is expected to start this week and I think the offense will be rejuvenated with his return. Illinois manned up last week by dominating Purdue and they are now one more win away from becoming bowl eligible. You have to give interim head coach Bill Cubit a lot of credit for what Illinois has done so far this season. Unfortunately, this week will serve as a reality check that the Illini are still far away from being elite.
Prediction: Ohio State 42 Illinois 14
Maryland at Michigan State 12:00PM ESPN2
Line: Michigan State -14.5
Maryland continues to lose with dignity, which is something Rutgers cannot say. The past two weeks Maryland has lost to Wisconsin and Iowa, the top two teams in the West, by only 23 points combined. Rutgers has lost most halves the past three games by more than that. However, this week could be different as the Terps face an angry Michigan State team on the road. As expected from a Mark D'Antonio team, the Spartans took accountability for their loss to Nebraska despite the controversial call at the end. Michigan State still has a chance to play in the Big Ten championship and possibly the playoff considering they still have to play Ohio State. I think they will be looking for blood this Saturday.
Prediction: Michigan State wins big 45-17
Purdue at Northwestern 12:00PM BTN
Line: Northwestern -16
Purdue followed up their huge win over Nebraska with a terrible showing against Illinois. I rode the Boilermakers too long after thinking they could actually put a winning streak together. Shame on me. Northwestern pulled out a big win over Penn State last weekend and are rolling at 7-2. Their defense should stifle Purdue for most of the game and their improving offense should have a good day at home.
Prediction: Northwestern rolls 31-6
Michigan at Indiana 3:30PM ABC/ESPN2
Line: Michigan -13
Michigan took care of Rutgers last week and march into Bloomington at 7-2. Indiana lost a hard fought game to Iowa last week and at 4-5, still have bowl hopes. Their offense welcomed back running back Jordan Howard last week and he picked up right where he left off before his injury. It will be interesting to see how Indiana's offense does against the stout Michigan defense. The deep pass has posed a problem recently for Michigan, with the exception of the Rutgers game. This game could be the best game of the day in the conference.
Prediction: Michigan wins but fails to cover 31-28
Nebraska at Rutgers 3:30PM BTN
Nebraska comes into Piscataway feeling good after stunning Michigan State last weekend. The Cornhuskers are only 4-6 but all six losses are by a combined 23 points. They desperately need a win to keep bowl hopes alive and with Tommy Armstrong Jr back, their offense should flourish against the Rutgers defense. Armstrong is a dual threat quarterback, which is the worst match-up for Rutgers. While he has run it less this season, he is still capable and his passing game is better than ever. Leonte Carroo is the X factor as he is expected to play but we won't know how effective he will be. If he is close to full health, Carroo could have a big game and give Rutgers a chance. Unfortunately, even with Carroo I am not confident it would even be enough with the current state of our defense. Between their psyche after giving up 198 points in four weeks and with so many injuries, I don't see how they will be any better this week.
Prediction: Nebraska wins 48-31
Minnesota at Iowa 8:00PM BTN
Line: Iowa -12.5
Iowa keeps winning and upsetting SEC fans, now so even more after being ranked 5th this week for the college football playoff. They don't blow anyone out, but Iowa plays tough and fundamentally sound football. Minnesota has been through a lot but have played Michigan and Ohio State very tough in back to back weeks. They finally received good news this week with long time assistant and interim head coach Tracy Claeys being named the permanent replacement for the recently retired Jerry Kill. This game will be classic Big Ten smash mouth football with Iowa winning at home.
Prediction: Iowa 27-17
Head to Head Results: Last week 5-2; Season 78-14
Season Against The Spread: Last week 2-5; Season 42-42-1