We have a full slate of conference games this Saturday as every Big Ten team is in action. Last week I was correct in picking Purdue to upset Nebraska, who look as they are completely falling apart. I didn't think it would be such a high scoring game though with the Boilermakers winning 55-45. I was also right about Maryland losing but covering to Iowa on the road. Picking Rutgers to cover was an egregious error and my other loss against the spread was Michigan, who won on a goal line stand on the last play of the game.
This week features 7-2 Penn State at 6-2 Northwestern in what should be a classic Big Ten battle in the trenches. Purdue looks to put together a winning streak while all three undefeated Big Ten teams take on a team from the other division in which they play. Let's get to it and as always, use the spreads for legal means only.
Penn State at Northwestern 12:00PM ESPNU
Line: Northwestern -2.5
This is a huge game and Penn State will be looking for payback after losing to Northwestern at home last season. The Wildcats had two weeks to prepare for this game after an impressive win at Nebraska, followed by their bye week. Penn State blew out Illinois after squeaking out a road win at Maryland. Both defenses are pretty good and it should be a tight game throughout. Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg has been playing better of late and could cause some damage tomorrow. However, Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson is improving and was an effective dual threat against the Cornhuskers. In a close call, I'll side with the rested team at home.
Prediction: Northwestern 24-20
Illinois at Purdue 12:00PM BTN
Line: Illinois -4.5
I felt like Purdue was due last week and the wheels were close to falling off for Nebraska after five close losses. It happened and the Boilermakers, as quarterback David Blough had a breakout game throwing for 274 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also ran for 82 yards and a touchdown. While the defense continued to struggle, Purdue played with passion and showed they have not quit on coach Darrell Hazell. The win earned him a contract extension this week. Illinois got whitewashed last weekend, losing to Penn State 49-0. I smell a winning streak in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Prediction: Purdue wins again 34-28
Iowa at Indiana 3:30PM ESPN
Line: Iowa -7
Iowa did last week against Maryland what they always do, win in unimpressive but solid fashion. The issue was never really in doubt and a late Will Likely return made the score appear closer than the game actually was. They head to Indiana to take on the Hoosiers, who are coming off a bye week. Indiana's defense has been giving up 50+ points on the regular, including to Rutgers, so Iowa will be a difficult task. Quarterback Nate Sudfeld has proven to be able to put points on the board as well, but not enough to keep up with his own defense. This game will be relatively close, but the Kirk Ferentz revival tour will roll on.
Prediction: Iowa wins 38-28
Wisconsin at Maryland 3:30PM BTN
Line: Wisconsin -11
Give Maryland credit, they have played better for interim head coach Mike Locksley the past two games. It wasn't pretty against Iowa, but they didn't embarrass themselves either. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for east division rival Rutgers. Wisconsin annihilated the Scarlet Knights with a dominating effort on both sides of the ball. Despite a lot of injuries, Wisconsin is coming into their own down the stretch for first year coach Paul Chryst. I expect the Badgers to keep playing well with Maryland giving a pesky but unsuccessful effort.
Prediction: Wisconsin wins 31-14
Rutgers at Michigan 3:30PM BTN
Line: Michigan -24.5
I am one of the most optimistic Rutgers fans around, but after the past two weeks, along with everything else this season, I have zero confidence in this team. Laviano has led the Rutgers offense to a grand total of 6 points in games against Penn State, Ohio State and Wisconsin. The defense has given up 125 points in those games. Until Rutgers proves they can even be semi-competitive against a good team, I think Michigan will deliver similar results.
Prediction: Michigan 42-0
Michigan State at Nebraska 7:00PM ESPN
Line: Michigan State -6
Things have gotten ugly in Lincoln as the Nebraska Cornhuskers were embarrassed last week at Purdue. Giving up 55 points to the Boilermakers is shocking and now they have to face off against arguably the best quarterback in the Big Ten, Connor Cook. Michigan State should put up a ton of points tomorrow night. Quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. is expected back for Nebraska but there is no telling how effective he will be. It could be a shootout if he is close to healthy. It will be interesting to see what type of effort Nebraska puts together in front the of their disgruntled home faithful.
Prediction: Michigan State 38-20
Minnesota at Ohio State 8:00PM ABC
Line: Ohio State -24
Minnesota showed a ton of heart and guts last week, taking Michigan to the wire and literally losing by inches. However, a deflating loss and a week removed from the emotional departure of their head coach Jerry Kill, playing in the Horseshoe against #1 Ohio State is a recipe for disaster. Quarterback Cardale Jones will be fired up after getting a second chance to start with J.T. Barrett suspended. Also, expect the Ezekiel Elliott show to star in prime time. Minnesota will struggle to keep up and it will be a long night for the Gophers.
Prediction: Ohio State 31-10
Head to Head Results: Last week 5-0; Season 73-12
Season Against The Spread: Last week 3-2; Season 40-37-1