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Big Ten Week 4 Preview: Picks & The Points

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Bowling Green is looking for their second win over a Big Ten team this season, Michigan hosts BYU and Indiana shoots for a 4-0 start!

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Last week was action packed with the Big Ten heavyweights failing to cover against inferior opponents, Nebraska losing in heartbreaking fashion again, Illinois coming back to reality, and Indiana and Northwestern completing 3-0 starts to the season.  I missed on my upset special of the week for the first time this season, with Western Kentucky blowing a 28-17 halftime lead and losing to the Hoosiers by 3 points.  Ohio State had the head scratcher of the week, barely holding on to beat Northern Illinois 20-13. Oh, and I got walloped in my prediction for the Rutgers - Penn State game, losing on RU two weeks in a row.

On to this week, with the last full slate of non-conference games for the season before Big Ten conference play begins in earnest next weekend.  There are no marquee match-ups, with Michigan-BYU as the best game of the week. Let's get into this Saturday's schedule and remember, please use the lines for legal means only.  My Rutgers pick will be posted tomorrow with our OTB staff predictions post.

BYU at Michigan 12:00 ABC

Line: Michigan -5.5

This is a fascinating game for Michigan and a real measuring stick to see where they are right now.  They are already 0-1 against the state of Utah, with BYU coming to Ann Arbor this weekend.  BYU started scorching hot despite the loss of their star quarterback Taysom Hill.  His season ended at Nebraska with a foot injury and he was replaced by Tanner Magnum.  All Magnum has done was beat Nebraska and Boise State with last second hail mary touchdown passes.  BYU lost a heartbreaker to UCLA last week 24-23. Magnum has been much more successful rolling out of the pocket than working from inside it so far.  Michigan's quarterback Jake Rudock struggled last week against UNLV, they cannot afford to fall behind by much and play catch up all day.  BYU will not be intimidated by the Big House and leaves Michigan fans disappointed.

Prediction:  BYU wins outright 38-28

Central Michigan at Michigan State 12:00 BTN

Line: Michigan State -27

Michigan State failed to cover against Western Michigan and Air Force so far this season. However, I think this week they finally do cover against an inferior team, making it a long day for the visiting Chippewas.  They emptied the tank last week losing to Syracuse by 3 points.  Although they lost by less than two touchdowns to Oklahoma State, I think they come out flat this week against the best opponent they have seen by far.  MSU will be able to rest their starters in the 4th quarter.

Prediction: Michigan State wins 45-10

Southern Miss at Nebraska 12:00 ESPNNEWS

Line: Nebraska -21.5

I expect an angry Nebraska team to come out firing on all cylinders at home against Southern Miss.  They might be the best 1-2 team in the country, losing in heartbreaking fashion to BYU and Miami.  Southern Miss has two wins over Austin Peay and Texas State and a loss to Mississippi State by 18 points.  I think Nebraska will jump out early and never look back.

Prediction: Nebraska wins big 42-14

Bowling Green at Purdue 12:00 BTN

Line: Bowling Green -2

Bowling Green is favored against Purdue, as they went to Maryland and blew them out, winning 48-27.  They lost at Tennessee but had a lead in the 2nd half, and blew a 4th quarter lead to lose to Memphis.  Regardless, Purdue is the worst team Bowling Green has faced and should have no problem putting away the Boilermakers.  Coach Darrell Hazell did make a quarterback switch for this game, but it will not be enough to keep up with the Falcons 40 points per game scoring average.

Prediction:  Bowling Green covers going away, winning 45-28

Indiana at Wake Forest 12:30 ESPN3

Line: EVEN

Indiana has started 3-0 and their fans are so excited they are pushing hard for ESPN GameDay to visit Bloomington for their match-up against Ohio State next weekend. Wake Forest is not a good team, beating Army by 3 points and losing to Syracuse by two touchdowns.  Indiana has it's issues on defense, allowing an average of 31 points per game against Southern Illinois, Florida International and Western Kentucky.  However, Wake doesn't have much firepower on offense and the Hoosiers winning streak continues.

Prediction: Indiana wins 35-24

Maryland at West Virginia 3:00 FS1

Line: West Virginia -17

We really don't know much about West Virginia so far, having only played and beaten Liberty and Georgia Southern. We do know Maryland played better last week at home against South Florida with their new starting quarterback Caleb Rowe.  However, I don't think the Maryland defense is very good and playing on the road, this game could unravel quickly for the Terrapins.

Prediction: West Virginia wins in a rout, 48-24

North Texas at Iowa 3:30 ESPNU

Line: Iowa -24.5

Iowa could not pull away from Pittsburgh last week, winning in dramatic fashion on a 57 yard field goal as time expired.  The Hawkeyes are riding high at 3-0 to start the season and should enjoy an easy win at home.  They kick off their conference season next week at Wisconsin, which will determine whether they are truly Big Ten West contenders.

Prediction: Iowa wins easy 38-7

Ohio at Minnesota 3:30 BTN

Line: Minnesota -10.5

Illinois beat Kent State 52-3.  Minnesota beat Kent State 10-7.  I definitely did not see that coming.  The Golden Gophers are struggling on offense but have a solid defense and have done just enough to win the past two weeks. Ohio comes in 3-0, including an impressive win over Marshall, a team that beat Purdue earlier this season. I think Minnesota will continue their trend so far, struggle on offense but play strong enough on defense to pull out a victory.

Prediction: Minnesota fails to cover but wins 23-14

Western Michigan at Ohio State 3:30 ABC/ESPN2

Line: Ohio State -31.5

Ohio State did not play well last week against Northern Illinois.  They play another MAC team this week, Western Michigan, led by former Rutgers assistant P.J. Fleck.  They played Michigan State tough at home to open the season, only to get blown out by Georgia Southern.  I think Ohio State will be licking their chops after a difficult week of practice.  No doubt Urban Meyer was not pleased with last week's performance and made that clear during this week's preparation.

Prediction:  Ohio State in a blowout 45-3

San Diego State at Penn State 3:30 BTN

Line: Penn State -15

Penn State looked better than they are against Rutgers last weekend, but they are starting to find their identity with the run game. Saquon Barkley looks like the real deal and is primed for a strong freshman year.  If the Penn State run game is consistent, it will help Christian Hackenberg get better as the season goes on.  San Diego State lost to South Alabama last week and should not be much of a test for a rejuvenated PSU team.

Prediction:  Penn State 35-10

Middle Tennessee State at Illinois 4:00 ESPNNEWS

*UPSET SPECIAL OF THE WEEK*

Line: Illinois -6.5

Illinois looked terrible last week against North Carolina.  Middle Tennessee State is not a pushover by any means, scoring over 70 points in both wins over Charlotte and Jackson State.  Their only loss was to Alabama by the score of 37-10.  The Illinois defense needs to recover quickly after getting torched by North Carolina last week.  I think they will have their hands full this weekend and this will be a close game.

Prediction: Middle Tennessee State shocks the Illini 38-31

Ball State at Northwestern 8:00 BTN

Line: Northwestern -18.5

I have doubted Northwestern all season but it's time to concede they look very solid so far.  Winning at Duke was a good win and they should have no problem at home this week against Ball State.  The only question is whether the fighting Fitzgerald's will cover the spread.

Prediction: Northwestern wins and covers by the score of 38-13

Hawaii at Wisconsin 8:00 BTN

Line: Wisconsin -24.5

Hawaii continues its tour of the Big Ten, landing in Wisconsin after playing Ohio State. In between losing 38-0 to the Buckeyes, Hawaii has wins over Colorado and UC Davis. However, Wisconsin will pound it on the ground against the Rainbow Warriors and torch their defense like a tiki party gone wrong.

Prediction: Wisconsin rolls 42-14

Head to Head Results: Last week 9-4; Season 35-6

Season Against The Spread: Last week 3-9-1; Season 16-17-1