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Cappin’ the B1G: Rutgers Football and Big Ten Week 7 Predictions and Picks Against the Spread

Iowa v Rutgers Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Well folks, I came crashing back down to earth last week and the winning streak is officially over. I went 6-6 overall including 4-4 in wagered games but lost 3 units to put the season total at -6 units. I was hoping to get us into Profitsville but it looks like I’ll just have to go undefeated this week to do it. I’m ready to go 5-0, the question is: are you willing to take the journey to 5-0 with me?

I often tweet picks I feel strong about throughout the week that aren’t Big Ten games. If you want to see my other picks, or just want to follow an entertaining fella, be sure to follow me by clicking the blue button below:

To recap Week 6:

  1. Michigan -27.5 (3 units) W
  2. Minnesota +1.5 (3 units) L
  3. Maryland -1 (3 units) L
  4. Purdue/Illinois UNDER 54 (2 units) L
  5. Michigan/Rutgers UNDER 53 (1 unit) L
  6. Maryland/Penn State UNDER 58 (1 unit) W
  7. BYU/Michigan State UNDER 50 (1 unit) W
  8. Indiana +29 (1 unit) W

To recap the season:

  • Overall Record: 52-44-2 (54.2%)
  • Wagered Games Record: 22-26-2 (45.8%)
  • Season Units: -6 Units

Time for Week 7. Let’s get the money train back on the tracks!

Illinois Fighting Illini at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

  • Saturday October 15th, 12 PM
  • TV: ESPNNews
  • Point Spread: Illinois -6
  • Total: 55

I really hope that Chris Ash is our Harvey Dent here (the good one, before half of his face became hideously scarred and he became a villain) because this is definitely the darkest hour since I got into Rutgers football when I was in high school around 2004. We are a touchdown underdog at home to Illinois. Wow. I still have faith that Ash will get his recruits and start to turn this thing around but for right now we still have to play the games and take our lumps. Hopefully this Saturday we can show some promise and maybe even squeak out a win versus Lovie Smith’s Fighting Illini.

Illinois enters this game not even sure who their starting QB will be after Senior Wes Lunt left last weeks game against Purdue in the second quarter. Backup QB Chayce Crouch (what a name) looked good last week in relief of Lunt, going 10 of 14 for 142 yards and picking up 137 yards rushing to go along with two touchdowns on the ground. As a Rutgers fan I’m not even really sure who I’d rather see line up at center for Illinois at this point. Rutgers has been outscored 136-0 over the past two weeks, albeit against two legitimate top five teams in the country. Along with 136 points, the Rutgers defense has given up 1,269 yards in the past two weeks but they get to face a much worse offense in Piscataway this week. It’s tough to know whether the Scarlet Knights are just so beaten up defensively that there isn’t much left in the tank or if the opposition has just been that good. This will be a good barometer game on both sides of the ball for Rutgers.

On offense, Rutgers has put up 7 points in their last three games and had just 39 total yards last week against Michigan. The Scarlet Knights didn’t even register their initial first down of the game until the fourth quarter but help is on the way when the Illinois defense rolls into town. The Fighting Illini have given up 5.7 yards per play this season, including 240.3 rushing yards per game over their last three weeks. Something has to give here as this is what happens when a totally stoppable force meets a completely movable object. I just have no confidence in the QB position in Piscataway and until I see something out of the offensive line and QB, it’s gonna be tough to roll with Rutgers from here on out.

I truly believe that this is the last winnable game for Rutgers on the schedule and they need this one badly. I’m hoping that Rutgers offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer will pull out all the stops in this one and let freshman QB Tylin Oden show what he’s capable of to try and put points on the board here. I truly believe that the Scarlet Knights are just too physically broken down at this point after playing what has to be the toughest schedule in the country so far. I think we get on the scoreboard more than anticipated here but the defense is too broken at this point and we give up too many to Illinois here. We need the bye week ASAP. I want to take the under here but I wouldn’t be shocked if Illinois puts up more than 31 so I’m laying off that.

  • Projected Score: Illinois 31 – Rutgers 17
  • Spread Pick: Illinois -6 (1 unit)
  • Total Pick: Under 55 (0 units)

Minnesota Golden Gophers at Maryland Terrapins

  • Saturday October 15th, 12 PM
  • Point Spread: Maryland -6.5
  • Total: 50

Maryland came down to earth a bit last week when they couldn’t get the job done in Happy Valley and to make matters worse, they’re dealing with an injury to their starting QB Perry Hills. Minnesota dropped a game at home to Big Ten West opponent Iowa in a 14-7 shootout and is looking to avoid going 3-3 after starting the season 3-0.

Minnesota QB Mitch Leidner will miss this game with a concussion that he suffered last week, and his injury showed in his putrid stat line. Taking the reigns for the Gophers is former walk-on Conor Rhoda. Rhoda is a redshirt junior with just two career pass attempts which isn’t good news for the Gophers team that will be even more one dimension against a Maryland defense that, until last week, had been top notch against the run. Maryland gave up 524 yards including 372 of them coming on the ground last week at Penn State and they looked very sloppy all afternoon long in the rainy conditions. I look for the Terps to bounce back into shape this week on defense and shut down the Minnesota rushing attack.

Maryland 9th year QB Perry Hills is having some injury issues but it looks like he will play in this one which is great news for the Terps because freshman Tyrrell Pigrome does not look ready to take over this offense quite yet. Hills is so beaten up though a strong gust of wind might knock him out of this one and the Minnesota defense looks much improved after last week’s game against Iowa. Maryland’s offense was able to pick up just 270 total yards last week against a Penn State defense that is completely shattered depth wise at the LB position. Maryland needs to reestablish the running game this week but it won’t be easy against a stout Gophers run defense. This will be a fun matchup to watch as both of these teams seem to mirror each other quite a bit.

I think this game will come down to which teams run defense breaks first. I like DJ Durkin as a coach a lot more than Tracy Claeys and I think Durkin’s defensive prowess will have his team ready to go in this one. This spread and total is a little scary to me and you guys know that I loved both of these teams in the preseason so this is going to be a game that I lay off completely.

  • Projected Score: Minnesota 21 – Maryland 28
  • Spread Pick: Maryland -6.5 (0 units)
  • Total Pick: Under 50 (0 units)

Iowa Hawkeyes at Purdue Boilermakers

  • Saturday October 15, 12 PM
  • TV: ESPN 2
  • Point Spread: Iowa -12.5
  • Total: 50

Darrell Hazell survives one more week in West Lafayette! Purdue actually has THREE WINS this season to surpass last years total but I can’t think of a more “dead man walking” scenario than Hazell at Purdue. Last week they had a thrilling overtime win at Illinois and are looking to put together their first EVER winning streak under Hazell when Iowa comes into town fresh off a victory of their own in Minnesota by 7 points. Kirk Ferentz’s Hawkeyes have played four consecutive close games and they are hoping Purdue can be the cure to what has ailed them lately.

Iowa has been very bland on offense this year with the exception of RB Akrum Wadley’s seven rushing touchdowns and their ability to convert red zone opportunities into points. The thing about that is that they aren’t getting many red zone chances at all. Iowa is next to dead last in the conference with just 338.2 yards per game on offense and they are “led” by QB C.J. Beathard who has been less than impressive this season. Purdue might be just the defense Iowa needs to face to right the Hawkeye ship as the Boilermakers allowed 499 yards to Illinois last week and are getting thrashed by opponents rushing attacks lately. Look for Wadley to have a big game in this one.

Purdue QB David Blough can show flashes of being a very solid signal caller and as soon as you think he could be turning the corner, he seems to throw a killer interception. Blough leads in the country in interceptions thrown with 9 so Purdue will try and focus a little more on running the ball in this one. Boilermakers RB Brian Lankford-Johnson had a nice day last week against Illinois when he ran the ball 18 times for 127 yards and a touchdown so look for him to stay involved in the offense against a stout Iowa rushing defense. Iowa hasn’t allowed much on defense since their season opener yardage wise and they’ve been very good at forcing turnovers. If Purdue has to rely on Blough to throw the ball in order to win, it could be another disastrous day for the Boilermakers.

Aside from Illinois at Rutgers, this has got to be the ugliest game to watch on Saturday. Both of these teams rank near the bottom of the Big Ten in terms of yards per play so this is going to be a defensive shootout. I think the Purdue front seven gets worn down early by Iowa RB’s Wadley and LeShun Daniels and Iowa finds a way to win by a couple of touchdowns. Purdue won’t can Hazell after this one but they will still be searching for that first elusive winning streak under him.

  • Projected Score: Iowa 28 – Purdue 14
  • Spread Pick: Iowa -12.5 (0 units)
  • Total Pick: Under 50 (1 unit)

Nebraska Cornhuskers at Indiana Hoosiers

  • Saturday October 15th, 3:30 PM
  • TV: ABC or ESPN2
  • Point Spread: Nebraska -3.5
  • Total: 56.5

Nebraska’s dream bounce back season is still in effect as they enter this game in Bloomington with a 5-0 record but they’re having major injury issues heading into this contest. Indiana will be looking to end Nebraska’s undefeated record after taking down Michigan State at home two weeks ago in a game the Spartans were ranked 17th in the country. Indiana hung around with Ohio State long enough to cover the spread and if they can hang around longer in this one, they very well may pull off the upset.

Nebraska’s offense is limping into this game due to star WR Jordan Westerkamp and TE Cethan Carter both being ruled out by head coach Mike Riley for this weeks game. Along with Westerkamp and Carter, RB Devine Ozigbo is questionable to play along with WR Alonzo Moore and OL Tanner Farmer. Riley is hoping that the latter two can play after having a bye last week but it won’t help to be without Westerkamp and Carter against a surprisingly good Indiana defense. Huskers QB Tommy Armstrong has been dealing with an ankle injury but it shouldn’t affect his play much in this one. Will this be the week that Armstrong implodes and blows it for his team?

Last week, Indiana was only down 7 in the third quarter to Ohio State and eventually fell apart down the stretch but they sure did look impressive for 60% of the game. Hoosiers QB Richard Lagow threw for two touchdown passes against the very talented Buckeyes defense and he should be able to find success against a Nebraska defense that ranks near the bottom of the conference in terms of yards per play allowed. If the Hoosier’s want to pull of an upset, they need to get RB Devine Redding going after he was bottles up by the Buckeyes last week.

Nebraska’s injury concerns combined with Armstrong’s shaky history have me really concerned for the Huskers this week. Indiana already knows what it takes to pull of a home upset and they’ll be fired up for this one at home. Hopefully the bye week allowed Nebraska time to heal and most of their questionable players play because this should be a very entertaining game to watch on Saturday. I think the Hoosiers are a little too beaten up from their game against Ohio State last week and Nebraska wins pretty convincingly here to keep their undefeated season alive.

  • Projected Score: Nebraska 31 – Indiana 20
  • Spread Pick: Nebraska -3.5 (2 units)
  • Total Pick: Under 56.5 (0 units)

Northwestern Wildcats at Michigan State Spartans

  • Saturday October 15th, 3:30 PM
  • TV: BTN
  • Point Spread: Michigan State -5
  • Total: 42.5

Holy crap. Sparty is looking to avoid their FOURTH STRAIGHT LOSS? A fourth straight loss would mark the first time this happened under head coach Mark Dantonio and would put some serious doubt into whether the Spartans would even make a bowl game just months after appearing in the College Football Playoff. Luckily for Dantonio, they have a real shot to pound the crap out of a mediocre Northwestern team to give the Spartans a bit of momentum for the second half of the season.

Northwestern is coming off of a bye week and a week before that they hung a shocking 38 points on Iowa in Iowa in a game I thought they would score about 0 points in. Justin Jackson had a big game against the Hawkeyes and could have another big one against a Michigan State defense that has been allowing opponents to run at will on them. BYU tallied up 260 rushing yards in East Lansing last week and the Spartans are now allowing 179.3 rushing yards per game this season. The Spartans desperately need LB’s Riley Bullough and Jon Reschke to come back from injury in this one and both players statuses are uncertain as of this time. If the Spartans can get just one of them back it could go a long way towards shutting down the Northwestern offense.

Michigan State enters this game unsure of who their starting QB will be after Dantonio yanked last weeks starter Tyler O’Connor in the fourth quarter and replaced him with Damion Terry. Terry looked decent running the ball but he had a costly interception as well. I think at this point in time Dantonio just has to hand the reigns over to the younger Terry. O’Connor is never going to be anything other than a game manager with a pop gun arm so you might as well add another dimension to your offense and make opposing defenses prepare for a rushing quarterback. Northwestern has been awful on punts this year, giving opponents a lot of short fields so maybe that’s just what the Spartans offense needs to get things going on offense.

This one is really tough to predict as there are so many question marks regarding injuries for Michigan State. If both LB’s are good to go, I really like the Spartans to get back on track but I can’t bet on it without knowing their statuses. If they don’t play, I can see Northwestern having a lot of success on the ground with Jackson and putting the Spartans in tough situations all game long. I also don’t know who the Michigan State QB will be so I’ll just go with my gut and say this is a very low scoring affair and put my eggs in that basket.

  • Projected Score: Northwestern 17 – Michigan State 20
  • Spread Pick: Northwestern +5 (0 units)
  • Total Pick: Under 42.5 (2 units)

Ohio State Buckeyes at Wisconsin Badgers

  • Saturday October 15th, 8 PM
  • TV: ABC
  • Point Spread: Ohio State -10
  • Total: 44

It’s finally time for the Big Ten’s best matchup of the week in terms of where both teams are ranked when the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes invade Madison, Wisconsin to take on the Badgers. Wisconsin had been very underrated this year by oddsmakers and it’s clear in this line as well. The Badgers only loss of the season was by 7 points to Michigan in Ann Arbor. Let’s get ready to rumble!

Ohio State is coming into this game fresh off of scoring 266 points in their five games this season. Think about that for a second. 266 points in 5 games is absolutely absurd. The Buckeyes are ranked third in the country in rushing thanks to a three headed monster of RB’s Mike Weber and Curtis Samuel to go along with QB J.T. Barrett. Ohio State is also ranked 10th in the country in passing efficiency so they are truly balanced and really only use the pass when they absolutely need to since they have been able to run the ball at will. Up front, the Buckeyes offensive line has been phenomenal, allowing less than two tackles per loss per game, which ranks them first in the country. This will be the Buckeyes biggest test yet though as they go against a very impressive Wisconsin defense than has allowed 14, 10, 17, 6, and 14 points in each of their games so far this season. The Badgers also have the second ranked rushing defense in the country so this will be a great matchup to watch.

While Wisconsin’s defense is more than capable of keeping them in this game, the offense will struggle to move the chains against the Buckeyes. Wisconsin’s running game has been very average this season and their leading rusher RB Corey Clement is averaging less than 4 yards per carry which is very unlike a usual Badgers offense. Wisconsin QB Alex Hornibrook will face his toughest test yet against the Buckeyes defense that is ranked 2nd in the nation in pass efficiency. Fun fact: The Ohio State defense still hasn’t given up a rushing touchdown this season. Look for LB Raekwon McMillan to wreak havoc all night long against the Wisconsin offense.

Little nugget of wisdom here: Ohio State is ranked 2nd in the country in net punting while Wisconsin is ranked 116th. This spells trouble in terms of field position even when the Badgers are able to slow down the Ohio State offense. The last time these two teams met it was a 59-0 bloodbath in favor of the Buckeyes. I honestly feel that Wisconsin won’t score much at all in this game. I like Ohio State to come into Wisconsin and completely manhandle the Badgers and wear them down. This is my pick of the week.

  • Projected Score: Ohio State 35 – Wisconsin 10
  • Spread Pick: Ohio State -10 (3 units)
  • Total Pick: Over 44 (0 units)

Weekly picks recap in order of units wagered:

  1. Ohio State -10 (3 units)
  2. Northwestern/Michigan State UNDER 42.5 (2 units)
  3. Nebraska -3.5 (2 units)
  4. Iowa/Purdue UNDER 50 (1 unit)
  5. Illinois -6 (1 unit)

Not a lot going on this week but we’re trying to be a little more selective and cautious. Thanks for reading and I’ll see youse guys next Thursday.