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Cappin’ the B1G: Rutgers Football and Big Ten Week 8 Predictions and Picks Against the Spread

Illinois v Rutgers Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Good news and bad news. The good news is I’m inching closer and closer to 60% winners overall on my picks. The bad news is I’m heading in the dead wrong direction with my wagered games. I don’t know what’s more impressive: my ability to pick the entire conference slate every week close to 60% of my inability to select the games that I have the most confidence in. Well this week I’m going to go crazy and bet on pretty much everything since that way I can’t lose right? Let’s find out!

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 7:

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

To recap the season:

  • Overall Record: 60-48-2 (55.6%)
  • Wagered Games Record: 24-29-2
  • Season Units: -9

-9 is ugly. Let’s turn that into a positive ASAP because we’re more than halfway done with the season and I’m not a quitter or a loser! Onto Week 9!

Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Minnesota Golden Gophers

  • Saturday October 22nd, 12 PM
  • Point Spread: Minnesota -17.5
  • Total: 44

Just try keeping the faith, fellow Rutgers fans. I know not a lot of you were expecting the same rebuilding year that I was, but just know that better times are ahead. After losing at home to Illinois last week, Rutgers has now been outscored 174-14 and has dropped its first four conference games of the season. Minnesota got back on track Saturday, defeating Maryland on the road, even without starting QB Mitch Leidner who will also miss this game with a concussion. Minnesota is a solid all around football team and this looks like another long afternoon for Scarlet Knights fans.

It seems as if the Rutgers coaching staff has FINALLY given up trying to convince everyone that the starting QB job was Chris Laviano’s no matter what, as they make the change this week to Gio Rescigno. The Scarlet Knights rank 2nd in the conference with 12 turnovers and Chris Ash decided to make the change that will hopefully cut down on turnovers and allow Rutgers to play some closer games and maybe steal a win or two down the stretch. Minnesota’s defense is pretty vulnerable against the pass so Rescigno could look impressive here and drive Rutgers down the field a couple of times but the Scarlet Knights lack of receiving threats has me tempering my expectations. The Golden Gophers are ranked 12th in the conference in terms of pass defense so we will see what Gio is made of here.

For the second week in a row, the Golden Gophers will be without QB Mitch Leidner so they will again turn to backup Conor Rhoda who has a relatively stress-free game last week against Maryland, going 7 for 15 passing for 82 yards and a touchdown. The Minnesota rushing attack was the real reason for their success, particularly RB Rodney Smith who ran the ball 18 times for 144 yards and two touchdowns. Rutgers is ranked 13th in the Big Ten in total defense and I don’t know if they will be able to stop Smith, as the Scarlet Knights are allowing 7.4 yards per carry over the past three games. If Minnesota takes care of the football and doesn’t turn it over, this is going to get ugly.

WHEN DOES RUTGERS GET A DAMN BYE WEEK?! Seriously this team has to be absolutely worn down both mentally and physically right now after the past month and things probably won’t get much better this week as they have to travel to Minnesota. I think Gio looks impressive against a soft pass defense but ultimately the Rutgers defense gives up way too much on the ground once again and fall behind early and don’t recover. The spread looks a tad high since Minnesota is pretty one dimensional and should take up a lot of clock so I’ll put bets on both the spread and total here.

  • Projected Score: Rutgers 14 – Minneota 27
  • Spread Pick: Rutgers +17.5 (1 unit)
  • Total Pick: Under 44 (1 unit)

Wisconsin Badgers at Iowa Hawkeyes

  • Saturday October 22nd, 12 PM
  • TV: ESPN
  • Point Spread: Wisconsin -3.5
  • Total: 42.5

Wisconsin and Iowa are very similar programs in that they both use under-recruited players to have great deals of success using great defenses and rushing attacks so this should be a fun one to watch. Iowa had lofty expectations coming into this season but two early losses to North Dakota State and Northwestern have Hawkeye fans dry heaving. Iowa has bounced back nicely however, winning two straight against Minnesota and Purdue and they come into this game with a full head of steam against a Wisconsin team that has dropped two straight to two teams who are legitimate national title contenders.

Wisconsin freshman QB Alex Hornibrook has not had a pleasant last two games but that’s to be expected when you go up against Michigan and Ohio State’s defenses and he has another tall task against Iowa this week. Iowa has legitimate NFL talent all over on the defensive side of the ball and they do a very good job at applying pressure to opposing QB’s. Badgers RB Corey Clement is coming off of his most impressive performance of the season, rushing for 164 yards against a tough Ohio State defense and he will need to get going again this week for Wisconsin to have a shot in Iowa. The Hawkeyes looked very impressive stopping the run against a very good rushing team in Minnesota so this will be a key matchup to watch.

Iowa has looked very good on the ground all season, but they need QB C.J. Beathard to do a better job of moving the ball through the air if they want to have success against Wisconsin this week. Iowa is led on offense by their two headed monster at RB in Arkrum Wadley and LeShun Daniels, both of whom rushed for over 150 yards against Purdue last week. Wisconsin’s defense is very good at stopping the run so it will be interesting to see how the duo performs this week. Wisconsin was able to stifle the Ohio State offensive attack for much of the game last week so I like them to punish Iowa here.

I’m really liking the Badgers in this spot. There isn’t a more impressive two loss team in the country as they lost to two of the top three teams and they were both very close losses. I’m confident that the Wisconsin defense can totally shut down Iowa since they are so one dimensional and I think Hornibrook took a big step forward last week against Ohio State so I like them to cover here big.

  • Projected Score: Wisconsin 24 – Iowa 14
  • Spread Pick: Wisconsin -3.5 (3 units)
  • Total Pick: Under 42.5 (1 unit)

Indiana Hoosiers at Northwestern Wildcats

  • Saturday October 22nd, 12 PM
  • TV: BTN
  • Point Spread: Northwestern -2
  • Total: 52.5

Ever since I started making fun of Northwestern they’ve been doing pretty well, as they look for their third straight win on Saturday when they welcome the Indiana Hoosiers to Evanston. In their 1-3 start, Northwestern averaged just 16.3 points per game including a loss against FCS Illinois State and since then they have scored 92 points in the last two games. Last week, Northwestern dropped 54(!!!) on Michigan State in East Lansing and they now have my undivided attention. Indiana has dropped two in a row against two very good teams in Ohio State and Nebraska and will try and get things going on Saturday against the Wildcats.

Indiana has played very well against two top notch programs over the last two weeks and it’s due in part to QB Richard Lagow who has looked solid at times but struggled last week against Nebraska, throwing two bad interceptions. Hoosiers RB Devine Redding only had 57 yards rushing last week and Indiana will need to get him going along with Lagow against a Northwestern defense that ranks 12th in the Big Ten.

Northwestern’s offense looks like Jekyll and Hyde this season and they are surging right now behind the arm of Clayton Thorson and the legs of Justin Jackson. Over the last two games, Thorson has a 69.2 completion percentage to go along with six touchdowns, one interception, and two rushing touchdowns. Jackson ran for 171 yards against Iowa and 188 against Michigian State to now lead the conference in rushing yardage. The Indiana defense is allowing 187.4 rushing yards per game so Jackson could be in for another big afternoon here.

This game will come down to whether the Hoosiers can get the offense rolling, especially whether Lagow can find success against a stingy Northwestern pass defense. I believe that Lagow gets them going a bit and both teams end up trading scores quite a bit in this one in a high scoring, entertaining matchup.

  • Projected Score: Indiana 35 – Northwestern 38
  • Spread Pick: Northwestern -2 (0 units)
  • Total Pick: Over 52.5 (3 units)

Illinois Fighting Illini at Michigan Wolverines

  • Saturday October 22, 3:30 PM
  • TV: BTN
  • Point Spread: Michigan -36
  • Total: 55

Oh boy. Michigan is fresh off a bye week and the week before that most people reading this know what they did against Rutgers in Piscataway. Lovie Smith will lead his Fighting Illini into the Big House to try and do the impossible and knock off the Wolverines. Last week, Illinois snapped their four-game losing streak by capitalizing on five Rutgers turnovers to win the game 24-7 but they face just a tiny step up in competition this week. Good luck Lovie!

Illinois comes into this game not quite sure who will start at QB but I’m not sure it will matter much against the Michigan defense. Illinois won’t be able to pass or run much in this one no matter who is throwing the ball. Michigan is allowing just 2.9 yards per carry this season and have only given up two rushing touchdowns. Wolverines LB Jabrill Peppers leads a Michigan defense that leads the country in yards allowed per play with just 3.58 yards allowed.

Michigan will win this game by not having to do much more but hand the ball off to their stable of running backs that includes four players with 250 yards rushing on the season. QB Wilton Speight should have a relatively easy day just handing the ball off 80% of the time before hitting one of his stud receivers on a play action play for a touchdown or two. Illinois does feature two NFL caliber defensive ends randomly in Dawuane Smoot and Carroll Phillips so if Michigan can shut those two out of the game, it will be a long afternoon for the Illini.

I really don’t think this game will be relatively close. Michigan is a really, really good football team with no weaknesses except for maybe the quarterback who shouldn’t be asked to do much in this one. Michigan will run the ball at will to set up a couple Speight play action TD’s en route to an absolute rout.

  • Projected Score: Illinois 7 – Michigan 52
  • Spread Pick: Michgian -36 (3 units)
  • Total Pick: Over 55 (1 unit)

Purdue Boilermakers at Nebraska Cornhuskers

  • Saturday October 22nd, 3:30 PM
  • Point Spread: Nebraska -24
  • Total: 61.5

Wow! Nebraska is 6-0 buuuut they haven’t looked very dominant in their last couple of games against weaker opponents so this will be an opportunity for them to impress the voters when Purdue limps into town. The Boilermakers just fired Darrell Hazell after he went 9-33 overall at the school and interim coach Gerad Parker will take over in this one. Not a very fun first game for Parker as he travels to Lincoln to take on the 8th ranked team in the country.

Purdue QB David Blough almost led a pretty sick comeback last week against Iowa after the Boilermakers fell down 28-0 early. Blough finished the game 30 for 60 for 458 yards a five touchdowns and he threw just one interception which is a huge improvement for him. Blough may be able to find some success this week against a Nebraska pass defense that ranks in the bottom half of the conference this season.

Huskers QB Tommy Armstrong looked decidedly average last week against Indiana but I’ll give him a pass since he was seen in a walking boot all week. Armstrong completed just 38.5 percent of his passes and had two interceptions so his team had to find a way to win in spite of him against the Hoosiers. Nebraska expects RB Devine Ozigbo and Jordan Westerkamp to suit up for this one which would be a tremendous help for Armstrong. Purdue has an absolutely dreadful defense which should help Tommy as well. The Boilermakers are allowing 446.3 yards per game, ranking them near the bottom of the country in that category.

Last year, Purdue actually beat Nebraska at home to give Darrell Hazell his second Big Ten win and David Blough was a big part of it. I think the Cornhuskers get revenge this season and Tommy Armstrong looks like “Good Tommy” this week and gets it going through the air, especially if Westerkamp comes back. I think this is a pretty low scoring affair and Blough has a ton of turnovers after his strong showing last week.

  • Projected Score: Purdue 14 – Nebraska 38
  • Spread Pick: Nebraska -24 (0 units)
  • Total Pick: Under 61.5 (2 units)

Michigan State Spartans at Maryland Terrapins

  • Saturday October 22nd, 7:30 PM
  • TV: BTN
  • Point Spread: Michigan State -2
  • Total: 54

So it seems like ever since their big win in South Bend, the Michigan State Spartans are having a meltdown of Lindsay Lohan proportions as they look to avoid their FIFTH straight loss when they take on Maryland this Saturday. The Spartans have never struggled this mightily since Mark Dantonio took over 10 years ago and they need to bounce back quickly if they have any hopes of making the postseason this year. Maryland is on the downswing as well, losing two in a row following their 4-0 start so a losing streak will get busted on Saturday guaranteed!

The Spartans have three QB’s right now and if there’s one thing I know, it’s that when you have three quarterbacks, you have zero. Tyler O’Connor is expected to get the start after an impressive showing coming on in relief last week, throwing for three touchdown passes against Northwestern. Michigan State is sorely missing their quarterback and stud offensive linemen from last year because they haven’t been able to get their patented running game going yet. Maryland looked solid against the run in their first four games against a Charmin soft schedule but they’ve been throttled for 600 yards on the ground in their past two games so look for Spartans RB LJ Scott to have plenty of success in this one.

A lot of this game is going to come down to who lines up behind center for the Terps. If Perry Hills is able to go, I expect this to be a very close game with a good chance that Maryland wins it outright but if Tyrrell Pigrome gets the nod, things will get ugly fast for Maryland. Pirgrome showed last week that he is just not ready to start for a Big Ten football team yet. Pigrome completed just 48.7 percent of his passes and threw two picks against Minnesota last week. Look for the Terps to rely heavily on their stable of running backs to try and find success against a very weak Michigan State defense.

I honestly feel so strongly about Pigrome’s inability to be a quarterback right now that I’m going to have a contingency on my pick here. If Hills doesn’t get the green light to play, I’m going to take Michigan State BIG. If Hills starts, I am going to have just one unit on Michigan State. I’m putting this in here now because when the quarterback decision is announced I’m going to edit the article to reflect the change. I think Sparty wins either way, but I’m a hell of a lot more confident if Pigrome starts for Maryland. The projections below are if Pigrome starts for Maryland.

  • Projected Score: Michigan State 31 – Maryland 14
  • Spread Pick: Michigan State -2 (4 units)
  • Total Pick: Under 54 (1 unit)

Ohio State Buckeyes at Penn State Nittany Lions

  • Saturday October 22nd, 8 PM
  • TV: ABC
  • Point Spread: Ohio State -19
  • Total: 57.5

James Franklin’s hot seat seems to have cooled off a bit after starting this season with a respectable 4-2 record with both losses coming against very good schools. Unfortunately for poor Mr. Franklin, his team is going to be 4-3 after this week after he gets absolutely schooled by Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes. I hope I’m not spoiling my pick here…Keep reading!

Ohio State is coming off of a game that really tested their mettle when they faced a lot of adversity but came away with an overtime win last week against Wisconsin. The Buckeyes didn’t look very good on offense until the third quarter last week when J.T. Barrett finally got things going with a 1 yard touchdown run. Ohio State is averaging 300.5 rushing yards per game and they should absolutely destroy a Penn State defense that is ranked 12th in the conference in terms of rushing defense. This one is going to get ugly in a hurry if Penn State can’t keep up on offense folks.

Penn State is fresh off of a bye and before that they were able to move the ball very well against what appeared to be a very stout Maryland defense. The Nittany Lions rushed for 372 yards against the Terps but they will have a tough time doing that against the Buckeyes who weren’t allowing over 100 yards per game until Wisconsin hung 236 rushing yards on them last week. I look for the Buckeyes defense to bounce back in a big way and for LB Raekwon McMillan to shut down Penn State RB Saquon Barkley.

Fun fact: Urban Meyer is 20-0 in true road games at Ohio State and you might as well pencil him in for 21-0 after Saturday. Penn State is allowing 208.8 yards per game on the ground and the Buckeyes average over 300 per game. Do the math. This is gonna get messy. I’m laying the points here and feel great about it. I don’t care if it’s a stripe out, white out, black out, whatever the hell they’re doing in Happy Valley. You’re LOSING Franklin!

  • Projected Score: Ohio State 49 – Penn State 21
  • Spread Pick: Ohio State -19 (2 units)
  • Total Pick: Over 57.5 (1 unit)

Weekly picks recap in order of units wagered:

  1. Michigan State -2 (4 units)
  2. Wisconsin -3.5 (3 units)
  3. Indiana/Northwestern OVER 52.5 (3 units)
  4. Michigan -36 (3 units)
  5. Purdue/Nebraska UNDER 61.5 (2 units)
  6. Ohio State -19 (2 units)
  7. Rutgers +17.5 (1 unit)
  8. Rutgers/Minnesota UNDER 44 (1 unit)
  9. Wisconsin/Iowa UNDER 42.5 (1 unit)
  10. Illinois/Michigan OVER 55 (1 unit)
  11. Michigan State/Maryland UNDER 54 (1 unit)
  12. Ohio State/Penn State OVER 57.5 (1 unit)

Big week! I predict that if you take all of my picks, you will make money on them and I GUARANTEE it! If you don’t make money, I’ll refund you the price that you paid to read this golden information. See you next week!