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Cappin’ the B1G: Rutgers Football and Big Ten Week 3 Predictions and Picks Against the Spread

NCAA Football: Howard at Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Alright, alright, alright. Our first winning week! After a rough Week 1 we bounce back and go 6-3 in wagered games. Unfortunately, I lost my two 3 unit plays so we only net a one unit win on the week but hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Let’s keep the momentum going and have a big week!

To recap Week 2:

  1. Pittsburgh/Penn State UNDER 48 (3 units) L
  2. Purdue +6.5 (3 units) L
  3. Michigan -35 (2 units) W
  4. North Carolina -7.5 (2 units) W
  5. Wyoming +24.5 (1 unit) L
  6. Ohio State -29 (1 unit) W
  7. Akron/Wisconsin OVER 47.5 (1 unit) W
  8. Ball State +17 (1 unit) W
  9. Iowa State/Iowa UNDER 51 (1 unit) W

Good for a 6-3 record and a 1 unit win on the week. 6-3 will bring my wagered games record to 8-8 for the season. Overall on all picks I went 12-8 which is exactly what I went in Week 1 overall. Good for 60% on the season overall. Not too shabby. Just gotta pick up the pace in the wagered games where it counts.

To recap the season:

Overall Record: 24-16 (60%)

Wagered Games Record: 8-8 (50%)

Season Units: -6 units

Onto a hearty looking Week 3!

Note: For games where a team is matched up against an FCS opponent, I will not preview the game as there are no point spreads listed for FBS vs FCS games. This week that includes North Dakota State @ Iowa and Georgia State @ Wisconsin. BYE week: Minnesota, Indiana, and Purdue.

New Mexico Lobos at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

  • Saturday September 17th, 12 PM
  • TV: ESPNNews
  • Point Spread: Rutgers -5.5
  • Total: 58

After a nice tune up last week against Howard, Rutgers will welcome the New Mexico Lobos to Piscataway in a game that is a must-win situation for both teams. I’ve said numerous times before the season that this game would determine whether or not we had a successful year or not and I’m still standing by that. New Mexico is a very underrated team that runs the ball extremely well with their triple option attack so this will be a true test for the Scarlet Knights at home.

New Mexico is fresh off of a heartbreaking loss last week to New Mexico State and Bob Davie’s squad had the lead late and relinquished it when Lobos senior QB Austin Apodaca threw a pick which set up the Aggies game winning scoring drive. Apodaca is the trigger man for the Lobos triple option offense, although they will be without their leading rusher in RB Teriyon Gipson which should hamper the Lobos offensive attack here. The Rutgers defense has historically fared pretty well against triple option teams in the past so it will be interesting to see how Chris Ash prepares his defense for this one. I expect the Rutgers defense line to be a strength in this one and stifle the Lobos defense a good bit on Saturday.

It wouldn’t be a Rutgers football season without a quarterback controversy which is what we have after last weeks game against Howard. QB Chris Laviano looked like he was plucked out of the student section to play QB in his first couple of series against Howard before pulling it together to lead a comeback (lol) against the Bison. After Laviano exited, Gio Rescigno immediately came in and scored a TD on his first collegiate play. That would be the only snap Rescigno got as true freshman QB Tylin Oden took over after that and impressed Scarlet Knight fans with his mobility. It will be interesting to see how this QB rotation operates moving forward, including this Saturday against New Mexico. It doesn’t matter who is throwing the ball, I just know that Janarion Grant is gonna get his here and will be the x factor for Rutgers. The Lobos defensive leader, LB Dakota Cox will miss this game which will be a huge blow for Bob Davie’s defense as Cox leads the team with 20 tackles and the teams lone interception. Rutgers should be able to utilize their rushing attack with Robert Martin as he looked impressive last week against Howard after being hobbled for the season opener in Washington.

Once again, this is an absolute must win game for Rutgers before we head into Big Ten play if we have any prayer of achieving bowl eligibility in 2016. Rutgers has shut down triple option teams in the past but New Mexico operates out of the pistol so it will be interesting to see how Chris Ash prepares his team for this one. I think Rutgers ultimately pulls this one out but it’s going to be very close and they’re going to need a big play out of Janarion Grant on special teams to do it. I’m comfortable taking the points here and will wager a unit on it.

  • Projected Score: New Mexico 27 – Rutgers 28
  • Spread Pick: New Mexico +5.5 (1 unit)
  • Total Pick: Under 58 (0 units)

Temple Owls at Penn State Nittany Lions

  • Saturday September 17th, 12 PM
  • TV: BTN
  • Point Spread: Penn State -9
  • Total: 51.5

Penn State is coming into this contest staring down losses in consecutive weeks to in-state rivals which is something Head Douche James Franklin simply cannot afford. I don’t want to hear from Penn State fans about how Temple isn’t your rival. Yes they are. Deal with it. Luckily for Franklin, Temple is entering this game looking a lot differently than the 2015 team that defeated his squad.

The Temple offense is led, and I use that term loosely, by QB P.J. Walker. Walker is having a very rough go of it in 2016, completing just 46.9% of his passes and in their season opening loss to Army (!) he threw for three interceptions. Last week against Stony Brook he didn’t look much better, going 11 for 23 passing but he did throw for three touchdowns so there’s that. If Temple wants to pull of an upset here, they’re going to have to do it on the ground because Penn State looked like a Division 2 team against Pittsburgh’s rushing attack last week. The Owl’s main rusher is RB Ryquell Armstead who has 30 rushes for 125 yards so far this season through two games. I’m not so sure that even with Penn State’s struggles up front if Temple will be able to move the ball on the ground due to a lack of talent.

Perhaps if someone says it enough times, it will eventually come true: Penn State’s offensive line needs to improve. The o-line looks better than it has in recent years but that’s not hard to do and they’re not that much better which poses all sorts of problems for their offense. Nittany Lions QB Tracy McSorley is an average passer but he needs time and he hasn’t gotten much yet this season. RB Saquon Barkley is an absolute stud but he shouldn’t have to shoulder the entire load of offensive production. Luckily for Penn State, this Temple defense is pretty awful this season after losing some studs from the 2015 squad. I think Penn State will find some success on offense in this one and the offensive line will take a couple steps forward.

I hate to say it but I love Penn State in this matchup. The Penn State weaknesses won’t be exposed too much by a Temple team that lacks talent and depth this season. I think Barkley has a huge day behind his slowly improving offensive line and McSorley finds his receivers for big plays when the Nittany Lions need them. I want to go bigger on this but I can never fully commit to putting many eggs in a basket held by that shiny headed snake oil salesman. Give me the Nittany Lions for a couple of units.

  • Projected Score: Temple 17 – Penn State 35
  • Spread Pick: Penn State -9 (2 units)
  • Total Pick: Over 51.5 (0 units)

Colorado Buffaloes at Michigan Wolverines

  • Saturday September 17th, 3:30 PM
  • TV: BTN
  • Point Spread: Michigan -20.5
  • Total: 57

The Colorado Buffaloes are undefeated heading into this showdown with the Michigan Wolverine’s this Saturday in the Big House. Colorado has eviscerated their first two opponents, outscoring them 100-14 which is just incredible. It might be even more impressive however to look at what Michigan has done through their first two games as they are outscoring their opponents 114-17. This will be Jim Harbaugh’s first true test of the season before Big Ten play begins next week.

Colorado is red hot entering this game on offense and they are led by QB Sefo Liufau who is completing just under 75% of his passes for three touchdowns and no picks. The Buffaloes are averaging 261 yards per game on the ground so far this season with RB Phillip Lindsay leading the way with 125 yards and four touchdowns. When you look at Colorado’s schedule so far this season however, you may see why they’ve been able to have so much success on offense . This week they are facing one of the top defenses in the country and it will be interesting to see how they perform on the road here. Michigan is allowing just 8.5 points per game along with 281.5 yards per game. Jabrill Peppers is leading the Wolverines on defense with 16 tackles and he will surely wreak havoc on the Buffaloes offense in this one.

In what has surely been a revelation for Wolverine fans, QB Wilton Speight is completing 70% of his passes for 457 yards, seven touchdowns and just one interception so far in 2016. His weapons on the outside, Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson, are experienced and absolutely deadly and they also have one of the best TE’s in the country with Jake Butt. On the ground, Michigan is averaging 212.5 yards per contest which will be problematic for Colorado. The Buffaloes will find out pretty quickly in this one that they aren’t playing Idaho State anymore.

This line is a little fishy to me seeing as how Colorado has played an absolute joke of a schedule so far. Colorado has dropped 17 of their last 19 true road games and Michigan has looked like one of the top five teams in the country so far when they have their starters in. I expect Michigan to steamroll Colorado here but the line worries me so I’m only taking them for a unit.

  • Projected Score: Colorado 17 – Michigan 41
  • Spread Pick: Michigan -20.5 (1 unit)
  • Total Pick: Over 57 (0 units)

Oregon Ducks at Nebraska Cornhuskers

  • Saturday September 17th, 3:30 PM
  • TV: ABC
  • Point Spread: Nebraska -3
  • Total: 73.5

The Oregon Ducks will travel to Lincoln, Nebraska in search of a 3-0 start in their first road game of the 2016 season. Nebraska is also looking to improve to 3-0 in their third straight home game. Mike Riley is all kinds of familiar with Oregon from his days coaching the Oregon State Beavers and this will be one of the more entertaining games of the weekend. I’m probably going to walk over to Easton Ave after the game to go watch it at the Olive Branch as a matter of fact.

Oregon comes into this contest looking pretty much how they usually do on offense albeit they were against some weaker competition in the first two weeks. QB Dakota Prukop is completing 68.9% of his passes and has thrown for six touchdowns and zero interceptions so far. Prukop has proven to be a downfield threat with his arm as he has 12 passes of over 15 yards already in 2016. On the ground, Oregon is led by superstar RB Royce Freeman who has amassed 294 yards rushing already this season to go along with four touchdowns. Nebraska has a tall order on defense and they will be led by Kieron Williams who leads the team with 15 tackles while safety Nathan Gerry has two interceptions despite being suspended for the first game of the season. Gerry will need to step it up in this one to stop a very potent Oregon offensive attack.

Nebraska will be led on offense by 14th year (kidding!) Senior QB Tommy Armstrong who is the definition of inconsistency. Husker fans probably have mini heart attacks every time Armstrong chucks the ball into the air off of his backfoot. So far this season, Armstrong is completing 56.8% of his passes for 485 yards and four touchdowns with one interception. Armstrong’s favorite target has been WR Jordan Westerkamp who should have an absolute field day against this porous Ducks defense. Nebraska is led on the ground by RB Devine Ozigbo who had 147 yards and three touchdowns on the season. Oregon has been pretty embarrassing so far this season on defense, allowing 27 points per game along with 390 yards per game against some pretty weak competition at home. The Ducks will need to improve greatly in this one if they hope to slow down the Nebraska offense who have multiple weapons.

It will be very hard for me to put my faith in an Oregon team that hasn’t been able to stop anyone defensively this season. Oregon has actually allowed 26 or more points in eight straight games dating back to last season. Nebraska will definitely be up for this one in front of the home crowd. Give me the Huskers to get a big win to give them momentum heading into the Big Ten schedule.

  • Projected Score: Oregon 31 – Nebraska 41
  • Spread Pick: Nebraska -3 (2 units)
  • Total Pick: Under 73.5 (0 units)

Western Michigan Broncos at Illinois Fighting Illini

  • Saturday September 17th, 4 PM
  • TV: ESPNNews
  • Point Spread: Western Michigan -3
  • Total: 56.5

Western Michigan is set to invade Champaign, Illinois and try and improve to 3-0 on the season against Lovie Smith’s Fighting Illini of Illinois. This could be a very nice statement game for Illinois as they try and improve to 2-1 before entering Big Ten play. Western Michigan already beat a Big Ten team in Northwestern in Week 1 so they’ll try to improve their Big Ten record to 2-0 this week.

Western Michigan is led on offense by QB Zach Terrell who is off to a pretty nice start in 2016, completing 70.7% of his passes for 473 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. The strength of Western Michigan thus far on offense has been the rushing attack that is averaging a whopping 278.5 yards per game. Illinois defense had a nice start at home last week versus North Carolina but eventually got their doors blown off to the tune of 48 points allowed. North Carolina is a very good offensive team though so hopefully Illinois can get it together this week against the Broncos. The Illini are led on defense by Hardy Nickerson who has 22 tackles and he will be tasked with limiting Western Michigan’s leading rusher RB Jamauri Bogan who has 234 yards and two touchdowns in two games already.

Illini Senior QB Wes Lunt is having an underwhelming start to his 2016 campaign, completing just 57.1% of his passes for only 353 yards in two games to go along with five touchdowns and zero interceptions. The Illini ground game has been shockingly good so far this year as the rushing attack was supposed to be a weakness of theirs this season. RB Kendrick Foster leads the Illini in rushing this season with 172 yards and two touchdowns. Western Illinois has done a nice job on defense this season although they did play a horrid Northwestern offense in week one. The Broncos are led on defense by Asantay Brown who has racked up 15 tackles so far so look for him to key on stuffing the Illinois rushing attack and making Lunt throw the football in this one.

Illinois is definitely heading in the right direction under Head Coach Lovie Smith but last week showed us all that it’s going to take some more time to get the program to take some bigger steps forward. Western Michigan might not be a power five team, but they’re the better team in this matchup and they have playmakers all over the field. I’ll take a surging Broncos team that already has a Big Ten road win under their belts this season.

  • Projected Score: Western Michigan 31 – Illinois 21
  • Spread Pick: Western Michigan -3 (2 units)
  • Total Pick: Under 56.5

Maryland Terrapins at UCF Knights

  • September 17th, 7 PM
  • TV: CBS Sports Network
  • Point Spread: Maryland -8.5
  • Total: 59

D.J. Durkin’s Terrapins are going on the road again to look for another win in Florida to kick their season off to a 3-0 start before entering Big Ten play. UCF already has more wins in two weeks than they did all of last season and they’ll look to get above .500 this week at home. Maryland has outscored their opposition 93-27 in their two games and they’ll look to keep that rolling in Orlando.

The Maryland offense has stepped up for Durkin in a big way in this young season with QB Perry Hills completing 73% of his passes. SOUND THE ALARMS but Maryland has not thrown an interception yet this season which is a big step up from last season when they threw about 600. Trey Edmunds and Lorenzo Harrison are a great duo for the Terps in the backfield, as they are the main contributors to the Terps 277 yards rushing per game. Defensively, UCF has had an above average year as they held Michigan to just 2.9 yards per carry last week. That doesn’t fare well for the Terps who like to rely heavily on their ground game. Perry Hills will have to step up in this one for Maryland to control this game and leave Orlando with a win.

The UCF offense has a good rushing attack but an absolutely puke-worthy passing offense. Last week they completed six total passes between two quarterbacks against Michigan. Maryland will be taking note of how Michigan played against the Knights last week and stack the box to force UCF to beat them through the air. The Knights do have a very nice rushing attack however as they averaged six yards per carry last week against Michigan who has a much better defense than Maryland does. FIU had a good deal of success on the ground versus the Terps last week so if Maryland can’t tidy up their rush defense, they could be in for a long day.

I think after I predicted Maryland to slam dunk go over 5 wins in my preseason article, I have to roll with them in this one. I have faith that Durkin will come up with a great game-plan to keep the Knights rushing attack to a minimum and force UCF to throw the ball and make mistakes. Look for the Terps to win the turnover battle and win this one by a healthy margin. I actually like the under here as well so this is a double barrel pick game.

  • Projected Score: Maryland 28 – UCF 13
  • Spread Pick: Maryland -8.5 (1 unit)
  • Total Pick: Under 59 (2 units)

Michigan State Spartans at Notre Dame Fighting Irish

  • Saturday September 17th, 7:30 PM
  • TV: NBC
  • Point Spread: Notre Dame -7.5
  • Total: 51.5

This game between Sparty and the Irish will feature two teams that have their sights set on the College Football Playoff. Michigan State might be the most rested team in the country after playing Furman in their opener and then having last weekend off so I don’t know much about this team yet. Notre Dame went on the road in week one and dropped a heartbreaker to an unranked Texas team so I think we’re in for a good matchup here between two rivals.

Michigan State struggled mightily in their opener versus FCS Furman and QB Tyler O’Connor looked decisively average in his season debut. O’Connor went 13 of 18 for 190 yards and three touchdowns but threw a bad pick and was staring down his receivers all game long which should have the Irish defense licking their chops. Sparty will rely very heavily in this one on Sophomore RB L.J. Scott which may play right into the Irish’s strength on defense. The Fighting Irish are very thin at secondary and if Sparty wants to escape South Bend with a win, O’Connor is going to have to use his arm to do it.

DeShone Kizer is finally the only guy that Brian Kelly will use at QB after it was blatantly obvious to everyone in the country (but Kelly) that Kizer was the best he had at the position. In my opinion, Kizer has looked the most impressive out of any QB in the country this season, completing 71.4% of his passes with seven touchdowns. Michigan State’s defense is led by All-American hopeful DL Malik McDowell and LB Riley Bullough and they will both need to get a lot of pressure on Kizer in this one for Sparty to have a chance. If Kizer has time to throw, this could be a very long night for Mark Dantonio’s team.

This line may look confusing to casual observers as Michigan State is the higher ranked and undefeated team but I really think this spread should be higher in favor of the Irish. Kizer truly is one of the most gifted QB’s in the nation and he is going to put on an absolute show in this one. Michigan State is going to have to rely too much on a QB that can’t get it done through the air. I like the Irish to win this one by double digits but I can’t put too much against such a strong coach in Mark Dantonio.

  • Projected Score: Michigan State 14 – Notre Dame 28
  • Spread Pick: Notre Dame -7.5 (1 unit)
  • Total Pick: Under 51.5 (0 units)

Ohio State Buckeyes at Oklahoma Sooners

  • Saturday September 17th, 7:30 PM
  • TV: FOX
  • Point Spread: Ohio State -1.5
  • Total: 64

Wow. As I’m writing this article I’m realizing just how good this Week 3 slate of games is. I’m actually glad Rutgers is playing at noon because after I’m done watching us hopefully beat New Mexico, I’m planting my ass in front of a TV until about one in the morning. Anyway, onto this matchup of another two teams that have their eyes on that four team playoff. Oklahoma had an early misstep Week 1 versus Houston but they can get right back in it with a win over the undefeated baby Buckeyes.

The Ohio State offense will look to be tested for the first time this season after two tune up games for their young team. QB JT Barrett has been absolutely phenomenal this season, throwing for 498 yards and six touchdowns while adding 85 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. He is leading an offense that is currently second nationally in points per game and fifth in total offense and if Ohio State can pull this win out in Norman, Barrett will likely be leading the Heisman race. There are some big concerns for Oklahoma on defense after giving up two long touchdowns against Houston in week one. Oklahoma seems to be a defense prone to giving up big plays and they will be facing a QB who can certainly put together some very big plays.

Oklahoma bounced back nicely last week with a win versus Louisiana-Monroe in a game which their offense put up 59 points. In each of their touchdown drives, Oklahoma averaged just 99 seconds per drive. QB Baker Mayfield was an early Heisman contender and this is likely his last chance to get in the good graces of the voters. An Oklahoma loss would not only knock him out of the Heisman voting, but Oklahoma would be out of the playoff discussion altogether. The Sooners offense has the tall task of scoring the first defensive touchdown of the season against the Ohio State defense. LB Raekwon McMillan is an absolute monster in the middle of the Buckeyes defense and he will be tackling people left and right all night long here. Ohio State is averaging just 6.5 points scored against in 2016 and allowing 216 yards per game. Good luck Baker!

This game has so much at stake that you better believe both teams will be bringing their A game. I think Ohio State’s “inexperienced” defense will be the deciding factor in this one as their LB corps will wear down the Sooners backfield and limit their scoring opportunities. This will be a back and forth game but I think ultimately Ohio State pulls it out and jumps closer to the top of the rankings while Oklahoma’s season is effectively in shambles. I’m taking Ohio State and I’m pretty damn confident in it.

  • Projected Score: Ohio State 38 – Oklahoma 28
  • Spread Pick: Ohio State -1.5 (3 units)
  • Total Pick: Under 64 (0 units)

Duke Blue Devils at Northwestern Wildcats

  • Saturday September 17th, 8 PM
  • TV: BTN
  • Point Spread: Northwestern -4
  • Total: 44

Northwestern took a rough beat last week against FCS Illinois State when the game winning FG attempted clanked off the upright but still went in to cap off an ugly 9-7 loss for Pat Fitzgerald’s team. The Wildcats backs are now against the wall and they need to win this game before the Big Ten schedule starts if they have any prayer of making the postseason. Duke took a rough loss at home last week against Wake Forest so both teams are in similar boats here.

Duke QB Daniel Jones has looked very good so far and has spread the ball around pretty nicely to his weapons in the receiving game and Northwestern’s top CB Matthew Harris is unlikely to play in this one. Duke’s main problem this season has been turning the ball over by way of fumbles. If Duke can get it’s act together in the turnover department, I think they can move the ball quite well against this Wildcats defense that has given up over 250 passing yards per game and will be without their top CB this week. If Northwestern can’t get any pressure on Jones this week, it will be a long day for the Wildcats defense.

Northwestern’s offense has been, in a word, awful so far in 2016. RB Justin Jackson should play this week but he was completely shut down last week versus FCS Illinois State before leaving the game with an injury. Wildcats QB Clayton Thorson threw for less than 50% last week and only has one passing touchdown through his first two games. Eesh. Duke has a very good secondary and can pressure the QB well as they have nine sacks on the season already through two games. Northwestern allowed 6 sacks and were pressured heavily by Illinois State last week so it could be another very rough day for the Wildcats offense.

After doing some digging, I found that the underdog has covered the spread in 5 straight games in this series and Northwestern HC Pat Fitzgerald is only 13-25 against the spread as a home favorite in his ten years at the school. This feels like a very low scoring game and I like Duke’s ability to move the ball down field a hell of a lot more than I do Northwestern’s. If Duke can take care of the football, they will win this game outright. I like the Blue Devil’s a lot here.

  • Projected Score: Duke 21 – Northwestern 17
  • Spread Pick: Duke +4 (3 units)
  • Total Pick: Under 44

Weekly picks recap in order of units wagered:

  1. Duke +4 (3 units)
  2. Ohio State -1.5 (3 units)
  3. Penn State -9 (2 units)
  4. Nebraska -3 (2 units)
  5. Western Michigan -3 (2 units)
  6. Maryland/UCF UNDER 59 (2 units)
  7. New Mexico +5.5 (1 unit)
  8. Michigan -20.5 (1 unit)
  9. Maryland -8 (1 unit)
  10. Notre Dame -7.5 (1 unit)

Thanks for reading and if you like the article please share it with your friends! Go Knights!