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Cappin’ the B1G: Rutgers Football and Big Ten Week 4 Predictions and Picks Against the Spread

New Mexico v Rutgers Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in. After a nice winning week two, we took a step back with the picks last week with a 8-9-1 overall record including a 3-6-1 wagered games record for a 2 unit loss on the week. If the vast history of this article has taught me anything, it’s that we are due for a big bounce back since it is an even numbered week. Follow me this week and get filthy rich. Easy game.

To recap Week 3:

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

Time to bounce back big this week and get us into the positive again in all aspects. I have a great feeling about this week and my largest wager of the year is listed below. Don’t miss out!

To recap the season:

  • Overall Record: 32-25-1 (56.1%)
  • Wagered Games Record: 11-14-1 (44%)
  • Season Units: -8 Units

You guys smell that? Smells like an 8-0 Week 3. Let’s dive in!

BYE Week: Illinois, Ohio State, Maryland

Iowa Hawkeyes at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

  • Saturday September 24th, 12 PM
  • TV: ESPN 2
  • Point Spread: Iowa -13
  • Total: 56

This week the Scarlet Knights host a very pissed off Iowa Hawkeyes team that is coming off a very tough home loss against FCS North Dakota State. WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD ANY TEAM EVER SCHEDULE NORTH DAKOTA STATE AS THEIR FCS GAME?! Sigh. Sorry but this stuff drives me nuts. Iowa went undefeated in the regular season last year and won’t be able to say that this year as they dropped from 13th in the AP poll to unranked heading into Big Ten play. Rutgers had another hard fought come from behind win against New Mexico at home last week to start the season 2-1.

On offense, Iowa got embarrassed at home by North Dakota State as they were held to just 34 yards on the ground – good for 1.4 yards per carry against an FCS school. I know they’re the best FCS school but still, come on dudes. Hawkeyes QB C.J. Beathard needs to do more on offense for this team to have success this season and he didn’t help matters last week when he fumbled a ball that was returned for a NDSU touchdown. Rutgers has given up tons of rushing yards so far this season, including 293 last week against New Mexico. The Lobos are an option team so Rutgers gets a pass for that performance but they’re going to need to bounce back and make sure Iowa can’t get much going on the ground here. The Scarlet Knights really need to clean up their first quarter defense after giving up 21 last week against the Lobos.

Rutgers finally showed some big play potential on offense last week versus New Mexico as they scored on plays of 75, 21, and 80 yards. QB Chris Laviano actually connected for some long passes but now backup QB Zach Allen is in the mix to make it a four headed committee at QB with three signal callers breathing down Laviano’s neck for playing time. It will be interesting to see how short Laviano’s leash is from this point forward if he continues his early game struggles. Iowa’s defense is still one of the best in the country and they are led by future first round draft pick CB Desmond King who will be looking for his first interception of 2016 off of the pick prone Laviano. If Rutgers has any prayer of pulling off the upset here, they need stud returner Janarion Grant to put them in great field position all game long.

I don’t like the fact that Iowa just lost at home to an FCS team. They are out for blood now and Rutgers is unfortunately going to play the role of victim in this one barring a great game (lol) from Chris Laviano. I think the Scarlet Knights have major problems putting up points but they limit Iowa a bit by containing the run pretty well. Iowa pulls away late to get a front-door cover but I’m more comfortable taking the under here. This will be the best defense Rutgers has faced so far in 2016.

  • Projected Score: Iowa 31 – Rutgers 13
  • Spread Pick: Iowa -13 (0 units)
  • Total Pick: Under 56 (1 unit)

Colorado State Rams at Minnesota Golden Gophers

  • Saturday September 24th, 12 PM
  • Point Spread: Minnesota -16.5
  • Total: 56

Last year, these two teams met in Colorado and it was an absolute nailbiter with Minnesota kicking a game winning FG in OT to defeat the Rams. Minnesota has one more out of conference tune up game before heading into conference play next week so they will look to get things going after looking a little sluggish in their first two games. Colorado State got waxed by bitter rival Colorado in their season opener but they have bounced back with two wins to get some momentum going into this matchup in Minnesota.

The Rams are led by QB Colin Hill who has been on a tear lately, completing 21 of 27 passes for 315 yards and four touchdowns versus FCS Northern Colorado. Colorado State put up a total of 569 yards against Northern Colorado but they face a much tougher test against a Minnesota defense that has been very clutch in stopping third downs this season. I think the Gophers will be a big wake up call for the Rams here and Colorado State will struggle to move the ball consistently in this one.

On offense, Minnesota is led by 11th year (kidding) Senior QB Mitch Leidner who threw four touchdown passes in his last game against Indiana State. Helping out Leidner on offense is RB Rodney Smith and WR Drew Wolitarsky who will play a big role in the Gopher’s ability to score points against a Colorado State defense that got torched in their opener. Wolitarsky had a big game against Colorado State last year with 114 yards and a touchdown and the Rams lost a chunk of that defense last year so he should have an even bigger game at home.

The Rams are just too thin on defense to contain this Minnesota offense and their very experienced QB. Minnesota was my preseason darling along with Maryland so I’m putting my eggs into the Gopher basket here and think they cover this large spread by a nice margin.

  • Projected Score: Colorado State 17 – Minnesota 41
  • Spread Pick: Minnesota -16.5 (2 units)
  • Total Pick: Over 56 (0 units)

Nevada Wolfpack at Purdue Boilermakers

  • Saturday September 24th, 12 PM
  • TV: ESPN News
  • Point Spread: Purdue -5.5
  • Total: 60

Purdue is fresh off a bye after they killed me when they turned turned the ball over about 8 billion times versus Cincinnati two weeks ago and they welcome in a Nevada Wolfpack team that has been getting absolutely shredded on defense lately.

Nevada has a pretty solid offense led by QB Tyler Stewart who is completing 64.2 percent of his passes this year with three touchdowns. Backup RB James Butler is actually one of the top backs in the nation rushing yardage wise and he has five touchdowns to go along with those yards. The Wolfpack also feature a bevy of receiving options for Stewart to get the ball to so look for them to spread the ball around a lot in this one to keep the Purdue defense guessing. Purdue has had a lot of issues this year trying to stop the run as they are allowing a whopping 4.7 yards per carry so far in 2016. The Boilermakers have been without some key playmakers on defense so if they can return from injury this week that should help a lot in being able to shut down Butler on the ground.

Purdue QB David Blough had five interceptions against Cincinnati and maybe Darrell Hazell should ask Florida or LSU for one of his old QB’s back. Luckily for Blough and Hazell, the Wolfpack rushing defense has been absolutely anemic this season, allowing almost 285 yards per game on the ground, so the Boilermakers should be able to use a healthy dose of the run to move the ball in this one. I actually think we see a ground game shootout in this one with both teams trading chunks of yardage back and forth on the ground.

I think Purdue coming off a bye week is huge for them here especially after how badly Nevada has struggled on the road. This is a must win situation for Hazell if he hopes to keep his job and compete for a bowl birth but NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND. Give me the Wolf Pack to pull off an outright upset on the legs of RB James Butler who goes for 250 yards and three touchdowns.

  • Projected Score: Nevada 30 – Purdue 28
  • Spread Pick: Nevada +5.5 (2 units)
  • Total Pick: Under 60 (0 units)

Wisconsin Badgers at Michigan State Spartans

  • Saturday September 24th, 12 PM
  • TV: BTN
  • Point Spread: Michigan State -6
  • Total: 42.5

I knew it. I knew I shouldn’t have bet against Mark Dantonio and I did it anyway. Will I learn my lesson this week when Wisconsin comes into town fresh off an FCS victory over Georgia State? Wait what? Georgia State is FBS? Crap. Sorry Panthers fans! I totally forgot you made the jump and neglected to preview your game against the Badgers last week. I owe you one.

Wisconsin enters this game amidst a little bit of a QB controversy after starter Bart Houston was benched when the Badgers were losing to Georgia State last week and Alex Hornibrook took over to the tune of 183 yards and two touchdowns with an interception which led to a Badgers victory. RB Corey Clement is also suffering through yet another injury so there are a lot of question marks for Wisconsin in this one against a stout Michigan State defense. If there is one weakness on the Spartans defense, it is their secondary as they were lit up in the second half against Notre Dame last week through the air. If Wisconsin can get into a groove passing the football, they have a real shot of knocking off the Spartans at home.

Michigan State QB Tyler O’Conner sure shut me up last week as he had the second best game of his career (see: last year @Ohio State) against the Fighting Irish in South Bend. O’Conner will face the best defense he has yet this season in a Badgers team that was able to stifle LSU in their opening game. Michigan State will rely heavily on their rushing attack which racked up 260 yards on the ground last week in South Bend. Something will have to give here however as Wisconsin has only allowed 247 yards on the ground in three games this season.

I told myself I wouldn’t bet against Dantonio again but I don’t think I can help myself. I think after impressing the country last week as a road underdog they’re due for a little bit of a letdown here against a quietly solid Badgers team. I think whoever starts at QB for Wisconsin will be able to find the same holes Notre Dame did in the Sparty secondary last week and will keep this one very close with a chance for Wisconsin to win outright.

  • Projected Score: Wisconsin: 17 – Michigan State 20
  • Spread Pick: Wisconsin +6 (1 unit)
  • Total Pick: Under 42.5 (0 units)

Penn State Nittany Lions at Michigan Wolverines

  • Saturday September 24th, 3:30 PM
  • TV: ABC
  • Point Spread: Michigan -18.5
  • Total: 56.5

Oh baby. This is it. Penn State is about to get absolutely MURDERED in this game. This might be the biggest coaching mismatch of the college football season (until Head Douche James Franklin plays Urban Meyer) and I can’t wait to blow a ton of units on this one. Ok sorry to spoil my pick I’m just so excited to watch this bloodbath. On to the preview!

Penn State seemed to get some rhythm going on offense last week after putting 34 points up albeit against a garbage Temple Owls defense. There’s just one problem for the Nittany Lions offense this week: they’re going against what I consider to be one of the best defenses in the country in Ann Arbor. Penn State will need their offensive line to put up their best performance of the past three years to have any hope of hanging with the Michigan defense here. Wolverine’s Swiss army-knife defender Jabrill Peppers is leading the nation in tackles for loss and will be on full display in this matchup as he will be tasked with containing Nittany Lions RB Saquon Barkley and I fully expect Peppers to win the battle there.

Michigan QB Wilton Speight struggled early last week against Colorado but found his groove as the game progressed and he will look to continue that momentum this week against a Penn State team that gave up 27 points to Temple last week at home. Speight has some of the best weapons in the country to throw the ball to in Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson and Jake Butt so he should be able to find plenty of open men down the field all game long here. RB De’Veon Smith is also one of the best RB’s in the conference so look for him to keep thing balanced against a Nittany Lions offense that has been prepared to play football by James Franklin.

Jabrill Peppers is going to have a game this week that will make him a household name when it’s over with. He is going to be in the backfield ruining Penn State QB Trace McSorley’s day and containing Saquon Barkley while also dropping back into coverage just enough to keep the Nittany Lions guessing each and every play. Michigan will absolutely drub Penn State in this one and I absolutely cannot wait. Biggest play of the year coming in hot!

  • Projected Score: Penn State 14 – Michigan 41
  • Spread Pick: Michigan -18.5 (4 unit play)
  • Total Pick: Under 56.5 (0 units)

Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Indiana Hoosiers

  • Saturday September 24th, 3:30 PM
  • TV: BTN
  • Point Spread: Indiana -7.5
  • Total: 45.5

Wake Forest has secretly started the season off 3-0 after beating Tulane, Duke and Delaware to open their season and they’ll look to make it 4-0 when they go to Bloomington to take on the undefeated Hoosiers. This could be one of the better matchups of the night as both teams will look to keep their undefeated seasons alive to return their programs back to the promised land entering conference play.

Wake Forest will be starting John Wolford at QB after he was removed of his starting duties in favor of Kendall Hinton until Hinton sprained his PCL which will sideline him for this matchup. Wolford is a dual threat QB who will keep opposing defenses guessing but Indiana should be well rested coming off of a bye in this one. Indiana’s defense has six turnovers in two games and will look to keep that going this week against a Wake Forest team that will try and get the ground game going early.

Indiana is led on offense by Devine Redding who is keeping the streak of super productive Hoosier RB’s alive after impressing in the first two games of the season. Richard Lagow will be the triggerman for Indiana in this one and he is completing 64.8 percent of his passes with four touchdowns. Redding is averaging a staggering 5.1 yards per carry so Indiana will do what Indiana does and score some points using a very balanced attack in this one. Redding was successful in a backup role against the Deacons last year, averaging 4.8 yards per carry but the Wake defense has been very stout this year against the run and they gave up just 38 rushing yards to Delaware a week ago.

The first thing that popped out to be is how low this total is. Does Vegas know this is a game that features Kevin Wilson as a head coach? Not to mention the Wake Forest CLAWfense which should be able to put some points up in Bloomington. This line seems pretty accurate to me but I have to imagine these two teams can get to fifty points pretty easily. Maybe I’m a sucker but screw it. Three units it is.

  • Projected Score: Wake Forest 28 – Indiana 35
  • Spread Pick: Wake Forest +7.5 (0 units)
  • Total Pick: Over 45.5 (3 units)

Nebraska Cornhuskers at Northwestern Wildcats

  • Saturday September 24th, 7:30 PM
  • TV: BTN
  • Point Spread: Nebraska -7.5
  • Total: 48

In the last conference game of the day, the undefeated Nebraska Cornhuskers travel to Northwestern to take on a Wildcats team that is fresh off a win in the Nerd Bowl against Duke. Nebraska Head Coach Mike Riley finally got that Oregon monkey off of his back, defeating the Ducks for the first time in eight tries dating back to his days coaching for Oregon State. Northwestern surprisingly showed some life last week after starting the year 0-2 including a home loss to an FCS school.

Nebraska triggerman Tommy Armstrong had one of the best performances of his career last week, fighting through cramps to score the game winning touchdown on the ground in the closing minutes of the game against Oregon. Armstrong had three touchdown passes to go along with his 95 yards on the ground to improve the Huskers to 3-0. Northwestern has been a bit of a bugaboo for Armstrong however as he has thrown for four interceptions in three career games against Pat Fitzgerald’s defense.

Northwestern’s offense finally showed some signs of life last week against Duke after scoring just seven points at home in their loss to Illinois State. QB Clayton Thorson three three touchdown passes and RB Justin Jackson finally looked like himself with 94 rushing yards so the Wildcats will look to build on these performances and shock the world with a great performance against a stout Nebraska defense led by safety Nate Gerry. Nebraska gave up a ton of rushing yards last week against Oregon so it will be interesting to see if Jackson can duplicate his 2014 performance against the Cornhuskers when he rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns.

I’m feeling a little weird about this game. Everyone in the country has to think Nebraska beats the brakes off of a Northwestern team that started the season so poorly. Why is the spread so low? In conference games I like to lean towards the home underdog and I’m still waiting for Tommy Armstrong to completely implode so I’ll pick this game for him to do it. I’m taking the Wildcats here for a few units and think they might have an outright win in them here.

  • Projected Score: Nebraska 24 – Northwestern 20
  • Spread Pick: Northwestern +7.5 (2 units)
  • Total Pick: Under 48 (1 unit)

Weekly picks recap in order of units wagered:

  1. Michigan -18.5 (4 units)
  2. Wake Forest/Indiana OVER 45.5 (3 units)
  3. Minnesota -16.5 (2 units)
  4. Nevada +5.5 (2 units)
  5. Northwestern +7.5 (2 units)
  6. Iowa/Rutgers UNDER 56 (1 unit)
  7. Wisconsin +6 (1 unit)
  8. Northwestern/Nebraska UNDER 48 (1 unit)