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Cappin’ the B1G: Rutgers Football and Big Ten Week 5 Predictions and Picks Against the Spread

NCAA Football: Iowa at Rutgers Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The see-saw continues as we bounce back after a subpar Week 3 to have a winning Week 4, including winning our largest wager of the season so far with Michigan eviscerating Penn State this past Saturday. Hopefully I can continue the winning ways and put two winning weeks in a row together to get us to Profitsville as far as units go. This past week we went 8-6 overall, with a 4-4 record in wagered games but were able to pick up 2 units for an overall winning week. As I start to get a better grasp of how these B1G teams are playing and conference play comes into full swing, I think we will start to see a steady improvement in the wagers.

To recap Week 4:

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

To recap the season:

Overall record: 40-31-1 (56.3%)

Wagered Games Record: 15-18-1 (45.5%)

Season Units: -6 units

Time to move onto Week 5! Smells like 8-0!

Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Ohio State Buckeyes

  • Saturday October 1st, 12 PM
  • TV: BTN
  • Point Spread: Ohio State -38.5
  • Total: 59

Gulp. Guys, I’m really sad about Janarion Grant.

One of the most exciting players to lace them up On the Banks is out for the season and possibly done for his college career. As Grant exits, so does basically any chance of this offense finding a good amount of success for the rest of the season. Chris Ash will have a hell of a homecoming in Colombus this week to take on the team he was the defensive coordinator on when they won the National Championship in 2014. This is going to be ugly folks.

I want to say this as politely as I possibly can: Chris Laviano is not a good quarterback. I’ve watched a lot of football this season and I can honestly say he is in the bottom 5% of QB’s that I’ve watched. Rutgers has to be able to find better talent for a Big Ten QB. It’s to the point where I honestly wouldn’t care if Tylin Oden started at QB and was able to use only his left arm to throw the ball. It can’t be much worse than what Laviano brings to the table. I don’t know how Rutgers scores any TD’s in this game against this Buckeyes defense that is fresh as a daisy coming off of a bye week. LB Raekwon McMillan will probably rack up 35 tackles in this one because all Rutgers can hope to do is run Big Ten leading rusher Robert Martin and pray he can gain 4 yards every carry to take them down the field. I just don’t see Rutgers getting more than 10 points in this game in any way, shape, or form. Janarion will be sorely missed.

Rutgers seems to have improved quite a bit on defense after stifling Iowa’s offensive attack last week. This is very encouraging to me as I’m sure it is to other fans as well but they are facing a much different animal this week at the Horseshoe. Buckeyes QB J.T. Barrett will be looking to pad his Heisman trophy resume even further this week against a defensive scheme that Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer is very familiar with. Rutgers should be able to get a couple of stops to keep this one from getting completely out of hand using the strength of their defensive line to get some penetration up front but I wouldn’t be shocked if the Buckeyes offensive line stifled them as well.

Let’s see, Rutgers has played Ohio State twice in the past two years and the results have been 49-7 and 56-17. 38.5 points seems about right and I think I’m going to take them given how much loyalty Ash showed to Ohio State when he took the Rutgers job last year, staying at Ohio State through their bowl game. I don’t think Meyer wants to lay it on too thick versus Ash here. Fun fact for Rutgers fans (joking): Ohio State has not allowed a rushing TD in their three games this season. Be afraid, be very afraid.

  • Projected Score: Rutgers 7 – Ohio State 42
  • Spread Pick: Rutgers +38.5 (1 unit)
  • Total Pick: Under 59 (3 units)

Northwestern Wildcats at Iowa Hawkeyes

  • Saturday October 1st, 12 PM
  • Point Spread: Iowa -13.5
  • Total: 43.5

Iowa fans sure do miss the 2015 regular season because that seems like a long way away at this point after dropping a home game to an FCS school and barely squeaking by Rutgers in Piscataway last week. Luckily for Hawkeyes fans, they’re back at home this week versus a Northwestern team that couldn’t score at the Bunny Ranch. The Wildcats are a very disappointing 1-3 after allowing 556 yards of offense to Nebraska at home last week.

Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson threw two interceptions last week against Nebraska and has taken a total of 15 sacks this season to go along with dozens of pressures and hits after releasing the football. Thorson was thought of as a dual threat QB but hasn’t done much on the ground at all this year which should have the Iowa defense salivating. Hawkeyes CB Desmond King will be making plays all over the field in this one and I would be surprised if Northwestern was able to put up double digits here.

Iowa’s offense took a big blow this week when WR Matt Vandeberg broke his foot and may be out for the rest of the season. Hawkeyes QB C.J. Beathard has had a very below average season thus far and losing one of his top targets certainly won’t help matters. Iowa will lean on RB Akrum Wadley in this one as he has found a lot of success against the Northwestern defense in the past, including a 204 yard, four touchdown performance last year. The Wildcats had been pretty stout on defense this season until they allowed a whopping 556 yards to Nebraska last week. Iowa should control this game on the ground en route to an easy victory.

This line is a little perplexing considering Iowa’s success on the ground versus Northwestern recently. The Hawkeyes have dominated the Wildcats in their last two meetings and Iowa will be looking to get the fans excited again at home by putting up an impressive showing on offense. I don’t see how Northwestern scores multiple touchdowns in this one so give me Iowa here.

  • Projected Score: Northwestern 10 – Iowa 28
  • Spread Pick: Iowa -13.5 (2 units)
  • Total Pick: Under 43.5 (0 units)

Purdue Boilermakers at Maryland Terrapins

  • Saturday October 1st, 3:30 PM
  • TV: BTN
  • Point Spread: Maryland -10
  • Total: 56

Purdue was able to avoid a complete disaster last week when they pulled away late to beat Nevada by ten points at home and this week they enter College Park, MD against an undefeated Maryland squad. Maryland is looking to start 4-0 under new head coach DJ Durkin and they’ve won games by using great performances from the defensive side of the ball which is no surprise considering Durkin’s background.

Purdue’s offense has been an absolute turnover machine (much like the 2015 Terps) as they gave the ball away five times against Cincinnati two weeks ago and last week gave it away four times to Nevada. If Cincinnati is going to find success in this game, it’s going to be on the legs of RB Markell Jones who carried 22 times for 124 yards against Nevada last week. Jones is going to have the tough test of facing a Terps defense that hasn’t allowed over 17 points in regulation yet this season. Durkin has the Maryland defense firing on all cylinders but they haven’t faced much real competition yet so this will be their first true test of the season.

Maryland has been pretty successful on offense so far this season, albeit against subpar competition, outscoring their opponents 93-27 through three games. QB Perry Hills looked decisively average last week and his offensive line didn’t help much, allowing him to get sacked 5 times. The biggest part of Maryland’s success this season has been their improvement in terms of turning the ball over. Last year they were one of the worst teams in the country in terms of turnovers and this year they have zero which is a monumental part of why they’re looking to go 4-0 this week. Purdue is very susceptible to the run so the Terps will try to run the ball at will on Saturday afternoon to put points on the board.

Fun fact: Purdue has never won 2 games in a row under head coach Darrell Hazell. ZERO WINNING STREAKS SINCE 2013. That is absurd. Purdue turns the ball over a ton and Maryland doesn’t. Maryland is at home. Purdue can’t stop the run. Maryland runs the ball well. Terps by a couple touchdowns.

  • Projected Score: Purdue 21 – Maryland 38
  • Spread Pick: Maryland -10 (3 units)
  • Total Pick: Over 56 (0 units)

Wisconsin Badgers at Michigan Wolverines

  • Saturday October 1st, 3:30 PM
  • TV: ABC
  • Point Spread: Michigan -10.5
  • Total: 44.5

Does Michigan play any road games this year? No? Well alright then. Michigan opened up conference play with an absolute thumping of Penn State by a 49-10 score last week. Michigan has won their four games this season by an average of 38.3 points but they will face their toughest test of the season when the Wisconsin Badgers come to Ann Arbor on Saturday.

Wisconsin made the plunge and changed their QB’s for good when Alex Hornibrook took the field to start last week in Michigan State and left win a win. That experience for Hornibrook will be invaluable as he will need it going against one of the top defenses in the nation in the Big House this weekend. Hornibrook converted several third and long opportunities that kept the Wisconsin offense moving all afternoon in East Lansing. Michigan’s defense, led by Jabrill Peppers, held Penn State to just 191 total yards and failed to reach 100 yards on the ground. Michigan has also forced six turnovers this year so this will be a tall order for Hornibrook in hostile territory.

Michigan found most of their offensive success via the ground game last week and QB Wilton Speight didn’t need to do much at all with his arm as Penn State was down to walk on’s at the LB position and couldn’t stop the run at all. Michigan rushed for 326 yards and six(!) touchdowns against the Nittany Lions. Wisconsin coming to town means that Michigan will face their toughest defensive test of the season to this point so this should be fun to watch. Wisconsin hasn’t given up more than 17 points yet this season and didn’t allow a touchdown last week in East Lansing. Speight will need to have success passing the ball downfield in this one for Michigan to walk away with a victory here.

Why are the Badgers getting disrespected in every game they play this season? I was a skeptic at the beginning of the season but I’m changing my tune. I think they come into the Big House and giving the Wolverines all kinds of trouble on Saturday afternoon. Michigan will have trouble putting points up for the first time all season and I think we see a great game that comes down to the wire.

  • Projected Score: Wisconsin 21 – Michigan 24
  • Spread Pick: Wisconsin +10.5 (2 units)
  • Total Pick: Over 44.5

Illinois Fighting Illini at Nebraska Cornhuskers

  • Saturday October 1st, 3:30 PM
  • TV: ESPN2
  • Point Spread: Nebraska -21
  • Total: 53

Nebraska will look to continue their fairy tale undefeated season when they welcome Lovie Smith and the Illinois Fighting Illini to Lincoln on Saturday afternoon. Nebraska has already put wins against Oregon and Northwestern on their resume and Illinois hasn’t shown much yet after beating an FCS team and then getting beaten easily by North Carolina and Western Michigan.

This Illinois offense looks very similar to last years version which ended up scoring just 22.7 points per game. Illini senior QB Wes Lunt has looked ok but is in for a big test when Nebraska’s defense takes the field. Illinois only has one threat in the receiving game in WR Malik Turner and their running game was stopped dead against Western Michigan in their last game. Illinois will need to win the field position in a major way if they hope to score enough points to keep this one interesting.

Nebraska is showing an incredible balance on offense this season with 11th year senior QB Tommy Armstrong leading the way. Armstrong has only thrown the ball when his team really needs him to and shockingly has just one interception so far this season. Armstrong is also doing work on the ground as he is the Husker’s second leading rusher. Last week the ground attack racked up over 300 yards against a good Northwestern defense and the Illinois defense is very susceptible to the run. The Illini will need to take a big step forward from their last game when they allowed Western Michigan to rush for 287 yards. If Nebraska is able to run the ball at will, Illinois will be dead in the water in this game by halftime.

Fun fact: The last time Illinois beat Nebraska in Lincoln the year was…1924!!! The last two times these teams met in Lincoln, the scores were 45-14 and 39-19 in favor of the Huskers. The spread seems right here but I think it may be a little too high. If I had to bet, I would take Illinois getting 21 here because I don’t fully trust Armstrong but I’m going to pass on this one altogether.

  • Projected Score: Illinois 17 – Nebraska 34
  • Spread Pick: Illinois +21 (0 units)
  • Total Pick: Under 53 (0 units)

Minnesota Golden Gophers at Penn State Nittany Lions

  • Saturday October 1st, 3:30 PM
  • TV: BTN
  • Point Spread: Penn State -3
  • Total: 56

Minnesota was my preseason darling and while they are 3-0, I’m not so confident anymore after watching them play. Minnesota seems to win in spite of their very subpar coaching decisions but good thing they’re going up against the worst game day coach in the country this Saturday when they roll up to Happy Valley. Head Douche James Franklin was pushed a little further down onto the hot seat when he got steam rolled by Jim Harbaugh last week in Ann Arbor.

This will be Minnesota’s first road game of the season and by far it’s toughest test to date. If Minnesota can win this Saturday at Penn State, their schedule will set them up nicely to possibly pull off an upset or two and get into the Big Ten championship game if they can continually improve. Minnesota’s offense has performed wonderfully on the ground so far this season, including putting up 243 yards rushing last week against Colorado State. The Gophers have scored 11 rushing touchdowns this season with RB Rodney Smith having five himself. Gophers QB Mitch Leidner is a dual-threat rushing for three touchdowns this season while throwing for four through the air. Penn State is an injury or two away to their linebacking unit from having to pull people out of the student section to come suit up and play on defense.

Penn State’s offense was dreadful last week in Ann Arbor, putting up just 191 total yards and turning the ball over twice to give them ten turnovers on the season so far. Nittany Lions QB Trace McSorley was abused all afternoon, getting sacked six times behind that porous offensive line and he added an interception to boot. Penn State’s best player is RB Saquon Barkley, but even with Barkley, Penn State is close to dead last in the country in terms of rushing yards per game. Minnesota has had their struggles on defense but it has mostly been through the air so they should be able to contain Barkley and make McSorley beat them with his pop gun arm.

Minnesota will be able to run the ball at will in this game and QB Mitch Leidner will run the zone read with great success Saturday against a Penn State LB corps which is down to walk-ons having to play. I love betting against Franklin and am going to take Minnesota getting the points here.

  • Projected Score: Minnesota 31 – Penn State 27
  • Spread Pick: Minnesota +3 (2 units)
  • Total Pick: Over 56 (0 units)

Michigan State Spartans at Indiana Hoosiers

  • Saturday October 1st, 8 PM
  • TV: BTN
  • Point Spread: Michigan State -6.5
  • Total: 52.5

Michigan State was dealt a shocking blow to their Big Ten title hopes last week when Wisconsin came to East Lansing and blew the doors off of the Spartans in front of their home crowd. Indiana dropped a heartbreaker at home last week to Wake Forest due in large part to a barrel of turnovers.

Michigan State QB Tyler O’Connor finally had the wheels fall off last week at home against Wisconsin after impressing on the road versus Notre Dame. O’Connor was very out of sync with his receivers last week and it resulted in him throwing three interceptions while getting sacked four times because he was holding the ball too long. A week after getting 260 yards on the ground versus Notre Dame, Sparty only managed to get 75 versus a tough Wisconsin defense so they will need to get LJ Scott and the rest of the ground game going against Indiana to get a decisive win. Indiana had been very stout defensively up until last week when the Hoosier’s offensive turnovers were too much for the defense to overcome as Wake put up 33 points.

Indiana QB Richard Lagow threw for an impressive school-record 496 yards last week but most Hoosier fans will remember his five interceptions a little more vividly. Michigan State’s weakness on defense has been the secondary but after the passing game performance against Wake, Indiana might want to get a little more balanced on offense this week. Indiana has a very good RB in Devine Redding who was highly underutilized last week against Wake Forest. Devine had 245 yards through his first two games coming into last week so look for him to get a little more involved this week to take some pressure off of Lagow and the Hoosier passing attack.

I think that the Spartans are just too well coached to drop two in a row especially to a team like Indiana, whom they have beaten in their last seven meetings. Michigan State’s front seven will force the Hoosier’s to try and beat them through the air but I think Lagow makes a few more mistakes to set the Spartan’s up with great field position and they capitalize enough to leave with a decisive win.

  • Projected Score: Michigan State 35 – Indiana 24
  • Spread Pick: Michigan State -6.5 (1 unit)
  • Total Pick: Over 52.5 (1 unit)

Weekly picks recap in order of units wagered:

  1. Rutgers/Ohio State UNDER 59 (3 units)
  2. Maryland -10 (3 units)
  3. Iowa -13.5 (2 units)
  4. Wisconsin +10.5 (2 units)
  5. Minnesota +3 (2 units)
  6. Rutgers +38.5 (1 unit)
  7. Michigan State -6.5 (1 unit)
  8. Michigan State/Indiana OVER 52.5 (1 unit)