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Cappin’ the B1G: Big Ten Week 2 Predictions and Picks Against the Spread

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NCAA Football: Eastern Kentucky at Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Well….that was fun. Week 1 wasn’t very kind to your resident handicapping “expert” but we took a few tough beats and were correct on Western Michigan possibly winning it outright but that’s all I can really hang my hat on. Oh I also had a winning record overall on all of my picks! I’m someone who usually learns a lot more about teams as the year goes on and can adjust my picks accordingly so hopefully we can get things going in the right direction this week.

To recap Week 1:

1. LSU Tigers -10 (3 units) L

2. Rutgers Scarlet Knights +27 (2 units) L

3. Kent State/Penn State UNDER 45 (2 units) L

4. Indiana/FIU OVER 61 (1 unit) L

5. Minnesota Golden Gophers -13 (1 unit) L

6. Western Michigan Broncos +5 (1 unit) W

7. Michigan Wolverines -40.5 (1 unit) W

Good for a super 2-5 record as well as a 7 unit loss on the week for wagered games. There is a silver lining however, as I went 12-8 in picks overall. Maybe I should just start wagering on every side of every game! Kidding.

To recap the season:

Overall Record: 12-8

Wagered Games Record: 2-5

Season Units: -7 units

On to Week 2!

Note: For games where a team is matched up against a FCS opponent, I will not preview the game as there are no point spreads listed for FBS vs FCS games. This week that includes Howard @ Rutgers, Indiana State @ Minnesota, and Illinois State @ Northwestern.

Maryland Terrapins at Florida International Panthers

Friday September 9th, 7:30 PM

TV: CBS Sports Network

Point Spread: Maryland -10

Total: 56.5

The Terrapins will look to start their season 2-0 after throttling Howard last weekend in their opener while FIU gets a Big Ten team at home for the second straight week after dropping their contest to Indiana last week by 21 points.

Last year, Maryland finished their season by rushing for over 700 yards in their final two games and they continued that trend this season by rushing for over 300 yard in their opener vs Howard. FIU gave up 246 rushing yards to Indiana a week ago so this spells big trouble for the Panthers. Maryland QB Perry Hills kicked off his 9th season of eligibility (kidding) by managing the game pretty well and just letting the game come to him. This week, Hills will be a little more involved in the passing game as FIU will be forced to focus on stopping Maryland’s rushing attack. FIU has some talent on defense but this game will be a mighty struggle for them.

Maryland’s new head coach DJ Durkin is a defensive mastermind but it will be interesting to see how the defense he installed at Maryland will be able to perform early in his first season at the helm. Last week they weren’t tested too much against FCS bottom-feeder Howard so this will show us all a little bit more about how Durkin has been able to adapt his defensive prowess into an on-field product. Maryland only has one returning starter in the secondary from last season and FIU is going to be chucking the ball around a ton in this one. Panthers QB Alex McGough threw 3 picks last week and no TD passes so look for him to try and bounce back this week against the Terps.

Last week FIU was actually beating Indiana heading into the 4th quarter and completely imploded. FIU is 6-9 against the spread in their last 15 games as a home dog. This spread feels high especially not knowing how good Maryland truly is yet. I lean towards taking FIU here but I can’t stand the thought of watching Maryland run the ball at will and losing by 20. The total looks pretty good as well so I’m laying off of this one entirely.

Projected Score: Maryland 31 – FIU 24

Spread Pick: FIU +10 (0 units)

Total Pick: Under 56.5 (0 units)

Wyoming Cowboys at Nebraska Cornhuskers

Saturday September 10th, 12 PM

TV: ESPN2

Point Spread: Nebraska -24.5

Total: 58

Wyoming is entering this contest fresh off of an outright win at home as a ten point underdog to the Northern Illinois Huskies and are looking to pull of another upset in Lincoln against the Cornhuskers. Nebraksa is fresh off of a beatdown of Fresno State last weekend by 33 points led by their 292 yards on the ground. The Huskers are looking for their 31st consecutive win over a Mountain West opponent in this one.

The Wyoming offense will be powered mainly by RB Brian Hill who was the nations 8th leading rusher a year ago. Hill ran for 125 yards against Northern Illinois last weekend and will look to continue his success in Lincoln this weekend. The Cowboys also return their top four WR’s from last year and QB Josh Allen was effective last week completing 65% of his passes and throwing for 2 TD’s while not turning the ball over. The strength of the Nebraska defense last week was their big boys up front as they generated a ton of pass rush all night long without much aid from blitzes. Getting safety Nate Gerry back for this game will be a big help for the Huskers as they try and shut down Allen and the Wyoming offense.

On offense, Nebraska ran the ball with reckless abandon last week against Fresno State, rushing for 292 yards on 51 carries while they attempted just 13 passes. Mike Riley sent a message loud and clear that he doesn’t trust QB Tommy Armstrong and the rest of the passing game just yet which is fair due to Armstrong’s propensity to turn the ball over in bunches. This should be an interesting matchup against a Wyoming defense that allowed just 133 rushing yards last week to Northern Illinois including just 94 in regulation. The Cowboys are led on defense by All-MWC safety Andrew Wingard who had 12 tackles a week again versus NIU.

Wyoming will have its struggles in this one due to the sheer gap in talent, especially with Nebraska’s offensive weapons. The Huskers have a big matchup next week against the Oregon Ducks so this might be a look ahead spot for them so I’m liking Wyoming a tiny bit here. The last time Wyoming visited Lincoln, it was a nailbiter with the Huskers escaping with a 37-34 win. Give me the points here for a unit.

Projected Score: Wyoming 21 – Nebraska 38

Spread Pick: Wyoming +24.5 (1 unit)

Total Pick: Over 58 (0 units)

Penn State Nittany Lions at Pittsburgh Panthers

Saturday September 10th, 12 PM

TV: ESPN

Point Spread: Pittsburgh -5.5

Total: 48

Penn State and Pitt are FINALLY renewing their in-state rivalry this weekend at Heinz Field. These two teams haven’t squared off since Oops I Did it Again was playing on repeat on the radio (2000) and tensions will be very high in this one. The Nittany Lions are fresh off a win at home over Kent State while Pitt defeated FCS Villanova a week ago.

The Nittany Lions offense looked a little slow in their opener under new offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead. QB Trace McSorley looked very confident in his new role as starting QB but he doesn’t lack the arm to match that confidence so it will be interesting to see how he does against a very solid Pitt defense. Look for Penn State to use a heavy dose of star RB Saquon Barkley behind a seemingly slightly improved offensive line. Pitt will look to counter with their very experienced front seven and force McSorley to try and beat them with his arm. McSorley will have to rely on his stable of talented WR’s in this one, led by Chris Godwin. Pitt stonewalled Villanova last week, allowing just 119 yards in the air and 53(!) yards on the ground off of 33 attempts.

The big story for the Pitt offense is the return of star RB James Conner who made a very emotional return last week after suffering both a serious knee injury and Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2015. Conner looked a bit off in week 1 against Villanova, gaining just 53 yards on 17 carries with a touchdown and also catching 3 passes for 16 yards and another score. Pitt’s QB is senior Nathan Peterman who had a quiet yet solid performance in week one, passing for 175 yards with 2 TD’s and no interceptions. Peterman’s favorite target in this young season seems to be 6’5” TE Scott Orndoff who grabbed 5 passes for 68 yards last week. Penn State had a very good second half against Kent State last week and they were led by their inexperienced defensive line. The Nittany Lions front seven will definitely be tested this week by Conner so they will most likely focus on stopping the run and forcing Peterman to beat them with his arm.

Both teams want this game equally as badly and I can’t wait to see how this game unfolds. The winning team with be undefeated and have a whole lot of momentum going into the rest of the season. I expect this game to be very ugly offensively with the home team squeaking by in a low scoring affair led by James Conner on the ground. I’ll take the under pretty confidently here.

Projected Score: Penn State 17 – Pittsburgh 21

Spread Pick: Penn State +5.5 (0 units)

Total Pick: UNDER 48 (3 units)

University of Central Florida Knights at Michigan Wolverines

Saturday September 10th, 12 PM

TV: ESPN

Point Spread: Michigan -35

Total: 53.5

Last week, in one of the few games I picked correctly, Michigan absolutely blew Hawaii out of The Big House by 60 points using super secret starting QB Wilton Speight. This week, Michigan hosts hotshot young head coach Scott Frost’s UCF team that will look to pull of a major upset against the Wolverines. The Knights broke their 13 game losing streak last week when they beat FCS South Carolina State 38-0.

UCF was very efficient on offense last week against South Carolina State, posting up 462 yards total on the day. The problem with UCF was that they only averaged 3.5 yards per carry on the ground and they’re going up against a Michigan defense which looks to be one of the best units in the country. Last week, Michigan and DC Dom Brown forced Hawaii to go just 1-11 on third down attempts and they will look to continue that trend this week. UCF QB Justin Holman looked pretty shaky last week against an FCS team, struggling with his accuracy a lot and he’s going to be in for a very long day against Jabrill Peppers and company. Dom Brown will have his defense prepared in this one and they will shut Frost’s offensive scheme down pretty well.

Michigan kept their QB a secret for some reason against Hawaii until they trotted out Wilton Speight for the opening drive. Speight didn’t put up super impressive stat sheet numbers but he did throw for 3 TD’s on 13 attempts. True freshman RB Chris Evans had a very impressive debut for the Wolverines with 8 carries for 112 yards and two touchdowns. Michigan should be able to do whatever they want to the UCF defense in this one as the nights are in for a very long day. UCF looked sharp on defense last week, showing very good play recognition but we have to take a step back and realize they were playing a bottom-feeder FCS team. UCF DB Shaquill Griffin said he wants to “silence the Michigan crowd” this week. Good luck Shaq!

UCF Head Coach Scott Frost might have a very bright future ahead of him as a collegiate head coach, but his life is going to be living hell this Saturday. Jim Harbaugh is coaching like a crazy ex-girlfriend looking for revenge on every single team in the country and I think they win this one by 40 relatively easily. I’ll lay the points for a couple units.

Projected Score: UCF 7 – Michigan 48

Spread Pick: Michigan -35 (2 units)

Total Pick: Over 53.5 (0 units)

Cincinnati Bearcats at Purdue Boilermakers

Saturday September 10th, 12 PM

TV: BTN

Point Spread: Cincinnati -6.5

Total: 59.5

Under Head Coach Darrell Hazell, Purdue has never won two consecutive games and that’s exactly what they’ll look to do this weekend when they welcome the Cincinnati Bearcats to town. Both Purdue and Cincinnati will be playing their first FBS opponents this weekend and this is an absolute must-win game for Hazell’s future at Purdue. Cincinnati struggled last week to put away Tennessee Martin so Purdue has a legit shot in this one to get Hazell his turning point win.

The Bearcats were down 7-6 at halftime vs UT-Martin and ended up scoring 22 points in the second half to win their opener so their offensive has some positive momentum coming into this one. The Cinci offense turned it over three times in the first half and only scored a TD with 19 seconds left in the half. It was Jekyll/Hyde though as they didn’t turn the ball over at all in the second half and scored multiple times. The Purdue defense picked off three passes against Eastern Kentucky but gave up a little too many points for their liking to their FCS opponent.

Purdue QB David Blough looked sharp in the season opener, completing 25 of 43 passes for 245 yards and a TD while also rushing for 2 TD’s. Sophomore RB Merkell Jones rushed for 145 yards and a TD on 24 carries of his own. The Bearcats will be led on defense by senior LB Eric Wilson who had 15 tackles, including 3 for loss and two sacks against UT-Martin last week. This will be an interesting matchup for both sides as they are both pretty unproved so far in this young season.

The last time these two teams met, it was Hazell’s first game at Purdue and the Bearcats won 42-7. Look for things to be a lot more even in this contest. I actually think Purdue has a real good shot to win this game outright to give Hazell his first ever winning streak at Purdue.

Projected Score: Cincinnati 27 – Purdue 31

Spread Pick: Purdue +6.5 (3 units)

Total Pick: UNDER 59.5 (0 units)

Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Ohio State Buckeyes

Saturday September 10th, 3:30 PM

TV: ABC

Point Spread: Ohio State -29

Total: 73.5

Ohio State gets another tune up game for their young team after hanging a whopping 77 points on Bowling Green last week as the welcome Tulsa to the Horseshoe. Tulsa is coming off of a big win of their own against San Jose State and they come into this game looking for arguably the biggest win in program history.

The Golden Hurricane are coached by former Baylor offensive coordinator Phillip Montgomery so look for them to spread the field with a lot of passing combined with a running game that can keep the Ohio State defense honest. Last week, Tulsa rushed for 305 yards and had 512 yards of total offense en route to a 45-10 victory at San Jose State. Ohio State has some emerging studs on defense but none are quite as good as all-world LB Raekwon McMillan. Tulsa will have a very hard time consistently moving the ball in this one.

Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett started his 2016 in horrific fashion by throwing a pick six but then rebounded very nicely and looked down right unstoppable. Barrett is an expert at running Urban Meyer’s offense by now and he will look to try and move the ball against an very experienced Tulsa defense. Tulsa held San Jose State to just 53 yards on the ground last week which is just absurd. The Golden Hurricane also forced three turnovers, including an interception for a TD and a fumble recover in the end zone for another TD. I think Tulsa is going to quickly find out however that Ohio State isn’t San Jose State.

I don’t think Ohio State is going to be able to match last weeks 77 point output, but they may come close. Tulsa’s defense is experienced but they’re still one of the worst defenses in the FBS. Tulsa will be able to score some points in this one but I can’t see Barrett and company not hanging up a fifty burger in this one.

Score Prediction: Tulsa 21 – Ohio State 55

Spread Pick: Ohio State -29 (1 unit)

Total Pick: Over 73.5 (0 units)

Akron Zips at Wisconsin Badgers

Saturday September 10th, 3:30 PM

TV: BTN

Point Spread: Wisconsin -23.5

Total: 47.5

This weekend the Wisconsin Badgers play host to the Arkron Zips in Wisconsin’s first true home game of the 2016 season. Wisconsin is flying high after upsetting LSU last week in a game that nobody thought that they could win. Akron defeated FCS school VMI in their season opener by a 23 point margin. The Zips will have their hands full in this one as the competition is just a tad bit steeper this week.

Akron runs a spread offense led by their junior QB Thomas Woodson who is in his second year of starting for the Zips. Woodson won MAC Offensive Player of the Week after throwing for a career-high 407 yards and 6 TD’s last week against VMI. The Wisconsin defense will be tested a bit here as they have three first-year starters in their secondary so this could be an intriguing matchup to watch. Wisconsin will be without inside linebacker Chris Orr in this one after he suffered a season-ending knee injury against LSU. After focusing on stopping the run last week, it will be interesting to see how this young Wisconsin secondary reacts to a high volume passing attack from Akron.

Wisconsin fifth-year QB Bart Houston was 19 of 31 for 205 yards in his first start against LSU but turned the ball over a few times. Akron’s defense was very tough last season, ranking third overall in rushing defense and 15th overall in total yards but they don’t return too many of the starters from that stout 2015 squad. The leader of the Zips on defense are their DE’s Jamal Marcus and Se’Von Pittman. Wisconsin RB Corey Clement should have an easy time finding running room through the middle of the defense in this one. Look for Houston to use this game as a big learning tool as he gets more comfortable passing the football.

This seems like a game that will have people going “WOW” when they see that the first quarter score is something like 10-7 Akron but I think Wisconsin will eventually pull away here. The talent gap is just too huge for the Zips to overcome in this one and Wisconsin ends up winning this one by some margin very close to the spread. I actually like the over a bit here and will play it for a unit.

Score Prediction: Akron 17 – Wisconsin 38

Spread Pick: Akron +23.5 (0 units)

Total Pick: OVER 47.5 (1 unit)

Ball State Cardinals at Indiana Hoosiers

Saturday September 10th, 4 PM

TV: ESPNNews

Point Spread: Indiana -17.5

Total: 61

After a very stagnant first three quarters against FIU last week, Indiana finally got clicking and ended up winning by a wide margin to start their season 1-0. Indiana surprisingly relied on their defense to keep them in the game while it took the offense a little while to get going. Ball State is fresh off a 31-21 beating of Georgia State, relying heavily on their surprise rush attack to put that game away.

Ball State returns a lot of starters from a year ago but are dealing with a reshuffled offensive line after losing a couple of 2015’s starters. QB Riley Neal leads the Cardinals on offense where they run a very up tempo passing attack predicated on getting the ball out quickly to the WR’s in open space and letting them make plays. Ball State didn’t look too effective doing that last week but luckily they were able to pick up a whopping 325 yards on the ground and 4 TD’s on 52 carries. Indiana’s defense looking shockingly good last week picking up some huge defensive TD’s and doing a great job of limiting FIU’s rushing attack as they were able to muster up just 63 yards on 21 carries. Indiana will look to keep that penetration going as they try to slow down the Ball State rushing attack this weekend.

Indiana’s offense looked uncharacteristically flat last week at FIU, and new QB Richard Lagow was serviceable, not turning the ball over and picking up a TD each with his arm and his legs. Indiana had many drives deep in FIU territory but they couldn’t pick up some easy points due to penalties, missed FG’s, and turnovers. Indiana’s rushing attack improved as the game went on last week and they will look to keep that going against Ball State this week as their offensive line will open up huge holes for those Hoosier RB’s. Ball State’s defense looked much improved, allowing just 149 yards through the air and 77 on the ground against Georgia State last week.

Ball State has been a huge thorn in Indiana’s side in the past so I’m tempted to take the points here. I think Ball State’s defense has improved enough to the point that they may be able to slow down the inexperienced Lagow at QB and limit Indiana’s offensive points enough to cover the line. Yeah screw it. Give me the Cardinals for a unit.

Score Prediction: Ball State 24 – Indiana 38

Spread Pick: Ball State +17.5 (1 unit)

Total Pick: Over 61 (0 units)

North Carolina Tar Heels at Illinois Fighting Illini

Saturday September 10th, 7:30 PM

TV: BTN

Point Spread: North Carolina -7.5

Total: 58

The Tar Heels are going to Champaign, Ill this Saturday after a tough emotional loss to the Georgia Bulldogs to take on Lovie Smith’s Fighting Illini. These two teams met last year and UNC throttled them at home 48-14 but there are big changes taking place at Illinois so this should be a fun one to keep an eye on. Illinois kicked off the Lovie Era with a 52-3 victory over FCS Murray State last week.

If there’s one thing I can take away from last weekends loss to Georgia, its that the Tar Heels will be explosive on offense yet again in 2016. RB Elijah Hood is one of the most underrated backs in the country and he looked fine last week when they actually decided to run the ball. UNC QB Mitch Trubinsky looked pretty good against a tough SEC defense and he should improve as the season goes on and he gains more experience. Illinois allowed just 23 points per game last season but they didn’t face many great offenses. UNC dropped 48 on them in Chapel Hill but Illinois was able to get a lot of pressure on the QB in week 1, tallying 6 sacks.

Illinois came in dead last a year ago in the Big Ten in rushing yards per game and only mustered 22.7 points per game in 2015. The offense will take take strides forward but it will be hard to tell just how much better they get until we watch them a little more. UNC has a shaky run defense but thankfully that is Illinois weakness on offense. Look for Illinois to chuck the ball around a lot in this one with Wes Lunt at the helm.

UNC will be looking to bounce back after a hard loss last week and they have nobody to look forward to. I like UNC to overpower Illinois in this one and cover pretty easily.

Projected Score: North Carolina 37 – Illinois 20

Spread Pick: North Carolina -7.5 (2 units)

Total Pick: Under 58 (0 units)

Iowa State Cyclones at Iowa Hawkeyes

Saturday September 10th, 7:30 PM

TV: BTN

Point Spread: Iowa -15

Total: 51

First off, I just want to say that Kirk Ferentz must have the most active agent in the country. Ferentz just received another contract extension that runs out on like his 104th birthday. Wow. Anyway, this should be a fun Cy-Hawk rivalry game even though Iowa State dropped their opener to an FCS school. This game is usually pretty competitive despite some huge talent gaps.

The Cyclones are led on offense by All-Big 12 RB Mike Warren and they will look to get him going early and often in this Saturday’s matchup. New Iowa State Head Coach Matt Campbell is definitely trying to establish his team as a hard nosed rushing offense behind his bellcow RB. Last week against FCS Northern Iowa, Iowa State couldn’t get anything going on the ground, finishing the game with 51 rushing yards on 25 carries. Wow. Warren only got the ball 12 times last week and could only muster up 30 yards with those carries which is very uncharacteristic. The real struggle for Iowa State was their offensive line. Iowa’s defense let up 424 yards to Miami Ohio last week so they will look to improve a bit this week against a Cyclone team that is struggling to find their offensive identity with their problems up front. One of the main reasons the Iowa defense struggled was the early ejection of MLB Josey Jewell who was last seasons leading tackler.

Iowa was led by their rushing attack last week as RB’s Akrum Wadley and LeShun Daniels helped the Hawkeyes carry the ball for 212 yards and 7.3 yards per carry. Iowa has to be licking their chops this week going against a Iowa State defense that gave up 232 yards rushing against Northern Iowa a week ago. Depth is a serious concern with Iowa State as they have solid starters but when they need some rest, the defense just breaks down. If the Iowa State defense can stay off the field a bit to stay fresh, they could pose some problems for the Iowa offensive line and young WR’s in this one.

As everyone knows, when you deal with rivalry games you can “THROW THOSE RECORDS OUT THE WINDOW!” Emotions will be at an all time high in this one for this Iowa State squad who wants to desperately win this rivalry game. I just can’t back a team coming off an FCS loss who can’t seem to find any offensive identity. Iowa looked just ok last week and was still able to cruise to an easy win. I think the under is the play here.

Score Prediction: Iowa State 10 – Iowa 27

Spread Pick: Iowa -15 (0 units)

Total Pick: Under 51 (1 unit)

Weekly picks recap in order of units wagered:

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