MICHIGAN (-3.5 OPEN / CURRENT -3) @ INDIANA – Saturday November 7

MICHIGAN – The Wolverines had a huge win in week 1 rolling over Minnesota 49-24 but crashed back down to earth last Saturday losing 27-24 to rival Michigan State as a 24.5 point favorite.  Despite the lofty spread, which was the 2nd highest number in the history of this rivalry, Michigan never led in the game.  To put this loss in perspective, entering last Saturday’s game, the Wolverines had been a favorite of 20 points or more 115 times since the start of the 1980 season..  Their straight up record in those games was 111-3-1.  Michigan did out gain the Spartans barely, 452 to 449, but MSU had a higher YPP average as they ran fewer offensive plays.  QB Milton was threw for 300 and was their leading rusher as the Michigan RB’s only had 93 yards on 22 carries.  After watching the Minnesota defense get torched 45 points by a bad Maryland offense, we now see that Michigan’s offensive outburst in the opener may not have been all that impressive.  The Wolverine defense struggled to slow down MSU QB Lombardi, who shredded them for 323 yards passing, 10 yards per attempt, and 5 TD’s.  The Michigan defense allowed 10 plays of 15 or more yards.


INDIANA – The Hoosiers are 2-0 in the Big 10 for the first time since 1991 after beating Rutgers 37-21 last Saturday.  The win pushed Indiana into the AP top 15 (ranked 13th) for the first time since 1987!  It was actually Indiana’s 3rd conference road win in their last 4 attempts dating back to last season.  IU outgained Rutgers 140 to 60 in the first half and built a 20-7 lead at the break.  The rushing attack continued to struggle averaging just 2.6 YPC vs Rutgers after being held to only 1.6 YPC vs Penn State in their opener.  Starting QB Penix played better this week with 238 yards passing and 3 TD’s but the offense will be a concern if they continue to struggle on the ground.  The defense has been opportunistic to say the least with 6 takeaways in 2 games.  Those takeaways have been huge as IU has turned those into 27 points in the first 2 games of the season.  As a whole the defense played very well last Saturday limiting Rutgers to just 3.6 YPP and holding them under 130 yards both rushing & passing.


MOST RECENT MEEETING – Michigan was a 10 point favorite here in Bloomington last year and won handily 39-14.  The Wolverines led just 21-14 and held IU scoreless in the 2nd half.

POINTSPREAD NUGGET – These two Big 10 teams have faced off 32 times since 1980.  Michigan is 31-1 SU in those games and 19-13 ATS.  Michigan has been favored in all 32 of those games and this is the lowest spread since 1980 (-6.5 was previously the lowest).

RUTGERS @ OHIO STATE (OPEN -37.5 / CURRENT -37.5) – Saturday November 7

RUTGERS – Oh well the euphoria didn’t last long.  Rutgers is now 1-23 SU their last 24 Big Ten games.  After winning @ Michigan State in week 1 thanks in part to 7 Spartan turnovers, the Knights got a taste of their own medicine turning it over 3 times in a 37-21 loss to Indiana.  Despite only averaging 3.6 YPP on just 122 yards rushing and 125 yards passing, Rutgers was able to put the ball in the endzone 3 times.  They have now scored 59 points in 2 games after tallying just 159 points in 12 games last season.  On a positive note, their rush defense has been outstanding.  They held IU to just 105 yards rushing and through their first 2 games the Scarlet Knights now rank 4th NATIONALLY in rush defense allowing 78 YPG on 2.0 YPC.  That’s after allowing over 200 YPG on the ground last year.  We’ll find out how stout that rush defense really is this weekend @ Ohio State. 


OHIO STATE – OSU is off a big 38-25 win @ Penn State.  The Buckeyes picked up the cover as they were favored anywhere from 10 to 12.5 points for most of the week.  The total was 64.5 during the week and dropped to 63 a few hours before game time.  Those that played the UNDER early (us!) were rewarded with the win.  Amazingly, that win gave the Buckeyes a 34-3 SU record on the road since the start of the 2012 season!  The offense looked great as expected and now is averaging 508 YPG on nearly 7.0 YPP on the season.  QB Fields has a grand total of 7 incompletions in 2 games.  He has almost as many TD’s (6) as incompletions this year.  On defense OSU struggled a bit vs the run in their opener vs Nebraska.  Not here.  They shut down PSU’s rushing attack (just 44 yards rushing) but had problems with the Nittany Lions passing game.  They allowed 281 yards and 3 TD’s on over 9.0 yards per pass attempt.   


MOST RECENT MEEETING – Ohio State cruised past Rutgers last year 56-21 as a 51, yes 51 point road favorite.  The Bucks outgained Rutgers 598 to 231 but the Knights did pick up an easy cover as huge underdogs.

POINTSPREAD NUGGET – To say this has been a lopsided series would be an understatement.  Since joining the Big 10 in 2014, Rutgers is now 0-6 SU and 1-5 ATS vs Ohio State.  Average score in those 6 contests – OSU 54.5, Rutgers 8.  The Buckeyes have scored at least 49 points in all 6 of those games.

MICHIGAN STATE @ IOWA (OPEN -7 / CURRENT -7) – Saturday November 7

MICHIGAN STATE – Well that was quite the turnaround.  MSU was embarrassed at home by Rutgers in their opener and bounced back with a HUGE win @ Michigan last Saturday 27-24.  The Spartans were able to clean up their mistakes as they didn’t have a turnover after coughing it up 7 times vs Rutgers, had only 5 penalties, and didn’t allow a sack.  New head coach Mel Tucker with an impressive performance here as he had his team ready to go after a complete debacle the previous week.  The defense gave up plenty of yardage (452 yards) but they were able to limit Michigan’s scoring despite the Wolverines having some opportunities.  Michigan crossed midfield into MSU territory on 4 of their 5 second half drives but scored just 14 points.  The Spartans struggled to run the ball last year and they haven’t done anything to improve that as they are 13th in the Big 10 averaging 2.3 YPC.  However, QB Rocky Lombardi, who completed just 33% of his passes in limited action last year, has been very good.  This year he is completing 64% of his throws for 623 yards and 6 TD’s.


IOWA – Iowa blew a 17-0 first half lead last Saturday in their home loss to Northwestern.  The loss dropped the Hawkeyes to 0-2 on the season.  The offense was decent in the first half scoring 20 points on 191 total yards.  The 2nd half was a different story for Iowa’s offense as they were held scoreless on just 102 yards of offense.  They had 7 offensive possessions in the 2nd half and they went like this – punt, interception, punt, punt, interception, shut out on downs, and interception.  Now this struggling Iowa offense might take the field without their top WR Smith-Marsette who was arrested for OWI late Saturday night following the home loss.  Defensively the Hawks did their job as the limited Northwestern to 273 yards on 4.5 YPP and had 3 takeaways.  Northwestern ran the ball 60 times for just 2.4 YPC.  Iowa has to find a way to improve their offense as they’ve scored 4 TD’s in 2 games this year and 3 of those have come on drives of less than 50 yards.


MOST RECENT MEEETING – These 2 haven’t met since the 2017 season.  In that game MSU won 17-10 at home as a 3.5 point favorite.

POINTSPREAD NUGGET – This has definitely been a defensive series as of late with 7 of the last 8 meetings not topping 43 points.  Historically, Iowa has owned this series with a 20-10 ATS record since 1980.

MARYLAND @ PENN STATE (OPEN -24 / CURRENT -25) – Saturday November 7

MARYLAND – After scoring just 3 points in their season opener @ Northwestern, the Terps went up and down the field vs Minnesota on their way to a 45-44 OT win.  The game was tied 38-38 at the end of regulation with both teams scoring TD’s on their lone OT possession, however Minnesota missed their extra point.  It’s been a tale of two games for the Maryland offense to say the least.  Last week they looked like one of the best offenses in the Big 10 with 675 total yards and a ridiculous 10.2 YPP.  In week 1 they had 207 total yards on 4.1 YPP vs Northwestern.  Did they improve that drastically or is Minnesota’s defense that bad?  Early indications are the latter but we don’t want to take anything away from the Terps.  QB Tagvailoa was shaky in his first start but last week he looked a bit like his older brother with 394 yards passing and 64 yards rushing.  The Terps better find a way to improve their defense if they want to improve on last year’s 3-9 record.  They were dead last in the Big 10 and 109th nationally in total defense last season.  This year they are currently 13th in the conference and 95th in the country in total defense. 


PENN STATE – PSU lost at home to Ohio State by a final score of 38-25 last Saturday.  The Nittany Lions are now 0-2 to start Big 10 play for the first time since the 2010 season.  They couldn’t get anything going on the ground last week averaging only 1.6 YPC but QB Clifford was solid with 281 yards passing and 3 TD’s.  They were trailing 21-6 at half and had just 85 total yards at the break.  They looked much better in the 2nd half with 240 yards and 19 points.  If you’re looking for a silver lining on offense, it was WR Dotson who had a career high 144 yards receiving which included a number of highlight reel grabs.  The problem was on the other side of the ball where Penn State had no answer for OSU’s offense.  The Buckeyes had 526 total yards, only had to punt twice, and could have had more than 38 points as they missed 2 FG’s.  How does PSU respond after being all but eliminated from Big 10 East contention after just 2 weeks?  This will be an interesting handicap as the week progresses. 


MOST RECENT MEEETING – It was complete domination by PSU in last year’s meeting.  The Lions were 6.5 point road favorites and walloped the Terps 59-0 with 622 yards of total offense.  Maryland had just 60 yards rushing and 68 yards passing in that embarrassing loss.

POINTSPREAD NUGGET – These 2 teams have met 18 times since 1980.  PSU is 16-1-1 SU in those 18 meeting.  The Lions have covered 7 of the last 9 and in the last 3 meetings (2017, 2018, and 2019) they have outscored Maryland 163 to 6.

NEBRASKA @ NORTHWESTERN (OPEN -4 / CURRENT -3.5) – Saturday November 7

NEBRASKA – Nebraska received an unplanned bye week when Wisconsin had to cancel their game in Lincoln last week due to a COVID outbreak.  They come into their game @ Northwestern with an 0-1 record after losing @ Ohio State 52-17 to open the season.  After they found out that their game with Wisconsin was going to be cancelled, the Huskers went out and tried to schedule a non-conference game with UT Chattanooga for last Saturday but that was nixed by the Big 10 brass.  Nebraska may benefit from watching Northwestern and their new offense play 2 full games giving the Huskers a better idea on how to defend the Cats.  Nebraska has really struggled to stop the run the last 3 seasons and they allowed 215 yards on the ground in their opener vs OSU.  They better shore that up this weekend as the Wildcats love to run the ball this year.  The Huskers are healthy and they will have had 10 full practices to prepare for the Wildcats after taking Sunday & Tuesday of this week off.   


NORTHWESTERN – The Wildcats upset Iowa 21-20 as a short underdog last Saturday.  They fell down 17-0 early but rallied for the tight win.  The NW defense kept Iowa off the scoreboard entirely in the 2nd half after they were down 20-14 heading into the break.  We’ve mentioned in previous reports that new offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian’s system leans heavily on the run and that has proven to be the case so far this season.  In the first 2 games, Northwestern has run the ball 113 times for 468 yards as they lead the Big 10 at 234 YPG on the ground.  However, their YPC average is just 4.1 which ranks them 8th in the conference.  In Saturday’s win @ Iowa, they only rushed for 2.6 YPC.  They’ve been very efficient as they entered the red zone only 3 times last week @ Iowa but scored TD’s on all 3.  They’ve cashed in on all 8 red zone attempts this year with 6 TD’s and 2 field goals.  Defensively the Cats were just as effective as Iowa pushed inside the NW 35-yard line 6 times and only came away with 2 TD’s.  Northwestern is a bit depleted on the defensive line with 2 starters (Gold & Trent) out last week.  Even with that, they held Iowa to just 77 yards on the ground.    


MOST RECENT MEEETING – Last year the Huskers were favored by 7.5 at home and squeaked by with a 13-10 win.  Nebraska kicked a FG as time expired to pick up the win.

POINTSPREAD NUGGET – This has been a tight series with 7 of the last 9 being decided by a TD or less and 6 of those 7 by a FG or less.  Northwestern is 1-0 ATS as a favorite this year crushing Maryland in their season opener.   However, entering this season they were 1-6-1 ATS their previous 8 attempts as a favorite.  Road team is 6-0-1 ATS the last 7 in this Big 10 series.   

MINNESOTA (OPEN -7 / CURRENT -7) @ ILLINOIS – Saturday November 7

MINNESOTA – Well the first thing we’ll mention when it comes to the Gophers is their defense stinks.  Worse than we could have imagined.  We had this team a bit overvalued coming into the season because their offense is very good.  We missed on this team in week 1 taking them as a home dog vs Michigan but re-evaluated after that game on got that loss back by taking the Over in their 2nd game at Maryland.  We felt their defense would regress but not into one of the worst in college football.  Through 2 games the Gophers have allowed almost 1,200 yards (102nd in total defense out of 103) on an absolutely ridiculous 9.5 YPP (last in the NCAA).  They’ve faced 23 offensive possessions this year and allowed TD’s in more than half of those (12).  The Minnesota defense has forced a grand total of 2 punts in 2 games this season.  Last week they gave up 45 points to a Maryland offense that could only muster one field goal the previous week vs Northwestern.  Let’s also remember Minnesota finished 10th nationally in total defense last year so the regression is enormous thus far.  The offense is good.  Tanner Morgan is a proven QB, they have top notch WR, and a very good running game.  None of this matters unless they get the defense figured out quickly.   


ILLINOIS – The Illini are also 0-2 on the season after losing 31-24 at home vs Purdue last Saturday.  They had some players test positive for COVID late in the week after playing Wisconsin the previous week.  The QB position was hit hard as starter Brandon Peters tested positive and his back up Isaiah Williams had to sit out due to contact tracing.  That left 3rd string QB Robinson to start and then he was injured on their first possession and could not return.  Enter 4th string QB Coran Taylor who had not taken a meaningful snap since 2017 which was his senior year in HS.  Taylor had a decent game throwing for 243 yards but committed 4 turnovers by himself (2 interceptions & 2 fumbles) which led to 21 of Purdue’s 31 points.  The Illini were down 31-10 entering the 4th quarter, rallied to cut the lead to 7 and actually had the ball on the Purdue 15 yard line looking to tie the Boilers late in the game but were shut out on downs.  The Illini 472 total yards (outgained Purdue by 16 yards) and 177 on the ground (Purdue had 85).  The Illinois run defense has been very solid through 2 games but their pass defense has not.  They have forced 7 incompletions this season as opposing QB’s have completed 49 of 56 attempts for 619 yards and 7 TD’s.  They’ll have to shore that up quickly as they face a veteran QB this week who led the Big 10 in passing last season.


MOST RECENT MEEETING – The Gophers were favored by 2 TD’s at home last year and took are of the Illini 40-17.  Illinois did not score an offensive TD in the game as 14 of their 17 points came on defensive scores.  Minnesota led a tight game 16-10 at half and outscored Illinois 24-3 after the break.

POINTSPREAD NUGGET – Prior to last week’s home cover as a 9.5 point dog to Purdue, the Illini were just 16-27 ATS the last 43 times they’ve been a home underdog of less than 10 points dating back to the 2015 season.  The Gophers are 9-3-1 ATS as a road favorite following a SU loss the previous week dating back to 1986.