IOWA (-3 OPEN to -3.5 CURRENT) @ MINNESOTA – Friday, November 13
IOWA – The Hawkeyes were in a must win spot at home last week vs Michigan State after starting the season 2-0. They came out like a desperate team jumping all over MSU on their way to a convincing 49-7 win. Iowa pretty much put the game away in the first half leading 35-0 at the break. They led 21-0 with under 2:00 minutes to go until halftime and in a 27 second span they scored on a punt return and interception return to get to 35 points and basically put the Spartans out of their misery. They dominated the stat sheet especially on the ground where Iowa put up 226 yards to just 59 for Sparty. Despite their 1-2 record, Iowa has now outgained all 3 opponents (+1.1 YPP differential) and led each game in the 4th quarter. After getting away from their normally balanced attack 2 weeks ago vs Northwestern (50 passes & 23 runs) the Hawkeye offense ran 41 times with 29 pass attempts last week which is more their preference. Top WR Smith-Marsette was suspended last week but all indications are he’ll play on Friday.
IOWA NEXT UP – @ Penn State
MINNESOTA – Minnesota also picked up their first win of the season topping Illinois 41-14 on the road. The defense, which ranks last in the Big 10, was able to hold the Illini to just 287 total yards. Even with that performance, the Gopher defense is allowing a ridiculous 8.2 YPP which ranks them right at the bottom of the NCAA. After allowing 85 points in their first 2 games, Minny allowed only 2 TD’s but they were playing against an Illinois team that is down to their 4th string QB. The Illini pass defense had been particularly bad the first 2 weeks but Minnesota took advantage of them on the ground in this one with 325 yards rushing on almost 7.0 YPC. We felt QB Tanner Morgan would have a chance to light up a poor Illinois secondary but he was just OK. Through 3 games Morgan, last year’s conference passing leader, is completing just 61% of his passes (down from 66%) and averaging 50 fewer YPG through the air.
MINNESOTA NEXT UP – Home vs Purdue
MOST RECENT MEETING – Last year Iowa was favored by a FG at home and picked up a tight cover 23-19. Minnesota was a perfect 9-0 entering that game a year ago. The Gophs dominated the stat sheet despite the loss outgaining Iowa 431 to 290.
POINTSPREAD NUGGET – Iowa is 18-8-1 ATS the last 27 games in this Big 10 rivalry. Most of that success vs Minnesota came before 2006. More recently Iowa is just 6-7-1 ATS the last 14 meetings. Minnesota has been a home dog in this series 6 of the last 7 times they’ve faced off in Minneapolis.
OHIO STATE (-25.5 OPEN to -25.5 CURRENT) @ MARYLAND – Saturday, November 14
THIS GAME HAS BEEN CANCELLED
OHIO STATE – The Buckeyes were a huge 37.5 point favorite last week vs Rutgers and at half it looked like they might cruise to an easy won and cover. OSU led 35-3 at the break scoring TD’s on 5 of their 6 possessions. At halftime the Buckeyes had 357 total yards and held Rutgers to just 90. The Knights actually outscored OSU 24-14 in the 2nd half and would up with an easy cover losing 49-27. Head coach Ryan Day admitted the performance felt “flat” after the game and who could blame them with a 32 points halftime lead vs a team they had beaten by an average margin of 46 points. It was another great performance by QB Fields who only had 4 incompletions in the game and now has just 11 incompletions the entire year. Since he transferred to OSU for Georgia, Fields has thrown 52 TD’s and just 3 interceptions. The offense was balanced and the RB’s were much better this week averaging over 6.0 YPC. The defense held Rutgers to just 3.2 YPP in the first half but the 2nd half wasn’t great as the Knights were able to score 3 TD’s and almost a 4th had they not fumbled on the OSU 2-yard line late in the game.
OHIO STATE NEXT UP – Home vs Indiana
MARYLAND – Well the Terps look like a completely different team over the last 2 weeks. Since scoring 3 points and getting rolled by 40 points @ Northwestern in the opener, the Terps have scored 80 points in their last 2 games and upset Penn State on the road last week as a 25-point underdog. That’s the 2nd 20-point Big 10 underdog that has won outright this year (MSU beat Michigan in week 2). The Nittany Lions came into the game having outscored Maryland 163-6 in their last 3 meetings but couldn’t keep up here with the Terps winning 35-19. Maryland had over 400 yards of total offense and they were an extremely efficient 9 of 16 on third down. QB Tagovailoa continued his red hot play. After a poor first game, he has completed 44 of his 61 attempts for 676 yards and 6 TD’s in his last 2 games! The defense continues to be a concern as they allowed PSU to put up 434 total yards. Holding the Nittany Lions to 19 points was a bit deceiving as PSU had 3 turnovers, missed a FG, and were shut out on downs twice in Maryland territory.
MARYLAND NEXT UP – Home vs Michigan State
MOST RECENT MEETING – OSU was a 42.5 point favorite at home last year and actually covered easily with a 73-14 win. The Buckeyes had 705 total yards and held Maryland to 139. Ohio State almost had the spread covered at halftime as they led 42-0.
POINTSPREAD NUGGET – This has been a high scoring series with all 6 meetings going OVER the total. The average total points scored in this series is 80.5. This total opened 70.5 and as of this writing has risen to 73. The highest total in this series prior to this year was 66 last season.
INDIANA (-9 OPEN to -7.5 CURRENT) @ MICHIGAN STATE – Saturday, November 14
INDIANA – We weren’t quite sure if we were convinced the Hoosiers were as good as they were being made out to be. They entered last week’s home game vs Michigan with a 2-0 record but their wins weren’t overly impressive. They beat PSU in OT but were thoroughly outplayed on the stat sheet and then beat Rutgers. Last week’s 38-21 win over Michigan was their most impressive win to date. They outgained the Wolverines by over 100 yards and they held Michigan to 13 yards rushing on 18 carries. It was just the 2nd win for IU in their last 33 meetings with the Wolverines. They ran a whopping 88 offensive plays to just 52 for Michigan. Thus you can expect they completely controlled the time of possession and they did 39:00 to 21:00. Almost half of the Hoosiers offensive possessions (5 of 12) lasted at least 10 plays. QB Penix put the ball in the air 50 times completing 30. His 50 attempts were the most in his career as he entered the game averaging only 24 in his 11 previous appearances. Coach Allen called it a monumental win for IU so they need to be a little careful they don’t dwell on that win too long or their game @ MSU could be very interesting.
INDIANA NEXT UP – @ Ohio State
MICHIGAN STATE – Michigan State was in a very similar spot last week to what Indiana will experience this week. Playing a road game after a huge win. The Spartans upset Michigan the prior Saturday at 24.5 point underdogs and then fell flat on their face @ Iowa last Saturday losing 49-7. The teams each ran 70 plays from scrimmage with Iowa outgaining MSU by 1.7 YPP. Sparty’s offense didn’t cross midfield until 5:30 remaining in the half and at that point they already trailed 21-0. They had just as many punts (10) as first downs (10). QB Lombardi was a surprise leading into this game completing 64% of his passes with 6 TD’s. It fell apart for him in this contest as he had more incompletions (20) than completions (17) and threw 3 interceptions. Iowa scored 2 non-offensive TD’s on a pick 6 and a punt return all with under 3:00 minutes remaining in the first half which officially put the game away. MSU’s new 4-2-5 defense was unable to slow down Iowa’s power running game with the Hawks tallying 225 yards and 4 TD’s on the ground. Just a game to throw away all together for Michigan State.
MICHIGAN STATE NEXT UP – @ Maryland
MOST RECENT MEETING – Last year MSU was a 14-point home favorite and won 41-30 but failed to cover. It was a crazy ending as the game was tied with under 10 seconds remaining and MSU won by 9. A Spartan FG with 5 seconds left and then an IU fumble that was returned for an MSU TD with no time left is how that played out.
POINTSPREAD NUGGET – This line was MSU -14 at home last year so the point spread has swung a full 3 TD’s in the span of one year with IU favored by 7.5 here. The Hoosiers have been a road favorite of 7 or more vs a conference opponent just 5 times since 2000. They are 1-4 ATS in those games.
NORTHWESTERN (-1 OPEN to -3 CURRENT) @ PURDUE – Saturday, November 14
NORTHWESTERN – The Wildcats sit on top of the Big 10 West standings with a perfect 3-0 record after topping Nebraska 21-13 last Saturday. The Cats were able to get the win despite the Huskers running 22 more offensive plays and outgaining NW 442 to 317. The game ended with Nebraska getting shut out on downs at the Northwestern 20-yard line looking for the potential game tying TD. The Cats have trailed at halftime in each of their last 2 games and rallied to win after the break. QB Ramsey had his worst game of the season completing only 59% of his passes with 2 interceptions, one which led to a 3-yard TD drive for Nebraska. NW continues to be very efficient on offense as they reached the red zone twice in this game and scored TD’s on both. They have now pushed into the red zone 11 times this season scoring points on 10 of those possessions including 8 touchdowns. It’s not just the offense that has been efficient, the defense is pulling their weight as well. They have allowed just 3 TD’s in 11 opponent red zone possessions this season. While the Husker offense moved the ball well on Saturday, they were held to just 34 yards per point by the Northwestern defense. They are now 6th nationally allowing their opponents 26 yards per point.
NORTHWESTERN NEXT UP – Home vs Wisconsin
PURDUE – The Boilers had an unintended bye last Saturday when their game @ Wisconsin was cancelled. They enter this contest with a 2-0 record after beating Iowa & Illinois by a combined 11 points. Purdue has been outgained in each of their first 2 games by a combined 932 to 842. Their opponent this week, Northwestern, sits just above them in the Big 10 West standings with a 3-0 mark. One key player on each side of the ball could be out for Purdue this week. Their top defensive player, DE George Karlaftis, who led the team in sacks last season may miss due to an injury. On offense, their top playmaker WR Rondale Moore has yet to play this season and nobody really knows why. The coaches have kept the reasoning under wraps and when asked every week they simply say they hope he can return soon. Moore did opt out in the summer to get ready for the NFL draft but has since opted back in. Purdue has been and continues to be a pass heavy team with 653 of their 842 yards this year coming through the air. QB O’Connell, who was a part time starter last season, has been solid completing over 70% of his passes this season after 62% last year.
PURDUE NEXT UP – @ Minnesota
MOST RECENT MEETING – Northwestern was favored by 1 point at home last year and Purdue pulled the slight upset winning 24-22. The Wildcats did outgain the Boilers by 90 yards but Purdue was able to kick a FG with 3 seconds remaining to get the win.
POINTSPREAD NUGGET – Prior to last year’s Purdue win, the Wildcats had won 7 of the previous 8 meetings SU (6-2 ATS). Northwestern is 2-0 ATS this season as a favorite, however entering this year they were just 14-22-1 their last 37 games when laying points.
ILLINOIS @ RUTGERS (-6 OPEN to -5 CURRENT) – Saturday, November 14
ILLINOIS – How bad was it for the Illini in last week’s 41-14 home loss to Minnesota? Well at one point they had to punt on 4th and goal if that’s any indication. You read that correctly. Illinois pushed down to the Gopher 10-yard line where they had a 1st and goal situation. After no gain, a 15 yard personal foul penalty and a huge loss taken by QB Taylor then ended up punting from their own 48-yard line on 4th and goal. The offense was bad. No other way to say it. They scored just 14 points vs a Minnesota defense that was allowing 47 PPG coming into the game. The Illini mustered only 287 total yards vs a Gopher defense that was allowing 576 YPG entering last Saturday. They were playing once again with their 4th string QB Taylor so we’ll cut them some slack. The defense wasn’t any better. Prior to the Minnesota game they had forced only 7 incomplete passes in their first 2 games. So we knew their pass defense was poor. Well their run defense isn’t all the great either as they allowed the Gophers to rush for 325 yards on almost 7 YPC. Head coach Lovie Smith is also the defensive coordinator so no one to blame there but himself.
ILLINOIS NEXT UP – @ Nebraska
RUTGERS – The Scarlet Knights showed some fight last week. We were impressed by that. New head coach Greg Schiano seems to have his team headed in the right direction with a never quit attitude. They were down big at half last 35-3 to Ohio State but came out in the 2nd half and actually outscored the Buckeyes by 10 points. Schiano’s offense ran a number of gadget, trick plays in the 2nd half many of which were successful. They racked up over 300 yards and 17 points after halftime on a very good OSU defense. One of their 2nd half TD’s was a blocked punt returned for a TD which gave them 24 after half. They almost cut the lead to just 15 points late in the game (OSU was a 37.5 point favorite) but they were shut out on downs making the final score 49-27. While the offense didn’t quit in the wake of a huge deficit, neither did the defense. They allowed only 177 yards in the 2nd half to a very potent Buckeye offense. Of course Ohio St went much more conservative in the final 30 minutes which helped. The Knights are now 1-2 with losses to Indiana & Ohio State, two of the best teams in the Big 10. The oddsmakers have also taken notice as Rutgers, who has a 1-34 record their last 35 games opened as a 6-point favorite this week.
RUTGERS NEXT UP – Home vs Michigan
MOST RECENT MEETING – Illinois was favored by 18.5 at home last year and won the game 38-10. The Illini scored 2 defensive TD’s in the 2nd half and the two teams combined to complete just 11 passes on the game.
POINTSPREAD NUGGET – Rutgers is favored? What? The Knights have been favored in conference play just 3 times since they joined the Big 10 in 2014 (1-2 ATS). The last time they were favored in Big 10 play was 2015. With that said, the favorite is 5-0 ATS in this series.
PENN STATE (-3.5 OPEN to -3 CURRENT) @ NEBRASKA – Saturday, November 14
PENN STATE – The Nittany Lions are 0-3. Not only are the Lions 0-3 SU but they are also 0-3 ATS falling to the number by 54 points so far this season. We felt they may come out flat last week vs Maryland after losing their first 2 games, including the previous week to OSU, which took them out of the Big 10 East race just a few weeks into the season. That’s what happened as PSU was upset 35-19 as a 27.5 point favorite vs Maryland. Penn State actually outgained Maryland by 29 yards but that’s extremely minimal considering they ran a ridiculous 93 offensive snaps to just 61 for the Terps. That means Maryland dominated on a YPP basis 6.6 to 4.6. Hard to believe PSU ran 32 more offensive plays and STILL lost by 16 points. The running game looks like it’s in serious trouble. QB Clifford has been their leading rusher in 2 of their 3 games and their RB’s have carried the ball just 63 times this season for 238 yards (3.7 YPC). Over the last 2 games the RB’s have just 28 total carries for 105 yards. PSU did lose top RB Brown before the season started which definitely set them back. Because the running game has been poor, Clifford’s is averaging 40 pass attempts per game this season after just 26 a year ago. His completion percentage is down (56%) and his interceptions are up with 5 this year in 3 games after only 7 last season in 12 games. It looks like back up Will Levis will get some snaps here. It will be very interesting to see how the Lions respond after an embarrassing loss. Do the bounce back and play well or at 0-3 are they flat again as their season is spiraling downward?
PENN STATE UP NEXT – Home vs Iowa
NEBRASKA – The Huskers step into this game with an 0-2 record but it looks to us like they at least might be trending in the right direction. One of their losses was to OSU which was fully expected to be a blowout and it was. Last week they faced an undefeated Northwestern team and actually outplayed the Cats on the road despite the 21-13 loss. The Huskers were +14 first downs and outgained the Wildcats both in overall yardage and on a YPP basis. The problem with Nebraska has been poor offensive efficiency. They crossed midfield on 9 of their offensive possessions last week and scored only 13 points. For the season, they have been in the redzone 9 times in just 2 games and they’ve scored only 3 TD’s. Thus why they are currently last in the Big 10 averaging 15 PPG despite averaging over 400 YPG on offense. Four of their possessions last week ended in a missed FG, an interception at the NW 4-yard line, an interception at the NW 25-yard line, and shut out on downs at the NW 14-yard line. Defensively their biggest concern the last few years was their inability to stop the run. That looks to have improved as well. In their 2 games thus far they’ve held a potent OSU running game to 4.5 YPC and Northwestern to 3.9 YPC.
NEBRASKA NEXT UP – Home vs Illinois
MOST RECENT MEETING – These 2 haven’t met since the 2017 season. PSU was a huge 27 point favorite at home in that game and escaped with a fairly close 56-44 win. Nebraska was down 42-10 at half in that game and battled back to get the easy cover.
POINTSPREAD NUGGET – Since joining the Big 10 the Huskers have won 3 of their 4 meetings with PSU outright (2-0-2 ATS). If you’re thinking about a money line play on the Huskers, just know that they have pulled very few upsets as an underdog. In fact, the last 23 times they’ve been an underdog, they have won just ONE of those games outright (1-22 SU)
WISCONSIN (-1 OPEN to -4 CURRENT) @ MICHIGAN – Saturday, November 14
WISCONSIN – It looks like the Badgers will finally get back on the field after missing 2 consecutive games due to a COVID outbreak within the program. As of earlier this week, they are down to just 5 active cases on the team / coaching staff. This line opened Wisconsin -1 and has jumped to -4. Hard to know exactly who is out for the Badgers as they’ve been very tight lipped on that, however when the depth chart came out on Tuesday of this week, it looked the same as it did when they entered their game vs Illinois 3 weeks ago. Thus the line move. We know QB Mertz is back and eligible to play and has been practicing this week. Speaking of practice, Wisconsin got together for some conditioning last weekend and practiced full go on Monday. That was the first time they’ve had a regular practice since their 45-7 win over Illinois back on October 23rd. How do they react with a full 18 days between games and very little practice time? Hard to judge this one in our opinion.
WISCONSIN NEXT UP – @ Northwestern
MICHIGAN – We felt the Wolverines would bounce back with a big game @ Indiana last week after getting upset by MSU the prior Saturday. Well we were dead wrong. Indiana played their best game of the season in our opinion. The Hoosiers dominated the time of possession partly because they ran 36 more offensive snaps. Michigan fell behind 24-7 at half and their running game was non-existent putting up 13 yards on 18 carries. QB Milton is still inexperienced and doesn’t look like he’s ready to be put in a position to carry the team if the running game isn’t working. Defensively they’ve been decent vs the run but torched through the air. The only Big 10 team that has allowed more YPG passing than the Wolverines is Rutgers. They have 2 new starters at corner which haven’t been getting the job done. Each of the last 2 QB’s they’ve faced, Penix for Indiana & Lombardi for MSU, have thrown for career high vs this secondary – both well over 300 yards. They are not accustomed to this at Michigan. In fact, the Wolverine defense has finished in the top 10 nationally in pass defense in each of the last 5 seasons ranking #1 in 2 of those years. They will also be missing their top DE Hutchinson who is now lost for the season after an injury in last week’s game. Michigan is backed into a corner. This is a do or die spot for them but maybe they just aren’t very good this season. Saturday will tell us a lot.
MICHIGAN NEXT UP – @ Rutgers
MOST RECENT MEETING – Wisconsin was just a 3-point favorite at home vs Michigan last year and dominated the game 35-14 outgaining the Cats by almost 200 yards. The Badgers led 35-0 before Michigan scored the final 2 TD’s of the game.
POINTSPREAD NUGGET – Wisconsin has been the money maker in this series with a 13-4-1 ATS record the last 18 meetings. The home team in this series has won 10 of the last 11 SU which is significant as Wisconsin is the road favorite here. This is just the third time since 1980 that Wisconsin has been a road favorite @ Michigan (14 meetings)