ASA’s BIG TEN REPORT – For Games Sept 14th
BIG TEN MATCH UPS & ODDS FOR THIS WEEKEND
Ohio State (-15.5 / 61) @ Indiana
Maryland (-7.5 / 64) @ Temple
Pittsburgh @ Penn State (-17 /54)
Eastern Michigan @ Illinois (-8 / 55)
Georgia Southern @ Minnesota (-16 / 46)
UNLV @ Northwestern (-19.5 / 55)
Iowa (-2.5 / 44.5) @ Iowa State
Arizona State @ Michigan State (-13.5 / 42.5)
TCU (-3 / 51) @ Purdue
Northern Illinois @ Nebraska (-14 /54.5)
OHIO STATE (-15.5) @ INDIANA
Ohio State ripped through a very solid Cincinnati team last week winning 42-0. The Buckeyes easily covered the 16.5 point spread and it was the first time since November of 2005 that Cincinnati didn’t score a single point. The Bucks were +18 first downs, +235 total yards and only punted 3 times the entire game. They put up nearly 5 YPC vs a Cincy defense that allowed only 3.5 YPC a year ago. Ohio State has gotten off to very fast starts in both of their games this season scoring 56 points on 651 yards in the first half alone. Two easy wins for the Buckeyes to start the season by a combined score of 87-21. OSU travels to Indiana on Saturday to open the Big Ten season.
Indiana is also 2-0 after topping Ball State by 10 points in their season opener and then crushing Eastern Illinois 52-0 last Saturday. The Hoosiers jumped out to a 35-0 halftime lead and held EIU to a negative 9 yards on their first 3 offensive possessions. For the game IU had 555 total yards while holding the Panthers to just 116. Head coach Tom Allen was able to rest a number of his key players which gave his backups some experience. They had 6 players score the first TD of their careers in the win. Because of the huge lead, starting QB Michael Penix (who may not play in this game due to an injury) gave way to back up and last year’s starter Peyton Ramsey late in the 2nd quarter. The two QB’s combined for 441 passing yards and 4 TD’s. They had only 7 incompletions between them. However, the running game is a major question mark at this point. They have put up only 214 total rushing yards on 74 carries this year (2.9 YPC) vs inferior competition. After facing a MAC team and an FCS team, the level of competition gets exponentially tougher with the Buckeyes coming to town this weekend.
INSIDE THE BIG TEN NUMBERS – This spread opened OSU -14 on Sunday and quickly shot up to -15.5. Since 1980 the Hoosiers are just 2-32-1 SU vs the Buckeyes. However they have been the money team in this series as of late covering 7 of the last 8 meetings. However, this is the lowest spread in this series since 2004 when the Bucks were favored by -13.
PITTSBURGH @ PENN STATE (-17)
After rolling over Idaho 79-7 to open the year PSU picked up another cover last week topping Buffalo 45-13 as 31-point favorites. It looked like the Bulls would get the cover trailing 38-13 late in the game. However, PSU kept their starters in the game and starting QB Clifford threw a 56-yard TD pass with 3:00 minutes remaining to get the cover and 32-point win. Buffalo actually led the game 10-7 at half but the Lions came out in the 2nd half and scored on every possession but one. They also had a pick 6 which all led to the blowout. A look at the overall stats tells a completely different story. Buffalo was +8 first downs, +72 total yards, +106 yards rushing, and +25 minutes in time of possession. The Bulls ran a whopping 92 plays to just 46 for Penn State and still lost by 32 points! The running game, or lack thereof, was bit of a concern for the Nittany Lions. After rushing for 331 yards vs a non-existent Idaho defense, they had only 78 yards rushing last week. Their 3 RB’s (Brown, Slade, Cain, and Ford) combined for just 39 yards and their leading rusher was QB Clifford. This Saturday they are at home for the 3rd straight week to take on in-state rival Pitt. The Panthers dominated Ohio at home last week more than the 20-10 final score would indicate outgaining the Bobcats by 260 yards. PSU has won the last 2 meetings by a combined score of 84-20.
MARYLAND (-7) @ TEMPLE
The Maryland offense has taken college football by storm. The Terps and new head coach Mike Locksley were flying under the radar coming into the season with very little talk or hype surrounding them. After their 63-20 destruction of Syracuse last Saturday, the Terps have now scored 142 points on 1,273 yards in just two games! Locksley’s up tempo offense has run an average of 81 plays per game which has stressed run heavy scheme with 93 rush attempts and 68 pass attempts on the season. QB Josh Jackson, a Virginia Tech transfer, gives the Terps a passing threat with 296 yards in their win over the Cuse. The Orange defense simply couldn’t get off the field with Maryland converting on 11 of their 15 third down plays. For the season they are now 17 of 28 on third down which is a remarkable conversion rate. The Terrapins scored TD’s on 6 of their 7 first half possessions last Saturday in route to 42 first half points. We have no feel thus far for the Maryland defense as the Terps have gotten out to such big leads the stop unit has really had no pressure on them to perform. They did give up 400 yards to Syracuse last week but when the offense can go for 600+ the defense can simply go through the motions. The line move on this game was dead on as Syracuse opened as a 2.5 point favorite and the number swung to Maryland favored by 2.5. This week they take the road for the first time this season traveling to Philadelphia to take on Temple. The Owls beat Bucknell 56-12 two weeks ago and had a bye last week to try and get ready to stop this offense. Temple beat Maryland on the road last year 35-14 as a 15.5 point underdog.
UNLV @ NORTHWESTERN (-19.5)
The Cats come into this one off a bye after losing 17-7 in week one @ Stanford. Their offense better be much more productive moving forward if they expect to make it to a bowl game this year. In their game vs the Cardinal, the Wildcats tallied barely over 200 yards, their QB’s completed less than 45% of their passes, and they averaged 2.1 YPC on the ground. That simply won’t get it done. Sure the Stanford defense looked very good but their performance last week has us questioning what we saw from them vs the Wildcats. After completely shutting down Northwestern in week one, Stanford’s defense was shredded for almost 500 yards and allowed 45 points last week vs USC. The Northwestern offense will be led this Saturday by QB Hunter Johnson, a former 5-star recruit and transfer from Clemson. He struggled mightily @ Stanford but split time with TJ Green who is now out for the season after injuring his foot in week one. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald took advantage of the bye giving his team a full 4 days off (Sunday – Wednesday) before returning to practice last Thursday. They had some other injuries in their loss @ Stanford, including starting RB Bowser, but with the time off they should be healthy with the exception of Green. UNLV comes to Evanston with a 1-1 record beating FCS Southern Utah 56-23 before losing last week 43-17 to Arkansas State. Both games were played in Las Vegas. Northwestern is laying a big number here (-19.5) and they struggled in this spot last year going 0-2 ATS when favored by 19 or more not coming close to covering in either (wins by 3 & 5 points).
IOWA (-2.5) @ IOWA STATE
Iowa travels across the state to Ames on Saturday to try and keep the Cy-Hawk Trophy in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes have won 4 straight in this series including last year’s 13-3 win at home. Iowa’s defense was fantastic in last year’s match up holding Iowa State to just 188 total yards and only 15 on the ground. Even with that, the game was close throughout with the Hawkeyes leading 6-3 until scoring late in the 4th quarter (4:47 remaining) to grab the 10-point lead and the win. Last week Iowa picked up a conference win as they shut out Rutgers 30-0 as 20-point favorites. Defense was the name of the game again as Iowa held Rutgers to just 125 total yards on 49 offensive snaps (2.5 YPP). The Knights only entered Iowa territory twice the entire game and did not get inside the Hawkeye 42-yard line on any of their 13 offensive possessions. Only two of those possessions resulted in more than 21 yards. Iowa was +18 first downs, +313 yards, and +15:00 minutes time of possession. They are now 2-0 outscoring their 2 opponents 68-14. Iowa State had a scare two weeks ago beating Northern Iowa in OT. It was a game ISU dominated the stats outgaining UNI by 200 yards. Despite that they trailed 13-10 with under 1:00 minute remaining in regulation but they were able to tie the game and get the win in OT. Iowa State does have an advantage here of having a bye entering this one. Iowa has been a road favorite 17 times in this series and they are 13-4 SU / 12-5 ATS in those meetings.
ARIZONA STATE @ MICHIGAN STATE (-13.5)
After struggling offensively in their season opening win vs Tulsa, the Spartans looked much better on that side of the ball last week. They put up nearly 600 total yards in their 51-17 win over Western Michigan covering as a 16-point favorite. After scoring only 2 offensive TD’s vs Tulsa, they put up 6 touchdowns last week. Sparty’s much maligned senior QB Brian Lewerke looked much better last week completing 72% of his passes after only 56% in their first game. He also threw for 314 yards after just 192 against Tulsa. We’ve said it before that if they can get some decent production out of the offense, this team will be very tough to beat. The defense is one of the best in the nation. They led the country in rush defense last year and this season they have allowed a negative 8 yards on the ground through 2 games. So you better be able to pass on MSU because running successfully might not be an option. ASU brings a 2-0 record and a true freshman QB to East Lansing on Saturday. Jayden Daniels has thrown for almost 600 yards in his first two games, however those were against Kent & Sacramento State, and both games were at home. Daniels will need to be on his game here as ASU has struggled to run the ball against those two inferior defenses gaining only 262 yards on the season on 85 carries (3.0 YPC). The Sun Devil offensive line has also struggled to protect the mobile Daniels as two weeks ago Kent had 5 sacks and 7 tackles for loss and last week FCS Sacramento State had 1 sack and 9 TFL’s. These two met last year in Tempe and MSU went off as a -5.5 point favorite. ASU won the game 16-13 but the Spartans outgained them by 50 yards and held the Devils to 63 yards rushing on 27 carries. MSU led 13-3 entering the 4th quarter and ASU scored the game’s final 13 points for the win.
TCU (-3) @ PURDUE
There has been a big line move already on this game as Purdue opened -2.5 and now TCU is a 3-point favorite. That could be due to the fact that Boiler starting QB Sindelar has been diagnosed with a concussion and may not play here. If he is unable to go here, the starting QB will be Jack Plummer, a true freshman who has never taken a collegiate snap. Speaking of Sindelar, Purdue can ill afford to lose him. We were on the Boilers last week (a win) and he played an outstanding game with over 500 yards passing, 5 TD passes, and a rushing TD as well. They beat Vanderbilt 42-24 picking up the easy cover as 7-point favorites. It was definitely a game Purdue had to have after blowing a 17-point 3rd quarter lead a week before in a 34-31 loss @ Nevada. Sindelar put the ball in the air 52 times while the Boilermakers ran the ball just 18 times. That’s become a trend for PU through the first 2 games as they’ve attempted 104 passes and only 47 rush attempts. They have only 127 yards rushing on the season – last in the Big Ten. Head coach Jeff Brohm would like more balance but said the passing game is the strength of their offense this season. To reiterate that point, on their 6 scoring drives vs Vanderbilt last Saturday, they ran the ball only 6 times. Will that be a problem with a potential inexperienced QB under center on Saturday? After beating Arkansas Pine Bluff 39-7 two weeks ago, TCU comes to West Lafayette off a bye. The TCU defense led the Big 12 in pass defense last year allowing only 208 YPG in conference play. Could be a tough match up for Purdue on Saturday depending on the status of Sindelar.
NORTHERN ILLINOIS @ NEBRASKA (-14.5)
Oh Nebraska. We were on the Huskers (-4) @ Colorado last week and all looked well at halftime with Nebraska up 17-0 and dominating the stat sheet. We were hearing that head coach Scott Frost was furious with his team’s offensive performance a week earlier vs South Alabama and we felt they’d play really well in their revenge game @ CU. They did for 40 minutes. However for the last 20 minutes, the defense was terrible and the Buffs were able to come back and pick up a 34-31 win in OT. With 4:00 remaining in the 3rd quarter, the Husker defense had allowed only 118 total yards. From that point on, Colorado picked them apart for almost 350 yards scoring 24 points in the 4th quarter alone! After not allowing a pass of more than 15 yards or a run of more than 10 yards during the first 40 minutes of the game, Nebraska’s defense allowed eight such plays over the last 20 minutes. Kicker Barret Pickering has been unable to go this year with a hip injury and his status is still up in the air. That turned out to be a key in last week’s loss as backup kicker Isaac Armstrong (also the punter) missed a FG in OT which would have tied the game. This week they come back to Lincoln to host Northern Illinois. The Huskies played @ Utah last weekend so they must travel for the 2nd straight Saturday. They battled toe to toe with the Utes for half trailing just 21-17 at the break before losing 35-17. These two last played in 2017 when Northern Illinois came to Lincoln as an 11 point underdog and walked away with a 21-17 upset.
EASTERN MICHIGAN @ ILLINOIS (-8)
After an easy win at home vs Akron in the season opener, the Illini were pegged as a rare double digit road favorite last week @ UConn. They haven’t been in that role since (double digit road chalk) since 2011 and they struggled. They did pick up the 31-23 win but came nowhere close to covering the 18-point spread. In fact, the Illini had to battle back from 13 points down to pick up their first non-conference road win since 2007. The Huskies are projected to be one of the worst teams in college football and their loss on Saturday made it 17 straight setbacks vs FBS opponents. The Illini were without their top two RB’s and it showed in their results. They averaged just 3.7 YPC vs a UConn defense that allowed FCS Wagner to rush for almost 5.0 YPC a week earlier & allowed nearly 8.0 YPC a year ago. RB Mike Epstein is out for the year after injuring his knee in week one and Reggie Corbin was a late scratch here with an injury. Speaking of rush defense, the Illini have been simply fantastic in that category through 2 games. They have allowed just 74 rushing yards this season on 67 carries for barely 1.0 YPC. That success vs the run looks like it will carry over into their game this week as they host an Eastern Michigan team that has run for just 142 yards on 57 carries (2.5 YPC) in their 2 games this year. The Illini definitely look improved however let’s keep in mind their 2 wins this far have come against teams that we have ranked 115th or lower out of 130 teams. Their opponent this week is EMU sits a bit higher in our power rankings but not much. We’ll find out more about Illinois when they host Nebraska the following week.
GEORGIA SOUTHERN @ MINNESOTA (-16)
Minnesota (-3) moved to 2-0 with a double OT 38-35 win (pushed the number) last Saturday @ Fresno State. The Gophs trailed in the 4th quarter of both games and rallied late to get the wins. In this one, Fresno was up 28-21 with just 52 seconds remaining in the game and it looked like Minnesota was going to come back to the Midwest with a loss. They faced a 4th and 13 from the Fresno 20-yard line and QB Tanner Morgan completed a pass in the corner of the endzone to WR Chris Autman-Bell who barely kept his foot in bounds. That play sent the game to OT where Minnesota pulled out the 3-point win. The Gophers have found a way to start the season with 2 wins but they could easily be 0-2. They were outgained on a yards per play basis in both games this year vs South Dakota State & Fresno. This week they host Georgia Southern and they better have their run defense ready to perform. GSU runs the ball as much as any team in the country. They run the option which can be very tough defend with only one week to prepare. The Eagles put up almost 400 yards rushing last week in their win over Maine after struggling for just 74 yards on the ground in their opening blowout loss @ LSU. They have completed only 8 passes this year. After struggling to slow down South Dakota State’s running game (allowed 5.1 YPC) the Gopher defense did a much better job last week limiting Fresno to just 2.1 YPC. After this one Minnesota has a bye before opening the Big Ten season @ Purdue on September 28th.