Week 10 of the college football season is in the books, and the result that has most people taking notice is the beatdown Iowa suffered at the hands of Penn State. The No.12 Nittany Lions were able to impose their will early and often against a Hawkeyes team that struggled mightily to move the ball. They were outgained 599-234 and could rack up only 30 rushing yards. As usual, the Nittany Lions were led by running back Saquon Barkley. Barkley rushed for 167 yards and one touchdown on just 20 carries. With that win, the Nittany Lions jumped up two spots in the rankings and check in at No.10 this week. If they can keep winning the way they are, they will be almost assured a Top-Six Bowl Game in December.
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Two other Big Ten teams also rose in the rankings. Wisconsin's victory over Northwestern bumped them up to No.7 from No.8, and Ohio State's drubbing of Nebraska has the Buckeyes at No.5 this week (No.6 last week). The rest of the Big Ten results went as expected with Michigan leading the way courtesy a 59-3 win over Maryland. Minnesota got by Purdue by a 44-31 score, while Illinois and Indiana beat Michigan State and Rutgers, respectively. From a betting perspective, favorites went 4-3 ATS, and the "over" hit in five of seven games.
Week 11 in the Big Ten features all 14 teams in action and includes two very crucial games that could determine the West Division champion. This division was shaping up to be a two-horse race between Nebraska and Wisconsin, but now we can add a third horse. The Minnesota Golden Gophers have won four straight games to get themselves tied for first with a record of 4-2. The Golden Gophers (+7) take on Nebraska in what is essentially an elimination game from Big Ten Title contention. The other horse in that race, Wisconsin, takes on Illinois and are huge 26-point favorites. The two top teams in the conference have road dates against much inferior opponents. No.5 Ohio State (-28.5) is in Maryland to take on the Terrapins while No.3 Michigan (-21.5) is in Iowa to take on the Hawkeyes. The rest of the slate goes as follows: Rutgers at Michigan State (-14) and No.10 Penn State (-7) at Indiana.
Moving forward on a weekly basis I will be breaking down the weekly Big Ten slate. I will share with you my Game of the Week, teams trending up and down, key player matchup, best value line and the top underdog to watch just to name a few. Let's get to it.
*All lines courtesy of Bovada*
Key Player Matchup of the Week
Minnesota's Rushing Attack vs. Nebraska's Run Defense
If the Golden Gophers can find a way to win this game, they will look back on this game as one of the defining moments in their season and more so over the last decade. They have the opportunity to put themselves in first place in the West Division and move one step closer to the Big Ten title game. They are going up against an opponent that is ripe for the picking, and Nebraska plays right into their strengths.
The Golden Gophers rely on their run game to win them football games. They rely heavily upon sophomore running back Rodney Smith, who leads the conference with 13 rushing touchdowns and has topped 100 yards in every game during the winning streak, finding the end zone eight times over that stretch. As a team, they have rushed for 878 yards during their four-game winning streak and figure to be in for a big day going up against a beat-up Cornhuskers team.
The Cornhuskers are coming off an ass-kicking courtesy of Ohio State. They were beat in every aspect of the game, and their College Football Playoff dreams are done and dusted. We all saw how Ohio State was able to run the ball with ease on a defensive unit that gives up over five yards per attempt and 370 total yards per game. I understand that the Buckeyes have more talent than the Golden Gophers do, but every team watches video and use the knowledge they gain to exploit their opponents' weaknesses.
I can guarantee you that the Golden Gophers spent extra time watching what kind of run plays the Buckeyes called, how they blocked on those calls and which side of the defensive unit is the easiest to exploit. If Minnesota is for real, they should be able to rush for over 200 yards as a team and escape Lincoln with a win.
Six-Point Teaser of the Week
Penn State Nittany Lions at Indiana Hoosiers
Spread: Nittany Lions -7.
Six Point Teaser: Nittany Lions -1, "Over" 53.5
Every now and then you will come across an opportunity to make a bet that you just can't resist. Yes, we all know teasers are for "suckers" and that they lose more often than they win. However, there are rare occasions when you can catch two teams trending in the right direction and use their great play to benefit you and your bankroll.
I think the Nittany Lions go into Bloomington, Indiana, and beat the Hoosiers. However, I am very reluctant to lay the seven points and certainly do not want to lay the big number on the money line. So, I came to the conclusion that the teaser was the only way to get in on this game, and I will tease it to the over.
Both of these teams have put up more than 30 points in each of their last two games. While Iowa, Purdue, Rutgers and Maryland are not exactly known for their stout defenses, neither are Penn State or Indiana.
Both Penn and Indiana have talented weapons on the offensive side of the ball and quick-score abilities that should be enough to get this total over the adjusted number. Just based on stats and numbers alone, I expect this game to be a track meet and come down to who has the ball last.
Both offenses can move the ball up and down the field with ease. Indiana averages 469 yards and 28 points per game while allowing 390 yards and 26.6 points against. Penn State averages 419 yards and 35 points per game while allowing 361 yards and 25.6 points against. These are the kinds of numbers you want to look for when backing a total in the mid-to-high 50s.
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