Week 8 of college football wrapped up this past Saturday, and it was one of the craziest weeks we've seen so far this year. Thursday's tilt between BYU/Boise State was solid football mixed in with a crazy finish. Friday's Oregon/California game saw the two teams combine for 101 points and 1,086 yards of offense in a double-overtime thriller. And lastly, Texas Tech put up 59 points at home and still lost by seven to Oklahoma. I didn't think losing a game was possible if you put up that many points.
What I'm trying to get at is that if you like watching high-scoring games and hate the Ohio State Buckeyes, this weekend was meant for you. I'm sure by now you all know about the Buckeyes' shocking upset at the hands of the Penn State Nittany Lions. The Buckeyes held a 21-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter and squandered it away - capped by a 60-yard blocked field goal return with just less than five minutes left. This loss doesn't kill the Buckeyes' playoff hopes, but it makes their regular-season finale vs. Michigan 10 times more important.
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The rest of the Big Ten results were as straightforward as you could have predicted. No. 3 Michigan beat Illinois by 33, No.8 Nebraska beat Purdue by 13, and No.10 Wisconsin got the better of Iowa 17-9. Oh, and Michigan State lost again.
Week 9 in the Big Ten features 12 teams in action and no point spread lower than five points. The biggest game of the week happens at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin. The hometown Badgers (-9) welcome the undefeated Nebraska Cornhuskers to town in a showdown that will ultimately determine Nebraska's CFP hopes. The Cornhuskers own a 7-0 record and are currently ranked No.7 in the country. They own a one-game lead in the West Division over a suddenly-hot Northwestern team. If the Cornhuskers have any hope of getting into the playoff, they will need to, at the very least, play in the Big Ten title game to give themselves a shot. The rest of the schedule sees No.2 Michigan (-24) take on in-state rivals Michigan State. No.6 Ohio State (-26.5) hosts Northwestern, in what many Buckeyes fans hope is a bounce-back game. No. 24 Penn State (-12.5) travels for a road game at Purdue. Minnesota (-10) takes on Illinois, and Maryland is on the road again at Indiana (-5).
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*
ATS Top and Bottom 3
As a bettor, the only thing that matters when it comes to football is whether or not the team you picked covers the spread. The outcome of the game (who won and who lost) only matters to fans of that specific team. With that said, these are the three best and worst teams so far this season in terms of covering the spread.
Wisconsin Badgers - 6-1 ATS. 2-1 Home, 4-0 Road
The Badgers are in a precarious position. After this week, they will have played five Top-10 teams in eight weeks. Because of that, they have been underdogs in every one of those contests and have failed to cover the spread just once - as 35-point home favorites against Georgia State in Week 2.
Next Game: -9 vs. Nebraska.
Nebraska Cornhuskers - 4-2-1 ATS. 2-2-1 Home,
Nebraska currently holds an unblemished record of 7-0. They own the second-best ATS mark in the conference and will look to keep that going this coming Saturday. The Cornhuskers have covered the spread only once in their last three games.
Next Game: +9 @ Wisconsin.
Michigan Wolverines - 4-3 ATS. 3-3 Home,
In my opinion, the Michigan Wolverines are only 4-3 against the spread because they are that good. They consistently have games lined in the high 20s to low 30s. That's a tough ask for any team. They are just 2-3 ATS in their last five games. I'd look elsewhere when the line reaches 20-30 points.
Next Game: -24 vs. Michigan State.
Michigan State Spartans - 1-6 ATS. 0-4 Home
, 1-2 Road
As if a 2-5 record wasn't enough, the Spartans hold the conference's worst ATS record at just 1-6. They haven't covered a spread since their Week 2 win as seven-point underdogs at Notre Dame. The Spartans have been a major disappointment this year in many ways, so I would recommend finding spots to play against them.
Next Game: +24 vs. Michigan.
Minnesota Golden Gophers - 2-4-1 ATS. 1-3 Home, 1-0-1 Road
The Golden Gophers are successful when they run the football. Unfortunately, they haven't had enough leads this season to run the ball and milk the clock. I think that correlates with their ATS mark. Their only covers came against weak teams like Indiana State and Maryland. Not exactly the who's who of college football.
Next Game: -9 @ Illinois.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights -3-5 ATS. 2-3 Home, 1-2 Road.
Rutgers is a mess. They've lost their last five games on the trot by a combined 208-46. The only positive that can be taken away from this team is that they are 3-3 ATS in their last six games and are regularly lined high enough to consider picking them for the cover.
Next Game: Bye
Big Ten Bowl Projections - Week 9
With the calendar set to turn to November in a few days, I thought this would be a great time to take a look into December and give you my bowl projections for Big Ten teams. Barring any more major upsets from now until the regular-season finale on Nov. 26, Michigan should stay locked in as a Top-4 team and make their first-ever College Football Playoff. Ohio State, on the other hand, has a solid chance at cracking the CFP as well. However, if Nebraska can run the table and potentially win the Big Ten title, the Buckeyes will be watching the CFP from the hotel of a Bowl Game they probably won't care much for.
The rest of the projections are as follows:
Quicken Lane Bowl - ACC vs Big Ten
Teams Projected: Duke vs Indiana
Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl - Big Ten vs Conference USA
Teams Projected - Maryland vs Middle Tennessee
New Era Pinstripe bowl - ACC vs. Big Ten
Teams Projected - Pittsburgh vs. Iowa
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl - SEC vs Big Ten
Teams Projected - LSU vs Northwestern
Outback Bowl - Big Ten vs SEC
Teams Projected - Nebraska vs Florida
Capital One Orange Bowl - Big Ten vs ACC
Teams Projected - Wisconsin vs Louisville
Rose Bowl - Big Ten vs Pac-12
Teams Projected - Ohio State vs Washington State
Fiesta Bowl - CFP Semi Final - Big Ten vs Pac-12
Teams Projected - Michigan vs. Washington
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