Free Big Ten Football Picks: Weekly Conference Analysis with Odds and Predictions
After a seven-month absence, the return of college football did not disappoint. There were a few massive upsets: Liberty defeated Baylor 48-45 as 33-point underdogs and then Howard went on to beat UNLV 43-30 as 45-point underdogs. There were some amazing comebacks -- UCLA came back from a 27-point fourth quarter deficit to stun Texas A&M 45-44. There were some amazing catches, and there were some amazing defensive performances; Michigan held Florida to just nine first downs and 192 of total offense in a 33-17 win, while LSU held BYU to just 97 yards of offense and negative-five rushing yards in a 27-0 shutout win. Despite all that, only three ranked teams suffered a season-opening loss, but two of those teams lost to other ranked opponents.
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But enough about the entire college football landscape. I am writing this weekly piece to help bettors specialize in the Big Ten Conference. The Big Ten was arguably the most competitive conference from top to bottom last year and is in a good position to be one of the top conferences again this year. I will be breaking down every aspect of the upcoming Big Ten schedule and keep you in the loop with the specific team situations.
Weekly Big Ten Round Up
The Big Ten went 11-3 straight up last week, with the only three losses coming from Purdue, Rutgers and Indiana. The Boilermakers held their own against No.16 Lousiville but fell 35-28, while Rutgers dropped the opener by a score of 30-14 to No. 8 Washington. Minnesota made PJ Fleck's debut a winning one as they beat Buffalo 17-7, and No.2 Ohio State pulled away from Indiana late for a 49-21 win. No. 9 Wisconsin took care of Utah State, 59-10, while Michigan State beat Bowling Green 35-10 and Penn State blanked Akron 52-0. Illinois got the better of Ball State, 24-21, Iowa handled Wyoming, 24-3, and Maryland ruined Tom Herman's Texas debut by outgunning them 51-41 on the road. And finally, Michigan took care of Florida 33-17 despite two consecutive pick-sixes thrown by Wilton Speight, Northwestern beat Nevada 31-20, and Nebraska outlasted Arkansas State 43-36.
Big Ten Rundown: Week 2
All 14 Big Ten teams are in action in Week 2, with each team facing a nonconference opponent. Purdue gets the week started on Friday with a home date against Ohio. The Boilermakers are currently 4.5-point favorites . The rest of the card looks like this: Northwestern (-3.5) at Duke, Towson at Maryland (off), Cincinnati at No. 11 Michigan (-34.5), Iowa (-2.5) at Iowa State, Florida Atlantic at No. 9 Wisconsin (-31.5), Western Michigan at Michigan State (-7.5), Pittsburgh at No. 6 Penn State (-20.5), Eastern Michigan at Rutgers (-5), Indiana (-3) at Virginia, Nebraska (+14) at Oregon, No.7 Oklahoma at No.2 Ohio State (-7.5), Western Kentucky at Illinois (+8.5) and Minnesota (+2) at Oregon State.
Game of the Week
No. 7 Oklahoma Sooners @ No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes -7.5, 64.5
With all due respect to UTEP and Indiana, I find it hard to believe that either the Sooners or Buckeyes weren't looking ahead to this massive Week 2 showdown between two of college football's very best teams. The Sooners will be out for revenge when they take the field in Columbus after the Buckeyes went into Norman and celebrated a 45-24 victory.
Both teams come into this game with their star signal callers one year wiser and one year better than last season. For the Sooners, Baker Mayfield is the key to their success. He was near flawless last week against UTEP, going 19/20, with 329-yards and three touchdowns. In this exact game last season, Mayfield was made to look average by completing just 17 of 32 passes and throwing two picks. Mayfield knows another performance similar to that will leave OU on the outside of the playoff bubble for yet another season.
The Buckeyes counter with J.T. Barrett, who tossed three touchdowns and no interceptions last week in Bloomington. Last year, Barrett didn't necessarily put up big numbers as he completed 14 of 20 pass attempts for 152 yards. However, Barrett did turn four of those 14 completions into touchdown passes. He also had 74 yards rushing on 17 attempts.
It should go without saying, but whichever quarterback has the better game, their team will be the likely winner. However, in order for each QB to turn in solid performances, the battles around them will dictate the game. Oklahoma may be short handed for this game as they already lost cornerback Jordan Parker to a season-ending knee injury. They are also unsure about the status of defensive tackle Du'Vonta Lampkin and wide receiver A.D Miller. Both players missed last week's season opener.
The opposite can be said for Ohio State. The Buckeyes will get sophomore running back Mike Weber in gear for this massive Week 2 matchup. Weber sat out last week with a hamstring ailment but appears good to go. This will help alleviate the workload (not that he needs it) for freshman J.K Dobbins, who torched Indiana for 181 yards on 29 carries.
If I was a betting man, and I am, I would try to find every reason I could
to bet against Urban Meyer and Ohio State. Unfortunately, Meyer just
doesn't lose at home (two home losses in 68 games). For that reason alone,
I am siding with a team that is near perfect at home and knows what it
takes to win big games.
Pick: Ohio State -7.5 (-110)
Underdog of the Week
Minnesota Golden Gophers (+2) @ Oregon State Beavers
In my expert opinion, the linemakers got this line all wrong. The Oregon State Beavers are closer to being a bad team than they are a good team. They just allowed Portland State to score 32 points after allowing Colorado State to torch them for 58. This home game against a good opponent in Minnesota comes on the verge of their Pac 12 opener at No. 24 Washington State. Sure, teams want to win every time they take the field, but I can't help but wonder about the Beavers' focus level in this game.
Minnesota isn't going to be a team that "wows" you by putting up plenty of points. They love to run the football and they finally have a head coach that knows how to manage a game and put his players in the best possible situation to succeed. Last year's version of the Golden Gophers would have travelled halfway across the country and lay an egg. PJ Fleck will not let that happen.
The Gophers are best suited to run the football, and the Beavers are not suited to stop the run. They have given up 152 and 291 yards in their first two games, respectively, against an opponent that was picked to finish in the bottom half of the Big Sky conference and an opponent that would rather move the ball through the air. Give me the better team from the better conference in this matchup.
Pick: Gophers (+2) and ML +110
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