Free Big Ten Football Picks: Weekly Conference Analysis with Odds and Predictions
When I was just starting out in the sports betting industry, I was dumb and far too confident for my own good. I constantly threw around the word "lock" when referring to certain teams I was going to bet on, and unfortunately for me, I ended up on the losing side of the majority of those bets. I've learned my lesson, though. There is no such thing as a "lock" in the sports betting industry. Anything can happen in any game that involves two teams competing hard and giving it their all to win. With that said, and the help of 20/20 hindsight - Penn State was an absolute "lock" last Saturday against Michigan. I wrote about it . My colleague Trevor wrote about it . Just about everybody in America knew it was going to happen, yet the line dropped from Penn State (-10) to Penn State (-7.5). That line drop baffled me and made me load up even more than I already had on the Nittany Lions.
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But enough about "locks" and bets on games that already happened. I am writing this weekly piece to help bettors specialize in the Big Ten conference, and I will be breaking down every aspect of the upcoming Big Ten schedule and keep you in the loop with specific team situations. The Big Ten currently has three teams inside the Top 10. Penn State still leads the Big Ten's cause at No.2 with Wisconsin checking in at No.5 and Ohio State at No.6.
Weekly Big Ten Round Up
As I mentioned, the fact that Penn State dropped from 10-point favorites to 7.5-point favorites is absolutely mind blowing. There was never any scenario where Michigan was going to be able to keep up with the high-octane offense the Nittany Lions possesses. I understand that the Wolverines' defense is among the best in the country, but Penn State not only has a three-headed monster on offense, but they had revenge on their minds. They dominated every aspect of the game and look every bit the part of a serious national title contender. There were, however, other Big Ten games on the card too that I must touch on. Purdue laid an egg on the road to Rutgers, losing by a score of 14-12. Northwestern needed overtime to defeat Iowa 17-10, while No. 5 Wisconsin handled Maryland with ease, No. 18 Michigan State needed 14 fourth-quarter points to overcome Indiana, and Minnesota got back in the win column by defeating Illinois 24-17.
Big Ten Rundown: Week 9
We are now past the halfway point of the college football season, and the magnitude of every single game has increased 10-fold. Possibly the biggest game of the college football schedule is happening this Saturday afternoon, and it features two Big Ten teams who have playoff aspirations. Second-ranked Penn State travels to sixth-ranked Ohio State in a rematch of last year's epic midseason showdown. The Nittany Lions used that upset victory to propel themselves to a Big Ten Championship. The Buckeyes will be looking to avenge that loss and are currently tabbed as 6.5-point home favorites with the total set at 56.5. This has the makings to be an instant classic as both teams possess potent offenses that can put up points in a hurry. The rest of the card shapes up like this; Rutgers at Michigan (-24), No. 5 Wisconsin (-26) at Illinois, Indiana (-4) at Maryland, No. 16 Michigan State (1.5) at Northwestern, Minnesota at Iowa (-7.5) and Nebraska at Purdue (-6.5).
Game of the Week
Penn State Nittany Lions at Ohio State Buckeyes -6.5, 56.5
The game of the week in the Big Ten may very well end up being the game of the year throughout the entire college football season. In one corner we have the second-ranked team in the nation, Penn State, who are undefeated (7-0) and own one of the best offensive units in the country. The Nittany Lions were expected to build off of their monumental season last year and take the next step in competing for a National Championship. So far, so good, but the next obstacle they must overcome just so happens to be one of the most decorative football programs of all time.
The Ohio State Buckeyes enter this weekend with one loss to their name - a game in which they'd like to have back - but they haven't let that loss stop them from doing what they do best, which is completely destroy teams. Since the loss to Oklahoma, the Buckeyes have rattled off five straight wins and have outscored opponents 266-56. They have also gotten Heisman-worthy play from their record-breaking signal caller, J.T. Barrett. Barrett has thrown for 18 touchdowns and no interceptions during the five-game win streak and is a huge reason why the Buckeyes are back in the College Football Playoff discussion. Barrett has also received plenty of help from freshman running back J.K. Dobbins, who has rushed for 775 yards and five touchdowns.
Don't worry Penn State fans, I didn't forget about your lethal one-two punch of quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Saquon Barkley. McSorley has turned in very solid performances in each game so far this season, as he is completing 66.8 percent of his passes and has thrown 14 touchdowns to just five interceptions. However, the real attraction comes in the form of Barkley, who has recaptured the pole position in the Heisman race. Barkley comes into this game after rushing for 108 yards and two touchdowns and adding a ridiculous touchdown catch to his resume. He is a model of consistency as his performances each week leave journalists scrambling to find adjectives to describe his ability.
So now that we've discussed the offenses, lets turn our attention the stop units. Make no mistake about it, each defense will have a tough time coming up with stops and getting off the field on third down. These offenses are just so well-oiled that one key stop might be all it takes to secure victory for their team. The Nittany Lions own the nation's No. 1-ranked defense in points allowed (9.6) and is No. 9 in total defense (282.9 yards). The Buckeyes aren't far behind at No. 10 in scoring defense (15.4) and No. 16 in total defense (305.4 yards per game).
Now comes the prediction. It's hard to imagine the Buckeyes losing to the same team in consecutive years. Add in the fact that they are coming into this game fresh off a bye week and that Urban Meyer-coached teams are 20-1 after a bye and 5-0 against Top-25 opponents, this should be a no-brainer.
However, I think the spread is a field-goal too high, which is why I am taking the Nittany Lions to cover this point spread. I believe in James Franklin and his coaching staff's ability to consistently put his players in a position to succeed, and this week will be no different. Penn State will have the best player in the country line up for them on offense, so I expect a heavy dose of "get the ball in Barkley's hands and let him make a play".
If you are thinking about backing the Buckeyes, I won't stop you, but this could be a prime spot to use them in a six-point teaser and get them laying just a half-point. I believe this game is decided by less than a touchdown, and the last team to have the ball will win the game.
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