Free Big Ten Football Picks: Weekly Conference Analysis with Odds and Predictions
Week 4 of the College Football season provided bettors with a ton of points and a few notable upsets that has the AP Top 25 looking fairly different from how it was pre-kickoff. The afternoon started with the No. 12 Florida State Seminoles getting beat by an unranked North Carolina State team. The Seminoles had to start a freshman QB, but it was their defense that really let them down. Later in the day, Oklahoma State - a team with playoff aspirations -- was embarrassed at home by a severely overrated TCU team. And lastly, No. 24 Oregon was outplayed and ultimately upset by Arizona State 37-35. The Top 5 teams in the nation, including No. 4 Penn State, were able to escape Week 4 with their perfect record still intact.
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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, 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, which is down from four the week before. TCU's win over the Cowboys vaulted them up to No.9 and pushed Ohio State from No.10 to No.11. Penn State still leads the Big Ten's cause at No.4 with Michigan checking in at No.8 and Wisconsin at No.10.
Weekly Big Ten Round Up
The Big Ten saw conference play kick off last weekend with three games between some very good football teams. By now we all know what happened in Iowa between the Hawkeyes and Nittany Lions, so I won't touch too much on that. What I will say is that Penn State failed to cover the spread, and the total stayed well "under" the number. In the other games, Michigan turned a 10-7 halftime deficit into a 28-10 win, covering the 14-point spread, and Nebraska got a hard-fought win over Rutgers by a score of 27-17. In other Big Ten action, No. 11 Ohio State demolished UNLV but failed to cover the spread, while Maryland suffered their first loss at the hands of UCF, Indiana trounced Georgia Southern and Michigan State got schooled by Notre Dame.
Big Ten Rundown: Week 5
This is the first exclusive week of Big Ten conference play, and it gets underway under the Friday night lights at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Illinois, between the host Illini and the visiting Nebraska Cornhuskers. As of writing this, the Cornhuskers are 6.5-point favorites with the total set at 50.The Saturday card looks like this; Maryland at Minnesota (-11), Northwestern at No. 10 Wisconsin (-14.5), Indiana travels to Beaver Stadium to take on Penn State (-17), Iowa does battle with Michigan State (-3.5) and No. 11 Ohio State (-29.5) visits Rutgers. Purdue and Michigan are off this week.
Favorite of the Week
Ohio State Buckeyes (-29.5) at Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Heading into last week's game against UNLV, the main topic of conversation surrounding this year's Buckeyes' squad was that the passing game had severely dropped off and that it was on J.T. Barrett to turn it around - and do so in a hurry. Well, he did. Barrett torched the UNLV secondary time and time again by passing for 209 yards and five touchdowns. Even his backup, Dwayne Haskins, threw for 228 yards and two touchdowns. While they may not reach those kinds of numbers again this week, there is a very good chance the offense keeps that momentum rolling in this game. Not only is history on the side of the Buckeyes, with three blowout wins against Rutgers in three years, the Scarlet Knights just lost their top cornerback, Blessuan Austin, for the season with a knee injury sustained in the second half of last week's loss to Nebraska. This means that Rutgers will be forced into using a handful of inexperienced backs to make up the defensive backfield against a team that has a war chest of weapons and will be getting running back Mike Weber back in the starting lineup.
Weber sat out last week with a hamstring injury but is good to go this week and will be a good complement to J.K Dobbins, the freshman running back who currently ranks No. 6 in the country in rushing yards with 520 and No. 13 in yards per carry (7.5). I expect Ohio State to dominate the time of possession and put up at least another 40 points in this one.
Defensively, the Buckeyes should have a relatively straightforward day against a Scarlet Knight offense that struggles to put up points. Their quarterback, Kyle Bolin, is averaging only 160 yards passing, and their top playmaker, Janarion Grant, is recovering from a concussion and is a game-time decision.
Pick: 2-Unit Play on #143 Ohio State (-29.5), -110
Underdog of the Week
Northwestern Wildcats at Wisconsin Badgers (-14.5)
I mean no disrespect to any Wisconsin fans reading this content, but this is far too many points to trust the Badgers to cover. Wisconsin is one of those teams that lull you into a false sense of security using a bend-but-don't-break style defense and then capitalize on your mistakes for a grind-it-out style of victory. Trusting them in this spot, to cover a two-touchdown spread, would be a bad idea.
Northwestern isn't exactly lighting up opposing defences, but the one-two punch of quarterback Clayton Thorson and running back Justin Jackson have had plenty of success in this matchup in year's past. I expect more of the same this year. In Jackson's freshman year, he rushed 33 times for 162 yards in a win, and in 2015 he rushed 35 times for 139 yards and one touchdown in another win. If you take that solid track record and combine it with the solid play of Thorson - 65 percent completions, 842 yards and four touchdowns - this has the makings of a gritty, grind-it-out, one-mistake-will-cost-you-the-football-game type of game.
I understand the Badgers are 3-0 and that they are getting great play from Alex Hornibrook (70 percent completions, 701 yards and eight touchdowns), but they have played nobody worth mentioning. They blew out Utah State, beat FAU in Week 2 and clobbered a pathetic BYU team in Week 3.
Until the Badgers prove to me that they have a consistent offense and can run up the score against solid conference opponents, I can't back them while laying two touchdowns.
Pick: 2-Unit Play on #149 Northwestern (+14.5), -110
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