Weekly Big Ten Football Betting Report: Expert Predictions and Analysis
And just like that, we have two weeks left in the college football regular season. What a season it has been. We've witnessed upsets, insane plays, last-second covers, two-point conversions, putrid defensive efforts and tons of points. And in one week, we will once again be treated to the "winner-take-all" showdown between Michigan and Ohio State.
Heading into Week 12, it's the Wolverines who are in the driver's seat and control their own destiny, both within the conference and in the College Football Playoff. If Michigan wins out, they will be one of the four teams selected to play in the national semi-final. If they lose, even once, then the Big Ten will be shut out of the CFP for the second consecutive year.
After we get through the Big Ten recap and rundown, I will run through the projected bowl games for all Big Ten teams that are eligible.
Big Ten Recap: Week 11
Raise your hand if you would have guessed Northwestern would be 6-1 in conference play and having already booked their spot to the conference title game with two games left in the regular season. If you raised your hand, you are a liar. The Northwestern Wildcats used a fourth-quarter touchdown from Bennett Skowronek to beat Iowa 14-10 and earn their place in Indianapolis. It will be the Wildcats' first Big Ten title game in school history, and they will take on the winner of next week's Ohio State/Michigan showdown. The rest of the Big Ten results are as follows; Indiana beat Maryland 34-32, Ohio State beat Michigan State 26-6, Wisconsin fell to Penn State 22-10, Nebraska trounced Illinois 54-35, Michigan handled Rutgers with ease, 42-7 and Purdue fell to Minnesota 41-10.
Big Ten Rundown: Week 12
All 14 Big Ten teams are in action this week, but we have just three games with spreads that are currently under 10 points. Those games include Wisconsin at Purdue (-5), No. 18 Michigan State (-2) at Nebraska and Northwestern (-2.5) at Minnesota. None of these games mean much in terms of the Big Ten conference standings as Northwestern has already locked up their place in the Big Ten title game, but Purdue will be desperate to win this game in order to get to six wins and secure bowl eligibility. Elsewhere, we should expect a straightforward week, as Ohio State is laying 16.5 points on the road against Maryland, Penn State is laying 27 points on the road against Rutgers, Iowa is laying 16 points on the road against Illinois, and Michigan is laying 28 points at home against Indiana. If and when Michigan and Ohio State win this week, it'll set up a winner-take-all showdown in next week's season finale between the Wolverines and Buckeyes. The winner goes to the Big Ten title game.
Projected Big Ten Bowl Games
Dec 26. First Responder Bowl (Dallas, TX) - Minnesota vs North Texas
I'm extremely excited for this game. I'll be betting the "over", and nobody will talk me out of it. Minnesota can score points. I watched them do it all year. However, their defense is atrocious and North Texas is a solid offensive unit. Take the over and enjoy the rewards.
Dec 27. Pinstripe Bowl (New York, NY) - Pittsburgh vs Purdue
Purdue will be looking to make it back-to-back bowl wins in this matchup against Pittsburgh. The Purdue offense has led the way all season, scoring a boatload of points, only because the defense can't stop anyone. This will be an intriguing matchup, and if the weather is a factor, then Purdue's passing game could feel the biggest effect.
Dec 29. Cotton Bowl (Arlington, TX) - No. 4 Michigan vs No. 1 Alabama
This is one of the two national semi-finals and is subject to change based on how the Wolverines fare in their last two regular-season games. It would be great for the Michigan program to reach the CFP, and I'll be rooting for them against the big bully Ohio State.
Dec 31. Holiday Bowl (San Diego, Calif) - Iowa vs Washington
The Holiday Bowl should feature an Iowa team that will likely finish the season with seven or eight wins, depending on how they fare at home against a resurgent Nebraska team. Washington was pegged as a CFP potential, but a down year has them playing here instead of in one of the two national semi-finals.
Dec 31. TaxSlayer Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, FL) - Northwestern vs South Carolina
This game is intriguing because neither team was expected to be formidable this season. Northwestern and South Carolina replaced a slew of players, but hats off to the entire roster for stepping up and getting them to where they are today. Northwestern will play in the Big Ten title game before this one. So, depending on the result, this could be a major letdown spot for the Wildcats.
Dec 31. Red Box Bowl (Santa Clara, CA), Wisconsin vs Arizona State
It was a down year for Wisconsin football. After being so dominant on defense last year and winning games by shutting down their opponents, the defense unit regressed in a big way. And because of that, the Badgers struggled to stay in ball games. If in fact, they do play Arizona State in this spot, look for Arizona State to run up the score in what would be a solid upset to predict.
Jan 1. Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.) - Ohio State vs Washington State.
The Buckeyes could possibly sneak into the CFP, but it's highly unlikely. They would have to win out, including beating Michigan in the season finale and Northwestern in the Big Ten title game. While that's fully possible, they will need help from those above them in terms of losses. This matchup figures to be an extremely high-scoring affair against a good Washington State team.
Jan 1. Citrus Bowl (Orlando, FL) - Penn State vs Kentucky
It was always going to be tough for Penn State to be the team they've been for the last two seasons, especially after losing Saquon Barkley to the NFL. However, Trace McSorley has led the team in fine fashion, and a win against a vastly overrated Kentucky team would be the icing on the cake for the senior quarterback. Kentucky's season burst when it lost to Georgia, and it will be lacking motivation in this spot.
Jan 1. Outback Bowl (Tampa, FL) - Michigan State vs Missouri
And lastly, Michigan States offense is going to need to perform a miracle if it expects to keep up with Missouri's prolific offense. Sure, the Spartans have the edge between the defensive units, but how hard can a defense go in Game 13 of the season? Look for the Tigers offense to get the job done and win this game outright.
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