NCAA Football Betting Predictions: Week 9 Opening Line Report and Picks
The first week of Big Ten football has concluded, and it was an exciting one. Last Friday, we watched Graham Mertz of Wisconsin, in his first collegiate start, dominate Illinois with five touchdowns going 20-of-21 for 248 yards passing.
When Saturday rolled around, we had some insane upsets, including Rutgers defeating Michigan State on the road, Purdue beating Iowa without star receiver Rondale Moore and Head Coach Jeff Brohm. Lastly, Indiana defeated No. 8 Penn State on a controversial two-point attempt in overtime that may or may not have crossed the goal line.
Now we know how much Big Ten was missed. Extreme chaos to start the season.
Going into the season, the Big Ten basically gave themselves no room for error in their schedule if there was a big outbreak due to COVID-19. Plenty of games have been cancelled earlier this season with huge outbreaks, including multiple SEC teams and Big 12 teams.
Reports just recently came out that Wisconsin quarterback Mertz tested positive for the Coronavirus. The team believes they’ve had a bunch of false positives and hope Mertz is one of them. If Mertz tests positive for the second time, he will then have to quarantine away from the team for 21 days. That would be at least three games missed in a short season for a quarterback that was just starting to make a name for himself.
He tested positive just 48 hours after winning against Illinois. For the most part, it had seemed that players and teams caught the virus after road games. However, Wisconsin had a home game.
Wisconsin reported that no player on their roster had any symptoms on Friday prior to the game.
There are going to be multiple challenges for the Big Ten, more than even Big 12 or the SEC. Those conferences gave themselves wiggle room. The Big Ten didn’t. If Mertz is out, Wisconsin will need to move on with their second quarterback.
We already watched Purdue upset Iowa without their head coach last week and Alabama win without having their head coach in Nick Saban throughout practices the week against Georgia.
Teams will find ways around COVID. It’s a challenge, but you can really tell that Big Ten universities are taking things seriously. There will be no fans in the stands unless you’re family.
Wisconsin vs Nebraska (+7.5, 55.5): This number might be a big low with the uncertainty of Mertz. But really, no matter who the quarterback is, Wisconsin looks like a powerhouse on offense and defense. The Badgers defeated Illinois 45-7 as payback for last year’s upset win. They had 430 yards of offense and held Illinois to 218 yards on defense with just 87 yards in the air. Nebraska won’t be the best passing team either. They’ll be more of a running offense this season. Even after trailing against Ohio State in their 52-17 loss, Nebraska had only 160 yards in the air. Ohio State’s offense looked just as perfect as Wisconsin’s offense looked last week. I expect Mertz to have a false positive, play, and perform in this one. Pick: Wisconsin
Ohio State vs Penn State (+12.5, 64.5): Ohio State, as talked about above, dominated Nebraska in the second half to win, 52-17. The Buckeyes had nearly 500 yards on offense with 276 yards passing and 215 yards rushing for a total of 52 points. Ohio State was great defensively and overall looked like a top team in college football. You can’t say the same about Penn State. Penn State took an overtime loss to Indiana in overtime, on a bang-bang play at the goal line where Indiana scored a two-point conversion to win a one-point game. If you look at the stats, Penn State dominated. They had 488 yards of offense and allowed just 211 yards on defense, holding the running game to 41 yards against Indiana. Yet, somehow they lost. Penn State was ranked No. 8 last week and now No. 18 this week. Seems like a fluke loss, but they’ll start the season 0-2 after this one. Pick: Penn State.
Kansas State vs West Virginia (-2.5, 48.5): Kansas State leads the Big 12 with four straight wins and a 4-0 record in the conference. They’ve defeated Oklahoma, Texas Tech, TCU and Kansas. Half of those games have been without their veteran starting quarterback in Skylar Thompson, who will miss the remainder of the season and likely never play a snap for Kansas State ever again. Will Howard, the freshman quarterback, has done enough for Kansas State since taking over against Texas Tech. He’s completed 58.9 passes for three touchdowns and an interception. However, West Virginia’s defense has been lock down all season long, allowing just 261.8 yards per game. I’m not so sure Howard can make enough plays to win this game. Kansas State will fight like they always do. Currently, they’d be playing in the Big 12 Championship. Don’t overlook it too much. Pick: Kansas State.
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