College Football Picks: A Big Ten Betting Rundown
by Darin Zank - 9/19/2013
The Big Ten took some lumps last week, and the public took notice.
Penn State lost at home to Central Florida, Nebraska got toasted at home by UCLA, Wisconsin botched a chance to win at Arizona State, and Michigan barely beat mighty Akron.
But was the Big Ten's performance really all that bad? There were some successes.
Ohio State, with back-up QB Kenny Guiton running the show, put up 52 points and covered a big spread on the road out at Cal.
Indiana didn't allow an offensive touchdown in beating Bowling Green.
Iowa won a rivalry game on the road at Iowa State.
Michigan State took care of business, winning and covering, against Youngstown State.
Purdue gave Notre Dame most of what it could handle and covered easily as 18-point home dogs.
Illinois, although it couldn't quite back up its upset of Cincinnati, hung tough enough to cover as 10.5-point underdogs against what might be a pretty good Washington team.
And come to think of it, the Badgers were six-point dogs out in Tempe, so at least they brought a little cash home from the desert.
On the whole, the Big Ten, playing 12 nonconference games, went 7-5 both SU and ATS last week. And all three Big Ten teams that played as underdogs – Illinois, Purdue and Wisconsin – covered the spreads.
For the season, Big Ten squads have combined to go 28-8 SU and 20-16 ATS.
By comparison, the SEC is 22-6 SU this season in nonconference play but just 11-16-1 ATS.
Might the reputations of those two conferences play into the lining of their nonconference contests?
Two Big Ten teams begin conference play this weekend, while the others, for the most part, clean up nonconference play. Here's a quick look at some of what's happening in the Big Ten this weekend.
Wisconsin -24 vs. Purdue (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Both teams are coming off tough losses; the Badgers let the clock run out before they could kick a game-winning field goal, losing 32-30 at Arizona State, while the Boilers led Notre Dame early and got within one score late before falling, 31-24. Not a whole lot has changed at Wisconsin under new head coach Gary Andersen considering the Badgers are averaging 337 yards per game on the ground. And that's how UW has beaten Purdue seven times in a row; by shoving the ball down the Boilers' throat.
Back on opening weekend, Wisconsin was favored by 44 points over UMass and won, 45-0; the Badgers were then favored by 45 points over Tennessee Tech and won, 48-0.
I expect a similar outcome Saturday; take Wisconsin -24.
Minnesota -3.5 vs. San Jose State (noon ET, ESPN2)
Playing a weak nonconference schedule, the Gophers are 3-0 SU and 2-1 ATS so far, but head coach Jerry Kill suffered another medical incident during last Saturday's victory over Western Illinois and had to be taken to the hospital. Apparently he is once again ready to go for this week's game, but one begins to wonder if Coach Kill's situation might have some kind of negative effect on his team. That would be a shame, because it looks like he might have this program headed in the right direction.
As for Saturday's game, Minnesota hosts a San Jose State team that returned a lot of key people from an 11-2 squad of last season. The Spartans shutout Sacramento State to open this season then lost at Stanford, 34-13, but managed to cover as 24-point dogs. SJ State then had last week off, so they should be well-rested.
One thing the Gophers might have going for them Saturday would be that kickoff is slated for at 9 a.m. San Jose time.
Minnesota is probably the better team here, but the Spartans are 4-0 ATS the last season-plus as an underdog. I won't be surprised if San Jose State pulls the upset here.
Other Big Ten Selections
Indiana, with 19 starters back this season, has scored 150 points through three games and gets a chance to beat an SEC opponent at home. Take the Hoosiers +2 against Missouri.
Michigan State visits a Notre Dame team that caught a lot of breaks last year, and it's always hard to get those same breaks two years in a row. The Irish also beat the Spartans in East Lansing last season, so Sparty would probably love to return the favor in South Bend. Take Michigan State +6.5.
Michigan barely beat the Zips last Saturday, needing a minor defensive holding non-call in the end zone to preserve the victory. My guess is Coach Hoke has the whip out at practice this week. Meanwhile, Connecticut lost to Towson a couple weeks ago. Take Big Blue -17.5 at UConn.
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