Weekly Big Ten Football Betting Report: Expert Predictions and Analysis
To say it was a wild week of college football would be a severe understatement. Week 2 delivered in a way the NFL could only dream of. For starters, we saw two teams in Kansas and Kentucky snap extended droughts. The Jayhawks got their first road win in 46 games as they beat Central Michigan 31-7, and Kentucky snapped a 31-year losing streak to their rivals from Florida, taking the game 27-16 as 13-point underdogs. The Heisman Race also heated up thanks to Tua Tagovailoa's three first-quarter touchdowns and Kyle Murray's five-touchdown (three passing, two rushing) performance against UCLA.
And, lastly, a freshman by the name of Terrance Horne had a game to remember against Georgia Tech. Horne ran back not one, but two, kickoffs on consecutive kickoff returns, for touchdowns. The first was of the 98-yard variety while the second was 97 yards. Oh, and he also caught a TD pass in the fourth quarter to kick-start the USF comeback.
But enough about last week, lets focus on the present. I will be breaking down every aspect of the upcoming Big Ten schedule and keep you in the loop with the specific team situations.
Big Ten Recap: Week 2
It was supposed to be business as usual for the Big Ten this week, and for the most part it was. No. 19 Michigan trounced Western Michigan 49-3, No. 11 Penn State beat Pittsburgh 51-6, No. 6 Wisconsin took care of New Mexico by a score of 45-14 and No. 4 Ohio State dominated Rutgers 52-3. However, No. 15 Michigan State lost on the road to Arizona State, while Nebraska fell at home to Colorado, Purdue lost at home to Eastern Michigan, and Northwestern managed just seven points at home to Duke in a 21-7 loss. Elsewhere, Iowa got the better of Iowa State 13-3, Maryland jumped to 2-0 thanks to a victory against Bowling Green, Illinois beat Western Illinois 34-14, Indiana got the better of Virginia 20-16, and Minnesota pulled off the win against Fresno State.
Big Ten Rundown: Week 3
Week 3 of the college football season features 13 Big Ten teams in action, with Michigan State on a bye week. As of writing this, No. 19 Michigan is pegged as the largest favorite of the week, laying 35.5 points at home to SMU. No. 4 Ohio State (-13) faces a big test against No. 15 TCU, while No. 5 Wisconsin (-22) takes on BYU and No. 11 Penn State is laying 34.5 points at home to Kent State. The rest of the schedule looks like this: Ball State at Indiana (-14), Rutgers (+3) at Kansas, Temple at Maryland (-15.5), Troy at Nebraska (-9.5), South Florida at Illinois (+9.5), Miami Ohio at Minnesota (-14), Northern Iowa at Iowa (off), Akron at Northwestern (-21) and Missouri at Purdue (+7.5).
Biggest Game of the Week
No. 4 Ohio State (-13) at No. 15 TCU
Another college football season, another seemingly easy Ohio State start. After last week's 52-3 thrashing of Rutgers, the Buckeyes have now scored 129 points and given up just 34. They've also gained 1,300 yards of offense and allowed 526 yards. However, this week, against the 15th -ranked team in the nation, the TCU Horned Frogs, the Buckeyes will face maybe their toughest test all year. TCU is a team that has the weapons offensively to keep up with the vaunted Buckeyes' attack. They've scored 97 points in two games while giving up just 19, and they've also outgained their opponents by an 892-427 count. To say this game is going to be a high-scoring game would be an understatement.
Despite the game being played at AT&T Stadium, this is essentially a home game for the Horned Frogs. And a victory over a top-five opponent, especially Ohio State, would shoot them up the rankings and get them into the fringes of the College Football Playoff discussion. However, it's going to take a gigantic effort from the TCU defense to try and contain the Buckeyes attack. Coming into this game, they've given up just 213.5 yards per game, but one has to figure that number will get bumped up after this one.
For the Buckeyes, this is the last game without their head coach, Urban Meyer, so they will be excited to get him back at the helm next week after a potentially 3-0 start. If the Buckeyes are going to emerge victorious in this one, they will need another solid game from Dwayne Haskins and a big game from J.K. Dobbins to shoulder the load offensively. They will also need the defense to perform well and adjust to the step up in class as going from Oregon State and Rutgers to the spread offense of TCU is a big challenge.
If I'm betting this game, I'm siding with the Buckeyes for one reason, and that's pedigree. They've been in hostile environments before and prevailed. They know what it takes to get the job done on the biggest stage and in order to keep their CFP dreams alive, and they will need to win this game. And by doing so convincingly, they could earn extra (unofficial) "brownie points" with the committee.
Big Ten College Football Playoff Roadmap
After losses by Michigan in Week 1 and Michigan State in Week 2, we can almost certainly say that neither of those two teams are making the top four this year. Penn State's Week 1 struggles at home to Appalachian State dropped them down a few spots in the rankings, but they bounced back with a solid effort last week to dismantle Pittsburgh. They are scheduled to play Ohio State in two weeks, so that could very well be the deciding game in terms of the Nittany Lions' season.
As for the aforementioned Buckeyes, they must beat TCU this week to save some face for the Big Ten as a whole. If they lose, then the Big Ten could very well be faced with the scenario where only an undefeated Big Ten champion could garner CFP attention. That leaves Wisconsin in the driver's seat as they have a favorable next three games before they take on Michigan.
I know it's a little early to talk about the CFP, but in a season that's 12 games long, every game matters. And every result has implications not only in that specific week, but it effects the entire conference in one way, shape or form.
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