Big Ten Football: B1G Bets for Week 10


November 4

Is it just me, or is food tastier, colors look brighter, and music sounds better when you’re coming off a winning weekend? With a 4-2 Saturday, including a W on the B1GGEST Bet, the season record is up to 28-20, approaching 60 percent on the season.

Scared money, don’t make money. Let’s eat!

Overall Record: 28-20 overall (+3.5 units) | ATS: 14-12 | Team Totals: 14-8

Onto this week’s picks. Scared money, don’t make money. Let’s eat!

B1GGEST Bets (2 Units):

Last Week: 1-0; Season: 2-5 (-6 Units)

Penn State -13.5 INDIANA

Money Line: Indiana +430 | I Penn State -600 | Total: 49.5
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET; TV: ABC | Location: Memorial Stadium | Bloomington, IN
Penn State: 6-2 | CFP: 15 | AP: 15 | Coaches: 16 | SP+: 15 | PFF: 15
Indiana: 3-5 | CFP: NR | AP: NR | Coaches: NR | SP+: 85 | PFF: 107

You can make a case that Penn State’s dreams were dashed last week, but the talent gap is too wide for this short of a line (@ FanDuel). We’re not doubting PSU’s B1G Championship hopes, but after going 11-11 the past two seasons, this group should remain hungry for wins.

There’s also a nice blend of veterans who’ll want to end their careers strong, like sixth-year senior quarterback Sean Clifford, and a plethora of uber-talented freshmen eager to prove themselves, including backs Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen and ‘backer Abdul Carter. Take your pick. 

PSU’s offense isn’t always efficient, but they are explosive–top 25 in plays of 30+, 40+, and 50+ yards–especially on the ground where they’re in the top ten in runs of 30+, 40+, and 50+ yards. Singleton, in particular, is a home run hitter, as is wideout Parker Washington through the air.

Indiana’s defense doesn’t match up well because they’re very vulnerable to big plays, ranked 109th in rushes of 30+ yards allowed and 100th in plays (and rushes) of 40+ yards.

Look for PSU to put up points. They’ve scored over 30 six times and over 40 three times. Forty-plus sounds right against a poor-tackling Hoosiers defense that gave up 24 points to lowly Rutgers to snap a streak of five-straight games of at least 30 points allowed

B1GGER Bets (1 Unit):

Last Week: 2-2; Season: 21-13 (+8 Units)


In all likelihood, we won’t need PSU to score more than 31 points because the defense will hold down IU’s pass-happy (sad?) “attack.” Unable to run the ball (last in the B1G in yards per game and per carry), the Hoosiers throw it 67.3 percent of the time.

Just because they throw it a lot doesn’t mean they’re good at it, as IU is 12th in the conference in passing efficiency, ahead of only Rutgers and Iowa. Not the way to score on one of the nation’s best pass defenses, especially without their best receiver/offensive player, Cam Camper (out).

Making matters worse for the Hoosiers but better for us is the expectation for winds gusting at just over 20 miles per hour (33.3 percent precipitation). More than rain, wind wrecks havoc on passing. 

Ohio State -7.5 NORTHWESTERN (1st Quarter)

Money Line: Northwestern OTB | Ohio State OTB | Total: 55.5
Time: noon ET; TV: ABC | Location: Ryan Field | Evanston, IL
Ohio State: 8-0 | CFP: 2 | AP: 2 | Coaches: 2 | SP+: 1 | PFF: 2
Northwestern: 1-7 | CFP: NR | AP:  NR | Coaches: NR | SP+: 96 | PFF: 115

This matchup should result in the biggest blowout in the Big Ten this season. Ohio State could start going heavy into the two-deep as early as the second quarter and empty the bench in the second half, so there’s risk in laying 38.5 points with the Buckeyes. 

But there’s every reason to expect C.J. Stroud and Co. to come out humming. I don’t have to explain to you how good OSU is–No. 1 in EPA on offense and No. 4 in EPA on defense–do I? But y’all might not be aware of how bad Northwestern is on both sides of the ball. 

The Wildcats are 118th in yards per carry, 112th in yards per pass, 105th in yards per carry allowed, and a respectable 48th in yards per pass allowed. Before we consider their pass D a strength, let’s not forget that Iowa’s Spencer Petras threw for 220 yards (7.3 YPP) on them last week.

With winds of 22.8 miles per hour and an 81 percent chance of precipitation, focus on the YPC allowed and look for sophomore back TreVeyon Henderson to have a career day. Conversely, the ‘Cats are 121st in rushing EPA. It will be three-and-out against OSU’s first unit.

If you can find some first-quarter alt-lines of 13.5, 16.5, and 20.5, tweet at ya boy and let me know because I expect the Buckeyes to jump out to a big lead behind Stroud and Henderson.

Michigan -25.5 RUTGERS

Money Line: Rutgers +1600 | Michigan -4500 | Total: 44.5
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET; TV: BTN | Location: SHI Stadium | Piscataway, NJ
Michigan: 8-0 | CFP: 5 | AP: 4 | Coaches: 4 | SP+: 4 | PFF: 4
Rutgers: 4-4 | CFP: NR | AP: NR | Coaches: NR | SP+: 82 | PFF: 73

Expect this to be an ornery Michigan team this Saturday. You know they’re not happy about what happened in the tunnels of the Big House after their win over Michigan State, which will probably only bring this team closer together.

Then, on Tuesday, the Wolverines learned they’re “only” the No. 5 team in the country. Michigan would be out if the College Football Playoffs were played this weekend. The CFP thinks Clemson is better. Worse, they have Ohio State, not one, not two, but three slots ahead of Michigan

Throw in that Rutgers gave them the closest game in Ann Arbor last season (20-13), with their previous matchup also a one-score game. This group of Wolverines will not take the Scarlet Knights lightly and will be very pissed off going into Saturday’s content. Not a good combination for RU. 

The Wolverines also know they are leaving points on the field and need to do better. Do better to impress committees and do better if they’re going to beat Ohio State at the end of the year. Their offense is fourth in success rate and is rarely forced to punt, while Rutgers is 58th in defensive success rate.

It will be a focused, buttoned-down effort offensively. Defensively, expect nothing short of dominance. The Wolverines’ defense is fifth in success rate and third in EPA, compared to a RU offense that ranks 119th in success rate and 117th in EPA. Do you want more?

Per ESPN’s Bill Connelly, Rutgers has faced three SP+ top-ten defenses, and they’ve scored a total of 20 points (6.67 PPG) and averaged 227 yards per game. Michigan’s defense ranks fourth in SP+, and the Scarlet Knights may not get on the scoreboard for the second-straight game.

Unless the Wolverines suddenly start giving the ball away–their five turnovers are tied for the third-fewest in FBS–I don’t know how they win this game by less than 30 points. 


Money Line: Nebraska +500 | Minnesota -720 | Total: 44.5
Time: noon ET; TV: ESPN | Location: Memorial Stadium | Lincoln, NE
Minnesota: 5-3 | CFP: NR | AP: NR | Coaches: NR | SP+: 20 | PFF: 24
Nebraska: 3-5 | CFP: NR | AP: NR | Coaches: NR | SP+: 68 | PFF: 83

This is a similar handicap to last week when we hit with an UNDER on Rutgers against the Gophers. Minnesota is a bully defense that dominates terrible offenses. Without Casey Thompson, Nebraska has a lousy offense. Neither Chubba Purdy nor Logan Smothers appears Big Ten-ready.

When Smothers is in the game, the Huskers are one-dimensional, as he’s rushed the ball more times (four) than pass attempts (one) this season and in his career (34 rushes to 41 pass attempts), while Purdy is 10 of 20 for 50 yards for a 50 percent completion rate and 2.5 yards per pass, albeit over a small sample.

In his only drive, last week against Illinois, Smothers and the Huskers went three-and-out. Purdy played the second half, and the results weren’t any better: three first downs (one by penalty), two three-and-outs, two turnovers, including an INT, and no points in six drives (29 yards).

Part of this handicap is Minnesota’s methodical run-dominant offense. The Gophers are second nationally in time of possession. In their win over Rutgers last week, Mohamed Ibrahim (36 carries, 159 yards) and Co. controlled the ball for 41:02, with 74 plays compared to 45 for the Knights.

It’s hard to score when you don’t have the ball.

Note: This is a play ONLY if Casey Thompson can’t play. According to coach Mickey Joseph, his QB is a game-time decision, so follow his status leading up to kickoff. 

Iowa UNDER 17.5

Money Line: Purdue -178 | Iowa +146 | Total: 38.5
Time: noon ET; TV: FS1 | Location: Ross-Ade Stadium | West Lafayette, IN
Iowa: 4-4 | CFP: NR | AP: NR | Coaches: NR | SP+: 31 | PFF: 36
Purdue: 5-3 | CFP: NR | AP: NR | Coaches: NR | SP+: 36 | PFF: 43

The Iowa Hawkeyes are coming off their best offensive game of the season but don’t be fooled. It was about the opponent (Northwestern) as much or more so than any progress Brian Ferentz’s unit may or may not have made. By any metric, old school or advanced, Iowa’s offense is in the bottom five among Power Five teams (101st in FBS per SP+).

In three road games this season, the offense has yet to find the end zone, so as long as Purdue can keep Iowa’s defense from scoring, I don’t see how the Hawkeyes score more than 17 points.

The Boilermakers aren’t great defensively, but they’re solid: 53rd per SP+ and 40th in defensive success rate. Iowa is 102 in offensive success rate and 128th in rushing EPA (out of 130), which is especially significant this week, as the game in West Lafayette will also be affected by the weather with projected winds of 24.4 miles per hour and 85.7 chance of precipitation.

Finally, we have tempo and ball control. They take their time with the football and had only eight possessions in last week’s win. Not having the football a lot is part of Iowa’s strategy. Now, they take on a Purdue team that ranks tenth in time of possession

I said it before, and I’ll repeat it, it’s hard to score when you don’t have the ball.

B1G Bets (1/2 Unit):

Last Week: 1-0; Season: 5-2 (+1.5 Units)

Michigan State UNDER 11.5

Money Line: Illinois -880 | Michigan State +580 | Total: 40.5
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET; TV: BTN | Location: Memorial Stadium | Champaign, IL
Michigan State: 3-5 | CFP: NR | AP: NR | Coaches: NR | SP+: 56 | PFF: 63
Illinois: 7-1 | CFP: 16 | AP: 14 | Coaches: 13 | SP+: 24 | PFF: 11

The number looks ridiculous, doesn’t it? But this is the same Sparty offense that scored seven against Minnesota, and seven against Michigan, defenses comparable to the Illini, who are ranked No. 1 per SP+ defensively.

Weather is a significant factor in this handicap: 25.7 miles per hour winds. The Spartans are 88th in offensive EPA, specifically 130th in rushing EPA, the worst in all college football.

Their best (only?) offense is throwing the ball up to their talented 6’4″ wideout, Keon Coleman. How will that work with gusting winds against the No. 1 EPA defense against the pass?

I will not repeat it, but I will let you know that Illinois is third in FBS football in time of possession. 

WISCONSIN -4.5 Maryland

Money Line: Wisconsin -210 | Maryland +172 | Total: 48.5
Time: noon ET; TV: BTN | Location: Camp Randall Stadium | Madison, WI
Maryland: 6-2 | CFP: NR | AP: NR | Coaches: NR | SP+: 26 | PFF: 32
Wisconsin: 4-4 | CFP: NR | AP: NR | Coaches: NR | SP+: 29 | PFF: 39

I’m going to kick myself if this one doesn’t hit, but it’s a bad spot for the Terps, and yes, the weather will play a factor. The weather people call for 21.9 miles per hour and an 81 chance of precipitation.

The Badgers were built for this (52.9 percent runs), while Maryland is a passing offense (57.9 percent).

I believe the Badgers have found something under Jim Leonhard, as they’ve scored at least 28 points in the past three games, while 21 points was their high under Paul Chryst in their previous three Power Five games.

I like both teams, but the Badgers are trending in the right direction; Taulia Tagovailoa figures to be rusty (he hasn’t played since October 15), and the conditions favor the home side. 

Thumbnail photo via Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

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