B1G Bets: Best 5 Big Ten Football Picks for Week 9


Oct 27, 2023

We went 3-3 last week and look to return to the black in Week 9. With four teams idle, there are only five Big Ten games to pick from.

Record: 28-15-1 overall (+16.5 units) | ATS: 16-9-1 | Team Totals: 11-6 | Game Totals: 1-0

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B1GGEST Bets (1.5 Units):

Last Week: 0-0; Season: 4-1 (+4.5 Units)


B1GGER Bets (1 Units):

Last Week: 2-2; Season: 17-3 (+14 Units)

Purdue +2.5 NEBRASKA (Consensus)

Money Line: Nebraska -130 | Purdue +08 | Total: 39.5

Time: 3:30 p.m. ET; TV: FS1 | Location: Memorial Stadium | Lincoln, NE

Nebraska: AP Top 25: NR | Coaches Poll: NR | SP+: 61 | PFF: 54

Purdue: AP Top 25: NR | Coaches Poll: NR | SP+: 76 | PFF: 66

Why is Nebraska (4-3) just a 2.5-point favorite over 2-5 Purdue? The schedule. Purdue has played one of the toughest in the country, and they’d probably have at least four wins if they had Nebraska’s docket.

Also, the Huskers are pretty banged up, especially on offense (see more below). They slogged through a 17-9 win over Northwestern at home last week.

That explains the line…why are we on the Boilermakers? In addition to the above, we like the spot and matchup for the boys from West Lafayette.

What does Nebraska do best? Stop the run. Purdue doesn’t run the ball well anyway, and they’re looking to win through the air, which at least somewhat negates that edge the Huskers have.

Where is Purdue most vulnerable? Defending the pass. Well, Nebraska is one of the most one-dimensional offenses in the Power Five and has little passing offense to speak of.

After two losses to Iowa and Ohio State, Purdue had an extra week to prepare for this game. With a game against Michigan looming next week, you can bet the Boilermakers have this game circled as a must-win if they want to finish the season strong. I think they get the upset over Nebraska in Lincoln.


Money Line: Maryland -550 | Northwestern +400 | Total: 48.5

Time: 12:00 p.m. ET; TV: BTN | Location: Ryan Field | Evanston, IL

Maryland: AP Top 25: NR | Coaches Poll: NR | SP+: 32 | PFF: 42

Northwestern: AP Top 25: NR | Coaches Poll: NR | SP+: 93 | PFF: 93

Northwestern’s offense is among the worst in college football, ranked 117th by SP+. They’re 87th in EPA/rush while averaging a B1G-worst 2.9 yards per carry and worse when passing the football (110th in EPA/pass and 105th in passing success rate).

They’ve played five Power Five opponents and have been held to 14 points or less four times, with a fluky 21-point point fourth quarter against Minnesota (ten points through three quarters) the lone outlier.

It’s unclear if QB1 Ben Bryant will be back (he hasn’t played since Sept. 30). They are worse without him (20 points vs. Howard, nine points at Nebraska), but if he does start, it takes their best rusher—QB2 Brendan Sullivan—off the field.

Maryland’s defense has been strong this season (35th in EPA/play, 28th in SP+) and especially tough to pass on (21st EPA/pass).

The Terps have allowed 3.3 yards per carry and have a strong group of tackling safeties and linebackers led by Beau Brade and Ruben Hyppolite II. Their corners are long and athletic, which allows them to blitz and has resulted in a better-than-expected pass rush (21 sacks tied for third in B1G), with many sacks coming from the linebacking corps.

That Northwestern O-line struggling to open rushing holes also can’t protect their quarterback. They’ve allowed 30 sacks (most in the B1G per game), and their 200 yards lost are far worse than the next worst team (145 yards).

Check out SportsGrid’s CFB Game Picks and CFB Player Props

B1G Bets (1/2 Unit):

Last Week: 1-1; Season: 7-11-1 (-2 Units)

NEBRASKA-Purdue UNDER 39.5 (FanDuel)

Purdue’s offense is ranked 76th by SP+, while Nebraska’s defense is 20th. The Boilermakers are 93rd in EPA/play and 47th in success rate, while the Cornhuskers are 30th in success rate and 37th in EPA/play on defense. Without diving into all the numbers, it’s a Huskers edge.

While Purdue doesn’t have an elite defense, Nebraska’s offense is the worst unit in this game (not counting the putrid special teams of both teams), ranked 94th by SP+.

That doesn’t fully factor in all the injuries suffered by the Cornhuskers. They have three offensive linemen injured, arguably their best three offensive linemen. Their best receiver, Billy Kemp, is out, and he joins starting receivers Marcus Washington and Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda, who are done for the season. Also out for the season are RB1 Gabe Ervin Jr. and RB3 Rahmir Johnson.

It’s hard to believe this group is going to put up a lot of points, even against an average Purdue defense.

Maryland -13.5 NORTHWESTERN (FanDuel)

We’ve won with the Terps, and we’ve lost with the Terps. Our two wins when backing Maryland ATS (vs. Virginia and Indiana) came when we also had UNDER the opposing team’s team total (see above).

Then we have a Maryland offense that is arguably the best Northwestern has on their schedule.

QB Taulia Tagovailoa is the most consistent and prolific quarterback they’ve faced. With TE Corey Dyches expected to return, the Terps have six pass catchers with at least 147 receiving yards. Jeshaun Jones (15.5 YPC) is a speed demon, and Kaden Prather (five TDs) knows how to use his 6’4″/212-pound frame.

Roman Hemby is an all-around running and receiving threat, Maryland’s O-line has just eight sacks (second fewest in the B1G), and Northwestern has the fewest sacks (ten) in the conference.

If the Terps hold the ‘Cats to 16 (or fewer), they should be able to score 30 to get us the cover. Northwestern’s defense is 103rd in EPA/pass, 100th in passing success rate, and 82nd in EPA per rush. Despite facing just one offense ranked higher than 60th in points per game (Maryland is 35th), they’ve allowed 34-plus points three times.

You might be worried about Maryland looking past Northwestern, but that’s unlikely, considering they’re coming off two straight losses heading into their bye and are looking to get back on the winning side this Saturday.

Michigan State UNDER 15.5

Spread: Minnesota -7 | Money Line: Minnesota -295 | Michigan State +235 | Total: 40.5

Time: 3:30 p.m. ET; TV: BTN | Location: Huntington Bank Stadium | Minneapolis, MN

Minnesota: AP Top 25: NR | Coaches Poll: NR | SP+: 59 | PFF: 33

Michigan State: AP Top 25: NR | Coaches Poll: NR | SP+: 69 | PFF: 83

I was tempted to lay the seven points with the Minnesota Golden Gophers but focused on their defense against a terrible Michigan State offense.

The Spartans are 123rd in EPA/pass, 118th in EPA/rush, 102nd in rushing success rate, 92nd in SP+, and 75th in passing success rate. Katin Houser has looked shaky in two starts and downright shell-shocked last week versus Michigan. I’m not sure why we should expect much out of him on the road this week.

Against five Power Five opponents, they’ve averaged 11.2 PPG. When turnovers and short fields do not aid them, the Spartans struggle to find the endzone.

Minnesota’s defense isn’t a powerhouse, but they are a solid 27th per SP+ and 48th in EPA/game. More importantly, they understand complimentary football and do an excellent job with the field position game (22nd on defense vs. MSU 117th on offense), play at a slow tempo, look to control the ball on the ground, and limit turnovers.

They’ve held three of the worst four offenses they’ve faced this season to 13 points or less, including both home games.

Not only is MSU’s offense anemic, but we’re not sure how much fight they have left after blowing a 21-point lead to Rutgers and getting shutout by rival Michigan in their last two games off the bye. They might be ready for their season to be over.

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Thumbnail photo via Alex Martin/Journal and Courier / USA TODAY NETWORK

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