B1G Bets: Best 7 Big Ten Football Picks for Week 13


Nov 24, 2023

Wow. This is it—week 13 of the college football season.

We have The Game, between undefeated Michigan and undefeated Ohio State for the second straight season, as well as rivalry games between Wisconsin-Minnesota (Paul Bunyan’s Axe!), Iowa-Nebraska (The Heroes Game), Indiana-Purdue (Old Oaken Bucket!), and Illinois-Northwestern (The Land of Lincoln Trophy).

Eight Big Ten teams have clinched bowl eligibility, and three more can do so this weekend, all in the aforementioned rivalry games: Nebraska, Illinois, and Minnesota are all 5-6. The other side would love nothing more than to knock them out.

We have seven picks this week, including sides ATS, team totals, and a game total.

Record: 41-27-1 overall (+18 units) | ATS: 23-14-1 | Team Totals: 14-12 | Game Totals: 4-1

On to Week 13’s picks! Scared money, don’t make money. Let’s eat!

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B1GGEST Bets (1.5 Units):

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

MICHIGAN -3.5 Ohio State (Consensus)

Money Line: Michigan -165 | Ohio State +140 | Total: 46.5

Time: 12:00 p.m. ET; TV: FOX | Location: Michigan Stadium | Ann Arbor, MI

Michigan: CFP: 3 | SP+: 1 | PFF: 2

Ohio State: CFP: 2 | SP+: 3 | PFF: 3

More Mich-OSU: Michigan’s 5 Keys | OSU’s 5 Keys | A Defacto Playoff Game | Defensive Battle | Weather

I’m a little hesitant to make this a B1GGEST Bet, only because of the absence of Jim Harbaugh, who I believe can make a difference in this level of game.

But this is the game of the year; I’ve been on Michigan as a cut above Ohio State all season, and I’m not jumping off this wagon now. Not with the line dropping after it was 6.5 for most of November. If last week gives you pause, remember that Michigan barely survived Illinois 19-17 in Week 12 last season, when they needed three fourth-quarter field goals to remain undefeated before they beat the Buckeyes 45-23 in Columbus.

Typically, the team that runs the ball better in this game, The Game, wins. That favors the Wolverines. Michigan’s rushing metrics are better, but not by a lot.

The difference is when the Maize and Blue have to, they’ve elevated their rushing game against their most formidable opponents. Penn State is fourth in the country in rushing yards per game allowed (79.2) and third in yards per carry (2.42). Do you know how Michigan beat the Nittany Lions? By running it down their throat. The Nittany Lions knew what was coming and couldn’t stop it. They rushed for 227 yards and three TDs at a 4.9 YPC clip.

They also rushed for 249 yards and 4.9 YPC against Nebraska, who is sixth in yards per game (86.6) and yards per carry (2.83).

Yes, Ohio State has a healthy TreVeyon Henderson, but Michigan has a healthy Blake Corum for the time in this rivalry. Corum played his best football against PSU (145 yards, 5.6 YPC, 2 TDs), as did Donovan Edwards.

I also believe the Wolverines will be more balanced this Saturday. Am I worried about the offensive line and their struggles in pass pro against Penn State? The edges for PSU and OSU are very different. PSU’s flat-out speed and athleticism gave the Wolverines (especially their RT) trouble. The Buckeyes duo, while talented, isn’t as dynamic or aggressive. The Nittany Lions lead the B1G with 41 sacks. OSU has 21 sacks, which is 11th in the B1G. It’s a better matchup for the two-time defending Big Ten champs.

Meanwhile, the Buckeyes have had issues at center and tackle this season. Michigan’s interior troika of Mason Graham, Kris Jenkins, and Kenneth Grant will control the line of scrimmage. Their edges can also get home, and LB Michael Barrett is an effective blitzer.

Marvin Harrison Jr. and Henderson are dangerous playmakers, but if this comes down to the quarterbacks, give me J.J. McCarthy all day. I don’t trust Kyle McCord, not in this spot, against this defense, and on the road. McCarthy had a poor Week 12 game, but I expect him to bounce back, and he says his ankle is feeling much better going into the finale. That would be huge because his legs can be a difference-maker against an elite defense.

Roman Wilson is expected back, and look for TE Colston Loveland to have a big game against Buckeye linebackers who have trouble with athletic tight ends.

The Wolverines are the best team in the Big Ten and will prove it again in the Big House on Saturday. Right now, I’m being patient in hopes this line hits three.

B1GGER Bets (1 Units):

Last Week: 1-0; Season: 21-7 (+14 Units)

(Friday) UNDER NEBRASKA 13.5 (FanDuel)

Money Line: Nebraska -145 | Iowa +120 | Total: 25.5

Time: 12:00 p.m. ET; TV: CBS | Location: Memorial Stadium | Lincoln, NE

Nebraska: CFP: NR | SP+: 65 | PFF: 67

Iowa: CFP: 17 | SP+: 28 | PFF: 21

More Nebraska-Iowa: Nebraska’s 5 Keys | Weather | More B1G: Top Rivalry Games

I broke one of my own rules last week and paid for it when we took Iowa ATS, but I didn’t couple it with the opposing team’s UNDER. We’re not making that same mistake again.

The Hawkeyes haven’t allowed a team to score more than 13 points in five straight games, as they’ve given up 7.6 PPG over that stretch.

Is Nebraska’s offense to break through? Based on what? Their 120th early downs EPA, 119th points per drive, 104th offensive success rate, 94th offensive field position, 93rd third/fourth down success rate, or 85th offensive EPA?

Chubba Purdy is starting again. Cool. He surprised Wisconsin early with his speed, and the Badgers had some shoddy tackling as the Huskers took a quick 14-point lead. They would score three more points the rest of the way, including overtime. There’s a reason Purdy, a career 52.2 percent passer with five TDs and six INTs, was QB3 this season.

To have any chance, Nebraska needs to run the ball. The Hawkeyes are a very solid 20th in yards per carry (3.14 YPC), 23rd in EPA/rush, and 30th in rushing success rate on defense. And No. 1 in points per drive.

It’s tough for quarterbacks to get explosive runs against Iowa’s zone scheme, and I’d be surprised if the Cornhuskers (nation-leading turnovers with 28) don’t turn it over multiple times.

Iowa +3 NEBRASKA (DraftKings)

Give me Iowa and the points as well. Nebraska needs a win to secure a bowl bid, but that has been the case against Michigan State, Maryland, and Wisconsin over the past three weeks. Their best win all season is against Northwestern with their backup QB, and now they’re supposed to beat nine-win Iowa?

Again, I ask, why?

Scott Frost may be gone, but Nebraska has a three-point loss to Minnesota, a three-point loss to MSU, a three-point loss to Maryland, and an OT defeat to Wisconsin. They are 0-4 in games decided by seven points or fewer.

Iowa thrives in close and uncomfortable games with a 4-1 record in games decided by a touchdown or less (with their lone loss by two points, 12-10).

Bottom line. The Hawkeyes are a good football team that knows how to win. Nebraska is not.

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

B1G Bets (1/2 Unit):

Last Week: 4-3; Season: 15-19-1 (-2 Units)

(Friday) Penn State -22 MICHIGAN STATE (ESPN BET)

Money Line: Penn State -2000 | Michigan State +1000 | Total: 43.5

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET; TV: NBC | Location: Ford Field | Detroit, MI

Penn State: CFP: 11 | SP+: 6 | PFF: 9

Michigan State: CFP: NR | SP+: 82 | PFF: 70

The Spartans have shown fight in most games this season, except when playing teams with a talent gap. They lost by 34 to Washington (home), 49 to Michigan (home), and 35 to Ohio State. Is Penn State a notch below those teams? Fair. Throw in a ten-point loss to Iowa and a 22-point loss to Maryland, and the Spartans are 0-5 ATS against their five most formidable opponents.

I liked this game better when PSU was 20.5, but I still believe the Nittany Lions will cover the spread, just as they’ve done against most of the inferior opponents they’ve faced.

Drew Allar is expected to play and will want to finish the season strong, but if he cannot go, backup Beau Pribula has shown he can move the ball with his legs.

Coming off their loss to Michigan, PSU got off to a sleepy start last week but finished strong to cover for us. Playing their regular season final on primetime on Black Friday, expect a more complete game from the Nittany Lions.

Meanwhile, the Spartans are a banged-up team, physically and emotionally. They only traveled 45 scholarship players to Indiana last week (16 players were listed as OUT), and with the season they’ve had, they must be ready for it to be over.


A big part of the handicap above is Penn State’s dominance on defense.

Sparty’s injury woes on offense include starting center Nick Samac, who has been ruled out after he left the IU game with an injury, as have starting receivers Tre Mosley and Jaron Glover, while RB1 Nathan Carter is at less than 100 percent if he does suit up.

The QB depth behind Katin Houser is perilously thin, and MSU must resort to a conservative game plan to keep their signal caller upright. Led by edge rushers Adisa Isaac, Chop Robinson, and Dani Dennis-Sutton, no one in the B1G is better at getting after the quarterback.

PSU is third in defensive success rate, third in early down EPA, fourth in defensive EPA, and fourth in points per drive. MSU is 120 in offensive success rate, 125 in third/fourth down success, 117th in early down EPA, 107th in field position, and 101st in EPA.

Sparty doesn’t have to score. They didn’t against Michigan and managed just a field goal against Ohio State. Expect more of the same.

Maryland -1.5 RUTGERS (BetMGM)

Money Line: Maryland -120 | Michigan State +100 | Total: 44.5

Time: 3:30 p.m. ET; TV: BTN | Location: SHI Stadium | Piscataway, NJ

Maryland: CFP: NR | SP+: 39 | PFF: 53

Rutgers: CFP: NR | SP+: 58 | PFF: 62

I may regret this, but the Terps are the better team. They snapped their four-game losing streak two weeks ago at Nebraska and played arguably their best game of the season a week ago against Michigan.

They both might be 6-5, but this is the ceiling for Rutgers (all five losses are by at least 11 points) and Maryland’s floor.

Maryland has the better offense: 26th in offensive EPA, 45th in points per drive, and 55th in success rate. Rutgers is 45th in offensive EPA, 80th in points per drive, and 99th in success rate. It’s a much better offense.

Taulia Tagovailoa (65.5 completion percentage, 7.4 YPP, 22 TDs) gives them a significant edge at the QB position compared to Gavin Wimsatt (49.2 completion percentage, 6.2 YPP, 8 TDs).

Tagovailoa has better weapons with the 6’4″ Kaden Prather (15.1 YPC, 5 TDs), the dangerous after-the-catch Jeshaun Jones (677 yards), pass-catching TE Corey Dyches (47 receptions), and Tai Felton (5 TDs). They give Maryland four guys with at least 40 grabs and over 425 yards.

Rutgers doesn’t have a single player with 35 catches or 425 yards. Their best offensive player is Kyle Monangai, who has been banged up and limited to 78 yards on 29 carries over the past two games (2.7 YPC). RU scored just six points in those two games as they limp to the finish line.

The Terps also have the better defense: 38th in points per drive, 42nd in defensive EPA, and 57th in success rate. Rutgers is 34th in points per drive, 45th in defensive EPA, and 112th in success rate.

Rutgers is the team Mike Locksley has had the most success against. He’s 4-1 against the Scarlet Knights, including 2-0 in Piscataway. The last two, with Tagovailoa, the Terps won 40-16 and 37-0.

Wisconsin-MINNESOTA UNDER 43.5 (BetMGM)

Money Line: Wisconsin -135 | Minnesota +110 | Spread: Wisconsin -2.5

Time: 3:30 p.m. ET; TV: FS1 | Location: Huntington Bank Stadium | Minneapolis, MN

Wisconsin: CFP: NR | SP+: 31 | PFF: 48

Minnesota: CFP: NR | SP+: 67 | PFF: 42

The Minnesota offense is flat-out bad. They’re 116th in points per drive, 85th in offensive success rate, and 84th in offensive EPA. They want to run the ball, which doesn’t match up well against a Wisconsin defense that’s 23rd in rushing success rate and 28th in EPA per rush.

In theory, the Badgers offense is better, but they’re 100th in points per drive and have never really gotten their passing game going (94th in success rate, 75th EPA per pass). Leading receiver and go-to guy Will Pauling injured his ankle late in the fourth quarter against Nebraska last week. His 675 yards are 300 yards better than their WR2 Bryson Green, who missed last week’s game.

They have an excellent running game when at 100 percent, which they’re not. Braelon Allen gutted it out against the Cornhuskers but was clearly limited (2.8 yards per carry), and now that they’ve clinched a bowl game, what’s the incentive to risk further injury?

Wisconsin’s last four games have totaled precisely 34 points through 60 minutes, and six of their past seven games have been UNDER Saturday’s total. I see this game ending similarly.

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Thumbnail photo via Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

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