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Big Ten Rundown: Big Test Awaits No. 3 OSU

There are four conference games on the Week 4 Big Ten schedule with none bigger than the Wisconsin-Ohio State showdown. The Buckeyes and Badgers are the favorites to win the Big Ten division titles and advance to the conference championship game.

Maryland’s game with Michigan could be a fun one to watch, while Minnesota and its rushing offense that ranks second in the country will look to hand Michigan State a rare Big Ten loss at home. Finally, Iowa, with a suffocating defense that has allowed 13 points in three games, heads to the Tri-State area to face undefeated Rutgers.

Austin Mack #11 of the Ohio State Buckeyes reaches to catch a pass while defended by Faion Hicks #1 of the Wisconsin badgers during the BIG Ten Football Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 07, 2019
Andy Lyons / Getty Images North America / Getty Images Via Afp

Ohio State (-225) remains the heavy favorite to win the Big Ten championship according to the college football odds. Michigan (+425), Penn State (+1200), Wisconsin (+1200) and Minnesota (+1800) are other top contenders.

According to the college football playoff odds, Ohio State (+275) is third followed by Michigan (+2000) and Penn State (+5000).

Game of the Week

Wisconsin Badgers vs Ohio State Buckeyes

  • Date, time, TV: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
  • Line: Ohio State -19

This could be a dress rehearsal for the Big Ten title game. The Badgers and Buckeyes were listed by the college football predictions as the favorite in the two divisions.

Plenty of eyes will be on running backs Braelon Allen of Wisconsin and TreVeyon Henderson of Ohio State. They came into the season as two of the top Heisman Trophy candidates among running backs. Allen has been solid in the last two weeks with 184 yards and three TDs, but he is capable of so much more. Henderson was knocked out of last week’s game but he is listed as probable for this one.

The passing of Wisconsin’s Graham Mertz could be pivotal if the Badgers want to hang around in this one.

Ohio State has won the last eight meetings with Wisconsin This is the third consecutive matchup that has Ohio State as a double-digit favorite.

Other Games to Watch

Chattanooga Mocs vs Illinois Fighting Illini

  • Date, time, TV: Thursday, 8:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)

Chase Brown is coming off a 1,000-yard season for Illinois and he is almost halfway there already with 496 yards in the first three games. It has helped that former Syracuse quarterback Tommy DeVito is completing 67% of his passes in his first season with the Fighting Illini.

Maryland Terrapins vs Michigan Wolverines

  • Date, time, TV: Saturday, Noon ET (FOX)
  • Line: Michigan -17

This has the makings of an offensive showcase as the Wolverines are averaging 55.3 points compared to 40.3 for the Terrapins.

Maryland’s Taulia Tagovailoa threw for nearly 4,000 yards a season ago. His yard per passing attempt has improved from 8.1 to 10.2 as he is connecting on plenty of big plays. Redshirt freshman J.J. McCarthy has taken over the quarterbacking duties for defending Big Ten champion Michigan. All he has done is complete 30 of 34 passes.

It is not all about the passing game as Michigan’s Blake Corum has 235 rushing yards and seven touchdowns while Maryland’s Roman Hamby has 294 yards.

Michigan has won the last six games against the Terrapins and covered in each of those victories, with the average margin being 33.7 points

Central Michigan Chippewas vs Penn State Nittany Lions

  • Date, time, TV: Saturday, Noon ET (Big Ten Network)
  • Line: Penn State -28

Penn State is allowing nearly 200 rushing yards per game and that defense should be tested by Central Michigan back Lew Nichols. Nichols ran for more than 1,800 yards a season ago. His yards per carry have dropped from 5.4 to 3.6 and the Nittany Lions would like to see that number fall even lower.

Penn State features veteran quarterback Sean Clifford and running back Nicholas Singleton, who is averaging 11.1 yards per rushing attempt.

Minnesota Golden Gophers vs Michigan State Spartans

  • Date, time, TV: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
  • Line: Minnesota -3

It looks like Minnesota running back Mohamed Ibrahim is healthy as he has 464 yards and seven touchdowns after being limited to one game a season ago. He has helped Minnesota become the No. 2 rushing team in the country.

Minnesota lost one of its top offensive players when receiver Chris Autman-Bell suffered a season-ending leg injury. He is the Gophers leader with 214 receiving yards.

Michigan State got exposed a bit by visiting Washington a week ago. Look for quarterback Payton Thorne, running back Jalen Berger and receiver Keon Coleman to bounce back.

Michigan State has won five games in a row against Minnesota. However, the Gophers have covered against the college football betting lines in seven of the last eight contests.

Big Ten Rundown: Big Test Awaits No. 3 OSU
Hannah Foslien / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Indiana Hoosiers vs Cincinnati Bearcats

  • Date, time, TV: Saturday, 3:3 0 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
  • Line: Cincinnati -16½

Sure, Cincinnati is coming off a run all the way to the College Football Playoffs in 2021. Still, it is a bit stunning to see the Bearcats favored by 16½ points against an undefeated Big Ten team.

Former Missouri quarterback Connor Bazelak has thrown for 891 yards in the first three games. Cam Camper is the top target with 23 catches and 292 yards.

Something that could be of interest to those who bet online: Indiana has allowed 445 yards per game so there could be some issues slowing down the Bearcats’ offense.

Iowa Hawkeyes vs Rutgers Scarlet Knights

  • Date, time, TV: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET (FS1)
  • Line: Iowa -7½

This could be a game controlled by the defenses. Iowa is allowing just 4.3 points and 217.7 yards through the first three games while undefeated Rutgers has allowed just 42 points in the first three games.

Perhaps running backs Caleb Johnson of Iowa and Al-Shadee Salaam of Rutgers can get rolling because neither passing attack has been impressive in the early portion of the season.

Miami (OH) RedHawks vs Northwestern Wildcats

  • Date, time, TV: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
  • Line: Northwestern -7½

Northwestern is coming off a loss to FCS Southern Illinois so any momentum gained by a season-opening win over Nebraska seems like ancient history. In 12 career games at Northwestern, Ryan Hilinski has eight touchdown passes and seven interceptions and that is not going to get it done.

Both teams are allowing around 30 points per game so there could be some offensive fireworks in this one.

Florida Atlantic Owls vs Purdue Boilermakers

  • Date, time, TV: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
  • Line: Purdue -20

Footballs could be flying through the air as Purdue quarterback Aidan O’Connell had 1,000 passing yards and Florida Atlantic’s N’kosi Perry, who is in his second season at FAU after transferring from Miami, has 987 yards and 10 TD passes.

Purdue is 1-2 despite averaging nearly 200 more yards than their opponents.

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