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Big Ten Rundown: Nittany Lions Looking To Roar Against Favored Ohio State

Illinois Looks To Remain Atop The Big Ten West

When it comes to the Big Ten Week 9 schedule, this is not looking like a week to remember with four of the five games featuring double-digit point spreads.

Penn State has struggled to compete against the top teams in the Big Ten in recent years. However, the matchups against Ohio State are usually not decided until the final drive or two.

Sean Clifford #14 of the Penn State Nittany Lions carries the ball against Steele Chambers #22 of the Ohio State Buckeyes during the first half of their game at Ohio Stadium on October 30, 2021
emilee chinn / getty images north america / getty images via afp

When looking at the college football odds, the game that could be the most competitive this week is the Illinois-Nebraska showdown.

Michigan’s annual Michigan State game could be a one-sided affair as the Wolverines attempt to snap a two-game losing streak against their rivals.

Ohio State is second and Michigan fourth in both The Associated Press and American Football Coaches Association national poll. Penn State comes in at No. 13 in both polls while Illinois is No. 17 in the AP rankings and 18th in the coaches poll.

Ohio State is priced at -450 in the odds to win the Big Ten title followed by Michigan (+400), Illinois (+1000), Purdue (+2800) and Penn State (+3300).

Let’s check the latest College Football picks, stats, injury reports, and College Football predictions. We’ve plenty of College Football expert picks for you to consider.

Game of the Week

Ohio State vs Penn State

  • Date, Time (TV): Saturday, Oct. 29, 12 noon ET (FOX)
    • Line: Ohio State -15½

Penn State has lost its last nine regular-season games to ranked squads so this is another chance for the Nittany Lions to prove that they belong to be mentioned among the Big Ten elite programs.

Despite injuries slowing key offensive playmakers TreVeyon Henderson and Jaxon Smith-Njigba, the Buckeyes (7-0, 4-0 in the Big Ten) keep rolling along as the Buckeyes are second nationally in scoring offense and fourth in total offense.

Iowa never had a chance last week and now it is Penn State’s turn.

The Nittany Lions (6-1, 3-1) are seventh in the Big Ten in total defense. A key for Penn State will be ball security as the Nittany Lions lead the conference in turnover margin.

The biggest improvement for Ohio State has come on defense as the Buckeyes have gone from allowing 373 yards per game in 2021 to giving up 240 this season. Tanner McAlister is third in the Big Ten with three interceptions this season.

Ohio State is only allowing 2.85 yards per rushing attempt so it will be worth watching to see if Penn State freshman Nicholas Singleton has more of an impact against Ohio State than he did in the Michigan game when he was limited to 19 yards on six carries.

Smith-Njigba is still on a snap count, but look for him to play a larger role as the season moves on.

Ohio State has won the last five matchups with Penn State. However, the Nittany Lions have covered against the college football betting lines in four of them.

Rest of the Schedule

Rutgers vs Minnesota

  • Date, time (TV): Saturday, Oct. 29, 2:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
    • Line: Minnesota -14

Minnesota running back Mohamed Ibrahim was limited to a season-low 3.4 yards per carry in last week’s loss to Penn State. He will be facing a Rutgers defense that is surrendering just 2.9 yards per carry.

For Rutgers (4-3, 1-3), freshman running back Samuel Brown had his first career 100-yard game in a win over Indiana. His emergence could be crucial as the passing game for Rutgers doesn’t scare anybody. Only Iowa has fewer passing yards and a lower passing efficiency rating than Rutgers.

The Scarlet Knights already have more interceptions this season than in all of last 2021.

It was a tough first start for Minnesota quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis as he was 9 of 22 for 175 yards with a TD pass and interception. Perhaps he will be more comfortable this week for the Gophers (4-3, 1-3) as Minnesota is without starting quarterback Tanner Morgan.

Minnesota has won the two previous meetings and that includes a 42-7 win in 2019 when the Gophers were listed by the sportsbook as a 28-point favorite.

Illinois vs Nebraska

  • Date, time (TV): Saturday, Oct. 29, 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
    • Line: Illinois -7½

Illinois (6-1, 3-1) is the surprise leader in the Big Ten West Division. However, Nebraska (3-4, 2-2) can move into a tie for first place with a win on Saturday.

Chase Brown is the leading rusher in the country with 1,059 yards for the Fighting Illini. He has run for more than 100 yards in each of the seven games and he has 72 carries over the last two games. Brown had only 24 yards on five carries in last year’s meeting against Nebraska.

Nebraska is allowing the most yards (190.4) and yards per carry (4.9) in the Big Ten so this could be a tough matchup for the Cornhuskers.

Nebraska’s Anthony Grant has 82 rushing yards over the last two games. Another concern is that quarterback Casey Thompson has five interceptions over the last three games.

Something to consider for those who bet online: Nebraska has won six of the last nine meetings, however Illinois has won the last two games and covered in both of them.

Big Ten Rundown: Nittany Lions Looking To Roar Against Favored Penn State
michael hickey / getty images north america / getty images via afp

Northwestern vs Iowa

  • Date, time (TV): Saturday, Oct. 29, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
    • Line: Iowa -11

Either Northwestern (1-6, 1-3) or Iowa (3-4, 1-3) will move out of the cellar in the Big Ten West Division.

Iowa leads the Big Ten in total defense but is last with 227.3 yards per game on offense. No other team is under 300 yards per contest.

Northwestern has had some defensive issues as it is tied for the Big Ten lead with 11 plays from scrimmage of 40 yards or longer allowed.

Iowa’s Jack Campbell and Bryce Gallagher of Northwestern rank first and second in the conference with 72 and 70 tackles.

Each of the last five meetings between Iowa and Northwestern have finished under the total with an average of 28 combined points being scored.

Michigan State vs Michigan

  • Date, time (TV): Saturday, Oct. 29, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
    • Line: Michigan -22½

Will the Spartans do it again?

The only blemish in Big Ten play for Michigan (7-0, 4-0) was a 37-33 loss to Michigan State. Kenneth Walker, who ran for five touchdowns in that game, is now a member of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks.

Only Indiana and Iowa have fewer rushing yards among Big Ten teams than Michigan State (3-4, 1-3).

Michigan is led by Heisman Trophy candidate Blake Corum as he leads the conference with 13 rushing touchdowns and is second with  901 rushing yards.

Michigan is second in the conference with an average of 4.03 yards allowed per play.

Michigan State has won the last two meetings and covered in each of them.

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