No. 5 Ohio State, No. 6 Michigan, No. 7 Penn State, No. 9 Michigan State and No. 11 Iowa cast a shadow over the other Big Ten teams. This week’s schedule will give many of the conference’s other teams their moment or moments in the sun with the two games not featuring any of the five conference heavyweights likely to be the most intriguing.
Wisconsin Badgers at Purdue Boilermakers
Odds: Wisconsin -3½ (40½)
No. 25 Purdue (4-2) rocked the college football world with its 24-7 win over Iowa, then ranked second. Not only did the Boilermakers intercept four passes but they held Iowa under 300 yards. The first half of the season is a case of what might have been as the Boilermakers could easily be undefeated right now.
Wisconsin (3-3) is the definition of mediocre with two more points scored than given up in the six games and nearly identical points for and against numbers in conference play. It’s hard to know if the Badgers are the team that had Penn State on the ropes in the season opener or lost by a combined total of 56 points to Notre Dame and Michigan.
The teams couldn’t be more different offensively. Purdue has attempted the most passes of any Big Ten team and Wisconsin is one of two conference teams yet to hit the 1,000-yard passing mark.
The over/under set by the college football odds is low since Wisconsin and Purdue have combined for 69 and 91 points in the last two meetings.
Maryland Terrapins at Minnesota Golden Gophers
Odds: Minnesota -4½ (55)
Maryland (4-2) and Minnesota (4-2) will have a hard time topping last year’s classic that saw both teams come back from double-digit deficits. In a game featuring 1,126 yards of total offense and 12 offensive touchdowns, it was a missed extra point in overtime that was the difference in Maryland’s 45-44 victory.
Minnesota will be without one of the best offensive players in the conference. Running back Trey Potts, who is second in the conference with an average of 110.4 rushing yards per game, is expected to miss the rest of the season. Perhaps Minnesota will let quarterback Tanner Morgan throw with more frequency, as he did during his 3,000-yard passing season in 2019. That is not a question for Maryland, as no Big Ten quarterback has thrown more passes than Taulia Tagovailoa. Maryland’s issue is a defense that has given up more points than any other Big Ten team.
Illinois Fighting Illini at Penn State Nittany Lions
Odds: Penn State – 23 (45½)
Illinois (2-5) and No. 7 Penn State (5-1) don’t play every season and that is probably fortunate for the Fighting Illini. The teams have met three times since Illinois’ last win over Penn State back in 2014 and the Nittany Lions have won by an average of 37.7 points.
A good number of those who bet sports online won’t be picking an Illinois upset but might lean the Fighting Illini’s way because the Nittany Lions failed to score at least 30 points in three of the last four games.
Northwestern Wildcats at Michigan Wolverines
Odds: Michigan -23½ (51)
It seems hard to believe that this will just be the second meeting between the teams in the last six seasons. When the teams last met, the Wolverines eked out a 20-17 win in 2018. The college football spreads aren’t predicting the final outcome to be anywhere near that three-point result.
Northwestern (3-3) has allowed an average of 609 yards of offense in two road games and facing No. 6 Michigan (6-0) will be no easy task for the Wildcats’ defense. The Wolverines average nearly 250 rushing yards. Michigan threw a season-high 32 times in its last game but considering that Northwestern is the worst team in the Big Ten at defending the run, it’s uncertain how often Michigan will be throwing the ball.
The game has added meaning as it is the inaugural matchup for the George Jewett Trophy. Jewett was the first black player to see the field for both Michigan and Northwestern.
Ohio State Buckeyes at Indiana Hoosiers
Odds: Ohio State -21 (59½)
The game will feature a pair of electrifying true freshman running backs. Ohio State’s TreVeyon Henderson is earning some Heisman Trophy candidate chatter while Illinois’ Josh McCray opened some eyes by running for 156 yards against Purdue. Neither player was the featured back when the season started but worked their way into key roles.
Turnovers have been an issue for Indiana (2-4) in its four losses with 10 interceptions and two fumbles. Another issue for the Hoosiers has been the health of quarterback Michael Penix Jr. The senior has five 300-yard passing games at Indiana but has also missed time in each of his four seasons. Penix said on the Mike and Micah podcast that he is making progress with the shoulder injury he suffered in the Oct. 2 loss to Penn State but there is no timetable for his return to the field.
No. 5 Ohio State (5-1) somehow is leading the Big Ten in scoring with an average of 48.5 points per game while ranking last in the league in time of possession, which is no easy feat.