Huge tests await Big Ten squads as they battle Power 5 foes
Week 3 of the college football season proves to be massive for a number of teams, and the Big Ten is at the forefront of the landscape. Although a few teams have one conference game under their belt, this Saturday will be the final week before we get into the real meat of the schedule with a large number of conference matchups starting next week.
The story lines are picking up in our beloved conference, from Nebraska’s firing of Scott Frost, to Iowa’s putrid offense, making it a great time to be alive if you’re a Big Ten homer like myself. There are still a few games that aren’t worth diving deep into, so as always we’ll keep those short and sweet, but the rest of the action is certainly something to look forward to.
2022 Big Ten Record: 5-3-1
Western Kentucky at Indiana (-6.5): O/U 61.5 (11:00am CST)
We’ll get ourselves warmed up with this one before we jump into the bigger games on Saturday’s slate. While there will almost certainly be a million other games to watch in the early window, both in the Big Ten and around CFB in general, this could prove to be a close matchup that might be worthy of a screen down the stretch here.
It’s still tough to gauge WKU heading into this game, as they’ve handled FCS’ Austin Peay and an ugly Hawaii team with relative ease. New QB Austin Reed has looked good to this point, and I actually expect him to have a really nice game against this Indiana secondary.
The Hoosiers are 2-0, but it’s not a secret that many believe they should not have beaten Illinois, and really did not impress against the Idaho Vandals last week. Offensively, Indiana has looked fine at times, but the issue that I have with them is that they have serious trouble finishing drives. They just don’t have any red zone threats, and in a game that could turn into a shootout quickly, it could prove to bite them in the you know what.
I actually have Western Kentucky covering this game, and give them a reasonable chance to pull off this upset. Give me the Hilltopers and the points!
RMags’ Pick: Western Kentucky +6.5
UConn at Michigan (-47.5): O/U 60 (11:00am CST)
We’ll get this one out of the way quickly. UConn truly has no chance of competing in this game, however with Michigan hosting a high powered Maryland team next week, it is reasonable to think that the Wolverines could be on cruise control in the second half. I expect them to put on a huge performance in the first half, however you’ve got a pretty tough number of -30.5 1H if you want the Wolverines.
Gun to my head, if I was forced to take anything it would be Michigan -10.5 in the first quarter and hope for a couple of quick scores. I’ll pass for now.
RMags’ Pick: Pass
Oklahoma (-11) at Nebraska: O/U 66.5 (11:00am CST)
The story in this game is very apparent to everyone involved. This Cornhuskers team, most glaringly on defense has been an utter disaster. At this point in the season the expectation was for a 3-0 start, with little to no hiccups involved. That clearly has not been the case, and Scott Frost, rightfully so, has been relieved of his duties.
To be honest, I truly do not know if we will get an inspired performance from Nebraska, as many teams across all levels of sport tend to have a fire lit under them following a move like this. On the other hand, it may take a miracle to fix the defensive issues that this team has faced. I’m going to grab the popcorn for this one and pass, but this Huskers team knows how to keep games close, and I really don’t think that had anything to do with Scott Frost.
I’ll predict a 35-27 win for Oklahoma, but would not be shocked at all if we’re looking at an absolute beatdown from the Sooners.
RMags’ Pick: Pass
Purdue at Syracuse (-1.5): O/U 60 (11:00am CST)
This Big Ten-ACC game is one of the bigger games on Saturday’s slate, and could drive the public perception for both of these teams over the next month. For those that are in my age range, you may be shocked to see a Syracuse team that has been a punching bag for the better part of two decades, favored over a Purdue team that has shown some serious success in the passing game.
From my view, it does appear that the bias for this game may depend on where you reside. Those in ACC country believe in this Syracuse team, while those in our neck of the woods in Big Ten country have some belief in the Boilermakers.
I do think this will be a very close contest, but I trust the passing success of Purdue to prove to be the difference. Syracuse through two games has shown some serious ability to neutralize the passing game, but I think this Boilermaker team’s attack might be at a higher level them some are giving them credit for.
The Orange handled Louisville and Malik Cunningham with relative ease to open the season, picking him off twice in a 31-7 victory, but Aidan O’Connell proves to protect the ball at a higher level and should find more success than Louisville did in that game.
Purdue certainly feels like they should be 2-0, as they caught some rough breaks in that week one loss to Penn State, but the passing offense showed what it can do against a tough defense. The connection of O’Connell to Charlie Jones, his new favorite target, proved efficient again last week, albeit to FCS opponent Indiana State. Jones caught nine passes for 133, including three of O’Connell’s four TD passes in the 56-0 victory. Of course, the degree of difficulty was significantly lower, but the point stands that the connection in week one against Penn State was no fluke.
I’m putting my foot down and will say that Purdue shows out in this game and grabs some momentum heading into next week’s contest with Minnesota. Give me the Boilermakers 35-31, but I’m happy to take the points over the moneyline provided you have a reasonable price difference.
RMags’ Pick: Purdue +1.5
Southern Illinois at Northwestern (-12.5): O/U 53.5 (11:00am CST)
This in-state matchup stands as the only Big Ten-FCS game on Saturday’s slate, and following a disappointing loss to Duke last week, you would expect Northwestern to bounce back against the Salukis. SIU has not gotten off to the start they’d like to in 2022, losing to both Incarnate Word, and SE Missouri State, not exactly a murderer’s row.
I won’t be getting involved into this one, but I’ll go ahead and predict a 35-17 game in favor of Northwestern. I like the Wildcat offense to have some success, and could absolutely see Southern find the end zone a couple of times.
RMags’ Pick: Pass
Rutgers (-17.5) at Temple: O/U 44 (1:00pm CST)
I don’t have the strongest thoughts on this one out in Philly this weekend, but I will say some of the numbers here a little interesting. Rutgers at 2-0 is rightfully heavily favored in this game, but looking back to last year you’ll see a final score of 61-14 in Rutger’s favor. Given the spread and just as importantly the game total in this game, the oddsmakers are telling you to not expect the same outcome.
Though they certainly are not a good football team, Temple has raised the floor on what they will be on a weekly basis, and don’t appear to be a total embarrassment compared to last season. Having said that, if you look through their two week resume in 2022, you’ll find them at 1-1 with a 30-0 loss to Duke, a team that you might consider in a similar stratosphere as this Rutgers team.
The Scarlet Knights aren’t going to be flying up anyone’s radar in the national picture or even in the Big Ten picture for that matter, but I do like the way Greg Schiano has them trending, and provided they aren’t athletically or physically outmatched, their defense has looked trustworthy.
I won’t go in deep with this one, but I’ll give a lean towards a similar outcome as that Temple-Duke game, and say Rutgers holds this team to single digits.
RMags’ Pick: Lean Temple TT Under 13.5
Penn State (-3) at Auburn: O/U 47.5 (2:30pm CST)
Following a 2-0 start, the Nittany Lions have cracked the Top 25 rankings ahead of this Big Ten-SEC bout, and could further secure that positioning with a win right here. The perception for this game like others on today’s slate may be skewed regionally, and in this game you can bet that the majority of the country may lean towards the SEC bias, particularly with a home SEC squad.
IF and it’s a big IF you can trust or can stomach the Sean Clifford experience, you should be interested in Penn State on Saturday. Despite what we saw against Purdue in the passing game, this Nittany Lion defense will have a great deal of success in 2022 given the right matchup within any given week. Unlike that matchup, Auburn will lean on the ground game, as it already seems apparent that the passing game led by QB TJ Finley may not be the most efficient use of their personnel. In my opinion that really favors Penn State’s defense.
If you can get a PSU defense that shouldn’t be too worried about TJ Finley throwing the ball, and is able to zero in on stopping the rushing attack, I really believe the Nittany Lions should have an edge on the road Saturday.
Last year saw a 28-20 victory for Penn State in their home building, and Sean Clifford was fantastic, completing 28/32 including 280 yards. I’m not sure we should be expecting that level of success on Saturday, but following a nice tune-up win last week against Ohio, I think this Penn State team is poised for another solid victory.
RMags’ Pick: Penn State -3
Colorado at Minnesota (-27.5): O/U 46.5 (2:30pm CST)
If you’ve been following the deeper areas of Power 5 football, you probably are aware of how ugly this Colorado team looks this year. They enter this game 0-2 with 38-13 and 41-10 final scores against TCU and Air Force. This team is flat out less athletic and less skilled than just about any other Power 5 football team right now, and they truly do not stand a chance against Minnesota.
The Gophers to this point have flown under the radar at 2-0 with blowout wins over lowly New Mexico State, and a 62-10 win over FCS Western Illinois. The jury is still out on how good this team can be, but there are plenty of reasons to be excited about 2022 if you are a Minnesota fan.
These two teams met last year around this time of year in Colorado, with the Golden Gophers dominating 30-0. The spread and total might lead you to expect a fairly similar output, but with Minnesota heading to East Lansing to face Michigan State in their Big Ten opener, you might expect them to be in cruise control for the second half. I’ll lean towards a first half massacre, causing some interest in Minnesota 1H -17.
RMags’ Pick: Lean Minnesota 1H -17
New Mexico State at Wisconsin (-37): O/U 46 (2:30pm CST)
I really don’t have much to say about this game, other than I expect a Wisconsin team coming off an unexpected loss, to have a scary good defensive game against this NMSU team. I struggled to find any team totals on the marekt, but I don’t expect New Mexico State to score more than a field goal. If you have the ability go ahead and bet on this Wisconsin D. The Badgers full game unders are 6-1 in their last seven following a loss, but it’s tough to predict what the offensive output will be in this one.
RMags’ Pick: Pass
Toledo at Ohio State (-32): O/U 62 (6:00pm CST)
My thoughts on Ohio State being far and away the best team in this conference have not changed, however, you might be surprised at my opinion on this game. I fully expect the Buckeyes to cruise to a win in this contest with their offense, much like last week looking far better than their week one performance against Notre Dame. With Big Ten play looming though, I will not be shocked if OSU coasts and rests players in the second half.
The team totals for this game stand at 47.5 for Ohio State, a number that I think is pretty spot on, and on the flip side sits at 14.5 for Toledo. In the majority of these games involving mid-major teams against Power 5 teams, the 13.5 team totals are posted to entice you to bet the over, with that team often falling short. In this case, you have a 14.5 number that with all of the expectations of Ohio State, will cause the general public to flock to the under.
As I and my co-host talked about Friday morning in our weekly Big Ten Preview show, Toledo could have some offensive success during this game, especially if the Buckeyes let their foot off of the gas in the second half. I’ll predict a 48-20 final, and will be sweating the Toledo over.
RMags’ Pick: Toledo Team Total Over 14.5
Michigan State at Washington (-3.5): O/U 57 (6:30pm CST)
This game is as interesting as any on this Big Ten slate, but for me has been the toughest to predict. Much like I spoke of the SEC bias in the Penn State-Auburn game, there will certainly be Big Ten bias over the PAC-12 in this one, and despite Michigan State getting the majority of bets and money, Sparty is still a 3.5 point underdog. My heart is telling me that Washington is overvalued, but my gambling senses tell me something is fishy, and we could see an inspired performance from Washington.
Despite a tough season last year, the Huskies have shown signs of improvement behind former Indiana QB, Michael Penix Jr. Penix led the Hoosiers to a very successful year in 2020, only to come crashing back to earth in 2021 with a slow start followed by an injury that forced him to miss significant time.
The home environment for Washington should be a nice challenge for the Spartans, as the Huskies have a strong fan base that always shows up when any amount of hype surrounds this team. I’m grabbing the popcorn for this one, and hoping that my heart proves to be smarter than my gambling senses, but either way proceed with caution here.
RMags’ Pick: Pass
Nevada at Iowa (-24): O/U 39.5 (6:30pm CST)
I’m sure I don’t have to go far in depth regarding how bad this Iowa offense has been, and I know many are shocked to see these numbers given the eye test of the Hawkeyes. Of course I incorrectly predicted a better showing and a win against Iowa State last week, but ultimately was met with a similarly ugly showing.
To understand why Iowa is favored by this much, you need to understand that this Nevada team and their defense is very bad, and should be out matched in terms of speed and athleticism. While they are 2-1 on the season, they have posted wins over a very bad New Mexico State team, and more recently squandered a 55-41 loss to the aforementioned Incarnate Word Cardinals of the FCS.
While I was wrong about the betting indicators last week for Iowa, the same type of indicators can be said this week. With everyone in the CFB world completely aware of how ugly it has been for this offense, the oddsmakers have put a gigantic number on the board to entice you over to Nevada.
I expect a significantly better showing this time around, and at minimum, we should see a very successful ground attack from the Hawkeyes combined with another stout defensive performance. I’ll pass but, I’ll predict a 32-6 win for Iowa.
RMags’ Pick: Pass
SMU at Maryland (-3): O/U 73 (6:30pm CST)
To close things out, we head to Maryland for another solid matchup featuring one out of only two games on the entire college football slate with a game total north of 70. I’ll be kicking my feet up for this one, and won’t risk much with this game, because both offenses should see a great deal of success. The story on either defense, however, is still to be seen.
My gut tells me to lean towards SMU here, but there really isn’t any outcome that would shock me. If you love playing overs in games like this, by all means have at it. If you love playing unders when game totals soar to these heights, take your swing.
For me, this is another in a long list on Saturday that could give us a clearer idea of what these two teams will look like on a game to game basis moving forward. Maryland has chance over the next few weeks to finally garner some respect in the Big Ten with games against Michigan, MSU and Purdue, and with a win against SMU could grab the necessary momentum to grab a win or two across that stretch. I’ll pass, but will definitely be watching.
RMags’ Pick: Popcorn with extra butter
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