Big Ten football shines on center stage with a massive Top 10 matchup that could rock the College Football world.
An undeniably entertaining college football afternoon awaits us with gigantic games across the country this Saturday. At the forefront of that is two Top 10 matchups, Alabama-Tennessee, and in our neck of the woods, Penn State at Michigan. An upset in either of these games could have huge implications on the remainder of the CFB season, and could cause some serious chaos down the road.
If you’re a Big Ten junkie like me, while there is only five games on this week’s slate, two of the meetings are worth watching and could actually prove very significant in the ‘wild west’ that is the Big Ten West division. Cancel your plans and get the gameday recipes rolling, because Saturday’s action could be a contender for best football weekend of the year! Best of luck and let’s get after it.
2022 Big Ten Betting Record: 10-6-1
Minnesota (-7) at Illinois: O/U 39.5 (11:00am CST)
For those of us that have suffered, dreaded and braved the last decade-plus of Illinois football, take a second to rejoice because this team is the best and most likable team that has come through Champaign since 2007.
Now, before we jump off the deep end and take Illinois to pull of the upset, please tread lightly because the starting quarterback status for Illinois is gargantuan in this game. If you watched last week’s win over Iowa, you saw Tommy DeVito leave that game with an ankle injury, setting the stage for Artur Sitkowski. Sitkowski played 5 games for the Illini last year, and while the team itself had some rough outings, Sitkowski was a rough watch for any Illinois fan, or any fan of competent quarterback play in general.
To put this simply, if Artur Sitkowski is the starting QB for Illinois on Saturday, I really am not giving them a puncher’s chance against Minnesota despite how strong the Illini defense has been. Even if we see DeVito suited up and even if by some miracle he is 100% healthy, this would be a tough task to upset the Golden Gophers, but I will at least give them a fighting chance if he can go.
If you haven’t watched Minnesota this year, or maybe you’ve only seen them in their most recent game in a loss to Purdue, I will tell you that when healthy, this team is potentially the best team in the Big Ten West, and zero doubt top five in the Big Ten, maybe even top three. Not only is this team coming off of a bye with extra time to prepare, but they’ve had a bad taste in their mouth for two weeks following their performance at home against Purdue.
I mentioned health for Minnesota, because their stud running back Mohamed Ibrahim unexpectedly missed that loss to Purdue, but is expected to return tomorrow in Champaign. Ibrahim through four games has racked up 567 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, and in my opinion is a dark-horse Heisman contender if he can keep himself healthy.
If DeVito is out, give me Minnesota at just about any number, if DeVito is in, I’ll happily pass and hope the Illini can pull off the upset.
RMags’ Pick: (IF Sitkowski starts) Minnesota -7, (IF DeVito starts) Pass
Penn State at Michigan (-7): O/U 50.5 (11:00am CST)
The game of the day in the Big Ten, and certainly top two on Saturday’s slate, heads to the Big House, for a Top 10 meeting between undefeated Penn State and Michigan. This is a tough one to crack for me, but at the end of the day, this Michigan team feels very similar to last year’s team, and while I’m not saying they are going to upset Ohio State again down the road, it does feel like Michigan has elevated to a tier of their own above the rest of the Big Ten pack, excluding Ohio State.
Of course Penn State rolls in undefeated, but really hasn’t been tested since their opening night win over Purdue, a game in which they caught some great breaks and lucky bounces. In my opinion they should have lost that game, Purdue’s passing offense did just about whatever it wanted to do, and the Nittany Lions really haven’t been tested since.
The lone impressive win stands as the 41-12 beatdown at Auburn, a game that shouldn’t be pushed over completely, but we’ve seen who Auburn is this season, and in contrast to Michigan, really had no passing offense, and this matchup should not be comparable in the slightest.
If Michigan can avoid mistakes, I expect their offense to have a really nice day, and while I lean towards the Wolverines covering the spread, I think the team total is the place to go. Sean Clifford has shown that he is mistake prone in come-from-behind situations, I think this could allow for a short field or two for Michigan.
It would not shock me though if Penn State has a backdoor cover opportunity at the end of this game, and to keep us out of that situation, we’ll go with Michigan’s offense to roll. Give me a 35 spot for the Wolverines.
RMags’ Pick: Michigan Team Total Over 29.5
Maryland (-11.5) at Indiana: O/U 62 (2:30pm CST)
The Maryland hype train has taken a couple of hits over the last few weeks, with gut-wrenching losses to Michigan and Purdue. While wins over either would have brought a great deal of respect to Maryland in Big Ten spaces, this team is still very solid and could very well finish with eight wins, a number they have yet to reach since joining the conference less than a decade ago.
I’m ultimately going to pass on this game because I think the numbers are spot on for this game, but I do expect Maryland to win this game fairly handily. The concern that I do have is that Indiana’s offense can do enough to hang around. Indiana ranks second in the country in pass attempts thrown per game, and while it’s not necessarily an efficient unit, against this Maryland defense, they may be able to find a few spots given a high volume of attempts. I’ll give Maryland the definite win here, but I’ll save my money.
RMags’ Pick: Pass
Wisconsin (-7) at Michigan State: O/U 49.5 (3:00pm CST)
You may be disinterested in this game given the recent showings from each of these teams, but this game and its’ odds are at least interesting to consider and breakdown. On one hand you have a team with an interim coach that despite the 42-7 massacre over Northwestern, probably isn’t getting a ton of national respect, up against a team who’s public perception is almost unanimously through the floor.
To put it simply, this Michigan State defense is brutal. Across their four game losing streak, they’ve allowed a range between 27 and 49 points, and on the season rank 112th in yards per pass attempt allowed. I really don’t think this number is an overreaction to Wisconsin’s win over Northwestern, I think it has everything to do with Michigan State’s struggles. This would lead me to a potential play on Wisconsin, and I think that is the right side, but if you’ve followed Graham Mertz and this Wisconsin team, you may be hesitant to back the Badgers and I can’t blame you.
The success of Wisconsin in my opinion will completely rely on the accuracy of Mertz. If he’s on and playing well, Wisconsin will put up 30-plus, if not, it’s anybody’s ball game. I’ll pass and grab the popcorn.
RMags’ Pick: Pass
Nebraska at Purdue (-14): O/U 56.5 (6:30pm CST)
If you’ve followed along with me during the Big Ten season, you probably know how highly I view this Purdue team. After winning last week, the path is in front of them to win out and represent the Big Ten West in the Big Ten Championship. Following this game their schedule plays out with Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Northwestern and finally Indiana. Barring any health issues they should be favored in all five of those games, and really don’t play any dangerous offensive competition after Nebraska.
I do expect them to win this game, but, somehow someway, Nebraska at 2-1 in conference play is not dead yet, and while I’m not saying they will or can do it, I do fear that Purdue could be looking past this game a bit, and that fear is ultimately keeping me away from a play on this game. Having said that, unless Nebraska’s offense reverts back to the early success they had in 2022, and the defense plays it’s best game, Purdue’s offense, on paper, should have zero issues moving the ball up and down the field.
If you have no concerns about a potential trap spot, look ahead spot, whatever you want to call it, then by all means, take Purdue over 35.5 points, but despite how bad they’ve been you have to remember Nebraska’s ability to keep games close. Aside from the Oklahoma beatdown a few weeks ago, they have again managed to lose their games by less than one score.
I’ll keep my belief in Purdue and say that they roll, but I’m keeping my money far away from this one.
RMags’ Pick: Pass
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