We’ve fired all our previous pollsters and hired new ones, so you can expect a much better week of picks from the OTE staff. As always, though, here’s Townie to break down the week:
87Townie: Well damn, it’s a weird year. We’re talking a potential three way tie in the east between Michigan, Ohio State, and…Penn State! If OSU beats Michigan, it’ll go to the fifth tiebreaker, which is overall record. That’ll knock PSU out and leave OSU the conference champ.
We’re looking at a literal three way tie in the West between Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin…all sitting with two losses. That means Week Eleven games suddenly became much more interesting.
Let’s start with the Rutgers/MSU "Somebody has to win a conference game" tilt. I see these teams going in two different directions. Rutgers is "improving" and Sparty lost to Illinois. The 2-touchdown spread is too big, but I’m going with Rutgers straight up.
Penn State takes on Indiana. The line here is 6.5 points. I’ll take Penn State in a rout. The Lions are fired up and looking for a New Year’s Six bowl game. The Hoosiers can’t stop em.
Northwestern is a 13.5 point favorite at Purdue…could this be the Harbor game? After last week’s ugly loss, I think it could. Purdue keeps improving and this Boiler offense could score a lot of points. Look for David Blough to have a big game in front of tens of Purdue fans at home. Boilers win a close one.
Illinois goes to Wisconsin as massive 26.5-point underdogs. Don’t take the points. Wisconsin already started scoring…this one is a rout. Badgers win big.
Ohio State goes to College Park. This is just Part 2 of last week’s game for the Terps. After beating Nebraska by more than 50 points, the Buckeyes pour it on in Maryland too. JT Barrett scores four on the ground as Ohio State covers the 28-point spread.
Minnesota goes to Nebraska as single point favorites. Given that Tommy A is out and Ryker Fife is the starter, you may think that Minny has a chance. It does not. Nebraska gets it done on Fyfe’s arm and legs.
Michigan has no sympathy for Iowa. None. Harbaugh one-ups coach Hype’s 27 point beat down last week, with an epic blowout at Iowa City. It’s a soul crushing defeat that causes several Iowa skill players to try out for the soccer team and leave football entirely.
All games Saturday (for now), all times Central (forever), all takes matter (please don’t sue):
Rutgers at Michigan St (-14.5)
11am || BTN
SU: Michigan State, 12-5 || ATS: Rutgers, 15-2
babaoreally: Rutger to win outright, because that would be funny.
Candystripes for Breakfast: Somebody's gotta win this game. And it's at Michigan State, so that means it's probably Sparty. And sure, I'll say they cover, even though I have no idea if they can or not.
BigRedTwice: I don't know, MSU. I pick you time and time again and it never pays off. Rutgers at least looks like they still care. That might be enough in this game.
WhiteSpeedReceiver: Why do we have non-conference games against the AAC this late in the season? And why did Rutgers schedule a road non-conf game? (Sparty should win. Should.)
Aaron Yorke: Another week, another Rutgers line that is way too high. I'll take Sparty for the win, though. Michigan State 21, Rutgers 17.
DJ Carver: Michigan State finally gets its first Big Ten win at the expense of Rutgers. It's going to be ugly and come down to what happens in the fourth quarter. Michigan State 24, Rutgers 20.
Thumpasaurus: Rutgers at MSU is going to look like the infamous multi-OT "27 for 27" game between Penn State and Michigan a few years ago. Who wants it less? Michigan State in 5 overtimes.
Stewmonkey13: Really tempted to pick buttgers straight up, but MSU is still way more talented, right? RIGHT?!?
GoForThree: I’m riding this MSU boat straight to the damn bottom.
ZuzuRU: RUTGERS GETS A WIN!!! FINALLY!
MNWildcat: I made my picks earlier in the week, before I had time to sit down and think long and hard (giggle) about each of these games.
Penn State (-6.5) at Indiana
11am || ABC/ESPN2
SU: Penn State, 16-1 || ATS: Penn State, 15-2
babaoreally: Penn St beats Indiana and covers the spread because I don't like Indiana.
CfB: Purdue Harbor couldn't derail the Hype Machine, but maybe Indiana can. #IBelieveInIU
BRT: This week has been unbearably hideous and depressing, so I assume PSU will win by 70, because the world is horrifying.
WSR: The way PSU has been playing lately, this seems rather low, doesn't it?
AY: The Hoosiers have been very tough at home, but the Lions are playing their best football of the season. Penn State 31, Indiana 20.
DJ: Indiana is a toss up week to week, but Penn State won't struggle in this one. Penn State keeps its win streak going in a bid to win out conference play.
Thump: I want Indiana to win this so badly. Everyone wants Indiana to win this so badly. Penn State in a landslide.
Stew: WHY IS THIS LINE SO LOW? Still, I'm picking PSU to cover, but this line screams to me to go the other way. Watch out for CHAOS TEAM.
GF3: Does PSU stumble? Nah. The Hoosiers had their moments of almost-glory and blew them. This one isn’t close.
Zuzu: Sorry Hoosiers. You're kitty chow.
MNW: No way I’m taking a 6.5 line with the way Penn State’s been rolling. Nittany Lions, 38-17.
Northwestern (-13.5) at Purdue
11am || BTN
SU: Northwestern, 14-3 || ATS: Northwestern, 10-7
babaoreally: NUrds beat Purdue and cover, even though it's tied at the half.
CfB: The PurpleCats are still better than the Boilers, but after getting rocked by Wisconsin, I don't think they're two touchdowns better this week.
BRT: Northwestern wins pretty handily, but Blough makes Fitz sweat purple for awhile.
WSR: Meow. The harboring can wait for next week.
AY: Northwestern loves running the ball and Purdue isn't good at stopping it. The only question in this one is if David Blough can play well enough to keep the Boilers in it. Northwestern 35, Purdue 17.
DJ: Purdue may find a way to run for fewer yards than they did against Maryland. Northwestern 42, Purdue 6.
Thump: Purdue is purDUE for one more at this rate. They got Illinois, but that was before they fired their head coach. They're gonna get one. This is it.
Stew: PU has been playing hard, but that's just not enough. jNW covers.
GF3: David Blough, that’s his name, his name again is David Blough.
ZuzuRU: Northwestern wins, but not in a super convincing way.
MNW: Did you know that Texas Tech is throwing for 102 more yards per game than its nearest competitor (Wazzu)? That is just nutty. They’ve thrown the ball 52 more times than anyone else (Cal) in the nation.
I say that only because Purdue, somehow, is 16th in the nation, passing for 314 yards per game. And Northwestern is 48th, which if you would’ve told me that at the start of the year I would’ve called you a goddamn liar. Unfortunately for both these teams, they rate out horribly in pass efficiency (NU 89th at 122.47, Purdue 97th at 119.90). Since Northwestern’s pass efficiency defense (125.15, 50th) is slightly better than Purdue’s (139.19, 91st), I’ll give it to the ‘Cats if and only if they actually decide to spread the field a little bit and give Justin Jackson some lanes to run.
David Blough picks on Trae Williams and Montre Hartage a few times, but the ‘Cats have Austin Carr and against a bad pass defense, I’m not picking against your 2028 President of the United States. ‘Cats win a derpy MACtion-like display, 41-28.
Illinois at Wisconsin (-26.5)
2:30pm || ESPN2
SU: wisconsin, 17-0 || ATS: illinois, 11-6
babaoreally: Wisco wins, but Illinois covers.
CfB: Jeff George Jr. can't pull this one out for the Illini. Badgers keep on rolling.
BRT: UW, but I don't think they score that many points more than Illinois. Just hasn't been their style this year.
WSR: I'm praying for you, Illinois. It won't do any good, but it's something.
AY: The Illini have been spunky lately, and the spread is a little big for a grind-it-out Wisconsin offense to cover. Wisconsin 27, Illinois 14.
DJ: Yawner of a game that ends up with a score that suggests that Wisconsin's offense is somehow more inept than we think.
Thump: Illinois covers...barely. This one's ugly and low-scoring. Here's hoping we don't lose any more players due to injury.
Stew: WI wins, IL covers, that spread is just too big.
GF3: The second coming of Jeff George is no joke. I mean it is, but they cover.
ZuzuRU: Badgers destroy.
MNW: The badgers have broken 30 points twice this year, in wins over Akron and a terribawful Michigan State. Illinois allowed 40 points to Minnesota and 34 to Purdue. It’s not looking ideal, Illinibros. wisconsin, 34-7.
Ohio State (-28) at Maryland
2:30pm || ESPN
SU: Ohio State, 17-0 || ATS: Ohio State, 16-1
[Everyone except babaoreally has the Buckeyes covering.]
babaoreally: Buck Eyes win, but Tear a pins cover.
CfB: I think the Terps will keep this game closer than they did against Michigan. And that's the nicest thing I can say about this game. Buckeyes win big.
BRT: Buckeyes have clicked into November murderdeathkill mode, and that's going to suck for Terps fans. As someone who was there last week Maryland fans, a word of advice: take a bubble bath and watch some Netflix instead of this game. You'll be happier.
WSR: Blowout comin'.
AY: It's hard to imagine this one going much differently than Maryland's loss to Michigan. Ohio State 49, Maryland 7.
DJ: This is going to hurt. Ohio State 56, Maryland 10.
Thump: Ohio State has a tremendous amount of angst now. Perry Thrills throws a touchdown...but not to Maryland. OSU covers.
Stew: MD can't stop the run, OSU runs a lot. OSU covers.
GF3: This is the worst line of the week. OSU will bumble-dick around and try to break tendencies for the entire first half.
ZuzuRU: Ohio State starts slow out the gate, just like for the Rutgers game, but ultimately comes out to crush Maryland, but not before Maryland makes 1 or 2 nerve-wracking scores on OSU.
MNW: I imagine Harbaugh and Meyer, locked in some mortal combat reading the paper in their respective offices on Sunday morning and fighting to see who can run it up on the Poors of the East by more. Harbaugh’s winning this season. Ohio State, 49-10.
Minnesota at Nebraska (-7)
6:30pm || BTN
SU: Nebraska, 12-5 || ATS: Minnesota, 9-8
babaoreally: Corn Huskers win and cover.
CfB: The shine is officially off the Huskers, but if Tommy's healthy, they won't have much trouble with Goldy. Nebraska wins by two scores.
BRT: See earlier: the world is awful now. Minny by 30.
WSR: ebraska played a good opponent last week and a physical opponent the week before. Minnesota did not. Since I subscribe to the body-blow theory (and am a deplorable homer), gimme that chair.
AY: There's a lot of uncertainty surrounding this one, so I'll take the Gophers to pass their toughest test in a month. Minnesota 20, Nebraska 17.
DJ: No Tommy Armstrong? No win. Minnesota 21, Nebraska 10.
Thump: Minnesota is among the worst teams to ever be 7-2. The Good Ship cruises.
Stew: No idea. None. I'll go with UNL to win, and hedge with a MN cover.
GF3: I picked NE, expecting that TA will do something dumb like play football a week after being knocked out.
ZuzuRU: Nebraska probably wins, but for certain, totally non-political reasons, I really want Minnesota to win.
MNW: This entire Minnesota season has felt like one of those high school kids who dicks around all semester and doesn’t do a bit of actual work, scrapes by on grades, and the moment before his biggest test (which of course he didn’t study for), the teacher announces that it’s open book. That said, because this kid is a shithead student who’s let me down too many times before, he forgot to bring his book and still finds a way to get a D. Nebraska, 27-24.
Michigan (-20.5) at Iowa
7pm || ABC
SU: Michigan, 17-0 || ATS: Michigan, 15-2
babaoreally: Wolves win and cover over The Fighting Contracts.
CfB: For the first time this week, Iowa goes blue. Michigan rolls to a yuge win.
BRT: Yeah, this will go poorly for Iowa. Sorry Squawks.
WSR: Blowout comin'.
AY: Michigan's running game is more straight-forward than Penn State's, and I think the Hawkeyes will handle that better. Add in the night-game-at-home atmosphere, and Iowa will hang in there. Michigan 27, Iowa 21.
DJ: Michigan 35, Iowa 0.
Thump: If not for Jabrill Peppers, Iowa wins this 38-35. However, Jabrill Peppers is such a difference maker that the presence of Jabrill Peppers will make this a 52-3 victory for Michigan.
Stew: This line could by 20 points higher and I wouldn't take Iowa.
GF3: Christ, has anyone in Vegas even seen Iowa?
ZuzuRU: Carnivorous mammals destroy weak avian dinosaurs.
MNW: I thought all dinos were bird-lizards, Zu? And you’re getting a grad degree in fossil studies… Pshaw.
But I just keep looking at this Iowa season and thinking "There’s no way, right? There’s no way they can actually be this bad!" Then I look at their safety play in the Northwestern game and since and realize that this isn’t Norm Parker’s defense anymore. Creighton wrote earlier this week how a coordinator shake-up is needed in Iowa City, and maybe a blowout by Michigan will convince Gary Bar—hahahahahahahahaha I can’t even finish that sentence.
At home under the Kinnick lights, though, Hawks keep it mildly interesting. Hey, now they can try to be like Iowa State and be the shitty team that gets a home upset over a #2 opponent who’s playoff-bound! Michigan, 30-13.
Against the Spread:
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