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Big Ten Football Week 3 Previews, Picks, Predictions

¡EL ASSICO! and friends—in a weekend of weird rivalries and bad football, will we have the schadenfreude of any Big Ten upsets?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 08 Iowa State at Iowa
Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Do you ever wonder, when you read these picks, who you should believe? Or do you read them just for the ceremony of reading them, mocking our predictions as you go and harrumphing everyone who dares disrespect your favorite squad?

BRT hopes it is the former, wants me to “be sure to highlight once again that I ruled at picking.”

And it’s true!

BRT: Holy shit. Go me!!!

A note, as ever about the games: We take the lines from Monday for the writers to pick. Unfortunately, injuries like that to Purdue captain and LB Markus Bailey happen, and money tilts lines in Vegas. You can debate how that works and why that is—I assume it helps my favorite team and hurts yours. But some lines will shift radically over the course of the week. We have tried to acknowledge and note when that has happened, but we will pick the lines given on Monday.

Ohio State Buckeyes at Indiana Hoosiers

11am | FOX | OSU -15.5 | O/U 60

Straight-Up: Ohio State, 17-0
Against the Spread: Ohio State, 16-1

No graphic—only Kracklepopski thinks they’ll cover.

Thumpasaurus: Ohio State has a stranglehold on this league and there’s nothing anybody can do about it. Buckeyes roll.

Candystripes for Breakfast: If this spread was for the first 3 quarters, I take Indiana and the points easily. Unfortunately, we play 4 quarters of football against OSU, so yeah, we’re not covering this.

pkloa: At best, Indiana gets a garbage time TD to beat the spread. More likely, OSU goes up by 35 in the first half and starts looking toward demolishing their next opponent.

Boilerman31: I don’t particularly like this line. I’ve heard several sportsbooking analysts say they like Ohio State but the Hoosiers always seem to put up a fight against the top of the B1G East before eventually choking it away. Road teams in this series are 14-6 ATS, so I guess that’s a fairly strong trend. I’ll take the Buckeyes to cover but I’m wary of it.

WhiteSpeedReceiver: Don’t let anyone important get hurt, Hoosiers.

Stewmonkey13: This seems like it has all the makings of a close game into the 4th, and then OSU scoring on mistakes/turnovers by Indiana trying to keep even, with the final score looking like a comfy OSU win.

Dead Read: It seems like we know how his goes, right? Twenty-two people run around a field all afternoon, and in the end Ohio State wins. Covers, too. Because...of course.

BRT: Penix falls. :(

Hate when that happens, but it be that way sometimes. OSU has a deflating tendency on many, and traditionally, always on Indiana.

MNWildcat: My Old Yeller comparison is the correct one. Someday Charlie Brown is gonna kick that football, but in the meantime Travis is gonna have to get his rifle and put Charlie Brown down.

I may have mixed my metaphors. Buckeyes, 52-24.

Maryland Terrapins at Temple Owls

11am | CBSSN | Maryland -7.5 | O/U 66.5

Straight-Up/ATS: Maryland, 15-2

Thump: Maryland goes on the road against a first-year head coach who wasn’t the first choice of Temple, and this spread is a little too close for the Owls to cover. Maryland, but maybe not as big as a 43 point win.

pkloa: Maryland wins, Maryland covers, Maryland fans feel great about Penn State’s upcoming visit.

BrianB2: Maryland is going to lose because they can’t have nice things.

Bman31: Hmm, Maryland in a revenge spot in a series where the road team is 6-2 Straight Up and 8-0 against the number. I’m going in on the Terps offensive machine to keep rolling. Lay the 7.5.

WSR: Only 7.5? Something feels funny here.

Stew: AT Temple? Ok, then. 8.5 seems really low for how explosive they’ve looked so far. I’ll go ahead and stupidly take the bait when I should probably fade the public. MD covers.

DR: We get to see how Yertle handles Woodsy. Slow and steady wins the race (and covers)

MNW: Is Anthony Russo the quarterback who can expose Maryland? The Owls were on cruise control against the hated Bucknell Bison, so we don’t have a ton to work with. Absent that, I guess we just have to...believe in Maryland?

That doesn’t seem right. That can’t be right. Terps, 34-21.

Pittsburgh Panthers at Penn State Nittany Lions

11am | ABC | PSU -17.5 | O/U 53.5

Straight-Up: Penn State, 17-0
Against the Spread: Penn State, 10-7

The Pitt and the Penndulum

Thump: Remember that time Pitt was in the ACC title game last year? Weird, isn’t it? Well anyway, I still don’t trust this Pitt team that much, especially with their two star backs from last year departed. Penn State dominates.

pkloa: The Nittany Lions bury Pitt this weekend. I’m calling a 2nd degree mollywhoppin’. The shame from this loss will be felt all over the -world- surrounding counties of Pittsburgh.

Bman31: I just don’t see how Pitt has enough offense to keep up in this game. Penn State probably lets them hang around too long in the first half and runs away late. Nits and lay the points.

WSR: Why is it that there are two trash rivalry games this weekend featuring B1G teams? I’m sorry, but I gave all the shits I have to give about mediocre rivalries to El Assico.

Stew: Similar to the OSU/IN game. It’s close for far too long, but ends up looking like a blowout.

DR: Cat fight! Nits. Pretty easily.

MNW: Pitt QB Kenny Pickett insists that he has deleted Twitter and Instagram after he played like ass against Virginia in a 30-14 loss—keeping only Snapchat “because I’ve only got close friends on there.”

Brother, we know that’s not why you’re keeping Snapchat. And if 26/37 for 321 and a TD against Ohio is a career day, I don’t think you’re going to have a great time against a Penn State defense that already has 8 sacks and has piled up 9 sacks in the last two meetings with the Panthers. Yetur Gross-Matos feasts. Penn State, 38-10.

Eastern Michigan Eagles at Illinois Fighting Illini

11am | BTN | Illinois -8.5 (now -7) | O/U 55.5

Straight-Up: Illinois, 16-1
Against the Spread: Illinois, 12-5

i—in other words—i-i-i-i-in other words—i-i-i—in other words—i—in other words—in other words—i

Thump: I’m terrified of EMU, which has beaten Big Ten foes in each of the last two seasons. They’ve thrown the ball a lot, but only because they’ve been behind. Shaq Vann is a decent enough back, but I’m picking Illinois to win a tight one because until a Big Ten caliber offensive tackle gets in his way, Wole Betiku is going to continue to dominate the pass rush and get sacks and draw holding calls. This and the return of Reggie Corbin should see Illinois squeak one out thanks to James McCourt’s 50+ yard kicking range.

Bman31: Many of the power ratings I’ve seen on this game have this number set about right. Given that preseason guides had EMU as a live dog, I’m going to take Illinois to win but am taking the points with the Eagles.

WSR: The Illini’s march to 4 wins has nearly reached it’s conclusion. Go crazy yet again, Illini faithful.

Stew: EMU is bad, but well coached. They beat Coastal Carolina and lost by 18 to KY. Is KY 10 points better than IL, oh yeah. Middle this.

DR: This matchup seems an affront to the very idea of football. Lovie covers. Somehow.

BRT: Illinois should definitely win this, right? That makes me scared they won’t. But in Swagger Lovie we Trust, until we don’t.

MNW: Thank God this line came down to 7 points after Boilerman listed it for us, because it feels like this game should go eerily similar to the UConn win. Mike Glass III is a better quarterback than Johnny Spaghettiandmeatballs, and he’s got weapons at WR to go with RB Shaq Vann, but the good ol’ home field advantage of Memorial Stadium pulls the Orange and Blue through. Illini, 31-28.

Georgia Southern Eagles at Minnesota Golden Gophers

2:30pm | BTN | Minn -15.5 | O/U 47

Straight-Up: Minnesota, 16-1
Against the Spread: Georgia Southern, 12-5

Thump: Georgia Southern went from 2-10 in 2017 to 10-3 last year running a lot of read-option concepts with a good ballcarrier at quarterback. Sounds like South Dakota State to me. Minnesota has another extremely shaky win they probably don’t deserve.

Bman31: Given the travel to the West and back, I’m going to take Georgia Southern in this spot to cover. Minnesota ain’t LSU.

WSR: Let’s see if the Gophers find a way to keep another opponent in the game or if we just make it boring.

Stew: I have absolutely no faith in Minny covering any spread against any team. Middle.

DR: Minny wins, but does not cover. I am not sold on them yet, but I am convinced enough to recognize they could beat Nebby when that time comes.

BRT: There was a segment of Gopher Twitter last weekend that was pretty high and mighty considering how Minnesota has gotten itself to 2-0 this season. They should certainly win this game, but they also should have handled the Jackrabbits with ease, so who knows. I kind of like Minnesota, so I’m pulling for them, but I admit I would enjoy seeing the fireworks that would ensue for Peej if they drop this one.

MNW: I can’t find anything on whether Shai Werts will play or not for the Eagles, but it looks like Justin Tomlin could be adequate in his stead—and Thump’s alluded to the 1-2 punch of the Eagles’ QB and RB Logan Wright.

The question, then, is whether the Gophers’ defense can stop them. I’m confident that whatever combination of “play 500” and “hand the ball off” Kurt Ciarrocca asks of Tanner Morgan, Morgan can do...adequately? Or is it well? No, I think it’s adequately. Gophers, 38-17.

UNLV Rebels at Northwestern Wildcats

2:30pm | BTN | NU -19.5 | O/U 54

Straight-Up: Northwestern, 17-0
Against the Spread: UNLV, 14-3

Thump: UNLV is not particularly good, but Northwestern will fail to inspire any confidence anyway and win by a dumb and low score.

Bman31: I’m tired and this game does nothing for me. Taking the Rebs to cover.

WSR: It’d be just a damn shame if Northwestern were to find a way to lose yet again in a boring non-conf game.

Stew: Another middle? You’re goddamn right. jNW shouldn’t be favored by this much anytime.

DR: Northwestern better cover this. UNLV is not good.

BRT: I’ll pick the Purple Cats, but I’m not confident because I don’t think we’re quite to the part of the season yet where they decide to stop sucking.

MNW: This is the point where we see what two weeks do for Hunter Johnson., especially given that Isaiah Bowser is still dead and it’s on John Moten IV and Drake Anderson to move the ball.

Unfortunately, we learn that oh no, oh no, it’s still not good. In the absence of a steadying quarterback—say all you want about Clayton Thorson, but he was at least that—or a tight end target or a bell cow back, Northwestern is going to struggle on offense. That includes against the UNLVs of the world, who let Arkansas State run for almost 5 ypc; it’s just how the non-conference works that the ‘Cats will just plow forward with outside zone.

Wouldn’t want to reveal how they’re going to beat Michigan State with the 5-yard slant and handing the ball on delayed draws for four-yard gains. ‘Cats, 23-15.

Iowa Hawkeyes at Iowa St. Cyclones

3pm | FS1 | ISU -1.5 (now Iowa -2.5) | O/U 44.5

Straight-Up/ATS: Is that a Hawk? 15-2

Thump: I don’t think Iowa State can distress the Hawkeye defense with vertical passing, so Iowa will control this game. That means it will be an unwatchable slog won by Iowa.

C4B: Why are the Clones favored here? [Ed. note: See what I mean? They’re not anymore!]

No, seriously, why do people think the Clones are any good? Anyone? Bueller?

Bman31: This game looks ugly on paper, which means it’ll be uglier in real life. I’ve flipped back and forth on this game and still can’t decide if the Hawkeyes take it or not. Iowa wins but no one feels good about it.

WSR: There’s no way that Iowa will be able to overcome the rage and emotion coming from Iowa State and their fans at having gameday taken away.

Stew: Ugh. I hate this game. Iowa wins, I hate it.

DR: I don’t know what I want to happen. I have no idea what will happen. What the hell, I’ll go with the Hawks.

BRT: Give me the Hawkeyes, but I would not mind this being the pick that ruins my perfect picking streak so far in 2019.

MNW: I do not understand the question, and I will not respond to it. Hawkeyes, 15-9.

Arizona State Sun Devils at Michigan State Spartans

3pm | FOX | MSU -13.5 | O/U 41.5

Straight-Up: Sparty, 15-2
Against the Spread: Sparky, 13-4

Thump: Michigan State should win this one 14-10.

Bman31: The good new for Sparty, this game isn’t in the desert. Arizona State hasn’t impressed in their cupcake games but there’s something about this game that makes me think the Sun Devils cover.

WSR: Do you know how happy I am that Eno Benjamin decided to take his talents to the desert instead of Iowa City? Very. Do you know how disappointed Michigan State will be that they scheduled a game against him? Possibly very as well.

Stew: I’m going to have to see more than one game of competent offense before I pick MSU to cover a double digit spread. Middle.

DR: CHIP ALERT. I think Sparty administers a Mollywhoppin’.

BRT: If this were away, MSU would be toast. Since it’s in Michigan, I think MSU can get it done, but probably only if they wear a little neon.

MNW: I willingly watched the Sun Devils strugglebus it against Sacramento State. Unless Jayden Daniels has improved a lot, Sparky ain’t moving it against Sparty. Michigan State, 19-12.

TCU Horned Frogs at Purdue Boilermakers

6:30pm | BTN | Purdue -2 (now TCU -2.5) | O/U 51.5

Straight-Up/ATS: TCU, 13-4

Thump: TCU can throw the ball and has a history of playing adequate defense for a Big 12 team. I think Jalen Reagor is a problem for the Boiler defense and the Frogs win a shootout.

Bman31: Elijah Sindelar may or may not play and Markus Bailey is out for the season. This game was a tossup to begin with and the question marks don’t leave me with a good feeling. I want to go with the Boilers but there’s too many question marks. TCU wins outright.

WSR: So. Yeah. This game is going to happen. Don’t schedule TCU because you’ll regret it.

Stew: Purdue lost a starting LB, and has no running game. It’s a zig week, PU loses.

DR: I would like Purdue to win this game, but I do not think they will. Prove me wrong.

BRT: Based on 2019 Purdue so far, I don’t see this going super well for the Boilermakers. It’s at Purdue though—maybe they can right the ship.

MNW: What...I mean...what do we know about the Frogs? Reagor can burn turf, but who’s throwing him the ball? We know the other side: TCU brings that 4-2-5 defense and will lock down the Boilers in the red zone—assuming the Frogs don’t give up the big play.

I respect Purdue for playing two FBS opponents, but I don’t think they could’ve chosen a more boring pair. TCU, 24-21.

Northern Illinois Huskies at Nebraska Cornhuskers

7pm | FS1 | UNL -14 | O/U 54

Straight-Up: Nebraska, 17-0
Against the Spread: NIU, 11-6

Thump: Nebraska wins, but the Huskies won’t go away thanks to a stubborn defense keeping the game within 1-2 scores all day.

Bman31: Too many games, I’m ready for B1G season. [You’re not the one copy-pasting all this shit in here, buddy.]

I’m guessing Nebraska fans are as well. Huskies cover.

WSR: Nebraska, I would recommend making this one boring. Your fans could use the boredom.

Stew: UNL still can’t put away teams. NIU covers.

DR: Sure. Nebby covers. You bet. Absolutely positive.

BRT: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, evidence of things not seen.” That’s what I’m going on here. Please try not to reward me with whatever the hell last week was, Nebraska.

MNW: You can’t pay me enough. NIU struggled with Illinois State (lol who would do such a thing), but then put up a surprising 17 points on a tough Utah defense. If Ross Bowers gets things clicking, maybe this is fun. Let’s say he does, if just to start the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

See? BRT’s not the only one bringing the biblical references. Huskers, 35-20.

Let us know your picks in the comments!