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Big Ten Picks and Predictions, Week 5

Ohio State-Indiana for the Big Ten East, Wisconsin-Northwestern for the Big Ten West. Come pick games!

Northwestern v Wisconsin Photo by Tom Lynn/Getty Images

Well, well, well.

With Illinois’s upset of Rutgers in Piscataway last weekend, Jesse Collins has pulled WELL away from the pack, going 72% straight-up and 80% against the spread—far outpacing the next-closest competitor, LincolnParkWildcat, who has 64% in both categories.

It’s been an odd season—COVID has knocked out another game this weekend, and we’re down to just two contestants in OTE Survivor Pool:

This week we’ve got two games that will, likely, decide the winners of the Big Ten West and East. All times CT, all picks awful—let’s get to it:

Friday, November 20

Purdue Boilermakers (2-1) at Minnesota Golden Gophers (1-3)

6:30pm | BTN | Purdue -3 [now -2] | O/U 61

Straight-Up/Against the Spread: Purdue, 12-3

BRT: A train vs. a ship is an interesting collision in theory. In practice, I like the train.

BoilerBettor: Here’s your fun degenerate trend for this game. Purdue is 7-0 ATS when the total is over 60. This game has me hella nervous as the Boilers can’t seem to get a win in the bank but Minnesota is just so bad. Boilers find a way to win and cover.

Thumpasaurus: Worst unit on the field? Minnesota defense. David Bell is better than Rashod Bateman. Deal with it.

MC ClapYoHandz: Minnesota is horrible and that’s all we really need to know for this one.

MNW: I honestly don’t even know why. If you give me Aiden O’Connell and one big shrug emoji versus Staredown Tanner Morgan, I’ll still take the promise of Morgan and Bateman. Gophers, 31-28.


Pick your means of conveyance:

This poll is closed

  • 87%
    (150 votes)
  • 12%
    Leaky boat
    (22 votes)
172 votes total Vote Now

Saturday, November 21

#9 Indiana Hoosiers (4-0) at #3 Ohio State Buckeyes (3-0)

11am | FOX | OSU -20.5 | O/U 66.5

Straight-Up: Ohio State, 15-0
Against the Spread: Indiana, 11-4

BRT: The magic is probably running out for the Hoosiers here, but obviously, I'm hoping it doesn't.

BoilerBettor: There is no doubting Indiana is good. Top 10 good? That remains to be seen. They have covered the last five in Columbus, so there’s that. Justin Fields is just too damn good though. Buckeyes win, Hoosiers cover.

Thumpasaurus: shhhhhh don’t talk about it

MC: I’ll believe Indiana can win this one when I see it. The spread though? They’ve looked strong all year, Ohio State doesn’t seem quite as good this year (a hilariously relative observation), and the spread is huge for a Top 10 matchup. Indiana beats the spread.

MNW: Throwing jump balls 50 times worked for Michael Penix Jr. against Michigan...I’m not so confident he’s going to have the time or receivers to escape Ohio State. The air rushes out of the bubble, and the pollsters drop Indiana to #20 as punishment for losing to one of the best three teams in the country. Buckeyes, 45-21.



This poll is closed

  • 27%
    Bucks roll
    (74 votes)
  • 45%
    Buckeyes win, Hoosiers cover
    (120 votes)
  • 27%
    (72 votes)
266 votes total Vote Now

Illinois Fighting Illini (1-3) at Nebraska Cornhuskers (1-2)

11am | BTN | UNL -15.5 | O/U 59

Straight-Up: Nebraska, 13-2
Against the Spread: Illinois, 10-5

BRT: Still trying to “manifest" good things, and not losing to Illinois is a good thing.

BoilerBettor: This is a game that’s going to be played. God help anyone who watches it live and semi-sober. That’s a big line but the home team is 5-2 over the last 7 in this series. Nebraska wins and covers.

Thumpasaurus: Let’s save you all some drama: Brandon Peters is taking 90% of the snaps in this game at a minimum, and this will remain true no matter how ineffective he is. The 2018 Illini offense put a scare into Nebraska. It showed up at Rutgers courtesy of Isaiah Williams, but we’re going back to the Week 1 Brandon Peters offense. Slowly farting the ball backwards with the occasional 25 yard broken play makes Lovie Smith much more comfortable.

I’m discussing the Illini offense because there is no defense to speak of. The unit has regressed since last year, when they allowed over 700 yards to Nebraska. If the Huskers lose this one, their fans will all be isolating for Thanksgiving, since they’ll be blacked out for a whole week. I say this because in order to lose this game, the offense, defense and special teams will all have to do a large number of unthinkably stupid things.

MC: Brandon Peters returns and it would behoove Lovie to find a way to keep Illinutgers star Isaiah Williams involved somehow. This might be Illinois’ only shot to claim momentum, and I think they’ll sneak past the spread. I feel the least good about that one.

MNW: Can the Illini stop the Huskers offense? Here, I’ll give you a preview:

  • Luke McCaffrey lines up in the shotgun
  • McCaffrey takes the snap, looks downfield
  • [1 second passes]
  • McCaffrey tucks the ball, finds a hole, and runs

No? They can’t? Cool. Huskers, 38-24.



This poll is closed

  • 27%
    Huskers big.
    (54 votes)
  • 45%
    Huskers win, but Illini cover.
    (90 votes)
  • 27%
    (55 votes)
199 votes total Vote Now

Michigan State Spartans (1-3) at Maryland Terrapins (2-1)

TBD? | BTN | MD -5.5 | O/U

BRT: Did the Terrapins turn back into a pumpkin after a week off? Does it matter? Probably not.

BoilerBettor: The last 6 in this have gone under. If this game is played, Maryland still has players out for Covid but Sparty is so bad. Taking Maryland to cover.

Thumpasaurus: COVID wins.

MC: Is COVID better with a little Old Bay?

MNW: Does it look like the lines are bowing in that graphic? It looks like those COVID molecules are growing and shrinking and bending the lines.

I might be having an episode.

Iowa Hawkeyes (2-2) at Penn State Nittany Loins (0-4)

2:30pm | BTN | Iowa -2.5 | O/U 47

Straight-Up/ATS: Iowa, 12-3

Never, in PSU’s long history have we gone 0-5. This will be the first time...

The losses of Hamler, Parsons, Brown, et al. are clear. But in my opinion, the loss of our D-Line coach to the Giants maybe the bigger factor. And without bona fide stars on the field and trying to tack on our fourth offense in seven years, we look bad.

The offensive line is terrible. I watched team after team (including Maryland) run simple cross stunts and get two or three guys free. During the play you’ll see our guys kinda standing around as the QB picks himself up. It’s embarrassing.

This group is playing so far under their potential, I almost wish we kept the old coach.

And the worst part of all of this is that these kids don’t want to hit anyone during the play. They just want to act the ass after the play is over. That’s ACC bullshit. Act like you’ve been there before.

This is not Penn State football. Someone needs to pass that along. Iowa wins and covers.

BRT: Tragically, Iowa wins. But this would be funny if this was PSU's first win, and pride wenteth before Kirk's windpantsed fall.

BoilerBettor: Iowa appears to have a pulse. Penn State likes to give the ball away. Iowa wins and covers.

Thumpasaurus: You can see in the performances of these two teams in the last two weeks that one coach Wants To Play, while the other is Just Asking Questions. Merely being inquisitive will not defeat the will to play through a pandemic.

MC: You have to give the nod to the dominant division against a reeling opponent. Ppppppp]pparty time in Iowa City.


Lions, 24-17.



This poll is closed

  • 76%
    The Team That Had 6
    (131 votes)
  • 23%
    The Team That Had 4
    (40 votes)
171 votes total Vote Now

#10 Wisconsin Badgers (2-0) at #19 Northwestern Wildcats (4-0)

2:30pm | ABC | wisc -7.5 | O/U 44

Straight-Up: wisconsin, 9-6
ATS: Northwestern, 10-5

BRT: I don't know what to expect here, but I hope it's as good of a game as it could be. I think I'm pulling for Wisconsin, because I'm still grateful for the state's early November service to the country.

BoilerBettor: I’m going to middle this one. I think it should be a really good test for both teams. I don’t know if Northwestern wins outright but I wouldn’t be surprised.

Thumpasaurus: What will happen is that Northwestern will open the scoring with a plodding drive, and then Graham Mertz will take over the game as Wisconsin dominates the second quarter outside of one monumental mistake that allows Nern to keep within striking distance. Wisconsin will be coasting in control of this game until late in the 3rd quarter, when they will all suddenly forget what sport they’re playing, having all concept of “football” removed from their minds, make breathlessly stupid decisions from the coach to the players, and lose the game by a score.

MC: I’ve seen enough of this horseshit series to know how this goes. First, Northwestern is good every other year and this is the good year. Second, if Wisconsin doesn’t win this by 30 they’re going to lose, that’s just how this works.

Northwestern is going to set the edge and play strong defense, they’re going to grow out the grass and make the weather shitty somehow, Joel Stave’s going to throw a bunch of picks, and it’s going to be a dumb awful time. Wildcats get the upset, and Jazz caught the ball.

MNW: MC Clap is right that that’s how this series goes.

While Northwestern has lost to the badgers once at Ryan Field in the last, like, two decades—don’t bother fact-checking me—Graham Mertz might be good at throwing the football. And, more scarily, those stupid jet sweeps...I’m going to have nightmares about those. badgers, 35-13.


Pick this dumb and awful game.

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    wisconsin rolls, wins the west
    (126 votes)
  • 6%
    wisconsin rolls, does not win the west
    (19 votes)
  • 13%
    wisconsin wins, does not cover, wins the west
    (39 votes)
  • 7%
    wisconsin wins, does not cover, does not win the west
    (22 votes)
  • 20%
    Northwestern wins, wins the West
    (57 votes)
  • 6%
    Northwestern wins, does not win the West
    (17 votes)
280 votes total Vote Now

Michigan Wolverines (1-3) at Rutgers Scarlet Knights (1-3)

6:30pm | BTN | Mich -8.5 [now 10.5] | O/U 55

Straight-Up: Michigan, 10-5
ATS: Rutgers, 9-6

BoilerBettor: I’ve got nothing on this game. I tried doing some sort of research from a gambling angle and I simply wrote, “Punt.” This pick was determined by a coin flip. It almost landed on its side.

BRT: omg. Come on Rutgers. Please do this, and somehow get Ruth Chris' to play along.

Thumpasaurus: You think we’re getting something hilarious for FREE? Look at what we’ve had to endure to get Four Seasons Total Landscaping. Oh no no no. It’s not that simple. Michigan rolls.

MC: Is Michigan broken enough to lay down for the Illinutgers loser? I don’t think they’ve fallen quite that far yet.

MNW: Harbaugh has to know this is his last stand, and he has to know he’s going to HORP HORP HORP up against a Schiano defense that brings it, committing to stopping the run and flushing out Joe Milton—unless Milton is so bad in what should be limited pass attempts that Harbaugh turns to Cade McNamara.

(Also, Noah Vedral is...definitely a quarterback. But he’s no Penix, and I don’t think Rutgers will have as much success with the ol’ 500 game.)

A Michigan Man with his back to the wall...someone will have to finish the punch line for me. Khakis, 24-10.


Big Ten East also-rans:

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    Michigan, big
    (46 votes)
  • 28%
    Michigan in a close one
    (63 votes)
  • 51%
    (115 votes)
224 votes total Vote Now

Leave your picks in the comments. Thanks for reading OTE!