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Big Ten Football Week 5 Picks, Previews, and Predictions

Some real sicko potential on display this week:

Good morning. We’ve reached Friday, and Football is, a day earlier than normal, upon us. To account for that, have you made sure you’ve joined up in all the normal OTE activities?

Excellent. Then we shall proceed.

About Last Week

RMB: Apparently we were feeling pretty good about the Big Ten last week. We predicted a lot of covers. We were wrong. With 17 participants last week the best ATS score was 6-5 (beezer, HWAHSQB, pkloa, RU in VA, and Zuzu). Shout out to BrianB2 this week. Going 2-9 against the spread is impressive in its own, ugly way.

Nobody got all the picks right straight up, either. BuffKomodo, BRT, RU in VA, and Green Akers all went 10-1, though. Interesting that RU in VA is the only one in both lists.

I’ve arbitrarily set a minimum of “half” of the games picked for a writer to be eligible for YTD credit. Kind Of... leads the pack ATS just clearing the minimum pick threshold. Green Akers continues to lead the straight-up picks, being the first to get to 40 wins.

Friday, Oct 1

(5) Iowa Hawkeyes @ Maryland Terrapins

7pm | FS1 | Iowa -3.5 | O/U 46.5

Straight-Up: Iowa 18-2
Against the Spread: Iowa 17-3

Prove us wrong, Turtles!

misdreavus79: This game is intriguing. Maryland couldn’t do much on offense when they faced Illinois, yet Iowa is head and shoulders better than the Illini. On the other hand, Iowa refuses to play offense unless you hold a gun to Brian Ferentz’s head. So, can Maryland take advantage of that and do just enough to come with the win? We’ll find out, but this game is being played on October 1st, and we know what happens to Maryland when the clock turns to October. Iowa covers.

Buffkomodo: Anything less than a convincing Iowa victory may make me throw myself off the Brent Spence Bridge. Which probably means Maryland will win in dumb fashion.

Kind of...: Maryland is better than I thought they’d be, but that doesn’t meant they’re ready to win this game. That said, they’ll probably keep it closer than their last Friday night conference game. Let’s hope they didn’t cancel classes this time.

RockyMtnBlue: This would be a hell of a statement win for Maryland. Ergo Iowa 20-14.

MNW: Taulia Tagovailoa has played nearly error-free football for four games—10 TDs to 1 pick, 75.5% completion, and Maryland’s first 300-yard passing game, the Fanshots informed me, since something called Caleb Rowe. (I assume that’s a lacrosse player-turned-QB.)

None of that can prepare the Terrapins for how good this Iowa defense has been. The Terps will have to win this game in the trenches or hit so many big play long shots that Iowa fans have flashbacks to Purdue’s Anthony Mahoungou.

But that also doesn’t account for how bad a quarterback Spencer Petras is. The only thing you can say positive about him is that he’d taken care of the football. So maybe this is Kirk’s ideal quarterback! Don’t throw it to the other team, just avoid being so much of a liability.

I’ve spent way too much thought on this and come no closer to an answer. Screw it. Iowa, 21-17.



This poll is closed

  • 62%
    (240 votes)
  • 37%
    (144 votes)
384 votes total Vote Now

Saturday, Oct 2

(14) Michigan Wolverines @ Wisconsin Badgers

11am | Fox | Wisconsin - 0.5 | O/U 43.5

Straight-Up: Michigan 13-7
Against the Spread: Michigan 13-7

I am disappointed no one middled the half-point line.

misdreavus79: Yes, Wisconsin is even more unwilling to play offense than Iowa is, but if Rutgers’s defense was able to shut down Michigan that easily, Wisconsin’s is going to eat them alive. Like Maryland, the calendar turning away from September has not been kind to Michigan as of late, so I’m going with Wisconsin based on those two factors.

Buffkomodo: Wisconsin looked…well terrible versus ND, and I’m not certain they’ve even looked passable all year. Michigan looks competent for once, so give me Michigan.

Kind of...: The argument for UW seems to be that Michigan is bound to revert to what they’ve been recently. But the argument for Michigan is that UW has ALREADY proved themselves to be a shitty offense prone to serving up TDs on a platter to the opposition. Believe your eyes. Michigan.

RockyMtnBlue: Three guys on a podcast, all Michigan fans/writers, combined to predict this game Wisconsin 30, Michigan 16. That’s not an average score. That’s the totals of their three score predictions. Optimists. Wisconsin 9-3.

MNW: This season in the Big Ten, if I can’t readily answer the question “Who’s their quarterback?”, that probably means their quarterback is not so abjectly terrible that we’re laughing at him every week.

I can name Graham Mertz. I saw that on passing plays in 2021, wisconsin has an expected negative points per play. Moreso than other other year I can remember, if you stop wisconsin’s run game, you’ll force them into the air handoff, a place where they are legendarily, historically bad. Wolverines, 17-13.


I love not having middles for these games:

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    (214 votes)
  • 39%
    (138 votes)
352 votes total Vote Now

Charlotte 49s @ Illinois Fighting Illini

11am | BTN | Illinois -10.5 | O/U 54.5

Straight-Up: Illinois 15-5
Against the Spread: Charlotte 15-5

misdreavus79: I’m probably going to get got for picking Illinois here, but I’m confident that they’ll be able to shut down Charlotte and score just enough to cover. Prove me right Illinois!

HWAHSQB: Illinois will not win by 10.5 because we don’t ever want to have a lead of more than one score. God forbid we keep trying to play offense when we have a lead.

Buffkomodo: Emotionally supporting Thump by picking Illinois.

Kind of...: I’m middling this one, but I have a sneaky suspicion this is an Illinois blowout which only serves to more profoundly frustrated the Illini fanbase.

BoilerUp89: Maybe I just am trying to talk myself into being one of ten people left in the survivor pool, but I’m taking Charlotte in this one.

RockyMtnBlue: Ok, yes, Illinois has had some struggles this year. But this is Charlotte. Josh McCray might kill a dude. Illinois 31-17.

MNW: QB Chris Reynolds is coming off a 4 TD:0 INT performance against Middle Tennessee and had a 324-yard, 3/0 showing against Duke earlier this year. He can run, but he’s got a weapon in the backfield like Chris Camp, too. Feels like shades of UTSA, but—and this is a sentence I can’t believe I’m typing—the 49ers are no Roadrunners.

The Charlotte defense is rated 126th in FEI, and you have to go up to 119th (Northern Illinois) to find a team that has a single win. Unless Illinois throws the ball right to the 49ers three or four times—and I guess Brandon Peters and Artur Sitkowski are certainly capable of that—they can win this in a shootout or a strugglehump. Illini, 31-21.


Yes, you have to pick this game:

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    Very ILL
    (72 votes)
  • 53%
    Just a little ILL
    (155 votes)
  • 21%
    CLT stop it
    (64 votes)
291 votes total Vote Now

Minnesota Golden Gophers @ Purdue Boilermakers

11am | BTN | Purdue -2.5 | O/U 47.5

Straight-Up: Minnesota 11-9
Against the Spread: Minnesota 13-7

misdreavus79: I may be reacting to last week, but there’s no way Minnesota wins this game, right? And, since I have self-respect, I’m picking Purdue to cover a two and a half point spread, by virtue of picking them to win.

Buffkomodo: Given the games each of these two played last week, I assume I should take Purdue at home with David Bell back. That said, we are talking about Purdue, so give me Minnesota (It just dawned on me I have no recollection of who I picked in the graphic for any of these games. If you spot some inconsistencies, let me know.)

A special fuck-you to BuffKomodo who just middled a 2.5-point line. If Purdue wins by 1 or 2 points, I will not apologize. —MNW

Edit: Fuck-you to RU in VA, too.

Kind of...: We all know what happened to Minnesota last week. Yet Vegas has the line as less than the standard home field bump. Fine, Vegas. You’ve reeled me in. Minnesota.

BoilerUp89: On the offense Bell & RB King Dourue are going to be game time decisions as are DT Deen & DE Mitchell. TE Payne Durham is doubtful. RB Horvath and CB Trice are still out. The QB decision has not been made public. I know Minnesota isn’t very good, but frankly neither is Purdue and Minnesota is at least more healthy right now. I’d feel a lot better about this one if the bye week was now and they played next week. Oh and it’s going to rain this Saturday in West Lafayette.

RockyMtnBlue: This year’s most mercurial Big10 team visits the Big10’s usual most mercurial team. Literally nothing could happen in this game that would surprise me, including Jesus himself coming back to earth during halftime, drinking a cappuccino, and starting a boy band. Home teams covers a tiny spread.

MNW: RMB’s no doubt acid-infused fantasy is so much more interesting than this game. But it’s GOPHERS-TRAINS, AND YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS:


It’s been fun to listen to everything in the Twin Cities this week in the wake of the Bowling Green loss, from outright apathy to calls to bench Tanner Morgan to demands to fire OC Mike Sanford Jr. to Patrick Reusse’s first erection in 24 years. (The cries echoed throughout the West Metro, and you need to be as haunted as I was.)

The Indy Star is fully-paywalled so I won’t waste your time linking to it, but they say David Bell, King Doerue, and some old-time vaudeville/British comedy troupe called Deen and Mitchell are all game-time decisions. Bell is the one to care about, because I’m not taking the Gophers’ secondary to hold up if he’s healthy. If he’s’s close. I’ll operate under the assumption he’s not and we’ll stick with Purdue 23, Minnesota 17.


Middle this game on threat of death.

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    (159 votes)
  • 43%
    Politician-rodents pulling trains
    (120 votes)
279 votes total Vote Now

(11) Ohio State Buckeyes @ Rutgers Scarlet Knights

2:30pm | BTN | OSU -15.5 | O/U 56.5

Straight-Up: Ohio State 18-2
Against the Spread: Ohio State 12-8

Please sir. Make the bad color go away!

misdreavus79: Vegas smartened up and chose a smaller line for this game, as they probably knew Rutgers was going to cover a three touchdown spread. Ohio State looked great last week against Akron, but I’m not suddenly going to believe they’ve fixed their defense. Rutgers is able to slow the game down just enough to lose by two touchdowns.

HWAHSQB: OSU is not their normal death star selves, but it really doesn’t matter because Rugters still is their normal not good selves.

Buffkomodo: For all you, “iS tHiS tHe YeAr MiChIgAn BeAtS OhIo StAtE” people, you get to use the transitive property from here until the big one. Do enjoy. Ohio State win but not cover.

Kind of...: Really feels like a backdoor cover kind of game.

RockyMtnBlue: Was Rutgers spunky last week? Or was it really mostly Michigan coaches sucking? Prolly a bit of both. OSU’s talent != Michigan’s talent. Bad Guys win 42-13.

MNW: Will believe it when I see it, Rutgers. Ohio State, 37-12.

Why 12, MNW? I don’t know. Shut up and enjoy it.


I refuse to learn more about Rutgers.

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Me too. Bucks roll.
    (151 votes)
  • 30%
    Eh, maybe brush up a bit, because they beat the spread.
    (107 votes)
  • 26%
    (91 votes)
349 votes total Vote Now

Indiana Hoosiers @ (4) Penn State Nittany Lions

6:30pm | ABC | PSU -10.5 | O/U 52.5

Straight-Up: Penn State 18-2
Against the Spread: Penn State 16-4

pkloa: Last week, I was the only one to correctly pick Villanova to beat the spread. Don't worry about the rest of my picks, dammit, that was a good one. Lions roll against their true rivals.

HWAHSQB: I feel like peesu has an axe to grind after getting beat by a fully extended Penix and will come out angry and beat the living tar out of the Hosers.

misdreavus79: Yeah Penn State isn’t going to turn the ball over 77 times in their own end zone to give Indiana a chance this time around. Indiana might, though!

Buffkomodo: Things I’m excited for this weekend…

  1. Being away from my wife for about 12 hours
  2. Hoosier Hysteria
  3. Possibly getting drywall up in my basement

None of those things are this game. That said, I’ll watch anyways. GIVE ME THOSE HOOSIERS! Anyone got an O/U on the number of replays we get of last year’s stretch play?

Kind of...: Penn State is a good team, and improving. Indiana was pleased to beat WKU by 2. Look for the Lions to serve notice.

RockyMtnBlue: Penn State has irritatingly looked like the best team in the league. They’ve done this pretty much every week. Indiana, on the other hand, has struggled just a teeny bit. Penn State gets revenge at home 35-13.

MNW: Penix gets benched, Tuttle takes over, and it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference.

You won’t see Penn State hit the home runs they were cranking to Jahan Dotson and Parker Washington, but unless Indiana so thoroughly shuts down a nondescript Lions’ rush offense that Sean Clifford is actually under real duress, I’m not holding my breath. Nittany Lions, 34-17.


Sequel vs. Original:

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    Never as good the second time. Penn State wins, but doesn’t cover.
    (78 votes)
  • 64%
    Hangover 2 levels of bad. Penn State rolls.
    (208 votes)
  • 11%
    The best sequel since Paddington 2: Indiana gets it done again
    (36 votes)
322 votes total Vote Now

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers @ (17) Michigan State Spartans

6:30pm | FS1 | MSU -11.5 | O/U 61.5

Straight-Up: All Sparty
Against the Spread: WKU 11-9

Wouldn’t it be nice if the writers went 0-20 on the straight-up picks for this game?

misdreavus79: Western Kentucky doesn’t seem to have a defense, and Michigan State seems to love feasting on teams that don’t have a defense. Spartans roll.

Buffkomodo: Sparty in a shootout because you shitheads overestimate your defense. Or I underestimate Indiana’s. Oofff.

Kind of...: Last Saturday’s game vs. Nebraska gave Mel Tucker the perfect chance to not let his guys overlook WKU. 31-17 sounds about right.

RockyMtnBlue: MSU’s 2nd half last week looked a bit like Michigan’s 2nd half last week. But MSU has a quarterback. Sparty rolls 38-21.

MNW: Western Kentucky was just frisky enough against Indiana that...I guess when I made this pick, I believed? That said, Michigan State should roll and I am taking the backdoor cover here—Kenneth Walker and the Spartans get out to a comfortable halftime lead, but we see a Bad Beats feature when a late ‘Toppers drive nets a Bailey Zappe passing touchdown. Michigan State, 31-22.


This is a game you should pick:

This poll is closed

  • 63%
    Sparty rolls
    (184 votes)
  • 28%
    Sparty wins, does not cover
    (83 votes)
  • 7%
    (21 votes)
288 votes total Vote Now

Northwestern Wildcats @ Nebraska Cornhuskers

6:30pm | BTN | Nebraska - 10.5 | O/U 49.5

Straight-Up: Holder of the j 16-4
Against the Spread: Future holder of the j 16-4

The N’s have it.

misdreavus79: Nebraska is clearly the better team, but Northwestern is the anti-Maryland in that their true form only comes out when the calendar turns to October. I’m giving it to Nebraska, but Northwestern will cover.

HWAHSQB: Nothing good can come from watching this game, so please, for the children, don’t do it.

Buffkomodo: Nebby but not because I want to. If Northwestern wins, it’s because Scott Frost is that bad a coach.

Kind of...: Is Nebraska at least not terrible? Yes! Can they cover? No! Huskers by six.

RockyMtnBlue: The Battle For The J! I was looking forward to this game more when it seemed like both teams were awful. jNebby’s been showing off some talent the last couple weeks and NW is figuring shit out like they always do. What’s the fun in that? jNebby (it’s still yours for another couple days) can’t keep stepping on their dicks, right? I mean they will, but not as bad, right? Corn hands the j back to the nerds in a close one.

MNW: My eyes hurt just looking at that graphic. That sleek, aerodynamic purple N belongs nowhere near the serifed abomination that is what passes for high fashion in Nebraska.

This is also your reminder to please go vote for whatever delightful beer I might be drinking during this game:

The hope I have in this game is that Northwestern can get back to playing its more disciplined, fundamental football that gives the Huskers ample rope with which to hang themselves. But you’ll notice the usual talent disparity in a really important facet—the edges. Northwestern’s linebackers not named Chris Bergin are S L O W, and if DEs Adetomiwa Adebawore and Samdup Miller can’t effectively set the edge and contain Adrian Martinez, I’m not optimistic you’ll see Peter McIntyre wrangling him. Maybe we’ll see Khalid Jones or even supposedly-talented frosh Mac Uihlein to keep him in check—but here’s where Nebraska’s tight ends would be a helluva weapon. I’d watch to see if Austin Allen and Travis Vokolek get some work in today.

I’ve about given up on previewing whether Northwestern can move the ball. They probably can’t. Can we move on? You’ll see telegraphed power runs when Anthony Tyus is in for the wildcat sets, you’ll see Ryan Hilinski dancing in a dirtied pocket, there’ll be a lot of three-and-outs. If you see Hilinski finding some timing on the Austin Carr-esque out routes with Kansas transfer WR Stephon Robinson, Jr., perhaps there’s room for optimism.

Once space Northwestern could make hay: special teams. Both S Brandon Joseph and WR Bryce Kirtz have been good returning punts, and Derek Adams has been an adequate field-flipper in 2021. Win the ST battle, and Northwestern could hang around longer than they have any business to.

That said, this feels a lot like Michigan State—Nebraska has the horses to jump out to a lead that’s so big, not even Scott Frost, one of the worst coaches in Big Ten history, can piss it away. Congrats: Huskers, 27-17.


One of these teams is NU, the other is UNL, but supposedly there are stakes here:

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    UNL wins, covers
    (71 votes)
  • 39%
    UNL wins, does not cover
    (111 votes)
  • 35%
    NU wins, somehow
    (98 votes)
280 votes total Vote Now

Sorry, I went to a dark place for a second there.

That’s what we’ve got for you! Leave your picks, predictions, and thoughts in the comments for us ahead of the Iowa-Maryland game tonight.

Need more resources for the weekend of Big Ten football? Don’t go in unarmed! Here, Off Tackle Empire has you taken care of:

Enjoy the weekend, and thanks for making OTE your place to talk Big Ten football.