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Big Ten Football Week 9 Picks, Previews, and Predictions

Time for the Big Ten East to start cannibalizing itself...

Michigan State v Michigan Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

[MNW attempts to be witty]

MNW: I’m going to leave RMB’s planning notes there, because in trying to open this article in our editing platform, I twice clicked on DWT;WT and tried to edit that.

So instead here’s a tweet for you:

Fucking Winnetka.

About Last Week

I have thoughts:

  • Another week with 5 measly games and 16 writers making picks. Nobody could get them all. Your OTE subscription is worth everything you’re paying for it.
  • Poor “Kind of...”. Going 3-2 ATS is pretty good. He did and his season accuracy when down.
  • Candystripes is batting .829 straight up to lead the field.
  • Personally I dropped under .500 for the season. But I’m up money because I only bet some of the games. OSU and MSU are carrying me.

This Week

Saturday, Oct 30

(all times CDT)

(6) Michigan Wolverines @ (7) Michigan State Spartans

11am | FOX | Michigan -4.5 | O/U 51.5

Straight-Up: Michigan 14-5
Against the Spread: Michigan 12-7

Thumpasaurus: On the podcast, I broke down why it’s so hard for me to pick a winner here.

In cases like this, that means I go with what I least want to happen. I think Michigan could take advantage of MSU’s aggressive nature, win the turnover battle and then limit their opportunities by controlling the clock. I also think that if MSU takes an early two-score lead, Michigan will struggle to respond. This one’s all over the place.

Buffkomodo: Michigan because I think that Sparty is not as good as they appear. Then again, a reasonable argument can be made that Michigan is not as good as they appear. Jim does have a tendency to blow it against god...who have i picked...

RockyMtnBlue: Everything about this game sucks. From the politician’s photo-op trophy, to “MSU’s Super Bowl”, to East Lansing in general, to the fact that MSU is actually good at footballing. I was hoping to be looking at houses while this is on but my jackass realtor is golfing at that time so I’ll probably be forced to watch Wiscy/Iowa. Life is pain.

MSU’s going to hit some big plays and bottle up the middle on defense. If Michigan can attack the edges and strike over the top they might keep up. But they can’t (or worse, simply won’t).

MSU 28-13.

MNW: First, I’d like it on the record that this is a stupid, dime store trophy.

That, and my heart goes out to the Michigan politicians who actually have to take a side today and, despite being alumni of yellow and blue, might wear green and white.

Thank you.

Next, in watching Michigan play with its food in a rout of Northwestern last weekend, I appreciated just how straightforward the Wolverines could be when they finally stopped dicking around in the second half. Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins run well to the point that I would want to take the over on this game, because I think there are a few runs broken today between them and Kenneth Walker III—if Evan Hull can outrun this Wolverines defense, so can Walker.

Picking this game on quarterback play feels like something I should take into account—Thorne has more actively won Michigan State a couple games, whereas McNamara’s job is to avoid mistakes...and yet I trust Michigan’s quarterbacking more? Wolverines, 34-27.


Battle for the Dime Store Tchotchke

This poll is closed

  • 53%
    (159 votes)
  • 46%
    (138 votes)
297 votes total Vote Now

(9) Iowa Hawkeyes @ Wisconsin Badgers

11am | ESPN | Wisconsin -3.5 | O/U 36.5

Straight-Up: Iowa 10-9
Against the Spread: Iowa 12-7

Thumpasaurus: I’ve said all along that I think Wisconsin is better than Iowa if they limit their turnovers. Wisconsin has a better down-to-down defense than Iowa, so as long as Wisconsin limits Graham Mertz’s opportunities to lose the game for them, I think they can control what should be a downright hideous game with the superior rushing attack.

WSR: Both of these teams are great defensively and absolute dogshit offensively. Both play perfectly offensively into what the other wants to do defensively. It all comes down to which QB is going to make the crippling mistake when their team needs them to make a play, and that’s Graham Mertz.

While both he and Petras are hover right around the bottom in completion percentage, YPA, and interceptions thrown, Mertz is that special kind of crap that you can just count on to make a terrible decision because deep down he still thinks he’s the star QB prospect from Kansas instead of a terrible B1G QB that can’t read a defense and can’t make throws consistently.

Buffkomodo: Iowa. I honestly couldn’t care less because Iowa lost to Purdue and I’m stuck reevaluating my life choices. Thanks Boilers.

RockyMtnBlue: Mertz throws a lot of picks. Iowa gets a lot of picks. If those two statements really come through my pick will be wrong. I think Wiscy avoids stepping on their reproductive equipment just barely enough to strangle Iowa in an ugly, ugly game. Wisconsin 19-14.

MNW: Oh damn, this one’s in Madison and I took Iowa?

(I did. But see WSR’s explanation for why. The Hawkeyes are a more consistent brand of trash than the badgers, yet somehow that helps them beat wisconsin over the head with a slightly bigger rock.) Iowa, 17-13.


I got a rock.

This poll is closed

  • 52%
    (155 votes)
  • 47%
    (141 votes)
296 votes total Vote Now

Rutgers Scarlet Knights @ Illinois Fighting Illini

11am | BTN | Maryland -5 | O/U 50.5

Straight-Up: Illinois 13-6
Against the Spread: Illinois 13-6

Thumpasaurus: Damn, home dogs to The ‘Gers? Illinois has been an underdog in all five Big Ten games and has covered the spread in four of them. What similarities do you see between Wisconsin and Rutgers other than their problems throwing the ball?

Don’t get me wrong, I think this game is a hideous toss-up and I don’t expect Illinois to perform as well as they did in Happy Valley for the rest of the year, it’s just that I think this Illinois offense has found its identity and accepted its limitations. So long as Tony Petersen doesn’t convince himself that Brandon Peters gives him options in the passing game that Art Sitkowski didn’t, Illinois should at least have a similar gameplan to last week.

Defensively, Illinois has improved massively since the start of the year even as key players such as linebacker and captain Jake Hansen have gone down. That difference has been reflected by SP+, which now has them as the #60 defense in the country. While that remains the worst in the Big Ten, it’s clear that Ryan Walters’ unit is not the pushover we’ve seen for the last 5 years in Champaign. Bielema and Schiano will both try to control the clock, so this game will probably be 13-10 Illinois in under three hours.

HWAHSQB: After Illinois last shocking win over a top 10 team, Illinois reeled off three more in a row and followed that up by getting their shit pushed in by a hapless last place jNU. Will history repeat itself? I certainly hope so. I think we’ll at least do enough to win the most important game of the season in Illinutgers VIII.

WSR: Rutgers is in trouble. It’s not that Illinois is good (they’re not), it’s just that they have problems gaining yards, scoring points, and stopping the other team from gaining yards and scoring points. Other than that, they’re fine.

Buffkomodo: Let’s go Illinois!

RockyMtnBlue: I LOVE THIS GAME. Illinutgers is the football game embodiment of all the style, pageantry, and sheer, bloody-minded stupidity we all deserve as Big Ten football fans.

Rutgers can be forgiven for falling into a hole against Michigan, MSU, and OSU in consecutive weeks. But then they got owned by jNW of all teams. Illinois, on the other hand, is coming off a legendarily stupid upset win. Plus the game is in Champaign. Illinois 16-11.

MNW: What surprised me about that Rutgers loss at Northwestern was how it didn’t look like the Greg Schiano team I’d been fictionalizing: whereas I thought this was a hard-nosed run attack, Rutgers relied on gimmicky motion; instead of disciplined line play, the Knights got pushed off the ball; far from eliminating penalties and mistakes, Rutgers shot themselves in the foot repeatedly as Schiano made an ass of himself.

Vedral could get out and make a few plays against Illinois—that’s the caliber of team and defense where he could have some success and spring Bo Melton for a long TD or two. And as I say this, here’s the kind of game where BERT rears his head (ugly is implied) and goes full CHAOSBERT by throwing it 55 times with Brandon Peters. That said: Illini, 27-24.



This poll is closed

  • 59%
    (151 votes)
  • 40%
    (103 votes)
254 votes total Vote Now

Indiana Hoosiers @ Maryland Terrapins

11am | BTN | Maryland -5 | O/U 50.5

Straight-Up: Indiana 11-8
Against the Spread: Indiana 14-5

5pt spread and More than half expecting the upset

Thumpasaurus: This feels like a must-win for both of these teams with Indiana needing a buffer against a sixth loss and Maryland’s schedule providing few opportunities.

The worst unit in this game is the Hoosier offense, however. I don’t think the Indiana D is stout enough that Maryland can’t find a way to move the ball. The question will be if Maryland’s defensive gameplan is up to the task. They couldn’t exploit a one-dimensional Minnesota team and never seriously challenged their run game with a loaded box. I think Maryland has the better team, but Indiana has the better coaching. Still, the quarterback play will be too much for the Hoosiers to overcome.

HWAHSQB: Tom Allen has yet to beat a good team in his time at Indinia. Luckily for him, this is October Maryland, not September Maryland. Still, Indiana is pretty good at beating bad teams. I’ve already thought more about this game than I wanted to so THE END.

WSR: Sometimes you come across a game in the division opposite yours and you have no idea what to think about why it exists or why we need to care about it. I’m sure plenty of them have involved Minnesota for my friends from the east. But this game? Ugh. UGH. WHY?!

Buffkomodo: This is for the season. Unfortunately, Indiana has to play 4 of the next 5 games for the season, so we’re bound to lose one. So save us the trouble and lose this week so we can move on to Mike Woodson memes and basketball talk.

RockyMtnBlue: Two of this season’s most disappointing teams in the Big Ten. Maryland is flawed and badly banged up. But Indiana looks just plain broken. Maryland 21-14.

MNW: Indiana gets the dead cat bounce when, as Maryland showed last week at Minnesota, they cannot stop the run. They make the Hoosiers’ offense look competent, Indiana gets to Taulia, and it’s a bad time in College Park. Indinia, 31-17.


I’ll let you middle this.

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    Indiana straight-up
    (106 votes)
  • 32%
    Maryland is favored?! Uh, OK, the middle.
    (81 votes)
  • 25%
    Terps cover.
    (63 votes)
250 votes total Vote Now

Minnesota Golden Gophers @ Northwestern Wildcats

2:30pm | BTN | Minnesota -7.5 | O/U 43.5

Straight-Up: Minnesota 17-2
Against the Spread: Minnesota 12-7

Thumpasaurus: Time for Northwestern’s opponent to do something stupid. I’m either wrong or Northwestern loses again. Either way, I win.

HWAHSQB: (shrug)

WSR: I’ve heard rumors that Northwestern has the worst run defense in the B1G. That seems like a bad thing when going up against Minnesota.

Buffkomodo: This game is kinda dumb. Minnesota seems to be rocking. Minny it is.

RockyMtnBlue: The kitties really looked like they were getting their shit together after the bye week when they played Rutgers. Minnesota on the other hand is sneaky-good. All signs point to a Minnesota cover, but I just can’t help feeling this game is ripe for a little patented West Division Dumb.

jNW gets the backdoor cover late in the 4th. Minnesota 24-17.

MNW: Minnesota’s an average West team who absolutely is on a roll right now. That’s the kind of team Northwestern is made to drag back into the mud. (Speaking of—a full day of rain today could make Ryan Field’s amber waves of grain niiiiiiice and soupy.)

It would be worth noting how Northwestern’s defensive line has worn down time and again over the course of the season but how good play from the linebackers playing disciplined, assignment football could cover that and here’s a game where Brandon Joseph could make up for some of his struggles in 2021...

...but Northwestern can’t score. They cannot move the football against non-Rutgersian, non-Ohio teams. The Gophers have stopped the run well enough that Evan Hull et al will struggle to get it going, and...dear God, if we’re counting on Ryan Hilinski to win the game, it’s just going to be a long day. That’s not because Hilinski’s a bad quarterback—he’s fine—but because Northwestern cannot and has not sustained drives. They start in shitty field position, they end in shitty field position, they turn the ball over, they do not play with anything remotely approaching “consistency”, they punt like shit.

Cool. Gophers, 24-7.


Over a fucking touchdown as home dogs to Peejus.

This poll is closed

  • 62%
    Minnesota covers.
    (161 votes)
  • 24%
    Minnesota by a touchdown or less.
    (64 votes)
  • 13%
    (34 votes)
259 votes total Vote Now

Purdue Boilermakers ​@ Nebraska Cornhuskers

2:30pm | EPSN2 | Nebraska -7.5 | O/U 50

Straight-Up: Nebraska 11-8
Against the Spread: Purdue 15-4

Thumpasaurus: On paper, Nebraska has the better offense and the better defense and should be able to win this game even as David Bell gets tons of targets. But we all know how this works. One mistake and Nebraska’s lead is cut to three. A turnover puts Purdue in great field position and they score another quick touchdown. Nebraska methodically drives down the field as time runs down, poised to answer with a touchdown of their own, but Martinez sails it on third and six, then again on fourth and six and Purdue takes over on downs. Scott Frost is once again unable to believe it.

BoilerUp89: Nebraska is more talented than Purdue, is playing at home, and has had an extra week to prepare. For most coaches that would mean an easy win, but this is Scott Frost we are talking about. Purdue makes the Cornhuskers work for the win.

HWAHSQB: Last week I said the extra coaching time with Locks would cost Maryland the game. This week, for the same reason, I’ll pick Purdue.

WSR: When in doubt, count on Scott Frost to make things worse.

Buffkomodo: David Bell for 1000 yards and Scott Frost for 1000 tears.

RockyMtnBlue: How badly will Nebby Frost this game up? I predict “only a little”. Huskers get a badly needed win 34-24.

MNW: In a battle of who can spin the chamber

AOC throws for 400 yards but Adrian Martinez avoids the late-game catastrophe—I’m rooting for the kid just to shut up the “bench Martinez” or “he’s a terrible quarterback costing us the season” assholes at this point—and Nebraska escapes at home. Huskers, 35-28.


That hook on the 7.5 doing WORK here?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    Huskers still cover.
    (45 votes)
  • 41%
    Yep, Huskers win but don’t cover.
    (100 votes)
  • 40%
    (98 votes)
243 votes total Vote Now

(20) Penn State Nittany Lions ​@ (5) Ohio State Buckeyes

6:30pm | ABC | OSU -18.5 | O/U 60

Straight-Up: Evil Empire 17-1
Against the Spread: Evil Empire 13-6

More than 2⁄3 think OSU covers a 3 score spread. It’s a horrible world.

Thumpasaurus: Oh boy, is Penn State in trouble. Their opponent can actually throw the ball this week.

BoilerUp89: Ohio State lost to Oregon who lost to Stanford who lost to Arizona State who lost to Utah who lost to Oregon State who lost to Purdue who lost to wisconsin who lost to Penn State who lost to Illinois. Oops, went too far there. Anyway simple transitive math tells us Penn State is better than Ohio State. Buckeyes by 30+

HWAHSQB: When PSU goes bad, they don’t do it halfway. I picked them to cover, but it is probably only because I’m bad at picking games.

WSR: James Franklin sure seems focused on preparing PSU for this game, doesn’t he? Buckeyes by whatever Ryan Day wants.

RockyMtnBlue: I heard a fun stat last week: Indiana forced a punt in the third quarter against OSU. It was the first time in almost a month that OSU started a drive with Stroud at QB and punted. A MONTH. Fuck this program so much. OSU 54-14.

MNW: Even without the James Franklin-to-literally-anywhere-else narrative, though, would Penn State have a realistic shot in most of our minds? With a 50% healthy Sean Clifford and clearly no other quarterback in the arsenal, the Lions should not be able to move the ball on Ohio State. Even if the Nits’ D shows up, the Buckeyes will find a way through. Ohio State, 38-10.

Buffkomodo: Penn State is going to get killed. The death star is back in all its glory. Hail Xenu.



This poll is closed

  • 75%
    OSU rolls.
    (209 votes)
  • 16%
    OSU wins, PSU beats the spread.
    (46 votes)
  • 7%
    (22 votes)
277 votes total Vote Now

Well, that’s that. Leave your picks in the comments.

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