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Big Ten Football Week 13 Picks, Previews, and Predictions

Grab an Axe, a Hat, a Bucket, some Lasers...whatever you need, really. It’s Rivalry Week! Come make some picks.

Iowa v Nebraska
Has Nebraska ever won this trophy?
Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

Good morning! Happy Thanksgiving! Did you, like me, need to do the old man thing last night and take a Tums when you got home because the heartburn from two and a half plates of turkey and stuffing were too much?



About Last Week

Did not make it in for press time. Blame the managing editor. He’s mean.

This Week

Friday, Nov 26

(all times CT)

(17) Iowa Hawkeyes @ Nebraska Cornhuskers

12:30pm | BTN | Iowa -1.5 | O/U 41

Straight-Up: That one corn school 13-3
Against the Spread: The same corn school 11-5

Thumpasaurus: Do we really need to go through this again? It’s a Nebraska game, specifically a Nebraska game against a ranked opponent. You know how it’ll go. Pick a number between 1 and 9 for them to lose by. They’ll be down by {number} as time is running out, but they’ll be moving the ball well, they’ll hit some big plays and then some sort of calamity will happen.

I say the number is 3.

HWAHSQB: I’m a numbers guy and the staggering odds against a team finishing 1-8 with a positive scoring margin in conference play makes me want it to happen. On the other hand, yeah, I can’t root for iowa to win. GO BIG RED!

misdreavus79: Yes, it would be hilarious and not that surprising if Nebraska caps off its season by beating Iowa, thus providing hope for Husker fans into next season. But also, Nebraska has an entire season’s worth of evidence that the best they’ll do is find yet another way to lose a close game. And that’s what this will be too.

MNW: In overtime the Hawks can’t move the ball because Kirk just runs it up the middle three times, but Caleb Shudak—quietly a very good kicker this year—bangs a 42-yarder. Then Nebraska fumbles the ball on the goal line. Hawkeyes, 26-23 (OT). RECORDS FOR EVERYONE!

BRT: As much as I appreciate the extent to which a 3-win team is apparently taking up space in the Hawkeyefan psyche, Nebraska seems pretty committed to its bit at this point and I see no reason for that to change now. I’ll happily be proved wrong on this, but should the inevitable instead occur, I’m pulling for it to be close enough that we get the weird statistical anecdote, as that’s the only redeeming thing this season has offered.

Buffkomodo: I honestly think Nebraska wins this. I don’t like what I said and would never bet on it, but it just feels like that’s going to happen.

RockyMtnBlue: It’s your time, Huskers. I really want you to lose by a couple so the whole “outscored their opponents while going 1-8” happens. But I don’t think it does because Scott Frost hates fun.


There are no heroes in this one.

This poll is closed

  • 57%
    (58 votes)
  • 42%
    (43 votes)
101 votes total Vote Now

Saturday, Nov 27

(2) Ohio State Buckeyes @ (5) Michigan Wolverines

11am | FOX | OSU -8 | O/U 63.5

Straight-Up: Evil Empire 15-1
Against the Spread: Evil Empire 15-1

Oh, BoilerUp89. You sweet, innocent child.

Thumpasaurus: Nope.

misdreavus79: Ah, the Big Ten’s wet dream has finally come to fruition! Top five teams Michigan and Ohio State square off to decide who gets to represent the East in the Big Ten Championship game (the wetter version was when they were in opposite divisions and would play this game two weeks in a row, but I digress). And, for, just a second, we get to pretend Ohio State isn’t going to win by five four touchdowns.*

MNW: I honestly—after a season of rooting for the MAC and Northwestern and San Jose State—don’t know what to do when I watch actually-good teams play football.

That said, 56-7 sends a message. Aidan Hutchinson and the gang can make it a longer day for the Buckeyes than...about anyone else, but we’ll see how much CJ Stroud has grown in the face of a pass rush since the Oregon game.

Let’s say “a medium amount.” Buckeyes, 38-27.

BRT: It’s nice to pretend that Michigan has a shot in this game, and on paper, they seem to have a better shot than they do most years. But Harbaugh and Co. seem to wet their pants during this game (metaphorically, I hope) with great regularity, and OSU has looked pretty damn great in their past few games. This game is a bit more interesting to the outside observer this year thanks to high stakes for both teams, but when the stakes are high, I trust OSU to get it done. Unless it’s a playoff game, obvi.

Buffkomodo: Ohio State by as much as they want. God I hate that they’re good and playing well.

RockyMtnBlue: OSU wins this game by many many points until they decide they don’t feel like it.


You don’t get to middle The Game because HORP HORP HORP HORP HORP

This poll is closed

  • 77%
    Ohio State
    (237 votes)
  • 22%
    (67 votes)
304 votes total Vote Now

Maryland Terrapins @ Rutgers Scarlet Knights

11am | BTN | Maryland -1.5 | O/U 53

Straight-Up: We can’t decide (8-8)
Against the Spread: Rutgers 9-7

Thumpasaurus: Maryland has a talent advantage in this game, but with their one-dimensional offense and the worst defense in the league, I think Rutgers can press their coaching advantage here.

misdreavus79: I mean someone’s gotta win, right? And hey, if there aren’t enough bowl eligible teams, it may not even matter who wins.

MNW: I love the idea of Rutgers losing this game and backing into bowl season. Hell, this season I wish Northwestern was eligible to do it, because I’m desperate for the ‘Cats to grow up.

That said, and I realize Rutgers piss-pounded Indiana, I cannot get over just how abjectly terrible Rutgers was when they played at Northwestern. Bad quarterback play, bad coaching, bad defense. Maryland can take advantage of that, but it won’t be pretty. Terps, 31-28.

BRT: Forget OSU-Michigan, this is the drama I’m watching. I honestly have no idea who will win this shitshow, and forget who I picked earlier in the week (I’m too lazy to go back and look). This game promises all the drama, excitement, and poor execution that the headliner probably won’t have. And for both of these teams, the stakes are plenty high as well. I’m hoping they live up to their legacy, and make this thing just spectacularly stupid and messy.

Buffkomodo: Thump incorrectly called Maryland’s defense the worst in the league. That title belongs to Indiana as Rutgers hung 30 on us. I don’t actually remember the score. Give me the ‘gers.

RockyMtnBlue: Who the hell knows with this game? Both teams are walking MASH units who weren’t deep to begin with. Give me the home team by a FG.


Who gets Delaware?

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    (72 votes)
  • 67%
    (147 votes)
219 votes total Vote Now

Penn State Nittany Lions @ (7) Michigan State Spartans

2:30pm | ABC | MSU -1 | O/U 51.5

Straight-Up: Penn State 11-5
Against the Spread: no middles

Thumpasaurus: Penn State got the passing game in gear against The ‘Gers to a great enough extent that they should be able to do some damage to the Spartans. The best unit in this game is the Penn State defense. Michigan State will be missing some offensive weapons and their underperforming offensive line isn’t healthy either.

Even if they go full Illinois Barge Package to run the ball, Veilleux gives Penn State a lot more than an injured or sick Sean Clifford.

misdreavus79: The battle of the coaches who got paid. Now we get to see whose massive salary was justified. Because that’s exactly how we decide these things, in the game right after the extension announcement, and only the game after the extension announcement.

Also there’s something to be said about people complaining that these two particular coaches got a big pay raise, but I’m not going to say it, just going to plant the seed for you. Penn State 56, Michigan Sta —wait wrong blog.

BRT: Once again, I don’t remember who I picked, and am too lazy to check. I think I’m pulling for MSU though. I like Mel Tucker, and Penn State fans are funnier when they lose.

Buffkomodo: I hate all schools and football is dumb. Gimme Penn State because they at least presented some challenge to our overlords.

RockyMtnBlue: A healthy PSU might win this game. But right now I just can’t see them getting a W in East Lansing. MSU 35-20

MNW: I don’t get it, misdreavus. What would you possibly be referring to?

Veilleux crashes back to earth against a non-Rutgers defense—the size and speed of Michigan State still outstrips the ‘Gers—and while Penn State hits a couple deep balls, we get into the mud for the Land Grant Trophy.

By the way, have you read that fascinating blog on the Land Grant Trophy? I sure hope you have, because otherwise my cat can’t get new shoes this Christmas. Sparty, 35-31.



This poll is closed

  • 44%
    Penn State
    (93 votes)
  • 55%
    Michigan State
    (118 votes)
211 votes total Vote Now

Northwestern Wildcats @ Illinois Fighting Illini

2:30pm | BTN | Illinois -6.5 | O/U 43.5

Straight-Up: 11-5 Fighting Berts
Against the Spread: 9-7 Fighting Fitzs

Thumpasaurus: Here are some things to consider.

  1. This is already tied for the second most Big Ten wins in a season since 2010. This is a much improved Illini defense with the same guys as last year, and a win here would validate that and make this one of the best Illini seasons of the last decade.
  2. The overall series is currently one game in Illinois’ favor after they’ve lost the last six. A win here prevents their all-time series against a historically prolific losing program from being tied.
  3. Many Illini writers have spent a lot of time breaking down all the possible scenarios where 5-7 Illinois goes bowling. It’s actually possible, but boy, we’d sure feel dumb doing all that work and reading all that stuff if they lost, wouldn’t we?
  4. Illinois is a favorite against a Big Ten opponent for the first time this year, which is very encouraging
  5. For many of those reasons, an Illinois win, especially if the bowl thing happened, would propel Illini fans to this offseason with a hope we’ve rarely felt. It would be a statement that Illinois might not be doomed to spend eternity as a Big Ten doormat. There’s already a lot of hope. Frustration with throwing away some opportunities to win is offset by how many more opportunities we’ve had to win than normal. Really, only the Wisconsin game was totally non-competitive in Big Ten play, which is really all we want is to compete in this league.

It would be pretty devastating to all of this hype and momentum if the Illini just totally failed to show up and got routed.

Northwestern 38, Illinois 3

HWAHSQB: Time to take our medicine.

misdreauvs79: Someone’s gotta win, part 2. Except only Illinois can make a bowl with a losing record, so for their fans’ sake, that someone better be Illinois.

MNW: I’m of two minds here.

On the one hand, it is amazing that little ol’ Northwestern has managed to so adequately Stockholm a team into accepting that they were going to lose to us. One Thanksgiving win for the Illini since 2012, 9-3 since HAT was introduced, ranked during four of the last six almost feels like we’re a real program when we have a rivalry where we get to kick sand into someone’s face. (I don’t know if they grade that sand, but I hope it’s coarse.)

On the other hand, it’s not happening, guys. This Northwestern team is just so impossibly bad on defense. The line gets absolutely no push, the linebackers are too slow, the secondary breaks too easily in coverage. And we haven’t even covered the Northwestern offense! Like, Illinois fans can attempt to manifest the reverse jinx all they want; they do a disservice to just how awful Northwestern is.

I’m sorry to spend two paragraphs recapping what you already know, but it’s a fascinating phenomenon.

Illinois is outside the Top 100 on defense in a number of those defense line rates on FEI—they don’t stuff opponents and struggle to get after the QB on standard downs.

But the problem?

Northwestern’s even worse.

Now, that’s not referring to the offenses—Northwestern, somehow, has a higher-rated offense than Illinois, though we can agree both offenses are just miserable. But I am so profoundly lacking confidence in Northwestern’s offensive line and the quarterbacks’ ability to get the ball out...

Maybe we’ll get HAT back in 2022. Illinois, 27-17.

BRT: Wow, a real Thanksgiving blessing that our Illinois and NW writers have given us Tolstoyan looks at this shit game. Honestly, as unpredictable as Illinois has been, Northwestern has been predictably putrid in pretty much every game this year, and there is no reason that they should defeat Illinois, even Illinois on an off day. Would I enjoy it if they did? Of course. But I think it’s very unlikely—they are just so very terrible this season.

Buffkomodo: Illinois wins and is able to give their fanbase enough ideas for a new season of ““What If” on Disney Plus.

RockyMtnBlue: This game stays close because HAT is a jNW superpower. But it’s not super enough to actually get the win. Illinois 17-13



This poll is closed

  • 42%
    Illini by 7 or more
    (75 votes)
  • 40%
    Illini win, don’t cover
    (71 votes)
  • 16%
    ‘Cats make it 7 in a row and tie the series
    (29 votes)
175 votes total Vote Now

Indiana Hoosiers @ Purdue Boilermakers

2:30pm | FS1 | Purdue -15 | O/U 50.5

Straight-Up: All Boilers
Against the Spread: Mostly Boilers 13-3

Have people had this much confidence in Purdue over Indiana since Drew Brees was the quarterback?

Thumpasaurus: If Indiana’s ever going to show up for a game, it’ll be this one, but like virtually every game they play I don’t see what their path to moving the ball is.

misdreavus79: I honestly wouldn’t even find it funny if Indiana won this. That would just be mean. So do your part Indiana and help Purdue have its best season since, well, Joe Tiller was hanging around. Y’all had your fun last year, now let your rivals have some fun too.

MNW: My parents went to Minnesota at Indiana last week, and my dad—in addition to telling a story about how they functionally bribed the gate attendant to let them park in the “Yellow Lot” across from the stadium for $20—had only this to offer: “My God, are Indiana’s quarterbacks dogshit.”

Good enough for me, Dad, I just saw Purdue beat a team like that. Boilermakers, 27-24.

BRT: ^^^ Boomers: Fair Play and Hard Work for thee, but not for me. ;) JK, way to stick it to the man, MNWDad. As for this game, I am uninterested in it, but Indiana does not appear to any longer being trying to win football games, and Purdue isn’t totally hopeless, so I like the Boilermakers chances in this one.

Buffkomodo: BRT is correct. This team packed it in a long time ago. Whatever the over is, take it. And if you get a live chance to take another over, take that too. David Bell has a million yards. Nick Sheridan is fired by Cyber Monday. Indiana basketball plays Marshall at 7 so there’s that.

RockyMtnBlue: Historically this is the kind of game you expect Purdue to dicktrip away. They seem to be getting over that tendency this year and Indiana is just broken. Purdue 34-10



This poll is closed

  • 57%
    Purdue by 15+
    (102 votes)
  • 35%
    Purdue wins, does not cover, doesn’t matter, because they get BUCKET and 8 WINS
    (63 votes)
  • 7%
    (13 votes)
178 votes total Vote Now

(15) Wisconsin Badgers @ Minnesota Golden Gophers

3pm | FOX | Wisconsin -6.5 | O/U 39

Straight-Up: Wiscy 15-1
Against the Spread: Wiscy 14-2

Thumpasaurus: Using Nebraska as a reference point to compare anything is a pretty futile endeavor, so using everything else, Wisconsin should run away with this one. Their defense is the best in the league and their offense seems to have finally found its identity with Braelon Allen shouldering the majority of the burden. The Axe will have to wait for next year to change hands.

HWAHSQB: Abandon hope all ye (gophers) that enter here. Thump and I harp about Illinois’ futility against Nern, but we’ve got nothing on minnesota against wisconsin. 3-22 in the last quarter century is....not good.

misdreavus79: If Minnesota had a running back maybe I’d be inclined to pick them, or at least a close game. But Wisconsin decided to stop losing and Minnesota decided to stop having an offense, so there you have it!

MNW: It’s Minnesota in a rivalry game. Badgers, 31-17.

BRT: Badgers should win. Please refer to this week’s Power Poll gifs of boat fails for how I think this will go for Minnesota.

Buffkomodo: Wisconsin wins. No reason. It’s cold up there. Check your filters people.

RockyMtnBlue: I’m glad Michigan played Wisconsin when they did. Minny gets fully-formed Wisconsin. I have no sympathy for you, Minny. Michigan gets fully formed OSU. Wisconsin 31-14



This poll is closed

  • 56%
    badgers by 7+
    (123 votes)
  • 15%
    badgers win, don’t cover, embarrass the gophers in minneapolis again
    (33 votes)
  • 28%
    (61 votes)
217 votes total Vote Now

*I’ve been told modern day Ohio State has not beaten Michigan by five touchdowns, so four will have to suffice.

Well there you go! Hurry up and make your picks for Iowa-Nebraska, because we’ll have a gamethread for you in just a few minutes! If you’re looking for a schedule of the weekend’s games, we’ve got you covered. Check out the Power Poll, tell us where you’ll be this weekend, and listen to the podcast preview of this weekend.

Thanks as always for making OTE a home for Big Ten football community. We’re honored to be the idiots you bother to listen to or read every once in a while; Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, and have a great weekend.