If you’re reading this—and goodness, why ARE you?—I’m already on the way to Milwaukee. RockyMtnBlue told me I had to say things, though, so—hey wait a damn minute I’m the boss here and,,,
About Last Week
Two people went 6-1 against the spread last week but no one was able to get 6 picks right straight-up. I’m not exactly sure how that happens but here we are.
Speaking of going 6-1 against the spread, we have a new leader in the clubhouse. ZuzuRU takes the season ATS lead at .611! Zuzu leveraged her strong week 9 showing with smaller overall sample size to storm to the front. Suddenly it becomes clear why she hasn’t submitted picks every week. Zuzu is playing 3D chess.
Saturday, Nov 6
(all times CDT)
11am | FOX | OSU -14.5 | O/U 64.5
Straight-Up: People of Questionable Moral Standards 17-2
Against the Spread: People of Questionable Moral Standards 14-5
DR: I am picking Nebby straight up.
Have I been hittin’ the glue, you ask? That’s not important right now. What is important is that I have seen the future, and it is ludicrous.
Hear me out. What would be the stupidest thing that could happen? The Huskers winning, of course. OSU is playing at eleven, a week after playing in a game they probably actually cared about, against a punchline. This is a trap game. What would be more bizarre than an out-of-the-blue masterclass from the Husker coaching staff?
This mindfuck will be the ultimate Pyrrhic victory — a win so big that it guarantees Frost another year, and ensures another year of whatever it is we’ve all been watching (if the win somehow includes a special teams touchdown by UNL, I will have an aneurysm). Nebraska, of course, will then go on to lose out. If the last five years have taught us anything, it is that the Multiverse is trolling us all.
Thumpasaurus: That’s an awfully big spread for an opponent that will play absolutely anyone in the country to a one-score loss.
WSR: This is the dumbest 14.5 point spread of the week. I’m just excited to read the Nebraska 247 board Saturday afternoon with some popcorn, and then the Nebraska merit badge media on Sunday to see how they spin the positives of yet another loss.
pkloa: Eat shit, Ohio State.
BoilerUp89: There’s a decent chance Scott Frost is fired after this game.
Buffkomodo: God I hate both teams. At least if Nebby loses bad enough, Frooster could be outstered.
HWAHSQB: I don’t know, but I agree with pkloa.
MNW: I don’t know, but I will have so much of what Dead Read is having that I can no longer feel my face. Ohio State, 55-21.
Kind of...: CFP rankings came out. Wouldn’t hurt OSU to get some of those (mostly mythical) style points. Scoring machine go brrrr.
RockyMtnBlue: What pkloa said. 49-14
In 2011 some people thought this game would be competitive.
This poll is closed
Ohio State by a lottttt
The best one-score loss the Nebraska media’s ever seen
DEAD READ AIN’T JUST ON DRUGS
11am | EPSN2 | Minnesota -14.5 | O/U 44.5
Straight-Up: Fighting Rodents 17-2
Against the Spread: Fighting People-Who-Live-In-a-State 13-6
Thumpasaurus: Well, I think Illinois is going to get rolled, so naturally what’s going to happen is that PJ Fleck is going to insist that he doesn’t need to throw the ball until it’s a tie game in the fourth quarter and then we do that thing where we have a chance to tie or take the lead in Q4 and fail miserably.
The only way we win this one is if Minnesota’s coaches straight up fall asleep. I think Illinois will come out on defense stacking the box to force Minnesota to throw. The Goofs might just run for 5 yards a carry anyway, but if not then they’ll either incinerate us on playaction or allow us to hang around.
I’m not sure how we’re going to move the ball. We drew up some nifty stuff in the passing game last week and got some explosive plays, but we couldn’t run the ball and were therefore forced to pass anyway. I don’t think we’ll show Minnesota much that we haven’t put on tape already, so once again I think we only win if PJ & co fall asleep. They did it in 2018, so I’m not ruling anything out.
WSR: The day after the 2018 game we fired our DC, so people probably shouldn’t use that game as a reference point.
This is the 2nd-dumbest 14.5 point spread of the week. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Gophers come out with a balanced attack for the first couple drives to keep the Illini defense honest while we build up a 10-0 lead before throwing rock 30 times in a row. Good old rock, nothing beats it.
On the other side of the ball, I just don’t think Bert’z Boyz have enough of anything to make this a game. Brandon Peters isn’t good, and the Gophers run defense is pretty impressive this year (allowing just 3.36 YPC, which is 4th in the B1G, and under 100 yards per game).
BoilerUp89: Yeah, the Gophers have been playing pretty well as late but their style of play kind of plays into what Illinois wants to do. Run the clock, minimize possessions, and shorten the game. And Minnesota has shown themselves capable of losing to opponents they should beat this year. Coming off a couple of easy wins in a row, I can’t help but think that #rowtheboat might fall asleep and run into that iceberg accidentally.
Buffkomodo: Welcome to basketball season Illinois fans. Minnesota by a mile.
HWAHSQB: Illinois’ defense is actually pretty good and minnesota likes to go rock fight with any lead so I think Illinois covers despite being emotionally spent after a grueling Illinutgers game last week. I don’t think the gophers are a lock though because 1: We got good Brandon Peters last week and there is about a 12.5% chance we get that again and B: Bowling Green lol.
MNW: If Illinois has a marginally better pass rush than Northwestern, maybe they can drag this into cover territory. In fact, I’ll bet that’s exactly what they do. No Ryan Hilinski Experiment to gift the Gophers a 14-point head start. Gophers, 28-14.
Kind of...: Minnesota’s looked pretty good lately. Time for a closer call.
RockyMtnBlue: I get into trouble when I overthink it. Minny’s pretty decent this year. Illinois isn’t. Goofs 31-10.
this too is a game
This poll is closed
Much like the button on WSR’s jeans, that .5 hook on the spread is doing a little too much work here
Gopher collapse begins BEFORE rivalry season
2:30pm | ABC | MSU -2.5 | O/U 53.5
Straight-Up: Criminals 14-5
Against the Spread: Nobody middled the 2.5 pt spread.
Thumpasaurus: Mel Tucker is easily the biggest home run hire in the Big Ten since Urban Meyer. If the 2014 Buckeyes had lost to Alabama in the semis, you’d probably have to go back to Woody Hayes to find a better hire. Mark Dantonio retired and they simply got out and got someone better.
Michigan State didn’t get up to the 2 spot, so they’re safe from Purdue.
WSR: There’s always a chance we could get a harboring, but I highly doubt it. Purdue simply isn’t that good. David Bell is good. George Karlaftis is good. But that’s still about it. The only thing that could make this interesting is either a letdown from Sparty or the realization that they’re a bit of a paper tiger.
Buffkomodo: I truly hope that Michigan State wins so that I can keep hearing excuses from the committee as to why they are keeping Cincinnati out of the CFP.
pkloa: I picked against Sparty last week and they won anyway, destroying my theory that I'm picking them had anything to do with their winning. Actually, looking at my overall record, I'm impressed MSU has won so much in spite of my picking them. I'm back on the Tucker train against the actual trains.
MNW: [/checks wisconsin-Purdue boxscore]
Why the hell would anyone thing Purdue’s going to fare any better against Kenneth Walker III? Sparty, 38-14.
BoilerUp89: I’m probably just drunk while I’m thinking this thru, but I have the feeling that Purdue pulls an upset in the next two weeks (MSU and OSU) and loses a game in their final two (jNU and IU). Since Purdue plays MSU first, I’ll go ahead and call my shot this week.
There are some things to like about the matchup too: MSU gives up more passing yards that 120 FBS level teams and Purdue loves passing the ball and abandoning the run game anyway. Sparty is also feeling pretty good about themselves at 8-0 and coming off a win over the Fighting Harbaughs, but has bigger opponents left on the schedule with tOSU and PSU. Purdue probably needs to win the turnover battle to have a chance, but I do think they have a chance.
Kind of...: The cool thing about Purdue Harbors (Purdues Harbor?) is that they aren’t regular events. It already happened this year (though the committee that declares things mountains or hills is already looking to downgrade that based on Iowa’s performance last week). Sometimes you spend weeks saying that a team (say, MSU) is just waiting to get tagged. But some of those times, it doesn’t happen, because they already escaped said tagging. Is MSU lucky to still be undefeated? Yes. But luck only evens out in the very long run. And MSU is still a lot better than Purdue. Sparty convincingly.
RockyMtnBlue: I would enjoy a Purdue Harbor very much. Ergo MSU 40-34. Burn in hell, Sparty.
This poll is closed
2:30pm | BTN | Wisconsin -13.5 | O/U 38.5
Straight-Up: The More Annoying Red Team 17-2
Against the Spread: The More Annoying Red Team 13-6
Thumpasaurus: Rutgers is basically Illinois with better passing and a better defense. Their game against Wisconsin will look the same as ours.
WSR: Come on, Rutgers. Do America a favor. You’re not going to, but I want to believe. The worst/best part about this game is that Rutgers DC Robb Smith will further the myth that wisconsin’s offense is anything about rancid horseshit.
Buffkomodo: Poor ‘gers. Started strong but fading fast. You know, Wisconsin has played bad stretches of football this year. Maybe...just maybe...?
pkloa: I'd really love for Rutger to win this, but they are a couple years away from that. Might keep it closer than two touchdowns.
HWAHSQB: Rutgers played their Superb Owl last week in the biggest rivalry game of them all. I think they come out flat and wiscy flows.
MNW: The badgers have finally calibrated what Graham Mertz has to do—not be a total fucking liability—and Rutgers, from eyewitness experience, is the definition of “total fucking liability”.
Congrats on that women’s soccer title, tho. Badgers, 35-10.
Kind of...: Rutgers will cover if UW coughs up an early turnover and/or Cruickshank scores a special teams TD (really happy for him, BTW). Otherwise, the Badger D is just too fierce and the Mellusi/Allen tag-team is just too relentless.
RockyMtnBlue: Bad news, Rutgers fans. I’m rooting for your team. Wiscy 27-6
2:30pm | FS1 | PSU -10.5 | O/U 55.5
Straight-Up: Simplest Unis 15-4
Against the Spread: Simplest Unis 11-8
Thumpasaurus: There’s enough hope in College Park that I can comfortably say that Penn State will blow their doors off.
pkloa: The Lions have never lost a game I've been to in person. Yes, almost all of those were in the 90s. Yes Penn State just went 1-for-October. Now shut up and let me enjoy my Chessie and mocking Locksley.
HWAHSQB: If there is a way for both teams to lose, these guys might just figure it out.
Buffkomodo: Oh goodness. I think James Franklin is taking himself out of contention for the USC job pretty quick. Get a nice win here and reinsert yourself James!
MNW: If pkloa doesn’t post pictures of Chessie before, during, and after consumption, I consider his feat invalid. That’s the most important part of this game.
Oh, the game itself? Clifford’s a gamer and Maryland’s Maryland. Penn State, 41-14.
Kind of...: Am I still allowed to make jokes about Maryland cancelling classes in 2019 only to get disemboweled on national TV by PSU, 59-0? What’s that? Oh right, Mike Locksley was the coach then, too. Fuck off Maryland.
RockyMtnBlue: PSU is getting has a really important player getting healthy (Clifford) and is figuring out how to live without another one (Mustipher). Maryland is doing neither of those things. PSU 34-21
This poll is closed
[turtle noises intensify]
6pm | BTN | Iowa -11.5 | O/U 40.5
Straight-Up: Toothy Birds 18-1
Against the Spread: One of the 732 Wildcats teams 12-7
Thumpasaurus: November Northwestern is here.
WSR: You could not pay me enough money to watch this game. Holy hell. Iowa should win, but there’s very little to convince me that an 11.5 point spread can be covered unless Northwestern gives up multiple defensive scores. With Andrew Marty back, it feels less likely.
BoilerUp89: Iowa would have to score more than 7 points to beat the spread. That hasn’t happened since Oct 9.
Buffkomdoo: This feels like a trap. Not like a trap game, but like an Admiral Ackbar trap. Iowa should win, but they keep doing really dumb things randomly this year. I guess Iowa.
HWAHSQB: RAWR!! Beat iowa!!! I really hope northwestern gets this one for two reasons. 1: Illinois has no chance of beating northwestern if they are 3-8 going into their game and B: Fuck iowa! It probably won’t happen, but no way iowa wins by double digits.
MNW: Anyone choosing Northwestern here has not watched the 2021 iteration of the ‘Cats or is an Iowa fan doing a reverse jinx bit that’s as cloying as it is unconvincing.
The only hope for this game is that Andrew Marty summons that Dan Persa spirit deep within him—he is the kind of improvisational, non-traditional Northwestern quarterback that has historically given the Hawkeyes fits. Maybe Marty Party can scramble a bit, find some hitherto unknown Northwestern WR (for Iowa fans’ ultimate rage, let’s say Genson Hooper-Price), and do just enough to make this interesting down the stretch.
(To the skeptical Northwestern fan: that’s not a statement of Marty being phenomenal, but moreso “Marty doesn’t just sit in the pocket and wait to get killed.”)
Unfortunately, we live in a place called reality.
And the reality is that Northwestern cannot stop the run. This is a Northwestern team that, even when it does stop the run, will get pinned deep in its own territory by Tory Taylor and cannot flip the field consistently with Derek Adams.
Iowa is not a team that will play with its food, particularly at this juncture—they are desperate for a win and will run the ball down the ‘Cats throats. In other years, this backfires because Northwestern has the Xs and Os to stop the Hawkeyes. In 2021, this bullshit Jim O’Neil defense will talk about needing to “scrape” and “react” when the reality is you stop the same play you’ve been stopping for 15 years because Iowa has not changed in 22 years. Iowa is not going to do the Minnesota thing and get cute with a running QB around the goal line or the Michigan thing and bootleg quarterbacks on first and goal—besides, the Hawkeyes save that for their own end zone.
Much as I hate it, I hate it, I hate it: Iowa, 24-0.
Kind of...: @MNW almost talked me into the Iowa cover, but I’ll still aglow from watching the Badger defense play escaped house cat to Brian Ferentz’s mousy playcalling. NW D isn’t near as good as UW’s (RIP, Hank), but Iowa’s O can’t fully take advantage. 20-10 gets it done for NW.
RockyMtnBlue: This will be the BigTen-est of the BigTen games this week. So many rocks. As I type this I’m thinking close and stupid, but I already made the graphic so let’s say Iowa 18-6.
Sigh. THIS game.
This poll is closed
Hoks win, don’t cover
How does Fitz DO it?
6pm | FOX | Michigan -19.5 | O/U 50.5
Straight-Up: Most Disappointing Team Against Rivals Ever 18-1
Against the Spread: Most Disappointing Team in the Big10 This Year 12-7
Thumpasaurus: Michigan goes back into a shell on offense and allows Indiana to hang around.
WSR: I don’t know what to think. Indiana continues to be a 2020 mirage, showing that teams that did get ravaged by COVID aren’t as bad as their record showed and teams that didn’t aren’t as good as their record was.
But on the other hand, this is the Michigan team that barely beat Rutgers and Nebraska but is somehow the proof that Sparty is some great team? Ummmm...shit, now I’m nervous about a couple of my picks. Oh well. Michigan wins because Indiana is bad as opposed to clownfraud trasch.
Buffkomodo: Why in the holy hell are we playing another primetime game? This is the worst Indiana season since 2011. Michigan should steamroll here. Please don’t hurt our QB3 though. Please.
HWAHSQB: Indinia football is still Indinia football and really they always were. They rode incredible turnover luck and two dog turd schedules to fool people into thinking they were someone else. I picked Indiana to win 5-6 games and now it feels like that was way too high.
MNW: A ho-hum, routine, boring Michigan sitting-on of Indiana. Wolverines, 31-13.
Kind of...: Okay, Tom Allen. Not saying you’re on the chopping block, but your pre-Covid reputation was largely made on the occasional close loss to good teams. MSU shooting itself in the foot doesn’t count. Time to step up. Okay, probably won’t happen. But late TD still gets the backdoor cover.
RockyMtnBlue: I’m a pretty big believer in night game crowds in college football, but this might be the least happy fanbase of any 7-1 team in history. Maybe that’s just me. Anyway Indiana hangs around a demoralized Michigan team, but just doesn’t have enough healthy players to pull off the upset. Michigan 24-17
This poll is closed
Michigan by a lot
Michigan by less than 19.5
Leave us your picks in the comments. Thank you, as always, for making Off Tackle Empire your home for Big Ten football. Consider checking out some of our other work, while you’re here?
Have a great weekend, everyone.