Maybe it was the hurricane that rolled through Houston, maybe it was the delightful football last night, maybe it was the dizzying amount of real or pseudo-shittalking from Iowa and Penn State and Rutgers and Purdue and Penn State again...I have no idea where to begin this week in Big Ten football.
With all these articles, though, I want to make sure you remember to join in a few of our regular OTE picks and play-along competitions each week:
On we march to the games, and this resurgence of really active writers means that, before I even add my commentary, we’re already pushing 3,000 words.
Thankfully we include pictures—not just for the Iowa fans anymore!
All times CT.
WSR: We’re all rooting for you this weekend, dane county and madison police! Don’t let us down!
Friday, Sept 17
8:00pm | FS1 | Maryland -7.5 | O/U 59.5
Straight-Up: Maryland 15-1
Against the Spread: Maryland 14-2
Buffkomodo: I tend to think that Maryland is almost the same program Virginia is. Even on the road, give me Terps to win and cover.
HWAHSQB: Illinois gave up 433 passing yards to a team that generally runs more than it passes. We will give up 700 to Maryland. Brandon Peters is back though so Illinois will score 27, but Maryland will score 56.
BoilerUp89: Thump keeps drinking, Terps win and cover.
RU in VA: This will be closer than we think, only because it’s not in MD. But “closer than we think” is relative, since ‘I think’ it’ll be a 63-0 drubbing, but might end up in the 28 point win range for the turtles.
WSR: I think Maryland has enough points left over for the season following that hate crime they committed against Howard. Which means they’ll probably use almost all of the rest of them up against Illinois and get ranked just in time to squeak by Kent State and then go on a losing streak.
Thumpasaurus: Y’know, you could convince me that Illinois can hang around in this one solely because Maryland is one of the more volatile teams we play this year, and perhaps we can force some mistakes. I remember what Mike Locksley’s offense was like at Illinois.
...Scratch that, it would make the most sense if the Locksley/Zook squad was a well-oiled machine of mistake-free football in Champaign. I don’t know what adjustments we can make to improve the pass defense. Maryland’s O line is not as good as Virginia’s, but we’d need a substantial pass rush to make up for our deficiencies in coverage. The offense has been massively disappointing based on what I thought the line would be like. Maryland covers easy.
misdreavus79: It’s still September, so Maryland should look competent for at least another two weeks. Meanwhile, Illinois has now given up over 30 points in two consecutive weeks. Terps should cover with relative ease.
RockyMtnBlue: I tried to believe, Illinois. I really tried. But that happened and now it’s Maryland and it’s still September, when Maryland is clearly better than Texas. Ok. Maybe you could beat Texas, too. But not Maryland.
MNW: Holy fuck, I middled this?!
Brandon Peters is returning for Illinois, allegedly, and since I’m on my last week of believing in the Illini, that gives them a bump, somehow. More important is going to be the Illini fixing their pass defense woes from last week—I don’t think Taulia Tagovailoa is any great shakes, but Dontay Demus and Rakim Jarrett can get behind the Illini secondary.
Nonetheless, a middle’s a middle: Maryland, 31-24.
Lotta ugly colors on display here:
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Orange and Blue. Straight. Up.
Narrow win for the Red and Yellow and Black and White and Gray and Scarlet and Ochre and Peach
Turtlecolor Dreamcoats roll.
Saturday, Sept 18
11:00am | FOX | Oklahoma -22 | O/U 61.5
Straight-Up: Oklahoma 15-1
Against the Spread: Oklahoma 12-4
Buffkomodo: Lol. Sooners by as much as they want to win by, even if Martinez has 300 yards rushing.
BoilerUp89: Sooners by a lot. Scott Frost watch 2021 begins.
RU in VA: There’s not much left of the state of Nebraska now, there will be less at 3 PM Saturday.
Thumpasaurus: My understanding is that Oklahoma is taking this every bit as seriously as Ohio State continues to take Michigan. Yikes.
pkloa: In case anyone was wondering, I don't gamble. We'll say the 'skers beat the spread by a point or two.
misdreavus79: You know what? Nebraska’s gonna do it. Don’t ask me how or why (finish what Tulane started; because it would be very 2021 of them), but I just have this feeling that the Huskers will finally get their signature win under Scott Frost on Saturday.
RockyMtnBlue: I don’t know what misdreavus79 is smoking, but it’s time to share!
MNW: Now that it turns out Illinois is dogshit, too, I don’t know we really have a great idea of what the Huskers can do on the football field—maybe I’ve just had my coffee and feel more generous than an annoying old man who wants to teach you how to catch a Pokemon, but I’m increasingly willing to put the Illini loss in the rearview and accept that Nebraska is garden-variety mediocre in the Big Ten.
Now go duplicate those Rare Candies! Oklahoma, 49-24.
Pick this classic Big Ten-SEC matchup:
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Just a quick and painless pasting
Huskers hang around, fall by a "narrow" (here that means less than 3 scores, I guess—remember Bill Callahan) margin
11:00am | ESPN | Cincinnati -3.5 | O/U 50.5
Straight-Up: 13-3 Cincinnati
Against the Spread: 11-5 Cincinnati
Buffkomodo: A second major test for Indiana on this young season. I’ve talked to a couple Cincy fans who are actually a little nervous. Indiana got a win under their belt last week. The o-line did play a little better. I think it’s enough for a win here for our Hoosiers! Back to the top 25!!
BoilerUp89: It will be close, but it’s not like Fickell doesn’t have experience winning in Bloomington. Cincinnati doesn’t panic when IU takes an early lead, comes back and wins by a TD.
HWAHSQB: My prediction: PAIN! Look, jNU made enough mistakes to lose to Illinois, who is bad. Imagine what will happen when they make those mistakes against a good team.
RU in VA: Cincinnati to win, but Indiana has more than enough talent to squeak it out or just cover. That 3.5 line is a juicy Indiana cover.
WSR: Well, let’s see if Indiana fares better against a top 10 team than they did against a top 25 team. I’m not confident that they will.
Thumpasaurus: Cincinnati has an offense that’s built to control the clock, but unlike Iowa they can put up a lot of points if need be. This would go a long way towards salvaging Indiana’s supposed arrival as a division runner-up contender, but I don’t think it happens.
misdreavus79: I hate that I have to pick this game. I don’t hate Indiana, even after last season (not to be confused with “I don’t want Penn State to score 100”), but Cincinnati in the playoff in its goodbye tour to the AAC would be amazing. Cincinnati wins, Indiana covers?
RockyMtnBlue: Indiana got the taste of Iowa out of their mouths last week (no one should have to do that, ever*). This week they show the reports of their demise are greatly exaggerated.
* except OSU (obvi)
MNW: I honestly just forgot to choose this game the first time through the article—see the bottom for why that makes sense. Why, despite Michael Penix being Not Very Good, Actually, I decided to do pick the Hoosiers, I’ll never know. Maybe I’m getting sentimental in my old age. Indiana, 24-21.
The battle of the preseason darlings:
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11:00am | BTN | Michigan -27 | O/U 54.5
Straight-Up: All Blue
Against the Spread: NIU 9-7
Buffkomodo: This seems like a letdown game for Michigan. Give me Michigan to win but NIU to cover.
RU in VA: Gonna have to get out the Nielsen rating hall of fame metrics for this one. eye roll
WSR: The poor Huskies are about to discover that Michigan and Georgia Tech are in different weight classes.
Thumpasaurus: Michigan still probably doesn’t feel the need to throw here.
misdreavus79: Northern Illinois probably couldn’t be much worse than last season, but that doesn’t mean they’re that much better in 2021. Michigan should cover easily.
RockyMtnBlue: Michigan plays the Huskies for the second straight week. Shoulda scheduled UConn in week 1. Michigan will refuse to throw the ball more than about 5 times. That gets NIU the cover. If Michigan did throw the ball it might get NIU the win.
MNW: We did a great preview of this with Hustle Belt that you should go check out...and with the Huskies’ 50-43 home loss to Wyoming (?!?!?) in the rearview, it’s looking possible that a very green NIU could be a fun little CHAOSTEAM in the MAC this year?
If there’s one sneaky angle to this, it’s that our old friend Rocky Lombardi knows a little something about how to beat Michigan. He’s not been terribly efficient through two games—and I think the Wolverines will be able to stop Harrison Waylee on the ground—meaning unless he can throw as many touchdowns as Blake Corum runs for (please...my fantasy team needs it so badly), NIU is in trouble.
But that line’s too high for me. Michigan, 38-14.
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Michigan by a lot
Michigan by less than 27
11:00am | ABC | Miami -6.5 | O/U 56
Straight-Up: MSU 11-5
Against the Spread: MSU 12-4
Buffkomodo: The U has been “back” almost as much as Texas has. The media seems to keep trying to make it happen each year too. Miami isn’t back but I think they’re better than Sparty. Michigan State’s hot streak has to come to an end too. No first play TDs in this one. I think Miami wins and covers, but it is a good game.
RU in VA: I just want to see the new angle on the turnover chain this year at Miami, and how the announcing crew will act slightly racist about it. Like they do every year.
Thumpasaurus: I think Miami presents more of a challenge defensively than Northwestern did, and on the road I don’t think MSU can get it done.
pkloa: Mel Tucker's squad is pissed about their B1G Stock Market value, which will provide the spark to stomp Miami.
misdreavus79: Alabama makes everyone look like a high school team, and Appalachian State gives everyone a heart attack. I don’t know if that means Miami is actually better than what they’ve shown so far, but I’m not necessarily confident that they can stop Michigan State either. Spartans win.
RockyMtnBlue: Remember the heady days when all of OTE agreed MSU sucked? I miss those days. MSU hasn’t beaten anybody, but clowning bad teams is a thing good teams do. Ergo MSU is good. Science!
MNW: I miss those days, too.
Speaking of the polar opposite of the schedule Michigan State’s played—and, Sparty fan, this isn’t meant as a shot against you! just that Northwestern has turned out to be a lot less good than we imagined—how about the Canes? There’s no sense taking much from the Alabama shellacking, but that Appalachian State game isn’t a joke, even at home: two P5 schools and one of the best G5s out there is a hell of a way to open the year. Kudos.
Miami struggled to stop Camerun Peoples last week, which doesn’t bode well for their approach to Kenneth Walker III—though they’re at least acquainted from his Wake Forest Days. I’ll be curious to see how the Spartans can handle D’Eriq King, who if nothing else will make some flashy plays in this one. Also, I could watch Lou Hedley punt all day.
The pick? Oof. “Hurricanes by a touchdown” is where I rolled out on this, and I honestly could go either way here. Miami, 27-20.
Huh. A game.
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Miami by 7+
Miami wins, does not cover
TALK TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT 3-0 SPARTY
noon | Pac12 Network | Colorado -2 | O/U 50
Straight-Up: Minny 9-7
Against the Spread: Minny 9-7
Buffkomodo: As bad a performance as last week was, I still think Minnesota is pretty good. I find the PAC-12 to be 1-2 teams deep each year. Colorado isn’t one of those teams. Give me the Gophers.
BoilerUp89: Minnesota looked awful against Miami this past week. Colorado played a good 3+ quarters against Texas A&M. Texas A&M is overrated but are still a lot better than Miami of Ohio.
HWAHSQB: Minnesota tends to improve as the season wears on, right up until they play Wisconsin. I think they’ll look better this week and squeak out a close win.
RU in VA: Jeez. This game is like a cold ham and cheese sandwich. I like Minnesota, but I don’t know anything about Colorado. Okay, I guessed.
WSR: Last week we were in position to put in a beatdown by going up 28-3 at the half and get the ball to start the 2nd half. Instead we slammed on the emergency brakes and decided it would be more fun to hang on for dear life. If we do that again, we’ll be in trouble against a pesky Colorado team.
Thumpasaurus: Flip a coin
misdreavus79: I have no idea. Maybe Colorado comes out flat after almost taking down A&M last week. Maybe they come out pissed off. Maybe Ohio State’s Minnesota shows up instead of Miami OH’s version. I’m going with Minnesota, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Colorado won.
RockyMtnBlue: I offered to go to this game with a CU alum friend of mine. He was all ‘nah’. Give me Minnesota over a team that can’t get the local alums to give a damn.
MNW: Karl Dorrell cares not if the alums give a damn—this dude is building a program in the Pac-12 that’s going to be an absolute thorn in the side of the big-name programs because they commit to playing defense and running the ball.
I don’t know that Minnesota’s line has what it takes to contain Jarek Broussard or Brendon Lewis, a QB that can run with it a bit if needed. While Lewis isn’t the greatest passer I’ve ever seen, that dual-threat nature will be a tricky challenge. On top of that, the Buffs made A&M QB Zach Calzada look pretty mortal in Week 2 at Mile High—maybe Tanner’s better than I’m giving him credit for, but, uh... Buffaloes, 24-21.
You do not get to middle this game. We are at war, pick a side:
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1:30pm | NBC | Notre Dame - 7 | O/U 58.5
Straight-Up: Catholic Criminals 12-4
Against the Spread: Engineers 10-6
BoilerUp89: Purdue loses in the most painful way possible. That means they cover the spread but lose late. Maybe a missed FG as time expires. Or ND converts a Hail Mary TD pass in the closing seconds.
HWAHSQB: I rarely root for other B1G teams, but I make exceptions for Noter Dam. That being said, I don’t believe that Purdue is good so take the Domers and give the points.
RU in VA: I think Notre Dame is gonna run out of the stadium with this one. This is one of those games that vaults them into the top 10 they have no reason to be in, and we look back later and go “WTF - Purdue barely made a bowl”.
WSR: Yeah, what RU in VA said. Purdue is meh, Notre Dame is better than that and will probably try to get the taste of their disasterpiece against Toledo out of their mouths.
Thumpasaurus: I really want Purdue to win this one. Notre Dame covers
BuffKomodo: This is a game between two schools I truly dislike…nay…hate. I suppose rooting for Purdue to put a nail in Notre Dame’s CFP coffin would be acceptable. I really don’t see a reason to root for Notre Dame. Notre Dame is better, but they did almost lose to the garbage pile that is Florida State. Purdue went from a bad ground game to no ground game. Ooffff. This is a toughie.
misdreavus79: All Purdue has to do is be the last to score. That seems to be the formula for this Notre Dame team.
RockyMtnBlue: This is the best Purdue has looked to open a non-covid season under Brohm. Notre Dame looks beatable. But here’s the thing, we all know we can’t have nice things. Notre Dame to cover.
MNW: “7” is really the number I would’ve rolled in at on the score, for the exact reason that RMB laid out—in the wake of the Zander Horvath injury, the Boilers just throw the kitchen sink at Notre Dame.
I think we see Jack the Snack throw the ball 50+ times, David Bell put up a damn highlight reel...and Notre Dame get the last score because the problem is, running the ball on the Irish has looked like the way to beat them. A little ball control would go a long way on Saturday, but I think the Boilers leave Jack Coan just enough time to get the W here. Notre Dame, 31-23.
LET’S GIVE OUT A SHILLELAGH:
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Domers keep it, roll
Domers keep it, but barely
CHOO CHOO BITCHES
2:30pm | BTN | Iowa -22.5 | O/U 55
Against the Spread: 8-8
HWAHSQB: Take the Flashes and the points. Iowa’s offense and Kent State will score about the same amount and the Iowa defense will score enough to win, but not >22.5 to cover.
RU in VA: Iowa takes care of business at home for sure. This seems like one of those games where Iowa drops 30+ and shuts them out.
WSR: Wake me up if the Iowa offense scores a touchdown after the end of the 1st Quarter.
Thumpasaurus: Under 3 hours.
Buffkomodo: Iowa. Iowa is a strong and beautiful program.
misdreavus79: Iowa’s offense should score over 30 in this one, in a surprising turn of events.
RockyMtnBlue: I’ll watch some bad football. I watch some lopsided football. Ain’t no way I’m watching a single minute of this game. Iowa by lots.
MNW: Dustin Crum tossed a couple picks at Texas A&M and that’s basically my equivalent of Iowa football. So I don’t know if that’s going to end well. Hawkeyes, 31-3.
Lotta gold here:
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Kent State makes it interesting
2:30pm | FS1 | Ohio State -26.5 | O/U 60
Against the Spread:
Buffkomodo: Oh dear Football Lord, please bless this sacrifice we are about to make. Seriously though, OSU post loss is terrifying. I would hate to be Tulane this week. You weren’t ever going to win, but you might have covered. Not now. Bucks by more than Oklahoma wins by.
MNW: I dunno, I think Tulane is doing OK this week.
HWAHSQB: OSU will hit the over by themselves, so take them to cover and the over.
RU in VA: I don’t really believe in the “angry college football team after a loss” orientation. But Chris Olave is going to have 10 TDs and 400 yards receiving since it’s pretty evident OHST’s gameplan going forward has to be chuck it and run.
WSR: Hey Buckeyes, maybe try playing some defense this week? Maybe?
misdreavus79: I don’t care how massive this spread is. If Tulsa covers, and that cover happens to be of the “close game” variety, maybe it’s time to panic in Columbus.
RockyMtnBlue: OSU 84-0. In a postgame interview Ryan Day says “It was good to get back on track. This was excellent practice for the Michigan game.”
MNW: The Golden Hurricane are 0-2 with an average margin of -3.5 points. That would look better, but one loss was a 5-point rivalry loss to Oklahoma State that Tulsa gets up for...and the other was a 19-17 opening loss to FCS UC-Davis. So, uh...
Davis Brin is nothing special for the Golden Hurricane, though he can tuck it and scramble a bit. Ohio State has the talent to roll Tulsa, it’s just a matter of actually putting together a complete performance against a team that is comfortable getting in the muck and the mire. And, uh...Ohio State, 42-20.
This is also a game:
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Ohio State rolls
Golden Hurricane keep it close
TRANSITIVE LOSS TO UC-DAVIS HERE RYAN DAY COMES
2:30pm | BTN | no line | O/U -
Straight-Up: Rutgers 16-0. No really. OTE writers picked Rutgers unanimously!
Against the Spread: no spread
Buffkomodo: Wait, didn’t Joe Flacco go to Delaware? *checks Wikipedia By goodness he did. It has no impact on this game, but maybe someone learned something. The ‘Gers win this one and are half way to a bowl!
BoilerUp89: The past *checks notes - ahem, 8 years of watching B1G football have clearly indicated that Scarlet is in fact better than Blue. Maybe if Delaware’s colors were black and gold they would have a shot to beat the scarlet team.
HWAHSQB: I have nothing to say about this game except I wish Illinois played Delaware instead of UTSA and Charlotte.
RU in VA: Delaware is better than they look, but a 2-0 Rutgers team coming home at 2:30 PM? Oh, they’ll cover no line. They’ll cover.
WSR: Tubby Raymond’s classic book “The Delaware Wing-T: An Order of Football” is wonderful. This game will not be. Don’t play with your food, Rutgers.
misdreavus79: Can Rutgers score 60 points twice in the same season?
RockyMtnBlue: Hopefully this is the only win Rutgers gets against the winged helmets this month.
MNW: Sure. Rutgers, 55-7.
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3:00pm | ACCN | Duke -2.5 | O/U 50
Straight-Up: Duke 10-6
Against the Spread: Duke 9-7
HWAHSQB: I’ll take Duke straight up. It’s September and if Nern is going to dash Iowa’s CFP fever dream hopes in a few weeks, they need an inexplicable non-con loss to set it up.
RU in VA: I took Duke here, because it’s closer to my house.
WSR: How many times is Northwestern going to be in a game that will be virtually unwatchable? This is probably the 2nd, and they still have Nebraska, Illinois, Iowa, and wisconsin left to go this year. What the hell is wrong with this program and why would they subject humanity to it? Yuck. Only watch this game if you need to induce vommitting.
Thumpasaurus: I picked Duke’s running back in fantasy this week
Buffkomodo: Duke, and I have no idea if I picked them in the graphics
misdreavus79: Duke is kind of bad this season. Sure, it’s still September, but I think Northwestern has just enough to get by this team.
RockyMtnBlue: I will continue to expect Northwestern to beat Duke in football. Yes, I’m an idiot.
MNW: If you’re someone who likes to see Pat Fitzgerald cut down to size during in-game coaching, David Cutcliffe is the man for you. The Blue Devils have out-schemed and out-executed the Wildcats in their last two meetings, to the detriment mostly of my liver.
Not only can Mataeo Durant run the ball for Duke, but Gunnar Holmberg is an adequate quarterback—bit of a shot-put ball—who’s bolstered by (1) a 6’5” receiver in Jake Bobo and (2) a kind of running-ish QB in Jordan Moore who I firmly expect Duke to use as a change-of-pace to keep a slow-ish Northwestern defense—and yes, they are—scrambling on the edges.
Leroy Hoard is the greatest running back in Vikings history: you needed him to get 1 yard, he’d get you 3. You needed him to get 5 yards, he’d get you 3.
I am convinced that this Hunter Johnson-led offense is going to be the same way. You need 10 points? He’ll get you 20. You need 35 points? He’ll get you 20. Against Duke, that isn’t enough. ‘Cats wilt in the disgusting swamp-ass heat of Durham. Fire Chris Collins. Blue Devils, 28-21.
We’re bad people and deserve this game:
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6:30pm | ABC | PSU -6 | O/U 53
Straight-Up: PSU 15-1
Against the Spread: PSU 11-5
HWAHSQB: Can they both lose? No? That sucks.
RU in VA: Auburn is gonna run away with this. 6:30? Who is scheduling these things, Copernicus?
Thumpasaurus: It would be funnier if Penn State lost, so Penn State wins.
Buffkomodo: Penn State loses and James Franklin is gone by Monday. I think he’ll stick around the rest of next week. Penn State wins.
pkloa: Lions roll, Barners get a nice break from the oppressive Alabama September. Win win.
RockyMtnBlue: Auburn is ranked for the same reason as Michigan: because of their name, not because they’re actually good. PSU gets what the media considers to be a statement win and OTE is inundated with PSU fans. So we have that going for us.
MNW: Putting together these picks—adding my own takes, writing an introduction, doing the polls, and tidying up the SEO—usually takes up about an hour of my Friday morning. I am eternally grateful to RockyMtnBlue for doing the dirty work, because in the past this was about 2.5 hours worth of me swearing at a computer screen and asking people if they really meant to pick the underdog straight up but the favorite ATS and reminded WSR that yes, you really DO have to get your picks in...
...but I still have no energy for the last fucking game. Bo Nix is a gamer, but he’s not that good a quarterback. Nittany Lions, 31-17.
May God have mercy on the SMCD comment thread.
A big enough line that I have to offer you three options:
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Penn State by a TD or more
Penn State in a close one
This time the Southerners get it right in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania
Leave your picks in the comments. Thanks for another exhausting week at OTE, and be sure to let us know where you’ll be and what you’ll be drinking—my favorite brewery opens at noon today, and after all this, I think I’ll see you all there over a Side Pull or a Festbier.
Come on down.