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Big Ten Football Week 6 Picks, Predictions, Previews

Will September Maryland roll back the calendar? Do the Gophers have a shot at the Jug? Can Northwestern take on one guy singlehandedly?

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

My charge from RockyMtnBlue this Friday is to write something “witty and entertaining, or at least one of those.”

About Last Week


  • RUready is hot hot HOT, tying for first both straight up and against the spread this week, and moving into sole possession of first in the overall ATS standings.
  • BoilerUp89 led the pack with an impressive 6-1 ATS this week.
  • In addition to RUready, LincolnParkWilcat was perfect calling games straight up this week. So was someone else. Oh yeah. ME!

Points and Laughs:

  • AlmaOtter had a rough day. 2-5 ATS was “good” for last place.
  • Let’s give BoilerUp89 some credit here. It’s not easy to finish first all alone in ATS picks while simultaneously finishing all alone in last straight up. That flyer on Louisiana didn’t pan out.
  • Your authors are both in the bottom three in season ATS standings. /hangs head in shame

The Picks

(all times CT)

Friday, October 6

NOTE: I had the line on this game backwards. On Thursday night the line is Illinois -3.5. I’ve left the incorrect line in place since that’s what our writers have picked against. You just can’t get good help these days.

Nebraska Cornhuskers @ Illinois Fighting Illini

7:00pm | FS1 | Nebraska -3.5 | O/U 44.5

Straight-Up: Illinois 8-5
Against the Spread: Illinois 9-4

Thumpasaurus: I cancelled plans to go to this game because I saw the pride evaporate from this team in the third quarter against Purdue. Ryan Walters so thoroughly humiliated the coaching staff and the players in that second half that they’re going to either win this game by 42 or have a major shakeup by the end of the season. So, will they win by 42?

No. Illinois has never won a Friday game going back to at least 2009 (I don’t know if there were any before, but we’ve lost 10 in a row dating back to then).

Bret Bielema’s team can’t run the ball.

Bret Bielema’s team can’t stop the run.

Bret Bielema’s team can’t run the ball.

Bret Bielema’s team can’t stop the run.

Bret Bielema’s team can’t run the ball.

Bret Bielema’s team can’t stop the run.

Bret Bielema’s team can’t run the ball.

What are we doing here? Like, not just “why are those things true about Bret Bielema’s team,” but on a metaphysical level, what are we doing here?

I don’t really know how you can fix the offense with the players they have available on the line. It’s year three and the offensive line has regressed every year. It may be possible to make a good defense out of what we have to work with, but I don’t know if we have coaches that can do it.

Did Bret Bielema have a shaky year 1 with a really promising win and then make a bunch of money off a breakthrough second season powered by a generational talent at RB who masked many glaring flaws in the offense, only to fall off hard in year three? Because Michigan State fans will tell you that story ends with your coach jacking off on a phone call with someone who didn’t want to be jacked off to.

Fix this shit! Or don’t! I don’t care anymore, I literally have a million better things to do than spend my fall driving hundreds of miles to loss after crushing loss. I only typed this up because it’s Monday and my psychiatric office closes from 12:30 to 1:00 and I needed to kill time.

RUReady4Brazil: Yes, Illinois can’t run, but Bielama is quicker than most Big Ten West teams at making a change. I just don’t see Nebraska doing much on offense either.

Larry31: During pre-season, I was waffling between Maryland’s record prediction of 7-5 and 8-4 because their crossovers were jNorthwestern, Nebraska, and Illinois. I was already chalking up a win against jNorthwestern even before we knew Pat was headmaster of fraternity hazing. I thought Maryland could lose to one of, if not both of these teams, especially Nebraska on the road. Now, these teams both looked like shit last week. I have no idea if Purdue has turned the corner or if Illinois is this bad. Against my better judgement, I’m going with Illinois to cover because they’re the home team.

[RMB: ahem. jNebby is the current holder of the “j”, my friend]

misdreavus79: I reckon that, for the rest of the season, there’s going to be one of these “who knows” games. Both of these teams looked awful at points (Illinois) or for the whole game (Nebraska). I’m going to go with the team that looked awful at points. Illinois 23, Nebraska 20

Buffkomodo: 3.5 line here? This wreaks of a 1 point win because of a missed XP. Since the other Memorial Stadium is on fire, I think that fires up Illinois to win....or Nebraska to lose...however you want to pen it.

AlmaOtter: Wait, we have a second Friday night game this season? Against the B1G team that most frequently plays perplexing games. Right after getting embarassed by Purdue. At Memorial Stadium, which was literally on fire as of 72 hours ago. This game feels the most random of random number generators. I refuse to believe in Illinois to win fuckall until they do something to change the vibes around this season. Nebraska by 7.

BoilerUp89: Absolutely no idea on this one. Both teams have looked bad. Let’s go with Illinois since they are the home team.

Dead Read: This game should be “compelling,” and by that I mean “putrid.” I will, of course, watch it all. Why did I pick Nebby? I have no good reasons, sometimes you just have to try to believe. Of note: MNW middled a 3.5 spread between Illinois and Nebraska. WTAF? If he had his druthers, people would be drawn and quartered for this infraction.

RockyMtnBlue: Nebraska obviously wins and there’s no chance at all I think this because it makes Michigan look good. No siree. Nebraska 20-17

MNW: I have been clear that a sub-3-point thread was the threshold.

And RMB has the idea here, but I’m not sure where/when the line changed from 3.5 points to 2.5 points. I’m taking this at 3.5, and I’ll take the Huskers with a late stop. Nebraska, 27-24.


Friday night Big10 West action

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Nebraska wins by at least 3 and it turns out RMB’s screw-up didn’t matter
    (43 votes)
  • 11%
    Nebraska wins super close. Writers picking ATS get screwed. Thanks a lot, RMB.
    (19 votes)
  • 22%
    Illinois wins by 3 or less. Other writers are screwed. Get your shit together, RMB.
    (38 votes)
  • 27%
    Illinois wins by 4 or more. RMB’s screw up didn’t matter, but I still think he should stand in a corner and think about what he did.
    (47 votes)
  • 14%
    Don’t care, but RMB still sucks.
    (24 votes)
171 votes total Vote Now

Saturday, October 7

Maryland Terrapins @ (4) Ohio State Buckeyes

11:00am | FOX| Ohio State -19.5 | O/U 55.5

Straight-Up: Ohio State 13-0
Against the Spread: Maryland 10-3

Quite possibly the busiest graphic I’ve ever made for these articles

RUReady4Brazil: Maryland has out-athleted their competition so far and leaned on an underrated QB in Taulia. Don’t get me wrong, Maryland has a path to victory here and oddly it might be better on the road with OSU fans who might turn on their defense when they are surrendering way more to Maryland than Notre Dame. Of course, Ohio State is just much better if they even play average, they win.

Larry31: So, are all the calendars wrong, and it will actually be Saturday September 37?!? Or sadly, do the wheels come off Maryland’s Cinderella carriage, and it turns into a pumpkin only to get stomped on by the evil OSU stepmother?

Maryland’s defense is pretty good. Maryland’s defense will give up yards, but they make you do long, multiple play drives to score, which shortens game by eating clock. And their offense has some quick-score weapons. 19.5 points is a lot to cover against a solid Maryland team. Locks likes the player-driven leadership in the locker room, so I don’t think Maryland comes out super-hyped only to make all kinds of mistakes like that Iowa night game a few years back. But, I also don’t think they pull the upset. OSU wins, Maryland covers.

misdreavus79: September Maryland jokes aside, the biggest difference between this Maryland team and other Maryland teams who get the doors blown off them the minute the clock turns to October is that their defense is actually decent. And, with the exception of Western Kentucky, Ohio State’s offense has looked stoppable. Now, of course, “stoppable” is relative, and with conference play in full swing, I don’t expect any more vanilla out of the Big Three. Can Maryland’s defense be enough to stop the Buckeyes?

Maryland will finally break the trend and actually compete in this game. Probably not enough to win, but definitely enough to not lose by three touchdowns. Ohio State 38, Maryland 34

Buffkomodo: 19.5? Holy hell. I’ve seen nothing from Ohio State that suggests that they’re that powerful of an offense to pull away from THIS Maryland team like that. Split this line. Ohio State eeks one out.

AlmaOtter: September Maryland has been September Maryland based on an absurdly easy schedule (122/130, per ESPN FPI), but they consistenly play the Buckeyes close every damn year. Turtles cover, but barely.

BoilerUp89: If this game was at Maryland I might be tempted to pick the turtles straight up. The Ohio State just hasn’t looked that dominant this season. Sure, they beat Notre Dame when the Irish forgot to play with 11 players, but let’s be honest: the Irish haven’t beaten a good team in decades. Ohio State still has the better skill players outside of QB, but their line hasn’t been nearly as good as previous years. I like Maryland to hang around before ultimately losing by two scores.

RockyMtnBlue: Maryland’s had a couple games the last several years that were a lot more competitive with OSU than they had a right to be. Maybe they even pull the upset. I just can’t see it, though. Ohio State 38-28

MNW: I’m just leaning in to being the worst one at this competition. I’ve watched approximately none of either of these teams so far, and I’d love to keep it that way. So let’s say this goes to narrative: Buckeyes, 42-21.


Big10 Game Of The Week

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Death Star rolls. Because Death Star. Also because October.
    (68 votes)
  • 53%
    Maryland keeps it inside that big 19.5 line, but they ain’t beatin’ OSU in the shoe.
    (146 votes)
  • 21%
    (58 votes)
272 votes total Vote Now

Rutgers Scarlet Knights @ Wisconsin Badgers

11:00am | Peacock| Wisconsin -14 | O/U 47

Straight-Up: Wisconsin 11-2
Against the Spread: Rutgers 10-3

Quite possibly the ugliest graphic I’ve ever made for these articles

RUReady4Brazil: Seriously Rutgers, one of my two losses with the spread over the past two weeks because you covered a 48 point spread, with 13 seconds left, when you should have knelt out the clock?!?!?!?!? Anyway, I’d say Rutgers has about a 30% chance to win this game on the road against by far the best team in the West through the month of September. So not great odds as Wisconsin is improving each week, but far away from their ceiling still.

Larry31: Okay Rutgers. Prove yourself. I am putting faith in your gravel-crusher tough guy coach and his similarly-fashioned defense to cover the spread. Rutgers’ offense isn’t close to be capable of pulling the upset, but I think the defense can keep things close. Wiscy for the W, but Rutgers covers.

misdreavus79: I went with Wisconsin, but I don’t feel good about it. Wisconsin 22, Rutgers 20

Buffkomodo: I will be splitting this line at Rooty toot toot gers falls to 4-2 but goes down fighting.

AlmaOtter: Wisconsin at home after a week off? I don’t thing this one is that close. Dairy Raid to win and cover.

BoilerUp89: Is Rutgers any good? Are the Badgers? It would be nice if Rutgers won to help keep the West a little interesting. Despite the improvements of the Knights I think they fall just short this week.

RockyMtnBlue: Well there’s what I want to happen, and what I think will happen. I want Rutgers to have a true coming-of-age moment, and get a big road upset. Clowning the utterly clown-worthy West would just be icing on the cake. Unfortunately I think Fickle is a great coach, and that means he’s definitely PREPARED. Wisconsin 27-14

MNW: This was another bad choice on my part, unless this turns into a wisconsin-on-Purdue style sitting-on. badgers, 28-13.


Crossover matchup between ugly red and uglier red

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Badgers win and cover after the bye week.
    (62 votes)
  • 39%
    Rutgers falls, but keeps it close. Moral victories!
    (96 votes)
  • 35%
    Scarlet Knights pillage Madison. Turns out the 5th best team in the East really would win the west.
    (87 votes)
245 votes total Vote Now

Howard Bison @ Northwestern Wildcats

2:00pm | BTN | No Line

Straight-Up: Northwestern 13-0 (duh)
Against the Spread: (no line)

RUReady4Brazil: Northwestern, thanks for making me look good in saying if Ben Bryant has any sort of time, the Wildcats can move the ball. If he’s out, they are toast. Hopefully just not for another week or 90% of the survivor pool will be out.

Larry31: If jnorthwestern can play PSU even for a half, they can handle Howard.

misdreavus79: I mean, I don’t know how one dude is going to take on a full team, so... Northwestern 44, Howard 0

Buffkomodo: Northwestern...wins? Feels gross to say.

AlmaOtter: For the sake of the OTE survivor pool, please win this one, ‘Cats.

BoilerUp89: Howard needs to find ten more friends if he wants to be competitive.

RockyMtnBlue: What the hell is going on with all the DII opponents. Seriously. It screws with an against-the-spread picks column when there’s no goddamn spread on Monday morning. Northwestern 38-3

MNW: The Bison got a couple over on Eastern Michigan, and the ‘Cats love to struggle with an athletic quarterback like Quinton Williams—if they can get pressure like the EMUs did, they’ll cut this one short. I’ll believe it when I see it. Northwestern, 35-20.


Can we at least pick our tomato cans from Division I? PLEASE?!?

This poll is closed

  • 82%
    Northwestern beats up some guy
    (160 votes)
  • 17%
    Northwestern gets beaten up by some guy
    (33 votes)
193 votes total Vote Now

Purdue Boilermakers @ Iowa Hawkeyes

2:30pm | Peacock | Iowa -2.5 | O/U 41.5

Straight-Up: Iowa 7-6
Against the Spread: Iowa 7-6

RUReady4Brazil: I liked Purdue here for the second straight week even before McNamara’s injury was deemed season ending. They play to win and in B1G West competition the last few years, that usually gives them enough chances to hit on at least a few plays to swing the game. Iowa is coming off an emotional game last weekend and was lucky to escape against a team with poor coaching right now. Purdue is more limited in personnel than coaching and they have a solid QB who has proven he doesn’t need volume passing attempts to be effective.

Larry31: Kinnick is a tough place to pull an upset, even when Iowa’s offense is led by Prince Ferentz. King Ferentz continues his iron-grip of power over Iowa football. Iowa wins and covers.

misdreavus79: If the Purdue that showed up to the second half of Illinois shows up here, Iowa might not have enough offense to keep up. If any other Purdue shows up, Iowa will score 25 points on defense alone. Iowa 17, Purdue 10

Buffkomodo: I think Iowa wins, not necessarily because the offense does anything remotely interesting, but rather the Purdue offense implodes.

AlmaOtter: Iowa actually plays defense, unlike Illinois this past weekend. And Purdue’s offense has been incredibly unpredictable. Birds over trains.

BoilerUp89: If Purdue avoids turnovers this one should be a Purdue win as they’ve shown the ability to move the ball a little and Iowa’s offense has not. Unfortunately for the Boilermakers, they’ve struggled with turnovers in the early part of this season. Still, I’ll predict that they limit the damage to just 2 and only 3 points off of them to beat Iowa 14-3.

RockyMtnBlue: Who the hell knows? Gimme the home team by a field goal. Iowa 17-14

MNW: Purdue seemed almost competent in their beating of Illinois, and Hudson Card isn’t an awful QB. That could be enough to get a couple scores ahead of the Hawkeyes and allow us to see what Deacon Hill can do throwing the ball. Purdue, 20-14.


Trains v Corn et al

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    Iowa covers a small spread behind the laser rocket arm of super-secret QB: Amanda Whurlitzer.
    (70 votes)
  • 21%
    I think Iowa will win, but not cover a 2.5pt spread because only Iowa can do shit like that.
    (51 votes)
  • 48%
    Purdue does God’s work
    (116 votes)
237 votes total Vote Now

(2) Michigan Wolverines @ Minnesota Golden Gophers

6:30pm | NBC/Peacock | Michigan -20.5 | O/U 47.5

Straight-Up: Michigan 13-0
Against the Spread: Michigan 10-3



RUReady4Brazil: Minnesota just has no cohesion against sound defenses.

Larry31:I’m with RUReady on this one. The Gophers aren’t coming near the Ferentz line. UM to win and cover.

misdreavus79: Michigan proved me wrong last week. But I need to see it more than once to pick them to cover. Besides, as hapless as Minnesota has looked at times, both of these teams are quite content with running down the clock and doing not a thing more than what it absolutely necessary to come out with a win. And, since Michigan will allow seven points exactly, that decreases the likelihood of a cover. Michigan 24, Minnesota 7

Buffkomodo: Michigan wins and actually gets a cover. We all share a collective laugh.

AlmaOtter: I was convinced that Michigan might have trouble away from their very large house last weekend. I was wrong. The bad member of the Mustelid family wins this one and covers too.

BoilerUp89: This one is going to get ugly.

RockyMtnBlue: Better enjoy this Jug game. Who knows how long we’ll have to wait before we get to play for it again. Michigan looked great in Lincoln last week. I think Michigan has relatively little trouble here, but the game is low-scoring and inside the spread because it has about 85 plays and lasts 2.5 hours. Michigan 28-14

MNW: Yep, a quick one that just makes it tougher to cover. Let’s say the Gophers find a backdoor one here. Michigan, 30-10.


A clay water jug is at stake here, people!

This poll is closed

  • 83%
    Michigan clobbers the Gophers (except in the "Coaches 60 yard dash". From 20 to 20 Peej is KING.)
    (180 votes)
  • 12%
    Michigan wins but Minnesota keeps it close. RMB loses is goddamn mind in the game threads.
    (26 votes)
  • 4%
    Gophers!! Minnesota turns back the clock to 2003, except for the whole "giant fourth quarter collapse" thing.
    (10 votes)
216 votes total Vote Now

Too cowardly to play this week

Indiana Hoosiers
Michigan State Spartans
(6) Penn State Nittany Lions

misdreavus79: Two teams that oh so dearly needed a week off, and another who, let’s be honest, handpicked the perfect three weeks, even if the first of such three weeks didn’t go as smoothly as planned. And, unless an act of god is in the works, they can’t possibly lose out of the bye either!

Buffkomodo: Not so fast. Indiana goes into the weekend as a 2.5 point dog against the bye week. Place your bets to see who comes out on top.

RUReady4Brazil: Indiana and Michigan State are doing what Wisconsin did during their bye last week, planning for Rutgers. Penn State

AlmaOtter: Good thing PSU has a bye to prepare for next week’s game against ... UMass.

BoilerUp89: Had I realized Indiana was on bye this week, I would have been in a greater hurry to publish the hot seat rankings and gotten them out on Sunday morning. Oh well. Enjoy your new offensive coordinator when the Hoosiers return to action against - checks notes - Michigan. Never mind.

RockyMtnBlue: Indiana already won their bye week when they fired Walt Bell. Here’s hoping the other two lose by getting outbreaks of the Black Death.


Who wins the bye week?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    (8 votes)
  • 6%
    Michigan State
    (13 votes)
  • 28%
    Penn State
    (59 votes)
  • 3%
    Exactly one of these teams
    (8 votes)
  • 4%
    Exactly two of these teams
    (9 votes)
  • 6%
    Approximately one of these teams
    (13 votes)
  • 10%
    Approximately two of these teams
    (21 votes)
  • 8%
    Those last two are the same thing, dumbass poll-maker guy
    (18 votes)
  • 27%
    Dear RMB, Your incessant nerd-dom is less entertaining than you think. —everybody
    (57 votes)
206 votes total Vote Now