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Big Ten Football Week 4 Picks, Predictions, Previews: THE ONE YOU’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR

Illinois! Florida Atlantic! ...or Ohio State-Notre Dame, whatever.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

RockyMtnBlue has managed to put all this together while being on a golf vacation, and it’s really making me look at the nonsense I write here and wonder why I even bother.

A daycare bug has struck the MNW household, and normally I wouldn’t mind a little illness—cost of doing business with a one-year-old—but it’s hit my wife, who “doesn’t like taking cold medicine” because it makes her feel weird. It stands in stark contrast to me, a person who chugs from the DayQuil bottle and likes the weird sensations I get afterward.

I’m sure that’s not a sign that I have a problem.

But it cramps my Fridays—I teach M-Th, including some time away from home in there, and Friday is my day to drop the kiddo off at daycare, come home, and enjoy a slow day of ignoring work emails, watching European soccer, and publishing things on OTE. Now, instead, I’m banished to my basement office where I actually get guilted into working on things: a “Made by History” on [/nopolitics]. An article on some anti-NAFTA sentiment. Creating teams for one class’s final project.

This isn’t what I signed up for—RMB, room for one more on the links? I’ll bring the Malort.

About Last Week

*Must pick at least half the games to qualify


  • AlmaOtter was a perfect 13-0 straight up this week!
  • BuffKomodo goes 11-2 ATS the catch up to Thump. They share the season lead at 23-10 (.697)
  • larry31 somehow trails in the season standings by .001. That’s pretty hard to do.

Points and Laughs:

  • No tie. misdreavus79 was alone with the worst straight-up predictions this week at 10-3
  • Our esteemed editor had a rough week ATS, going 4-9 on the week for a .308 accuracy rating
  • Jesse Collins didn’t make picks this week, so his season success rate is unchanged. This is a good strategy if you’re doing really well. Not so much if you’re batting .250.

The Picks

(all times CT)

Friday, September 22

Wisconsin Badgers @ Purdue Boilermakers

6:00pm | FS1 | Wisconsin -7 | O/U 54

Straight-Up: Wisconsin 13-2
Against the Spread: Wisconsin 8-7

BoilerUp89: cries

RockyMntBlue: Sometimes teams just look/seem to be better than the results they’re getting (see Frost, Scott). These two teams lead this category for me in the big10 so far, so it’s fun we’ll see them play each other. Can wiscy’s glacial start out-derp Purdue’s commitment to underachievement? I say no, but I think it’s close. wisconsin 24-21

Buffkomodo: At least this game is at Purdue. Wisconsin wins, but Purdue sells popcorn.

misdreavus79: I legitimately don’t know what will happen here, so I’m going to split the difference. Wisconsin 31, Purdue 28

BRT: I think this is an intriguing game, and it deserves better than a Friday night. However... I guess that means I get to watch it, so I’m not completely mad about it. Honestly, this one feels like a coin flip. Purdue has already bitten me twice this season though, so I’m going with the Badgers, unfortunately. They haven’t looked great, but they’ve mostly done what they’ve needed to do, and I think they will again.

Kind of...: Yeah, UW hasn’t lost to Purdue since 2004. I’m still fearful of this game, what with UW having started slow in all three games so far this season, a short week to prepare, and Purdue being at home in prime time. But, objectively, UW does appear to be the better team, can still run the ball, and the defense is gelling. If the streak ends, the streak ends, but this week my head and my heart seem to agree.

Larry31: If we had a pick for chaos game of the week, this would be it. I think Purdue covers and might actually win.

AlmaOtter: Purdue leads at halftime, but Wisconsin turns it on in the second half after an entirely unsurprising slow start. UW by 10. Very happy to have a fun Friday night game that doesn’t result in Illinois getting blown out by Kansas!

RUReady4Brazil: Wisconsin gets Rutgers next so is it better if they win or lose heading into their bye?

MNW: I mentioned this in DWT;WT, but I’m genuinely curious to see if wisconsin does its usual thing against Purdue or if they play with their food for a while. Because it feels like if there was a year to maximize the hilarity of Purdue breaking the streak, it’d be this one.

Nonetheless: I am stunned at how poorly I am doing ATS. So maybe just ignore what I say. badgers, 31-20.


Feels like a good bet a new coach is getting a big division win.

This poll is closed

  • 46%
    Wisconsin covers. Purdue slipping toward 404
    (97 votes)
  • 33%
    It’s close, but wiscy pulls it out. Experienced head coach > first-time head coach.
    (69 votes)
  • 20%
    Ryan Walters gets a big upset win!
    (42 votes)
208 votes total Vote Now

Saturday, September 23

Rutgers Scarlet Knights @ (2) Michigan Wolverines

11:00am | BTN | Michigan -24.5 | O/U 44.5

Straight-Up: Michigan 15-0
Against the Spread: Rutgers 12-3

RUReady4Brazil: Rutgers is better than FanDuel’s initial 31 point line. Neither we nor the computers know if the Knights can move the ball against any average or better defense, especially when the Wolverines boast three of the top six defensive tackles in the conference per PFF. Hopefully this stays close like last year when Rutgers led 17-14 at the half and Michigan’s two TDs came on 4th and goal from the one-yard line ... or 2021 when it was 20-13 at the Big House, the closest regular season game the playoff bound Wolverines had during the regular season ... or the 3OT thriller in 2020 when Rutgers missed a field goal that would have won the game in the 1st OT. Unfortunately, Michigan is due for a blowout win in the series. Don’t get anyone hurt and figure out how to add on to what Gavin Wimsatt has done thus far this year unless it’s close late and then empty the tank.

BoilerUp89: Michigan should win. I’ll go with Rutgers covering the spread since Michigan played with their food last week.

RockyMtnBlue: In their first two games, Michigan struggled to run the ball, but they did almost everything else well. This included throwing the ball in particular. JJ McCarthy completed 91% of his passes over two games and everyone was having fun. Then against Bowling Green, a team that somehow manages to be worse that Michigan’s first two opponents, he broadened his approach to completing passes the opponent as well. Three of them. To Bowling Green. Yes, that Bowling Green. Add to that 1) that Michigan is averaging 32pts/game against tomato cans, and 2) Rutgers has a pulse and a defense that’s actually good, and you’d have to be out of your ever-loving mind not to take Rutgers and the points. Michigan 23-13

Buffkomodo: I guess Michigan can cover a 24 point spread against B1G Competition but not Maction. Nahhh. Give me the split.

misdreavus79: At this point I’m going to assume Vegas is giving Michigan these massive spreads because it’s making them a ton of money. Because, otherwise, I don’t know how they could have watched both teams for the past three weeks and expect Michigan to somehow score more than the 30 points they’re averaging while holding Rutgers to less than 7 points. The latter may happen, but the former sure as shit ain’t happening when Bowling Fucking Green held you to 30. Michigan 21, Rutgers 17

BRT: Rutgers is better, but not that much better. I’ll echo others though, and say that this spread seems too large... but once upon a time, Ruth’s Chris’ thought that too.

Kind of...: I went 3-0 with my “Harbz ordered no covering of the spread during his suspension” theory. Now I expect Michigan to open things up and roll. 42-7, or some such.

Larry31: Does Michigan decide to focus and put Rutgers in their proper place with a bully beatdown? Or is Rutgers much improved and keeps this respectable? I dunno. Too early to tell.

AlmaOtter: How many points is Coach Khakipants worth? I don’t think it’s enough to cover by 3+ TDs.

MNW: God, BRT, what a solid reference that I’d totally forgotten about. Those were the days. Michigan, 27-3.


Michigers? Rutigan?

This poll is closed

  • 23%
    Harbaugh makes a statement in his return game. Michigan by lots.
    (61 votes)
  • 59%
    This Michigan team couldn’t score 40 if you locked them alone on a field for an hour. Rutgers keeps it close.
    (155 votes)
  • 16%
    Rutgers gets their first ever win in Michigan Stadium!
    (44 votes)
260 votes total Vote Now

Florida Atlantic Owls @ Illinois Fighting Illini

2:30pm | BTN | Illinois -14 | O/U 49

Straight-Up: Illinois 15-0
Against the Spread: Illinois 12-3

BoilerUp89: Illini bounce back against the Owls. If they struggle but pull out the win though, I may just have to anoint the Illini the B1G West favorite. Lose conference opener to Penn State - check. Lose non-conference road game to mediocre P5 program - check. Eke out win versus FAU - ? That’s exactly how last season’s B1G West champion started the season off.

RockyMtnBlue: Ok, so last week Illinois figured out the defense, just in time for the offense to implode. Bert’s a comically large human, but he’s a solid football coach. I think they put both sides together and treat a cupcake like you’re supposed to. Illinois 34-10

Buffkomodo: Illinois wins and covers in a bit of a bounce back. And then the wheels fall off next week.

HWAHSQB: Big Time Tommy DeVito threw four interceptions last year. Luke Altmyer threw four in 34 of a game. I don’t think that happens again.

BRT: Even Illinois’ commitment to underachievement this year can’t doom them in this one. Probably.

Kind of...: Does Illinois deserve to be favored by two TDs? Not really. But does FAU deserve to only be a two TD underdog? Definitely not. If Illinois has a pulse—and they showed one for a while vs. PSU—this should be over quick. I’ll take the Illini by 20 or so.

misdreavus79: If this were a basketball game, I’d be very concerned for Illinois. Luckily, the Owls are not as good at the oval ball as they are the round ball. Illinois 30, Florida Atlantic 10

AlmaOtter: FAU just lost their starting QB (Casey Thompson of 2022 Nebraska fame) and are now down to a CMU transfer. Illinois puts it together and gets an easy win for the first time this season.

RUReady4Brazil: This looks like a pretty safe survivor pick but the next game below makes me feel I have to trust the Illini later in the season.

MNW: AlmaOtter’s right to note that losing Thompson to an ACL is rough, but it’s not just some tomato can of a CMU transfer—Daniel Richardson was fantasy football gold for a brief spell in Mount Pleasant, going 24:6 in 2021 and 15:5 in 2022. Could he have a little revival under first-year FAU coach Tom Herman? I wouldn’t sleep on a frisky start from the Owls...

That Richardson is not the most mobile of quarterbacks, though, is the issue in this one. He doesn’t get enough time against the Illinois pass rush, Reggie Love leans on the Owls’ front seven, and Luke Altmeyer bounces back. Illini, 31-14.


Not everyone is done with tomato cans

This poll is closed

  • 74%
    This isn’t a real opponent. Illinois covers.
    (143 votes)
  • 18%
    It’s close-ish, but this ain’t Lovie’s team. Illinois prevails.
    (35 votes)
  • 7%
    Hilarious upset. Bert retaliates by eating the FAU coach (whom I can’t be bothered to look up)
    (14 votes)
192 votes total Vote Now

[Narrator: Their coach is Dusty May]
{Other Narrator: That’s their basketball coach you dum dum}

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs @ Nebraska Cornhuskers

2:30pm | BTN | Nebraska -19.5 | O/U 48.5

Straight-Up: Nebraska 15-0
Against the Spread: Nebraska 8-7

BoilerUp89: Nebraska wins and covers. Louisiana Tech isn’t very good.

RockyMtnBlue: La Tech isn’t going to score much on Nebby. Possibly not any. I like Nebby to cover that 19.5, but I like the Under even more. Nebraska 27-3

Buffomodo: Nebraska covers 19.5 turnovers points against this crappy team.

BRT: Huskers win, but suffer a setback and return to their turnover-prone ways, showing that last week was just a blip of decent ball security.

Kind of...: I dunno. La. Tech if frequently feisty, but really struggling so far this year. And Rhule has the D playing pretty damn well. Looks like a pretty good foundation for Nebby to pull away late and cover.

misdreavus79: Weren’t Western Kentucky and Louisiana Tech supposed to join the MAC or something? Nebraska 42, Louisiana Tech 13

Larry31: The Frank Solich voodoo curse has me thinking that Nebraska won’t cover the spread.

AlmaOtter: I don’t think there’s a real threat of Big Red losing here. But 20 points is too many for a team this turnover-prone. Nebraska moves to 2-2, La. Tech covers.

RUReady4Brazil: Please Nebraska, don’t let us (or me in the survivor pool) down again.

MNW: Misdreavus—I don’t remember LaTech doing it (they may have, though), but I remember Western Kentucky flirting with it pretty heavily. They should have, because now they’re in a conference with...LaTech, Jacksonville State, MTSU, and fucking Liberty. Is that really where you saw yourself, Hilltoppers?

The Bulldogs made up a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter last week against North Texas, falling on a last-second field goal after Jack Turner spelled injured transfer QB Hank Bachmeier and RB Tyre Shelton got it going. There’s talk that Turner gets his first start here—with that coming in Memorial Stadium? Good luck. Love the energy I’m seeing out of LaTech for this one, though:

That keeps it respectable. Huskers, 31-14.


Speaking of tomato cans

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Nebby rolls an overmatched La Tech squad. Remember when Frost made these games fun?
    (86 votes)
  • 48%
    It’s not a mollywhopping, but Rhule says "A win is a win!"
    (96 votes)
  • 7%
    Bulldogs with the 3TD upset. BRT and Dead Read resign in protest.
    (14 votes)
196 votes total Vote Now

Maryland Terrapins @ Michigan State Spartans

2:30pm | NBC | Maryland -6.5 | O/U 53.5

Straight-Up: Maryland 13-2
Against the Spread: Maryland 13-2

Larry31: Bill Connelly’s SP+ has a 26th ranked Maryland defense against a 73rd ranked Sparty offense. On the other hand, Maryland’s 39th ranked offense goes agaisnt MSU’s 39th ranked defense. That’s interesting. In other threads, I have mentioned that Maryland’s defense is better than their offense, despite Taulia and the offense getting all the hype. As long as Maryland doesn’t spot Sparty a 14-0 lead, Maryland wins and covers. It’s still September.

BoilerUp89: I’m confused why the spread is so low. What am I missing?

RockyMtnBlue: Am I crazy enough to bet against September Maryland? Yes I am. I have even more confidence in the Universe pissing me off with a competent MSU than I have in September Turtles. Michigan State 21-20

Buffkomodo: Maryland crushes Michigan State. Nothing more needs to be said.

BRT: I assume Maryland falls behind 14-0 for funsies, and then pulls it out, since that seems to be The Move for them now.

Kind of...: It’s still September. And MSU is imploding.

misdreavus79: I mean, who in the conference can do the best imitation of Washington if not Maryland? The thing that may benefit the Spartans here is that the Terps have been spotting team 14 points to start games. But, you know, they then go on to score 30+. Maryland 41, Michigan State 14

AlmaOtter: I desperately tried to rationalize a contrarian pick here, although picking MSU last week with the same logic worked out terribly. But I don’t see it. September Maryland and Taulia, bad MSU defense, less than a TD spread. I like turtles.

RUReady4Brazil: This game is very interesting. Maryland should toss the ball all over the yard, it is still September after all. How will the Spartans respond though?

MNW: Welcome to the freefall, Sparty. Nice to have company. Maryland, 34-21.


The East division is the "good" one, so this must be a really big and important game!

This poll is closed

  • 75%
    Michigan State sucks. Turtles can cover that touchdown, even on the road.
    (188 votes)
  • 17%
    Maryland in a nail biter. MSU still sucks.
    (44 votes)
  • 7%
    Goddammit. MSU wins and RMB has to be nice(ish) to them.
    (18 votes)
250 votes total Vote Now

Akron Zips @ Indiana Hoosiers

6:30pm | BTN | Indiana -17.5 | O/U 45

Straight-Up: Indiana 15-0
Against the Spread: Indiana 9-6

Larry31: Umm, do the odds makers understand Walt Bell is still employed as OC for IU? 17.5-point favorites? Get outta here. IU wins but does not cover

BoilerUp89: Hoosiers get win #2.

RockyMtnBlue: Indiana deserves MAC Snack. Indiana 24-3

Buffkomodo: Indiana wins, covers, and disappoints somehow. It’s a Macrifice and really nothing more needs to be said.

BRT: Good job, Indiana. Also, cool night game.

Kind of...: Akron beat Morgan State by a FG. Indiana big. After this week it might be cover-your-eyes time for Hoosier faithful, so enjoy.

misdreavus79: Not that I’m unhappy with Mike Yurcich, I’m really not, but this is what you left Penn State for, Joe Moorhead? This?! Indiana 49, Akron 10

AlmaOtter: Akron is UTEP-level bad. Even Northwestern doesn’t lose to UTEP. IU by a ton.

RUReady4Brazil: Indiana should win this game easily and we still will have no idea how good or bad they actually are.

MNW: Yeah, can you imagine losing to Akron at home? In a non-conference game? I, for one, would never. Indiana, 24-14.


In the 21st century even this game gets TV coverage

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    Zips get zipped. Indiana by at least three scores.
    (64 votes)
  • 55%
    Indiana gets a badly-needed win, but it’s close enough to be concerning.
    (98 votes)
  • 7%
    Akron is NOT AFRAID of the Big10 East
    (14 votes)
176 votes total Vote Now

(24) Iowa Hawkeyes @ (7) Penn State Nittany Lions

6:30pm | CBS | Penn State -14.5 | O/U 42

Straight-Up: Penn State 14-1
Against the Spread: Iowa 8-7

You know, the colors on this graphic aren’t bad.

BoilerUp89: Penn State hands Iowa the loss. Things get out of hand late as Penn State players fake injuries to stop the clock so they can make sure they get the ball back and add another touchdown to their total.

RockyMtnBlue: The first real game for any of the big 3 (no offense, Indiana). The last time Cade McNamarra and Erick All were in Happy Valley, they connected on a long catch-and-run to win the game. Will they repeat that magic moment? No. No they will not. Penn State 34-16

Buffkomodo: Remember when Iowa scored 41 points last week? They muster only 6 in a hilarious regression to the line.

HWAHSQB: Penn State really didn’t look all that great against Illinois last week. That tells me that either Illinois is actually good and just needs to stop giving the ball away or Penn State is really something more like a top 25 team than a top 7 team. I’m not prepared to say that Illinois is good so I’m saying PSU isn’t great, but still good enough to beat iowa 21-9.

BRT: I’m guessing that PSU will look shaky again since Iowa is decent on defense, but Iowa looks shakier. I hope. :)

Kind of...: Iowa is 6-5 in Happy Valley since PSU joined the B1G. And if the spread were 14.5 each time, they’re 8-3 ATS. Now that everybody has crawled out of Brian Ferentz’s ass, this sure seems like a pesky Hawkeye squad ready to infuriate talented opponents. I’m calling my shot.

misdreavus79: I’ve been waiting two years for this. WASTE THE MOTHERFUCKERS! Penn State 48, Iowa 0.

Larry31: If this game was in Iowa, I’d pick the toothy birds. Was PSU just looking ahead to Iowa last week? They weren’t very impressive. PSU wins but doesn’t cover.

AlmaOtter: Iowa takes games and turns them into rock fights. Birds cover.

RUReady4Brazil: My neighbor was disappointed the focus was having people over to my house for Rutgers-Michigan rather than this game, but clearly she doesn’t understand what having small kids will do to your fandom choices during storytime. Hopefully I can catch a climactic ending. Penn State should just be so much better, though Cade McNamara did pretty well the second time he faced the Nittany Lions in his career. Can he win his personal rubber match?

MNW: Iowa’s defense keeps them in it, with a score to help Brian toward his point total. Penn State, 24-10.


A preview of the CCG?

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    One of these teams is legit. The other has an offense coached by Brian Ferentz
    (142 votes)
  • 35%
    PSU prevails in a tight, defensive affair
    (101 votes)
  • 13%
    PSU suffers a horrible setback as Brian Ferentz out-thinks Coach Hype
    (39 votes)
282 votes total Vote Now

Minnesota Golden Gophers @ Northwestern Wildcats

6:30pm | BTN | Minnesota -12 | O/U 39

Straight-Up: Minnesota 15-0
Against the Spread: Minnesota 10-5

BoilerUp89: Northwestern surprises us all by covering the spread. Mainly because of the Minnesota offense.

RockyMtnBlue: Northwestern is bad, y’all. I mean, so is Minnesota’s offense. But not like Northwestern-bad. Northwestern-bad is special. Gophers 20-6

Buffkomodo: Minnesota. Next.

HWAHSQB: Minnesota doesn’t like to win big so I think Fleck slows them down enough to win but not cover.

BRT: Minny should win, but that spread seems hilariously large for what the Gophers have shown they’re capable of this year. This is going be be a incredibly stupid 13-6 game or something like that.

Kind of...: The UNC game got away from Minnesota a bit in a way that I suspect left a bad taste in Peej’s mouth. Says here they’re better than they looked last week. Two TDs better than NW, at least.

misdreavus79: Is Minnesota better than Rutgers? Because the Scarlet Knights beat Northwestern worse than Duke did. Minnesota 24, Northwestern 7

Larry31: I think Minny’s face plant last week was the product of going against a legit team that is a match-up nightmare. Not the case with the ‘cats. Minny wins and covers.

AlmaOtter: After these teams got wrecked by ACC schools last week, I’m sure it will be comforting for both to play a proper B1G West game. Minnesota 10-Northwestern 3.

RUReady4Brazil: Strongly considered this in survivor pool, but the choice not to go Gophers was more because of a need to go with Nebraska and Illinois out of conference. Hoping for the chaos of a Northwestern win.

MNW: The Northwestern run defense fell off a cliff three years ago and I don’t know if we’ll ever see it again. That’s catnip to PJ Fleck, who will be grateful not to rely on the Greek Meek at quarterback. See the Eastern Michigan game—the ‘Cats might not pick up a first down the entire first half as Darius Taylor chews clock and breaks 200 yards. Gophers, 24-0.


Goofs and kittens

This poll is closed

  • 70%
    Gophers by a couple touchdowns
    (136 votes)
  • 19%
    Northwestern isn’t as bad as you think, RMB. They drop a close one.
    (38 votes)
  • 10%
    Northwestern gets their first big10 win in the USA since 2021.
    (20 votes)
194 votes total Vote Now

(6) Ohio State Buckeyes @ (9) Notre Dame Fighting Irish

6:30pm | NBC | Ohio State -3 | O/U 54

Straight-Up: Ohio State 9-6
Against the Spread: Ohio State 9-6


BoilerUp89: Go team Meteor!

RockyMtnBlue: I don’t always agree with BoilerUp89, but when I do, I prefer it when he’s right. No other matchup in all of sports so warrants a city-consuming cataclysm. We won’t get out fondest desires, but at least there’s a chance the world’s most annoying fanbase will shut the hell up for a week or two after their team gets bitch-slapped by the Buckeyes. Ohio State 31-17

Buffkomodo: Give me Notre Dame in this one and things get pretty uncomfortable for Ryan Day in Columbus.

BRT: Notre Dame wins, a full 1/5th of the OSU fanbase suffers strokes.

Kind of...: Get ready for “Sam Hartman for Heisman” to suck up the talking head space that will be vacated as Colorado starts to play tough competition. Yuck. But it’s gonna happen.

misdreavus79: I legitimately don’t know what will happen here, part 2. I will not be splitting the difference. Ohio State 24, Notre Dame 20

Larry31: I’m not sold on OSU’s QB. One of the most self-righteous and unlikeable teams in sports history wins. I wrote that, and then realized this could apply to either team. Notre Dame wins.

AlmaOtter: I will avoid stressing about this game and my Buckeye-supporting wife and father-in-law’s reaction to it by noting that when these teams first played in 1935, the game winning ND touchdown was thrown by William Valentine Shakespeare aka the Bard of Staten Island aka the Merchant of Menace.

RUReady4Brazil: Normally I don’t root for Ohio State, but I can’t tolerate all the bandwagon Notre Dame fans if they win. And you have to feel bad for those who double as Browns fans and saw their team get embarrassed Monday night when all they needed to do was not fumble twice OR find a way to score OR do any of like a million other things. It was like watching your favorite Big Ten team, probably. Ok maybe I don’t feel THAT bad for OSU fans ever. Still though, please win this game to represent the conference well and avoid the ND trash talk I’ll have to endure.

MNW: I just don’t care. Let’s say Buckeyes, 31-24, but I’ve put no thought into it.


Let’s go meteor!

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    Buckeyes cover a small spread against the Irish. We all point and laugh at Notre Dame
    (105 votes)
  • 13%
    Buckeyes by 1 or 2. A legendary clash that makes everyone vomit in their mouths a little
    (31 votes)
  • 41%
    Notre Dame, against their 21st century history, gets a big win. We all point and laugh at Ohio State
    (97 votes)
233 votes total Vote Now