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Big Ten Football Week 5 Picks, Predictions, Previews: Cannons and Cajuns

Come for Michigan-Nebraska, stay for Illinois and Purdue slapfighting.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 13 Purdue at Illinois Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This week RockyMtnBlue has tasked me with saying “something fun”.

My idea of “something fun” would be recounting for you the various rivalry trophies of the Mountain West, but I’m told you disagree. Long live the Milk Can, anyway!

Apparently my daughter, all of 13 months old, refuses to sit at the table in her daycare room unless she can be back to the wall, facing the door. I don’t know when the damn kid found time to read Dune, but there you go.

About Last Week


  • RUready4Brazil with a preposterous 8-0-1 week against the spread. Nobody did that well straight up.
  • RUReady and larry31 move into a tie overall atop the ATS standings.

Points and Laughs:

  • Your esteemed author (at least the one writing this sentence) was not so esteemed. 2-6-1 against the spread. Woof.
  • But hey, Thump did it too, and in his case it dropped him out of the top spot in the standings, so that’s somehow worse? Sure. I’ll go with that.

The Picks

(all times CT)

Saturday, September 30

(6) Penn State Nittany Lions @ Northwestern Wildcats

11:00am | BTN | Penn State -25.5 | O/U 46

Straight-Up: Penn State 12-0
Against the Spread: Penn State 10-2

So...not a lot of faith in Northwestern, eh?

Larry31: Contrary to Peej who coached timidly as to not to lose the game, which inevitably ends up with a loss, James Franklin is a smug prick who will run up the score on an inferior team any time he can. PSU covers.

BRT: It’s hard to tell exactly how bad Northwestern is at this point, but I do think it’s safe to say they’re quite a bit worse than Penn State. I do hope they manage more points against the Nits than Iowa did, but then, that’s the lowest possible bar, isn’t it?

HWAHSQB: I’m not convinced psu is a top ten team and I am convinced that northwestern can ugly up this game enough to keep the final margin below 25.5.

misdreavus79: The best thing that could have happened for Penn State was Northwestern coming back to beat Minnesota. With that out of the way, the Wildcats won’t likely have another “play beyond their capabilities” game immediately after. Penn State 48, Northwestern 10

RUReady4Brazil: Northwestern should be able to complete a few passes and show the rest of the conference how you will never beat a team like Penn State by trying to run the ball every time. But it will still be bad.

Buffkomodo: Sure, this game will be a 10-14 point game at halftime and Penn State will look sluggish. BUT Northwestern still sucks no matter what happened last week and Penn State is still looking like a threat to the throne so Penn State covers in the end.

AlmaOtter: Penn State beat Illinois by 17 and Iowa by 31. Northwestern’s defense is far worse than that. Lions of Nittany Mountain by as many scores as they would like.

BoilerUp89: I don’t believe Northwestern is better than Iowa. Maybe, I’m wrong, but I’ll take PSU to cover.

RockyMtnBlue: Northwestern had a comeback for the ages last week. It’s the sort of thing that can really make a team believe. I believe they’re gonna get crushed. Penn State 35-6

MNW: Unlike Minnesota, Penn State will put the foot on the throat and cruise. I’m hoping to see a little bounce from the ‘Cats—make the Nittany Lions work for it into halftime and keep it a game as long as you can. Don’t give them the game like Illinois did.

That feels like it starts with the Wildcats’ defensive front being efficient against the run and the back seven keeping the ball in front of them—turn it into a game of short gains, bend but don’t break, and we’ll see.

(It won’t end well. Nittany Lions, 41-10.)


Nits @ Kits

This poll is closed

  • 82%
    Penn State continues to demonstrate they’re the best team in the big10 by coving this big spread. The AP poll continues to rank them 3rd in the Big10 because reasons.
    (240 votes)
  • 10%
    Dude. Did you see NW’s comeback last week? They’re pulling together as a team without the dead weight of Fitz! Not enough to win, mind you, but this game is competitive.
    (31 votes)
  • 6%
    Northwestern with the monster upset. No one is happier than PJ Fleck.
    (19 votes)
290 votes total Vote Now

Louisiana Ragin Cajuns @ Minnesota Golden Gophers

11:00am | BTN | Minnesota -12.5 | O/U 47.5

Straight-Up: Minnesota 11-1
Against the Spread: Louisiana 7-5

Larry31: Are the Gophers broken after last week’s debacle, or do they take out their anger and embarrassment on the hapless Rajin’ Cajuns? They’re plenty darn tootin’ angry, I’ll tell ya’. They’re gonna grab those oars like nobody’s business and row REALLY hard this week!!! Gophers cover.

BRT: Louisiana seems pretty bad, so I expect the Gophers to regroup. If last week didn’t get their attention, nothing will. The highlight of this game is the excellence of the mascots - Golden Gophers and Ragin’ Cajuns? Yes please.

HWAHSQB: Who better to take down a football team of oarsmen than a team of angry cajuns? I’m not sure the Ragin Cajuns win, but they will keep it close. Even if they don’t want to keep it close, the Peejus will work to keep them it from his end.

misdreavus79: Last week was more about Northwestern than it was about Minnesota. I expect the Gophers to do the exact same thing they did last week, except Louisiana won’t be able to come back. Minnesota 34, Louisiana 10

RUReady4Brazil: The Gophers losing in conference is funny, but out of conference is not.

Buffkomodo: Minnesota recovers and beats the tar bow off Louisiana.

AlmaOtter: Disagreeing with RUReady; Gophers losing out of conference to Bowling Green in 2021 was incredibly funny. Peej rights the ship this week and wins by 14.

BoilerUp89: Ragin’ Cajun time

RockyMtnBlue: Really, Minnesota? Less than 2TD favorites to Louisiana? At home? Must have something to do with that EPIC collapse against noted powerhouse Northwestern. I’ve got Minny covering that spread, but I’ll probably regret it. Minnesota 24-10

MNW: Will Minnesota actually let the Greek Meek throw the ball all over the place and run the Cajuns out of the building?

I would be willing to be wrong on this one, because that feels like the way you actually put the Cajuns away—but since Louisiana’s been putting up points (at least 31 every game) and has a dynamic-if-errant frosh QB in Zeon Chriss, feels like Peejus keeps it on the ground. Gophers, 24-14.


If you can’t beat NW, play a mid-major basketball school

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    Minnesota by 2TDs or better. I mean, last week was funny, but Minny isn’t actually THAT bad.
    (93 votes)
  • 48%
    Minnesota wins, but Louisiana keeps it close. Minnesota fans are exactly as amused as you’d expect.
    (115 votes)
  • 11%
    (27 votes)
235 votes total Vote Now

(2) Michigan Wolverines @ Nebraska Cornhuskers

2:30pm | FOX | Michigan -17.5 | O/U 40

Straight-Up: Michigan 12-0
Against the Spread: Tied 6-6

Larry31: For some reason, this feels like a MACrifice to me. Pompuus khaki guy wins and covers. Ugh.

BRT: I don’t even want to watch this. It will end terribly for Nebraska - my main hope is that no one gets badly injured, but I have a really bad feeling about that. This feels like a “lose by 50 and lose your starting QB for the rest of the year” kind of game. So... yeah.

misdreavus79: After watching the Rutgers game, I realized that it’s 50% “michigan isn’t trying to show Ohio State anything” and 50% “this team isn’t as dominant as last season’s team.” As a result, they, for the fifth straight game, will fail to cover.

I think the biggest difference so far is that the defenses Michigan faces the rest of the way will continue to get better, so they’re going to have to actually try to put away folks sooner (AKA “show Ohio State something”), or they might find themselves in a game where the opponent actually finishes that drive instead of giving up a pick-six. Michigan 20, Nebraska 13

RUReady4Brazil: Nebraska can learn what Rutgers did last week.

Buffkomodo: Michigan. Next. Wait, what’s the next game? Shit.

AlmaOtter: This is Michigan’s first game away from Ann Arbor this season and Nebraska’s on a two-game win streak. Can 90,000 Husker fans make the difference against Coach Wefense? God, I hope so.

BoilerUp89: Michigan is better than Colorado. They cover.

RockyMountainBlue: Michigan has three badly missed spreads, and one tie. And all those games were at home. Michigan 20-10

MNW: Misdreavus hit the nail on the head, and I will gladly take that hook on the scoreline. Michigan, 31-14.


Battle of the "Living in the Past"s

This poll is closed

  • 47%
    RMB’s a Negative Nancy. Michigan’s fine and they roll the Huskers.
    (120 votes)
  • 43%
    Michigan pulls out a close win, just like they did the last time these teams played in this stadium.
    (110 votes)
  • 8%
    Matt Rhule gets his first big upset win.
    (21 votes)
251 votes total Vote Now

Indiana Hoosiers @ Maryland Terrapins

2:30pm | BTN | Maryland -14 | O/U 50.5

Straight-Up: Maryland 12-0
Against the Spread: Maryland 11-1

Even less faith than we had in NW

BRT: It’s still September, and it just took Indiana four extra tries to beat Akron, so I like the Terps in this one without too much drama.

Larry31: Maryland’s defense is good. And IU’s offense is run by Walt Bell. By definition, this is not a good offense. And it’s still September. Maryland wins and covers. However, IU’s defense is decent and Maryland’s offense is not as good as the hype. Look for the under.

misdreavus79: What makes September Maryland September Maryland is that, usually, they follow up their September schedule with the team that’s going to blast them into oblivion, and oftentimes injure a player or two along the way. Looks like it’s Ohio State’s turn this year. Now, of course, Maryland has found a way to keep some of these close, so maybe this is the year they finally get one! Alas. Maryland 40, Indiana 14

RUReady4Brazil: This series has been remarkably close, but Maryland always wins when they score significant points.

Buffkomodo: Fun fact: In the current conference alignment, Indiana has never gone to a bowl and lost to Maryland. Each bowl season has had a victory against the Terps. A lot of rightful crowing has occurred due to last week’s abysmal performance against Akron. A lot of rightful crowing has occurred nationally because Maryland has won 4 games by pretty good margins. I don’t think Indiana is as bad as they were last week and I quite frankly don’t think Maryland is as good as is being proclaimed. I do think this game is a good game, but I do think Maryland gets a cover very late in the 4th quarter. No more blowouts for the Terps.

AlmaOtter: Closing time at the September Maryland Bar. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here. I think they cover, move to 5-0, make it into the top 25, and promptly get blitzed by Ohio State next week.

BoilerUp89: Calls to fire Walt Bell intensify.

RockyMtnBlue: I read BK’s first sentence to mean Indiana hasn’t lost to Maryland in a bowl in current this conference alignment. I was not surprised this was true. Anyway, it’s still September. Maryland 24-7

MNW: I genuinely don’t know what Tom Allen is doing anymore. This dude HAD IT, or so we thought. And then it all came tumbling down.

Kalen DeBoer might be a genius. Maryland, 28-10.


This week’s "Big East Division Matchup"

This poll is closed

  • 80%
    Maryland by many
    (207 votes)
  • 14%
    Maryland by few
    (36 votes)
  • 5%
    Indiana because September 30 is essentially not September
    (14 votes)
257 votes total Vote Now

Illinois Fighting Illini @ Purdue Boilermakers

2:30pm | Peacock | Illinois -1 | O/U 53.5

Straight-Up: Illinois 9-3
Against the Spread: Illinois 9-3

BRT: This is the actually interesting game I’ll watch at 2:30 rather than my team playing Michigan. I legit don’t know what will happen here. I’ve picked Purdue a few times this year and had it bite me in the ass, so I’m wary of choosing them again - which means, of course, that they’ll probably find a way to pull this out.

Larry31: I have no idea. I put faith in both teams at some point this season and have been let down. Neither team looks good. What the hell. Illinois, I guess.

HWAHSQB: Illinois hasn’t fared well against purdue lately with the exception of games played during a monsoon. That is why Illinois sent a double agent to coach the Boilers!! Moowhoohahahahaha! Bert is out here playing chess guys. The path to B1G west glory starts on Saturday.

misdreavus79: I don’t know what’s going to happen in this game and I won’t pretend to have a clue, so here’s a random score! Illinois 23, Purdue 20

RUReady4Brazil: This could and probably should be the best game of the weekend, but does that make it watchable football? If Purdue can complete some passes, they win. If it’s a backyard brawl, they lose. Weather looks good so I guess Purdue, but not enough for a Survivor pick which belongs to ...

Buffkomodo: Uhhhhh....this game kinda sucks. I think I picked Illinois to win and cover purely out of spite.

AlmaOtter: I have spent too much time this week researching this rivalry and reading 1900s archived newspapers for me to hedge here. I want this goddamn Cannon. ILL.

BoilerUp89: The Illini steal our cannon again.

RockyMtnBlue: I’ve seen both teams play. Really kinda feels like Illinois is better. But this is the west so we assume the Stupid will happen. Purdue 21-17

MNW: Week 5 will be an excellent barometer to see how far Bielema’s program has actually come, from an objective standpoint.

While you take a second to go back and read that headline again, remind yourself that this is now year three of Bielema, and he and his Illini are well ahead of schedule. Be honest with yourself.

You didn’t really see this coming this quickly.

When Bielema hire the aforementioned Walters when he arrived in Champaign, Mizzou basically packed his bags and bought his airfare. It was widely viewed as a back-page hire, the kind that you make when you’re Illinois football.

Illinois, 34-30.


Battle for the, um... canon?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    (108 votes)
  • 25%
    I’m middling a 1pt spread because I don’t understand how whole numbers work
    (64 votes)
  • 30%
    (76 votes)
248 votes total Vote Now

Wagner Seahawks @ Rutgers Scarlet Knights

2:30pm | BTN | Rutgers -48!! | O/U 55.5

Straight-Up: Rutgers 12-0
Against the Spread: Wagner 9-3

BRT: Why is this happening. I’m not sure Rutgers can beat that insane spread, but if you’ve got a spread like that, that’s probably a sign you shouldn’t be scheduling that team.

Larry31: I thought cupcake season was over. Too late, Rutgers. No salted carmale chocolate cupcakes for you. Go out and by some stale tastkakes at the local 7-Eleven. Oh, the game. That’s asking a lot of a Rutgers offense to cover a 48-point spread. Let’s go win Wagner covering.

misdreavus79: Speaking of running up scores... Rutgers 49, Wagner 0

RUReady4Brazil: Wagner is better than the worst FCS team in the nation finally, but Rutgers should probably be in the “too cowardly to play this week” category below. Like the timing for Rutgers though because their next opponents MSU, Indiana, and Wisconsin all get a bye this week or next. The Knights need to orient themselves to win at least one if not two of those games or the season will be considered a disaster even after the strong start.

Buffkomodo: ‘Gers wins and now just needs 2 more wins to get to bowl eligibility. Rutgers also plays home against Michigan State and plays an offensively inept Indiana team prior to the close of October. 6-2 ‘Gers against an undefeated Ohio State on November 4th?? COLLEGE GAMEDAY ANYONE??

AlmaOtter: Navy only put up 24 on Wagner, but Navy also doesn’t throw the ball. I’m sure Rutgers wins by 30+, but 48 is an absurdly large spread. The Staten Islanders cover.

BoilerUp89: I’ll take Rutgers to cover. Probably dumb, but you only live once.

RockyMtnBlue: 48? FORTY-EIGHT?!? Did the odds-makers get confused and think it’s OSU? Don’t get me wrong, I think Rutgers is doing alright, and unlike many teams I could mention (damned near the entire west division, for example), they seem to be trending in the right direction. I like Rutgers, but that spread is just silly. Rutgers 35-7

MNW: I don’t miss the days of doing the digging for these lines when someone played an FCS team, checking Bovada and DraftKings and whoever else to find the one website that actually set a line for Rutgers-Wagner. Rutgers, 40-0.


Somehow, this game will be on TV

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    Rutgers covers a huge spread, confirming they’d probably win the west division
    (46 votes)
  • 74%
    Of course Rutgers is gonna win, but they can’t cover a 48pt spread if they can’t score 48 points.
    (173 votes)
  • 5%
    Wagner with an absolutely hilarious upset
    (12 votes)
231 votes total Vote Now

Michigan State Spartans @ Iowa Hawkeyes

6:30pm | NBC/Peacock | Iowa -11.5 | O/U 36.5

Straight-Up: Iowa 12-0
Against the Spread: Michigan State 8-4

BRT: This is another game where I can see a few different realistic scenarios. Both teams are on the mat, for rather different reasons. This feels like a game Iowa musters up enough to win, especially since it’s at home, but so far, Cade McNamara has talked a lot, and done very little, so who knows. Would it be funny to watch a hapless MSU team stumble into Kinnick and further embarrass the Ferentzii? I mean... yes, of course. I’m just not sure it will happen.

Larry31: Last week I wrote that you never take a Walt Bell offense to cover. [They didn’t, barely beating Akron in 4 OTs]. Take away the five turnovers last week, MSU outgained Maryland in total yardage. They have not yet mailed it in. Asking a Brian Ferentz team to cover more than a touchdown and a field goal is a tall task. then again, it’s a night game at Kinnick. Against my better judgement, I will take Iowas to win and cover. I hope I am wrong.

HWAHSQB: Other than the turnovers, msu looked pretty good last week. i_wa did not. I’m not sure why the spread is this large to be honest. Take the points.

misdreavus79: The best part about this is Iowa will cover this spread, beat Purdue next week, and then Ferentz will use this as proof that it’s all going well and that Penn State is just a juggernaut that he couldn’t have possibly gained 100 yards against. Which, you know, is true, but still. Iowa 24, Michigan State 7

RUReady4Brazil: This is the second most competitive game of the week! Rutgers does get both teams down the line, so I am very curious to see what happens here. Can Michigan State move the ball at all? Can Iowa? I don’t know if I want to see a blowout in either direction or which team would be more demoralized by even a close loss. The real question is, will I have more trouble finding the game on the cock than Iowa will scoring points?

Buffkomodo: Iowa wins and covers this but not because of anything the offense does. Also, be prepared for the cavalcade of Spartans entering the transfer portal in the next 30 days now that Tucker is “officially fired,” especially if things go super sideways over the next couple weeks.

AlmaOtter: Through 4 games in 2022, Petras had a 51% completion rate, 524 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs. Through 4 games in 2023, McNamara has a 51% completion rate, 459 yards, 4 TDS, 3 INTs. Wash/rinse/repeat with the Iowa offense. Iowa D/ST guarantees the win this week, but MSU covers the spread.

BoilerUp89: Iowa’s defense breaks through and scores after being shut out for 98 snaps against Penn State.

RockyMtnBlue: I expect this game to be exceedingly dumb. I’m really looking forward to watching it. Iowa 17-13 (both of Iowa’s TDs are defensive)

MNW: In retrospect, I don’t know that I should’ve taken Iowa to cover—things look diseased in Iowa City, and no amount of Brian dialing up 3-yard outs to a tight end is going to matriculate the Hawkeyes down the field fast enough. Oh, but whoever Sparty lines up at QB is gonna get eaten alive. Hawkeyes, 21-7.


farmer fight!

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    Iowa covers. This is a very bad sign for Sparty. RMB giggles.
    (69 votes)
  • 45%
    Iowa pulls it out, but Sparty makes it interesting.
    (111 votes)
  • 26%
    MSU gets the upset win. Ferentz blames the defense for only getting one score.
    (66 votes)
246 votes total Vote Now

Too cowardly to play this week

(4) Ohio State Buckeyes
Wisconsin Badgers



Who wins the bye week?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    Ohio State
    (28 votes)
  • 9%
    (24 votes)
  • 7%
    Both Ohio State and Wisconsin
    (18 votes)
  • 25%
    Neither Ohio State nor Wisconsin
    (63 votes)
  • 22%
    Definitely one team, but not the other
    (57 votes)
  • 23%
    Will someone please take RMB’s poll-maker away?
    (59 votes)
249 votes total Vote Now