Operation Get Jamie Mac's Money Back.
After a sour 2-5 week, we trudge on with this week's version of Big 10 picks. Lady Luck smacked us around last week. Purdue missed a late extra point in the fourth quarter, costing us one win. Wisconsin's loss to Ohio State in the final minute of the game cost us another. The line is always fine between profit and pain in the wagering world. This week's slate offers an array of questions: Is Wisco DOA? Can heavy favorites OSU and Illinois overcome any letdown in the wake of hallmark wins? How many combined kittens will perish in the wake of offensive implosions by Iowa and Michigan? (I dont know what the O/U is for that, but I can tell you its not high enough) Will Mike Valenti still be breathing come Monday morning? We'll know most of these answers within the next 24 hours. Here's my take on how it will shake out:
Iowa -6 at Indiana, O/U 46. Much has been made of Michigan's giveaway woes on these pages, but has anyone been paying attention to the outfit from Iowa City. The Hawks have lost three in a row by a combined 9 points. The culprit? An offense thats turned the ball over eight times in losing their first two Big Ten games of the season to Northwestern and Michigan State. Iowa can win this game because the Hoosiers wont have too many answers for Shonn Green, whose having a brilliant season running the football. I just cant take them to cover the spread. I cant lay points like this with a team on the road that turnovers the ball over this much. Stanzi might be an upgrade at QB over Christensen, but I dont think its really making a difference. This offense is accident prone. Indiana is no great shakes either, but this is a pretty good matchup for them. They've beat the Hawks in each of the last two seasons, scoring 38 points both times. Iowa has a solid D, stout up front, but they're a bit of a one trick pony. Despite their quality line, they dont rush the passer all that well and their pass D is vulnerable. IU QB Kellen Lewis will take advantage of that against a team he has a lot of confidence against. It would not shock me to see Iowa's turnovers cost them another win. I am also grabbing a piece of the Over. The Unders in Iowa game have been winners for me in recent weeks, but I am changing sides in this one. Indiana puts up points at home, averaging 27.77 ppg in their 15 games in Bloomington. I outlined the reasons above as to why the Hoosiers will have success against the Iowa D. When Iowa has the ball? Indiana wont shut them out, thats for sure, and, despite their tendencies to shoot themselves in the foot, Iowa will find the end zone more than a few times. Both teams will exceed 20 points, with the winner topping 30.
The Pick: Indiana +6, Over 46.
Minnesota +12.5 at Illinois, O/U 56. The Illini are on major letdown alert after playing a pair of bigtime league showdowns and slicing through Michigan last week. They'll find a pretty tough Gopher team waiting for them. I think the Illini can race through the rest of the Big 10. They could run the table from here on out. I would not be shocked. However, they just have the feel of a disinterested favorite considering the marquee of the last two weeks. The Gophers have taken a major leap forward this year. The offense has been efficient and they've gone from one the worst in turnover margin to one of the best. The Illini have given up a lot of points this year and Minnesota will find them flat footed enough to make this a decent game. Before the season, I really liked the Gophers as an underdog and they're 2-0 already in that role. Given the fact the Illini are just 10-16 ATS as a home favorite (4-8 in their last 12), I like the big dog in this one. Despite whatever flatness the Illini will have, I still think they have enough weapons that they'll still score a ton of points. It just might take a while to get revved up. The teams should combine for more than 60 points. That means I like the Over as well.
The Pick: Minnesota +12.5, Over 56.....man I feel like such a square taking Overs.
Toledo +16.5 at Michigan, Over 49.5. Well, I said I would pick every game for Big 10 teams the rest of the way, so I have backed myself into a corner and have to make a play in this one. You know what? I will lay those points. Michigan already beat Miami Ohio by 10 and Toledo is not as good, especially on defense. And, while the results have not been so obvious, the Michigan offense is playing better than they were in the Week 2 matchup with the RedHawks. The Rockets just have not been that good for a while now. Earlier in the year, this looked like a classic sandwhich game for the Wolverines, but with the coaches grumpy and yelling at the team all week for being soft, I actually expect the team to come out playing with way more fire in their eyes than a Michigan team usually would against a cupcake. I feel like Michigan might surpass 30 points in this one. While Toledo will probably hit a big play or two, I dont see them having too much success driving the field and besides their offense is a good bet to match Michigan's implosion for implosion throughout the day. I could see 31-14, 28-7, a shutout or even last week's score of 45-20 only with a reveral of fortunes. Four of Michigan's five games (Utah, ND, Wisco and Illinois) have sky rocketed past the O/U totals. It's at 49.5 this week, just like last week. Despite that record against the Over, I just cant jump aboard.
The Pick: Michigan -16.5.........I hope I dont regret this bravado about the Maize and Blue.
Purdue +19 at Ohio State, O/U 46. Painter and Purdue are overmatched in this one, but they wont turn the ball over and will do enough to stay within 20 points of the Buckeyes. The Bucks have only covered in one of their last six games at the Horseshoe while Purdue has got the cash in five of their last seven chances as a road dog. With a senior QB, the Boilers will be able to do just enough to keep this game from getting out of hand and extending each of those trends for another game. All season, I've said there's something not quite up to par about this OSU defense and we'll see that crop again tomorrow as the Boilers, who strugggled and just scored six points against Penn St last week, will reach the 20-point mark in Columbus. The Over looks nice as well as this score ought to resemble the Bucks score two weeks against Minnesota, 34-21.
The Pick: Purdue +19, O/U 46.
Michigan State -1 at Northwestern, O/U 47. If the Spartans win this game, it will set up a huge showdown next week against Ohio State. That's all I need to know. Northwestern will pull off the slight upset in this one. The Wildcats have enough offensive ability on hand to score somewhere between the outputs that Cal and IU put on Sparty in games earlier this year. They've had no problems scoring on Michigan State the past two years. MSU's D is just average and the best part of their D, a big play and physical secondary, got beat up in a grueling affair last week against Iowa. They might not be 100% effective tomorrow against the Cats, who come into this contest with a critical week of rest. MSU receivers drop too many balls to trust them in a big road contest. The Wildcats won 48-41 last year, so why would we think they would lose this year, as a better team, playing at home. MSU dodged a huge "Oh No Sparty" bullet last week when they luckily fell on a fumble during a QB sneak while trying to kill the clock. This week, expect their history to catch up with them.
The Pick: Northwestern +1
Penn State +6 at Wisconsin, O/U 46.5 The Badgers are one loss away from perhaps being the best 0-3 team in the history of Big 10 league play. The ramifications are huge with another Badger loss as they will be fighting the rest of the year just to become bowl eligible. Many feel they might be a dead football walking after a pair of fourth quarter collaspes the last weeks. I think there's enough upperclassmen leadership to keep that from happening. The Badgers will be properly lathered up for Saturday night's game and they have just the type of oiffense to keep Penn State off the field and in check. Lost in the wake of another fourth quarter loss was the fact that the Badgers kept OSU out of the end zone for over 56 straight minutes of game clock. They did so with some efficient, clock killing drives on offense. Wisconsin will have the same success against PSU and I love their change of pace combo of PJ Hill and Jonathon Clay to keep the Nits off balance. Penn State is just 4-8 ATS in the second of back to back road games while the Badgers are 7-3 ATS in a home game off of a home game. In the summer, the Badgers were favored by 4 in this contest, but now they're catching 6? Public perception is driving this line, not reality. Penn State is not as great as some of their guady scores would indicate, while Wisconsin is not suddenly Temple because they lost games to Michigan and Ohio State in the closing sequences. Maybe the Badgers snare defeat from the jaws of victory again, but they'll likely cover the spread in the process. I think Wisconsin wins this game straight up and the Nittany Lions perfect season gets snapped. Besides, the Band is back in the stadium. That's got to be worth a few points, right? I will gladly take the six point head start.
The Pick: Wisconsin +6......I like this one a lot. I would call it the Best Bet of this bunch.
I did not intend to take all underdogs as far as the league head to heads go. Ironically, Michigan is the only favorite I've taken. I dont see what possibly could go wrong.