2019 Big Ten Picks – Week Seven
Getting overconfident never ends well but week six was another winning week going 2-1. That pushes me up to 11-9 on the season heading into week seven.
The second weekend of October has a couple of very intriguing games and a near full-slate as 12 of 14 conference teams are in action: Michigan (-19) at Illinois, Rutgers at Indiana (-25), Maryland (-2) at Purdue, Michigan State at Wisconsin (-10), Penn State (-3) at Iowa, Nebraska at Minnesota (-7).
Penn State (-4) at Iowa – 7:30 on ABC
I am well aware that night games at Kinnick Stadium can be very tricky for top ten teams. I am also aware that Iowa is a very capable team. However, I believe the Penn State Nittany Lions are the second-best team in the Big Ten and a legitimate threat to the Ohio State Buckeyes and I do not think the Hawkeyes are going to be able to score enough to keep up the Nittany Lions. Michigan just held Iowa to three points on Saturday. While Iowa was careless with the ball (four turnovers) and that certainly did not help their cause, their offense was exposed against a defense that is not as good as what they will see when Penn State comes to town. The Nittany Lions have not given up more than 13 in a game this season and that is not a fluke. Opponents are averaging 1.46 yards per carry and only 3.6 yards per offensive play. Michigan overwhelmed the Iowa offensive line and PSU comes in with 25 sacks through five games. It would surprise me if the Hawkeyes get to 21 points on Saturday night. If that is the case, I don’t see how PSU is kept under 24 and I like the Nittany Lions to win this game and cover going away.
Michigan State at Wisconsin (-10) – 3:30 on BTN
If not for one sloppy and sleepy week against Northwestern, the unbeaten Wisconsin Badgers would have been as dominant as anyone in the country. They blew out South Florida, Central Michigan, Michigan and Kent State. Michigan State has given up 30-plus points in each of their past two games (Indiana and Ohio State). That is very understandable against Ohio State and I love IU’s redshirt freshman quarterback Mike Penix Jr but the best defense in this game belongs to the Badgers. They also have the best offensive player in Jonathan Taylor and the far superior offensive line. A whole lot gets made out of how “dominant” Michigan State’s defensive line is but they did not get much pressure against Indiana and they were shredded to the tune of 323 rushing yards by Ohio State. I think Wisconsin is going to be able to control the line of scrimmage and make a statement at home in Madison. My expectation is something like a 27-14 type of victory for the Badgers as they establish a firm grip on the top spot in the Big Ten West and the Spartans continue their grind of a schedule.
Rutgers at Indiana (-25) – Noon on BTN
The Scarlet Knights are waving the white flag. Their starting quarterback and running back are redshirting and will likely be playing football elsewhere next season. Their last three Big Ten games have been 30-0, 52-0 and 48-7. Rutgers has a bad offensive line and are bereft of offensive weapons. The Indiana Hoosiers have a weapon in redshirt freshman quarterback Michael Penix and they have actually taken care of lesser opposition very soundly in head coach Tom Allen’s tenure (see Eastern Illinois and UConn this season). It would be surprising to me if the Hoosiers, who are going to be aggressive on offense under OC Kalen DeBoer, are held under 40 points and Rutgers (now 1-4 against the spread!) has not had a good day on offense in a Big Ten game in a long time. I think the Hoosiers win very convincingly.