2019 Big Ten Picks – Week Fourteen
I only chose two games last weekend and split them. That brings me to 25-14 on the season. It is now rivalry week and the conclusion of the regular season. It’s hard to believe we are here already but let’s dive in on a full slate:
Iowa (-5.5) at Nebraska, Ohio State (-8.5) at Michigan, Northwestern at Illinois (-8.5), Indiana (-4.5) at Purdue, Rutgers at Penn State (-38.5), Wisconsin (-3) at Minnesota, Maryland at Michigan State (-22)
Wisconsin at Minnesota (+3) – 3:30 on ABC
I will admit to being a bit scared by the Minnesota defense after they surrendered 22 points to Northwestern last weekend but I really like the Gophers offense and I think they will show up in this huge spot and take Paul Bunyan’s Axe (one of the cooler rivalry trophies in a league full of them). The Gophers held Northwestern to just 223 yards and only 95 passing yards so the score was a bit deceptive. Tyler Johnson and Rashod Bateman are top-end wide receivers and the Minnesota offense has really figured out to how utilize their weapons. Wisconsin is much less explosive, relying on Jonathan Taylor to bludgeon opponents and then hit the play-action passes. Getting points at home seems like great value to me and I like Minnesota to win this game and seal the trip to Indianapolis.
Maryland at Michigan State (-22) – 3:30 on FS1
I know that giving nearly three touchdowns is not something to typically advise with Michigan State. However, Maryland is a total dumpster fire that should be treated like Rutgers right now. The Terrapins last four games are as follows: 52-10 loss to Minnesota, 38-7 loss to Michigan, 73-14 defeat at the hands of Ohio State, 54-7 blowout loss to Nebraska (at home!). That is a shocking level of bad in Mike Locksley’s first season in charge and I don’t think they have anything to play for at all as they travel to East Lansing on Senior Day as the Spartans try to get to the postseason. I know MSU is not particularly good but this is a bet against Maryland and their ineptitude.
Northwestern at Illinois (-8.5) – Noon on FS1
The Wildcats have figured out at least a couple of things on offense. First, Andrew Marty seems like the best option they have at quarterback. Second, they completely realize they don’t have a passing offense and have leaned into running it 50 times a game. Those realizations do not mask the fact that this offense is woefully inadequate. Even when scoring 22 points, they only had 14 first downs, threw for 95 yards and ran for only 2.6 yards per carry. Illinois just held Iowa to 79 yards rushing in a competitive game at Kinnick Stadium and I don’t think Northwestern reaches 20 points on the road at Illinois. That would mean the Illini only need to get to 28, at most, to get the cover. Northwestern does not have enough weapons to stay with the home favorite.