Big Ten college football picks, odds in Week 9: Ohio State gets test at Penn State, Michigan seeks revenge

Only one of the five Big Ten games this weekend is between two ranked teams, but it’s the most important week for the conference until the last week of the regular season. With No. 2 Ohio State traveling to No. 13 Penn State and No. 4 Michigan hosting rival Michigan State, both of the league’s college football playoff contenders will compete in marquee matchups. Both games enjoy flagship spots on national television and it will be the last time either the Buckeyes or Wolverines will make a national statement before they play each other on November 26th.

Michigan has struggled through one of the worst non-conference lists in the country and has seen two of its cross-divisional opponents (Iowa and Nebraska) fall far short of expectations. Though a game with No. 17 Illinois on Nov. 19 could give their resume a boost, the strength of the Wolverines’ schedule won’t do next week’s first CFP rankings any favors.

Style points could help Michigan, however, and that’s why Michigan State needs to be on high alert Saturday. The Wolverines are already out for revenge after suffering a two-game losing streak against the Spartans. Add in an obvious need to impress the CFP committee, and Michigan could be extra motivated to go full steam ahead this week.

The same could be true for Ohio State, which enjoys an impressive 34.7-point average win margin, though that’s diluted by the caliber of their opponents to date. None of the Buckeyes’ seven wins have come against currently ranked teams. The supposed marquee victory was a boring 21-10 win over a mediocre Notre-Dame team in Week 1.

Ohio State has a chance to draw attention with an away game against the Nittany Lions. Michigan gutted Penn State 41-17 two weeks ago. If the Buckeyes could do something similar, it would help raise their national profile.

Record 2022: 24-19-1

No. 2 Ohio State at No. 13 Penn State

Featured Game | Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

The last time Ohio State had such a huge scatter in a game at Penn State was in 2009, and the last time the Nittany Lions were truly blown out at home by the Buckeyes was a 63-14 loss during the 1994 season. Penn State almost always plays tough at home against Ohio State, and the Nittany Lions are primed to do so again in 2022. Secondary play is the strength of Penn State’s defense, which could result in the Buckeyes often running football and thus running time off the clock. The Nittany Lions regained some offensive confidence in a dominant win over Minnesota last week. With a little mojo and the backing of a packed Happy Valley stadium, Penn State is primed for a more competitive performance than it did in a 41-17 loss in Michigan two weeks ago. Choice: Penn State +15.5

No. 4 Michigan in the state of Michigan

Featured Game | Michigan Wolverines vs. Michigan State Spartans

Michigan State has won the series twice in a row, leaving the only blemish on the Wolverines’ ledger ahead of last season’s college football playoffs. Michigan should be furious over its recent lackluster performances against a bitter rival, and claw back at the bit for revenge. Considering this is a home game and the Wolverines need style points to pump out their resume due to a weak schedule, it’s a recipe for a blowout. Weird things happen all the time in this game, and Michigan State showed some guts in last week’s 34-28 win over Wisconsin. But the Wolverines are coming off a reunion and won’t overlook their enemy in the state this time. Choice: Michigan -23

No. 17 Illinois in Nebraska

Featured Game | Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini

Nebraska as a 7.5-point home underdog against Illinois would have been unfathomable before the season. The Cornhuskers should have a breakthrough season and Illinois should finish at or near the bottom of the Big Ten West. Now the Illini are alone at the top of the division while Nebraska is 3-4 and playing for an interim coach. The Division’s crazy unpredictability is one of the reasons the Cornhuskers are willing to make this a close game. Just when you think that division is being sorted out, things change.

But if you’re looking for a statistical justification for why the Cornhuskers will cover, it’s their offense. Nebraska is significantly more competent offensively than Illinois’ last three opponents, who were Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota. The Cornhuskers aren’t world champions, but they just picked up 37 points on the road against an improved Purdue defense and should be able to score enough points to keep up with Chase Brown and the Illini. Selection: Nebraska +7.5

Featured Game | Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Northwestern Wildcats

Northwest quarterback Brendan Sullivan reignited the Wildcats a little in his first career start last week with a 31-24 loss in Maryland. Now he has the pleasure of facing the nation’s No. 6 defense. The Hawkeyes are coming off another disastrous offense, evident in a 54-10 loss to Ohio State, but it wasn’t the defense’s fault. We already know the Hawkeyes can’t score, and their defense should be motivated to unleash some frustration on an inexperienced opposing QB. First team with 14 wins. Choice: Under 37.5

Minnesota has only 41 points in their last three games, and while it’s unclear who will start as quarterback for the Gophers this week, it doesn’t matter. Even though veteran starter Tanner Morgan played last, the Gophers have been poor offensively. While Minnesota’s Mohamed Ibrahim is an elite running back for Minnesota, Rutgers only allows 2.93 yards per carry, which ranks ninth best nationally. It’s hard to imagine the Gophers scoring enough points to win this game by more than two touchdowns. Choice: Rutgers +14

What college football picks can you hit with confidence in Week 9, and which top 10 favorite will go down hard? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the range – all from a proven computer model that has raked in more than $3,100 in profits for the last 6+ seasons – and find out.

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