The Big Ten certainly hasn't had a normal season by any stretch of the imagination. The conference has had several games canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and it's even had an effect on the Big Ten Championship Game.
Despite only playing five games this season, the conference ruled that No. 4 Ohio State still earned the right to participate in its conference championship game this Saturday where it will take on No. 14 Northwestern. The Buckeyes enter the contest with a 5-0 record that boasts wins over No. 11 Indiana, Penn State, and most recently Michigan State. Even though the Buckeyes have had three games canceled due to COVID-19, they have still managed to make a statement as one of the top teams in the nation.
On the contrary, Northwestern has had a tremendous season that features just one loss, which came at the hands of Michigan State. The Wildcats have truly blossomed under the Big Ten's top-ranked defense and a methodical offense that is led by quarterback Peyton Ramsey. Northwestern was able to edge out Iowa in the West Division to earn their trip to Indianapolis.
Here are your Big Ten picks for the final week of the regular season.
Nebraska has been one of the most inconsistent teams in the Big Ten all season. The Cornhuskers dropped three of their last four games, including last week to Minnesota when they were favored. Meanwhile, Rutgers definitely hasn't been the laughingstock that it has been throughout the majority of its time in the Big Ten. Rutgers pulled off another shocker last week with an overtime win over Maryland. These teams are heading in completely different directions and I just can't trust Nebraska at this point. Give me Rutgers to cover the 6.5-point spread and the Scarlet Knights may even win this one outright. Pick: Rutgers (+6.5)
No. 14 Northwestern at No. 4 Ohio State
Ohio State has been the gold standard of the Big Ten in recent years. The Buckeyes have been one of the most lethal offenses in the country and they will face a tough task against a Northwestern defense that has only yielded 14.6 points-per-game. As good as the Wildcats are, I just can't bet against Justin Fields and company, and I think this is one where Ohio State will start fast as it looks to make a statement for the selection committee. It's going to be close as far as covering the spread, but the Buckeyes just have too much firepower for the Wildcats to keep up. Pick: Ohio State (-20.5)
Minnesota at Wisconsin
These are two teams that had high expectations entering the 2020 season. Minnesota and Wisconsin were both coming off of double-digit win seasons and had the potential to finish near the top of the West Division. However, COVID-19 really put a damper on the lofty goals for each team. In Wisconsin's last three games, it has only scored 20 total points. Obviously, Minnesota isn't the same team without star receiver Rashod Bateman, but I'm still confident in the team's ability to run the ball and make enough stops on defense. Despite Minnesota being a disappoint this year, you know that I won't ever hesitate to take the Gophers if the matchup is favorable. This is incredibly favorable as the Gophers should be able to score on this highly touted Badgers defense. In addition, Wisconsin's offensive struggles give me a ton of pause. Pick: Minnesota (+12)
Illinois at Penn State
Penn State has been one of the biggest disappointments in the nation. After all, the Nittany Lions came into the year ranked No. 8 in the country and lost five straight games. Penn State did right the ship and has rattled off three straight wins against the likes of Michigan, Rutgers, and Michigan State. One of the biggest reasons for the resurgence has been the play of quarterback Sean Clifford. In those five losses, Clifford threw at least one interception and three of those contests saw multiple picks from the QB. Since then, the junior signal caller has buttoned things up and not turned the ball over in three games. It also hasn't hurt that the Nittany Lions are getting production from the running game. Illinois has only won two games all year and fired head coach Lovie Smith after last week's loss to Northwestern. The Illini are a mess, so give me the Nittany Lions to easily win this one. Pick: Penn State (-15)
Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 16, and which team will pull off a shocking upset in a conference title game? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread -- all from a proven computer model that has returned over $3,500 in profit over the past four-plus seasons -- and find out.