The Big Ten began its 2020 season last weekend with a very intriguing slate. Ohio State rolled past Nebraska in a game that was never in doubt aside from possibly the first few minutes. Michigan flexed its offensive muscles against a Minnesota team that was coming off an 11-win season. Filed under things we didn't think we'd see: Indiana upset Penn State and Rutgers knocked off Michigan State.
This week's Big Ten slate features just one matchup between two ranked teams, but it could be a very interesting battle. No. 3 Ohio State travels to Happy Valley to take on No. 18 Penn State in a matchup of two teams that had very differing weeks to start off their seasons. As is the case nearly every year, Michigan and Penn State are Ohio State's biggest competition in the Big Ten East, but the Nittany Lions could be in a very bad way if they fall to 0-2 to start the year.
In addition, another East division matchup could be a battle for second place as Rutgers hosts Indiana. Coach Greg Schiano is back at the helm at Rutgers and led his group to a very convincing opening week victory. Indiana will also be looking to prove that their upset win wasn't a fluke.
With many intriguing games on the docket, here are your best bets for the Big Ten slate this week. Odds via William Hill Sportsbook
No. 3 Ohio State (-12) at No. 18 Penn State: The Buckeyes looked like the juggernaut that many expected against Nebraska and Justin Fields was sensational as usual. Penn State's offense, on the other hand, had issues in the turnover battle as quarterback Sean Clifford threw threw a pair of costly interceptions. The one positive that the Nittany Lions had going for them was their defense. Penn State only yielded 211 total yards and 1.6 yards per carry to Indiana. But don't expect those numbers to translate against the Buckeyes. Ohio State just has too much firepower and Penn State has too many holes. Buckeyes roll in this one. Pick: Ohio State (-12)
Michigan State at No. 13 Michigan (-24): After a disappointing 9-4 season in 2019, Michigan certainly got off on the right foot in 2020. The Wolverines utilized a very balanced offensive attack to take control of the Golden Gophers in the opening half and never looked back. Meanwhile, Mel Tucker's tenure in East Lansing didn't exactly get off to a stellar start as the Spartans fell to Rutgers. This in-state rivalry isn't what it once was and Michigan shouldn't have too many issues with the Spartans defense. A 24-point spread is quite a large amount, so I'll take the over of 53.5 points with two teams that should easily reach that mark. Pick: Over 53.5
No. 17 Indiana (-12) at Rutgers: This might be the most talked about game aside from Ohio State at Penn State. While the Hoosiers may have won on a controversial two-point conversion, the offense stepped up when it had to under quarterback Michael Penix Jr. down the stretch and the defense made Sean Clifford's life difficult. It also can't be overstated that it was an impressive showing from Rutgers, who snapped their 21-game Big Ten losing streak in last week's triumph. However, Rutgers offense simply took advantage of a pair of Michigan State turnovers and I don't see that happening this time around. Indiana looks like a team that's battle-tested and Penix Jr. will make enough plays to get the job done. Pick: Indiana (-12)
Minnesota (-20) at Maryland: Minnesota really took that next step in 2019 as coach PJ Fleck led the Golden Gophers to a their first double-digit win season since 2003. While Minnesota was outclassed by Michigan last week, this is still a group that's capable of big things in 2020. Running back Mohamed Ibrahim proved to be one of the top backs in the conference and ripped off a 140-yard performance against a stout Wolverines defense. Minnesota has a chance to bounce back against a Maryland team that only mustered three points against Northwestern last week. Northwestern drove up and down the field on the Maryland defense, and you can expect quarterback Tanner Morgan and the Golden Gophers to do more of the same. Take the 20-point spread with confidence. Pick: Minnesota (-20)
Northwestern at Iowa (-2.5): Northwestern came out last week and absolutely dominated Maryland in every facet of the game. That begs the question: is Maryland just that bad or is Northwestern that talented? I believe the answer is a little of both, but coach Pat Fitzgerald has found the right quarterback for his system in former Indiana signal caller Peyton Ramsey. With that being said, Iowa isn't exactly on the same level as Maryland. Yes, Iowa lost a tight battle with Purdue and their defense did give up nearly 400 yards of total offense. However, coming into Kinnick Stadium is never an easy task and I believe the Iowa offense will pick up where it left off a week ago. Pick: Iowa (-2.5)
Purdue (-7) at Illinois: Purdue's offense was definitely clicking in its win over Iowa this past week. One of the most surprising storylines was that star wide receiver Rondale Moore was ruled out prior to the game. Moore originally opted out of the season due to COVID-19, but chose to opt back in after the Big Ten announced that the conference was holding their season. Head coach Jeff Brohm has been very cryptic regarding Moore's status, so who knows if he'll suit up against Illinois. Still, the Boilermakers offense thrived against the Hawkeyes as David Bell caught all three of Aidan O'Connell's touchdown passes. Whether Moore plays or not, Purdue has enough weapons to defeat an Illinois that was gashed by Wisconsin last week. Pick: Purdue (-7)
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