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Big Ten picks: Ohio State vs. Penn State & 3 more

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October 30th, 2020

The opening weekend of the Big Ten was an overwhelming success for about 48 hours.

Derailed by the Wisconsin COVID-19 outbreak that will sideline the Badgers for up to three weeks, the Big Ten needs more excitement at the pylon to distract viewers from the conference's coronavirus protocol.

#3 Ohio State vs. #18 Penn State

Sat, October 31 2020, 11:30 PM

Penn State Nittany Lions






O 63

Ohio State Buckeyes






U 63

After it comfortably covering in an opening-week win over Nebraska, Ohio State will head to Happy Valley, where getting past another double-digit spread will be no small task.

Entering the season, the Nittany Lions were the top candidate to knock the College Football Playoff contenders from the top of the Big Ten. That top 10 showdown was spoiled in Bloomington. The game of inches was not kind to Penn State, as the Nittany Lions fell in overtime to Indiana by the outstretched arm of Michael Penix Jr.

In conference-only schedules, there is little room for error. Typically, Penn State could break into its season against a MAC school, which affords it an opportunity to overcome three sloppy turnovers and still win. That was not the case last week, and it certainly will not be the case this week.

Ohio State hung a 52 points on Nebraska, and quarterback Justin Fields was absolutely incredible. His only incompletion was a bomb to the end zone that was almost a touchdown but was dropped after the receiver was flipped by the safety in midair. Despite the dominating win, there are two areas of concern for Ohio State fans moving forward.

One short-term problem will likely be solved. Wide receiver Chris Olave left with an injury in the third quarter against Nebraska and did not return. All indications are that he will be good to go Saturday night. In his absence, Garrett Wilson had a breakout performance, with seven catches for 129 yards and a touchdown. 

The long-term problem isn’t going away any time soon. Ohio State returned just about everybody except running back J.K. Dobbins. Of course, they’ve recruited well at running back, but you cannot replicate that kind of production out of the gate. You also can’t ask for Fields to do everything.

Even without a physical, consistent running threat, Fields is far and away better than Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford. Fields can’t do everything all season for the Buckeyes, but he can do enough to carry Ohio State to big win at Penn State.

Pick: Ohio State -12

Minnesota vs. Maryland

Fri, October 30 2020, 11:30 PM

Maryland Terrapins






O 61

Minnesota Golden Gophers






U 61

The Friday-night feature in Big Ten country will give Minnesota an opportunity to lick its wounds, after Michigan took the Gophers to the woodshed. Despite having two of the conference’s best weapons in the passing game, quarterback Tanner Morgan and wide receiver Rashod Bateman, new offensive coordinator Mike Sanford turned caviar into ground cabbage.

I’m confident the Golden Gophers will put one in the win column, but Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa will clean up the turnovers and score enough points to cover the big number.

Pick: Maryland +19.5 

#17 Indiana vs. Rutgers

TeamSpreadSample HeaderSample Header
Indiana Hoosiers
O 54
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
U 54

This is a dangerous game, and overreactions are an easy way to make money in the second week of the season.

After Indiana’s upset of Penn State and Rutgers’ dominant defeat of Michigan State in Greg Schiano’s return, you must ask yourself, which game was more out of character?

Even though Indiana football is not a national brand, Kevin Wilson has the tools to consistently produce points in the Big Ten. As for the Scarlet Knights, you can’t expect them to force seven turnovers every week.

Water finds its level in Piscataway.

Pick: Indiana -10 

Northwestern vs. Iowa

Sat, October 31 2020, 7:30 PM

Iowa Hawkeyes






O 47.5

Northwestern Wildcats






U 47.5

Northwestern scored 43 points in its opening-week win over Maryland. It took the Wildcats seven games to score more than 43 points in 2019.

After a former walk-on carved up Iowa’s defense, Peyton Ramsey does not need to be a hero to make magic in Iowa City. Since 2016, Northwestern is 11-2 ATS as as road underdog.

Pick: Northwestern +2.5

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