The Big Ten Conference is waiting for the huge game between Michigan and Ohio State at the end of November, with the winner likely to win the conference championship and go to the College Football Playoff. However, Ohio State and Michigan still have to win all their games preceding that showdown in order to make their annual rivalry a supremely significant showcase. Ohio State is a 38.5-point favorite over Northwestern this week at most books (38 at BookMaker).
We’ll look at Michigan, whose game figures to be more competitive by comparison, plus some games of interest in the race for bowl position and in the Big Ten West Division.
Maryland Terrapins at Wisconsin Badgers
Odds: Wisconsin -5
The Maryland Terrapins and Wisconsin Badgers are average teams trying to find an edge. Maryland commits a lot of penalties and makes a lot of mistakes. Winnable games against Purdue and Michigan slipped away because of this team’s noticeable inconsistency. Maryland has not been able to significantly separate itself from other middle-of-the-pack teams in the Big Ten, which rates as a disappointment given the offensive talent this team brought back for the 2022 season. Next year might not feature as much skill at the glamour positions. Maryland needs to make the most of this year, and it hasn’t been able to make the cut.
Wisconsin is going through a transition period under interim head coach Jim Leonhard, who is replacing fired coach Paul Chryst and trying to guide this team through the rest of the season and into a bowl game. Wisconsin’s results under Leonhard have been mixed. The team did do well against Purdue, but it lost to Michigan State. Maryland is another opponent of relatively equal caliber. It’s the kind of game Wisconsin needs to win to stabilize the program and create the idea that Leonhard is the right man to become the permanent head coach of the program. This game is not an easy one to pick, but Wisconsin – playing at home – is probably the better call.
Pick: Wisconsin -5
Iowa Hawkeyes at Purdue Boilermakers
Odds: Purdue -4.5
This is a very interesting game. Purdue could be caught looking ahead to the Nov. 12 game against Illinois, which might decide the Big Ten West Division, but if the Boilermakers do fail to beat Iowa, that Illinois game will decrease in importance. Purdue has to focus on the task at hand this week. Purdue has had the upper hand against Iowa in recent years.
The Boilermakers have had a lot of success versus the Hawkeyes. They have been able to make big plays in the passing game, but more centrally and primarily, their defense has been able to shut down the Iowa offense. Given how bad Iowa’s offense has been this year, Purdue should be able to lock down the Hawkeyes one more time.
Pick: Purdue -4.5
Michigan Wolverines at Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Odds: Michigan -26.5
The Michigan offense scored just two touchdowns last week against Michigan State. Everyone knows that they are capable of playing a lot better on offense. Now they get a weak Rutgers team, which can be physically overwhelmed by elite teams with good line play.
Even though Michigan is off a rivalry game and this feels like a sleepy spot, Rutgers just isn’t good enough to hang around. Michigan will turnaround and hand it off over and over, and with a few passes over the top here and there, should win and cover this big number. And shop around as this line differs by about a half-point to a point depending where you get in.