The Big Ten Conference rolls into Week 11 with some intriguing games on tap in the Big Ten West Division, which is still up for grabs after Illinois suffered a surprising loss to Michigan State in Week 10. Illinois was a 16-point favorite in that game at home but stubbed its toe against the Spartans.
Now we get to see if Illinois can bounce back. We also get to see if Iowa or Wisconsin can make a late surge in the division. That’s where the action is in the Big Ten. Ohio State and Michigan are favorites of more than 30 points in their respective games this week. The Big Ten West provides the true excitement in Week 11:
Purdue Boilermakers at Illinois Fighting Illini
Odds: Illinois -6.5
The Boilermakers and the Illini were both horrible in Week 10. They were both dreadfully bad on offense and didn’t do nearly enough on defense to rescue themselves.
Purdue was completely smothered by Iowa in a limp showing on its home field. What made the loss to Iowa even worse was the fact that Purdue had the previous week off. The Boilermakers lost to Wisconsin on Oct. 22 and were then able to rest up on Oct. 29 before returning to the gridiron on Nov. 5. One would have thought that Purdue would correct all the errors it made against Wisconsin, but instead, the week off seemingly left Purdue worse than it previously was. The game was a nightmare for Purdue.
Illinois did not have a better week, however. The Illini were caught flat-footed at home against Michigan State, losing 23-15 to the Spartans on a day when their offense was put under wraps. MSU led 23-7 before Illinois scored late to make the game appear closer than it was. Illinois has to regroup and find out if this team is tough enough to win its first-ever Big Ten West Division championship. The Illini have never been to the Big Ten Championship Game. They will need a win here if they want to get a ticket to Indianapolis in early December.
Pick: Purdue +6.5
Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Michigan State Spartans
Odds: Michigan State -9.5
This is an interesting game because of the fact that Michigan State suddenly remembered how to play football. Michigan State had been enduring a brutal year, but in Week 10, it came alive and decisively outplayed Illinois, 23-15, in a game it controlled the whole way. This was the team Mel Tucker hoped he would have for the 2022 season. He hasn’t had it for most of the campaign, but maybe the Spartans can catch fire in November.
If MSU wins this game and then follows up a victory here with a win over Indiana on Nov. 19, the Spartans will reach six wins for the season and will be bowl-eligible. That is their clear goal, and after the upset of Illinois, the goal is attainable.
Pick: Michigan State -9.5
Wisconsin Badgers at Iowa Hawkeyes
Odds: Wisconsin -1.5
This game figures to be a low-scoring slugfest where a few betting units on the under might make sense.
Both teams’ defenses are very good, and both teams’ offenses have struggled profoundly this season. Wisconsin’s offense is better than Iowa’s, but Iowa’s defense is better than Wisconsin’s.
The Hawkeyes are probably more likely to force the turnovers and mistakes which will decide this game, though no one should be overly certain about that claim. They’re at home where they’ve allowed a total of 53 points this season (across five contests). It feels like there’s some value with them and the under here.