The college football season flows into Week 7, and the Big Ten Conference features a high-end game plus a key division battle and a delicious coaching matchup. There’s a little of something for everyone on Saturday, October 15.
Penn State Nittany Lions at Michigan Wolverines
Odds: Michigan -7
This is the first of several big games for both teams. Penn State and Michigan have not yet played Ohio State this season. Playing each other represents a massive challenge for both the Nittany Lions and the Wolverines. Neither Penn State nor Michigan have looked particularly imposing this season.
Michigan struggled for long periods of time versus Maryland and Indiana. Penn State was great on defense but terrible on offense against a bad Northwestern team. If we’re comparing teams, both offenses have not been in rhythm in recent weeks, but seeing Penn State slop around against Northwestern is a really hard game to forget when sizing up the matchup. Michigan’s defense should be able to smother Penn State’s offense. The Wolverines aren’t going to soar against Penn State’s quality defense, but it seems that Penn State’s limitations are noticeably more profound on the offensive side of the ball. Over 60 full minutes, that will matter.
Pick: Michigan -7
Wisconsin Badgers at Michigan State Spartans
Odds: Wisconsin -7.5
This is such an interesting game because of the coaching matchup. Wisconsin interim head coach Jim Leonhard had a great debut last week, in which the Badgers blew out Northwestern. The Badgers were playing a bad team, but they did look crisp and organized on both sides of the ball. Leonhard is expected by many college football experts to become the permanent head coach at Wisconsin and lead the team into the 2023 regular season.
On the other side of this matchup, Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker – who received a significant pay raise late last season when the Spartans were doing really well – has completely struggled in the 2022 season. This is a chance for he and his team to make a big statement and show that Wisconsin’s blowout win over Northwestern was much more a product of Northwestern being bad than Wisconsin being good. On balance, Wisconsin probably is overvalued heading into this game. Michigan State might not win, but the Spartans should be able to keep the game close. Wisconsin’s offense is not particularly strong, and that should be reflected in this game and how it unfolds.
Pick: Michigan State +7.5
Minnesota Golden Gophers at Illinois Fighting Illini
Odds: Minnesota -6.5
The Illinois Fighting Illini are fully in contention for the Big Ten West Division championship. They beat Iowa. They beat Wisconsin. Now they come up against Minnesota, a team which lost to Purdue a few weeks ago. The winner of this game gets a lot of leverage in the West Division race. The loser suffers a critical blow and will have a much smaller margin for error in the coming weeks.
Minnesota might win outright, but the Gophers’ offense is not good enough to solve an excellent Illinois defense which has been one of the big stories of the Big Ten season to date. Take a look at the board and see if you find sevens – a quick Bovada review showed that they did at one point – or consider buying it up to a touchdown.