Last week: 5-4
Last Week’s Best: Washington at Utah, Over 54
While I’m pretty sure that picking Northwestern as a 27.5 dog on the road in the Horseshoe where they almost pulled one out against Ohio State was the best pick, I’m going with the Washington-Utah pick. The Over/Under was 54 and the Huskies won 31-24, but the reason I’m going with it as last week’s best was my other prediction about this game: that it had points and drama written all over it (and that was even before I realized Gus Johnson was on the call!) In all seriousness, it feels good to hit the over on a punt return for a touchdown with a minute or two left in the game.
Last Week’s Worst: Maryland at Indiana, Under 53
Here’s the thing: even though I was just 5-4 last week, the four losses were picking Wisconsin at -9 (they won by 7), Clemson at -4.5 (they won by 3), Northwestern and Ohio State at Over 53 (they combined for 44), and the Terps and Hoosiers at Under 53 (they combined for 76). I don’t really think this was a terrible pick, but combined to the others that had me oh so close to 7-2, it was trash.
Bad Good Beat: Michigan at Michigan State, Over 54.5
I already told you about the punt return in the Washington-Utah game that got me over 54. But since I had no bad beats, I thought I’d highlight the madness that was the end of the Michigan-Michigan State game. With 2:09 remaining in the 4th quarter, Michigan State turned the ball over on downs while trailing 30-17, making what already seemed like a longshot to get to 55 a near impossibility. When Michigan failed to get a first down on its next drive and Sparty took over on its 25 with 1:09 left, I thought nothing of it. In just four plays, the Spartans went 75 yards for a score to make it 30-23, making it look like Vegas would secure a half-point victory over those who took the over. But for some reason, down seven with 30 seconds to go, Michigan State went for two. Did they get it? No. But Jabril Peppers returned a fumble for the Wolverines to the house to put the game on ice and make the score 32-23, for one of the strangest endings you’ll ever see.
5-4 the rest of the way won’t be good enough to fight back to .500. So it’s time to start doubling down and picking the spread and the over/under on every game.
Indiana (-14) at Rutger, O/U 58.5, 12:00 p.m.; O/U 17 comments from Rutger fans on CQ articles next week if Indiana wins
Look, a lot of Rutger fans are upset about this website calling them Rutger but don’t seem to understand what trolling is. And really, they’ve made it even worse. Rutger was just a joke that would have died after a few weeks or months, but instead it has become the only entry in the Crimson Quarry style guide and is becoming something that all diehard Indiana fans, no matter their thoughts on the football program, Bob Knight, or anything in between, can really bond over. And what’s worse for Rutger fans is that Rutger seems to be taking to the Rutger name itself. The university is at least trying it out:
In all seriousness, though, Rutger football is bad. And even though Rutger is 2-0 against Indiana since thinking they joined the Big Ten, Rutger is simply not good enough to beat the Hoosiers a 3rd straight time. I don’t think Rutger is good enough to hang with Indiana either. The only question is whether Indiana hangs a bunch of points and gets this game to the over, or whether they hover around the high 30s or low 40s. Since the Indiana offense still hasn’t put together 4 quarters of football, I’ll say 58.5 is too many points.
To paraphrase Bill Yost from Remember the Titans: Run it up, Kevin. Leave no doubt.
Pick: Indiana (-14) and Under 58.5; Over 17 comments from Rutger fans on CQ if Indiana wins (have they no shame?)
Top 25 Games
10 Nebraska at 6 Ohio State (-17), O/U 52.5, 8:00 p.m.
It’s a bad week if you want to see good football, fam. Just two games featuring two Top 25 teams, and this is one of them. Two teams that are probably ranked too high. Though I will admit that Nebraska is better than I thought (I was stunned they hung around with Wisconsin in Madison last week), they’re not good enough to be ranked in the Top 10. As for the Buckeyes, as the CQ EIC put it on Twitter last night, the thought that Ohio State is good most relies upon the thinking that Oklahoma isn’t pathetic. And looking at them against Northwestern last week (or against an Indiana team that isn’t as good as we thought it was a few weeks ago), the eye test tells you they’re not so good. What I’m saying is that in a week where only two games feature two Top 25 games, this one isn’t nearly as sexy as ESPN and ABC would have you think.
All that said, Nebraska showed some toughness at Camp Randall last week, and I think they keep close enough at the Shoe to cover that big line. I don’t trust either team’s offense either, so what a perfect chance to double up and try to get back to .500.
Pick: Nebraska (+17) and Under 52.5
1 Alabama (-7.5) at 13 LSU, O/U 45, 8:00 p.m.
This one is tough. My heart wants to go with LSU. Ed Orgeron has stepped into another tough situation as an interim head coach and has done an admirable job yet again. But unless he wins this game, there’s probably no chance he’ll even be considered for the LSU job. For him, I’d love to see the Tigers win. But my head says how can this team that starts Danny Etling beat Alabama? The correct answer, I know, is that they can’t. Can they hang around? Probably not. I just told you that Danny Etling is starting against Alabama. I’d like to be wrong, but I expect the Tide to roll. (Punny, right?)
Pick: Alabama (-7.5) and Over 45
Big Ten Games
Michigan State (-7) at Illinois, O/U 51, 12:00 p.m.
I know they haven’t won a Big Ten game yet, but there’s no way in hell I’m not picking Michigan State after they finally looked competent last week against Michigan and are playing the second worst team in the Big Ten behind Rutger. Sparty, easily.
Pick: Michigan State (-7) and Under 51
8 Wisconsin (-7) at Northwestern, O/U 41, 12:00 p.m.
Northwestern has been impressive the last two weeks after dominating Indiana in
Chicago Evanston and taking Ohio State to the brink at the Horseshoe. That makes it very tempting to pick them against the Badgers who struggled at home with Nebraska last week. But Wisconsin is due for a big performance.
The one thing I know is that it sure seems like Vegas nailed this line and the over/under. This one is frightening and I wouldn’t touch it with real life.
Pick: Wisconsin (-7) and Under 41
Maryland at Michigan (-31), O/U 54, 3:30 p.m.
Of all the big spreads Michigan has had this season, this is the one that seems to be way too big. Maryland is not a bad football team, and Michigan is coming off a tough battle in an emotional rivalry game. And with a trip to Iowa on tap next week, the Wolverines can’t be fully focused on the Terps. I’m not saying Maryland wins or even keeps it respectable. But Michigan doesn’t destroy them.
Pick: Maryland (+31) and Over 54
Purdue at Minnesota (-17), O/U 57, 3:30 p.m.
What’s that? Rutger almost won at Minnesota? OK.
Pick: Purdue (+17) and Under 57
Iowa at 12 Penn State (-7), O/U 52.5, 7:30 p.m.
This week, Penn State received a record fine from the Department of Education amounting to $2.4M for 11 violations of the Clery Act from 1998-2011. This comes on the heels of former Assistant Coach Mike McQueary being awarded $7.3M in damages last week after a jury found that Penn State had defamed him after he was revealed as the whistleblower who helped end Jerry Sandusky’s preying on children.
None of this has anything to do with the game that will be played on Saturday, but I wanted to remind you why this betting guide will never suggest that you should make money off of Penn State University.
Pick: Iowa (+7) and Under 52.5