This is an experimental post in which we'll look at the Big Ten lines and try to make some sense out of them. Format is subject to change, but for now I will give an initial reaction to the line, mention some of the relevant points, and then see if, after a deeper look at the matchup, I can reconcile my view with that of Vegas. Note that this isn't a picks post or some kind of attempt at tying to outsmart the books; consider it a case study in public perception.
Illinois @ Michigan
Initial Reaction: Wait, Michigan -2.5? Is that right?
Further Review: Michigan did find some rhythm last week against Wisconsin, and from a confidence standpoint that win has to be huge, but they still have turnover issues and their personnel is still not the right fit for their system. They seem to have overcome some of the defensive woes we saw in the Notre Dame game, but Illinois' attack takes a lot more discipline to defend than the line-em-up-know-em-down Badgers. The option attack Zook rolled out in the second half last week could be very dangerous if Illinois is running it with the lead. On defense, Illinois did look very weak on running plays to the corners, and you have to think Michigan will be using those plays as their bread and butter.
Can I Get There? Maybe, but it's going to take me becoming a true believer in the Michigan defense. The ND score was misleading due to turnover and they did a good job with Wisconsin, but Illinois attack is a lot more like Utah than either of those schools and UM struggled there.
Indiana @ Minnesota
Initial Reaction: Seems a little low
Further Review: One of the worst teams in D1a got out to a good start this season and went into a tough game at Columbus 4-0; a loss there was expected but it wasn't overly ugly. Their most impressive win was probably the thumping they game Bowling Green just one week after the Falcons took down Pitt. Indiana is coming off back to back blowout losses to Ball State and Michigan State. They averaged close to 25 point per game in those two contests but are sporting a terrible defense, one thank ranks 62nd nationally in yards given up. The game is also in the Metrodome.
Can I Get There? Yes. Minnesota is probably looking a little bit better than they actually are, and Indiana's loss to Ball State was probably not as much of a black mark as it would appear; the Cards are ripping through the MAC right now.
Iowa @ Michigan State
Michigan State -9.5
Initial Reaction: Seems low
Further Review: Michigan State lost early to Cal, but that was a close game and on the road. It looks like they've found the formula with Ringer and can probably sit on a lead better than any team in the Big Ten right now. Iowa, on the other hand, has taken two gut shots in a row to Pitt and Northwestern. Their win over Iowa State was closer than the score would indicate. They have no idea what direction to take the offense and we are five games into the season. Iowa is keeping opposing defenses close to 100 yards rushing, but that sounds more impressive than it is. Pitt, probably the class of their competition so far, ranks just 63 nationally on the ground; Iowa State is about the same (59).
Can I Get There? No. I'm sure the score of this game will stay relatively close with MSU's clock management ability, but I still don't know if Iowa can keep it within two scores.
Ohio State @ Wisconsin
Ohio State -2.5
Initial Reaction: Agree, although I would have guessed closer to -4
Further Review: I think that Wisconsin is taking a little more heat for their loss to Michigan than they really should, from a public perception standpoint anyway. A fourth quarter collapse is a big deal, but it doesn't necessarily mean the team doesn't have talent. They became Michiganesque in the turnover department and had the game tied before being called for illegal formation. Stud Wisconsin HB/TE Travis Beckum will probably be back in the lineup against the same defense that was pushed around on the line both by LSU last season and USC a couple of weeks ago. Obviously, an early lead is very big for Wiscy and Pryor is probably not the guy you want leading a comeback on the road (at least not right this second).
Can I Get There? Yes. Wisconsin plays great at home and there will be a lot of pressure on Pryor.
Penn State @ Purdue
Penn State -12.5
Penn State isn't getting this treatment; we will be looking at this matchup as the week progresses.