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The B1G Preview And Degenerate Challenge: Biggest Week Of The Season For Lions, Buckeyes

Penn State looks to stay in the Big Ten East race as it hosts Ohio State on Saturday.

Brenton Strange #86 of the Penn State Nittany Lions celebrates his touchdown against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the first half of their game at Ohio Stadium on October 30, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio. Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Man oh man, Purdue lost to Wisconsin again, huh? The Boilermakers aren’t yet out of the West division race, as they can beat Illinois, hope the Illini drop another one along the way —with Michigan still on the docket, that’s quite possible, and continue winning themselves to take the division at 7-2. But all margin of error is now gone after the atrocious performance they put up in Madison. Speaking of Illinois, they go on the road for the first time since October 1st, to face a Nebraska team that suddenly isn’t as hapless as it was under Scott Frost, but will need to throw the kitchen sink at the Illini if they hope to come away with the win.

On the East, you know what it is. Penn State will need to also throw the kitchen sink at Ohio State if it hopes to come away with a win, and doing so will keep its faint hopes of winning the East alive. Barring a 3-way tie at first and some tiebreaker shenanigans, they’re going to need help from Michigan to do so, but you can’t get to to that scenario without first beating the Buckeyes. To the games!

The Games

All games on Saturday

No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten) at No. 13 Penn State Nittany Lions (6-1, 3-1)

12:00 PM Eastern, Fox
Ohio State -15.5

Any person who fancies themselves a reasonable human being is going to pick an easy victory in this one. That’s to be expected, as Ohio State has all but destroyed everything in its path leading to this contest. Couple this fact with how easily Michigan was able to dispatch of the Nittany Lions two weeks ago, and you can see how the narrative is formed.

Any person who fancies themselves a reasonable human being and has seen these two teams play for the past decade knows Ohio State isn’t just going to come into State College, drop 50, and go on its merry way. Penn State in the James Franklin era has failed to stay within two touchdowns of the Buckeyes exactly once, all the way back in 2015. They’ve failed to stay within 10 three times, that 2015 season, the 2019 season where everyone though Ohio State was the best team of all time, and in 2020, when the Lions were just atrocious to start the year. Every other game since then has been within a touchdown, with the exception of last season, where a late field goal “ballooned” that total to nine points.

That is to say, if you’re reasonable human, and you’ve seen these two teams play in the James Franklin era, predicting a close game is a lot more prudent than expecting Ohio State to just coast to victory the way they did against Iowa, or whatever other poor team who has had the misfortune of playing the Buckeyes in the previous seven games.

Should you watch? Yes. It’s the biggest game of the year.
Prediction: Penn State 56, Ohio State 17

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (4-3, 1-3 Big Ten) at Minnesota Golden Gophers (4-3, 1-3)

2:30 PM Eastern, B1G Network
Minnesota -14

The Gophers have lost three straight Big Ten games, effectively putting themselves out of the Big Ten West race. Now they look to salvage their season as they face a Rutgers squad that just got done snapping their 21-game losing streak at home in Big Ten play. If Tanner Morgan can play, this shouldn’t be much of a contest. If not, expect this to be a game late.

Should you watch? You’ll still be busy at this time.
Prediction: Minnesota 23, Rutgers 16

Northwestern Wildcats (1-6, 1-3 Big Ten) at Iowa Hawkeyes (3-4, 1-3 Big Ten)

3:30 PM Eastern, ESPN2
Iowa -11

Man oh man, this game is going to be a disaster, isn’t it?

Should you watch? Oh god no.
Prediction: Northwestern 3, Iowa 0

No. 17 Illinois Fighting Illini (6-1, 3-1 Big Ten) at Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-4, 3-2)

3:30 PM Eastern, ABC
Illinois -7.5

Just as we all predicted! Illinois sits atop the Big Ten West all on its own, with a clear path to a division title if they take care of business the rest of the way. After a well earned bye week, they face two of the three teams that still have a shot at the division in the next four weeks —Michigan, of course, has a shot at the other division. It all starts against Nebraska, a team that has found some sort of life now that Scott Frost is gone.

Illinois is 1-1 in road games this season, so let’s see if Nebraska can put up a fight in this one, since they’re playing at home. Can the Huskers pull the upset? We shall see.

Should you watch? It might be a good one, so I say yes.
Prediction: Nebraska 23, Illinois 20

Michigan State Spartans (3-4, 1-3 Big Ten) at No. 4 Michigan Wolverines (7-0, 4-0)

7:30 PM Eastern, ABC
Michigan -22.5

If you’re a Michigan fan, you’re riding high, coming off a top 10 demolition of a division foe, and are now staring squarely at a November matchup that may very well decide who gets a playoff spot. Michigan State is merely another stop on that trip, one that somehow has gotten the better of the Wolverines more times than they probably should.

I don’t expect the Michigan State magic to continue in this game, but the Spartans fiery hatred toward their in state rivals burns bright, so you can’t completely put it out of the realm of possibility.

Should you watch? Only to see how Michigan is going to dumb its way into losing to Michigan State again.
Prediction: Michigan 33, Michigan State 13

The Picks

Picks Table

Writer Straight Up Against The Spread Score (road team) Score (home team)
Writer Straight Up Against The Spread Score (road team) Score (home team)
Northestern at Iowa (-11)
Bennett Iowa Northwestern 10 15
Dylan Iowa Iowa 3 21
Eli Northwestern Northwestern 3 0
Jared Iowa Northwestern 9 18
Lando Iowa Iowa 20 34
Marty Iowa Northwestern 9 10
Tim Iowa Iowa 7 20
Rutgers at Minnesota (-14)
Bennett Minnesota Rutgers 13 24
Dylan Minnesota Rutgers 20 16
Eli Minnesota Rutgers 16 23
Jared Minnesota Rutgers 17 24
Lando Minnesota Minnesota 17 34
Marty Minnesota Rutgers 20 23
Tim Minnesota Minnesota 13 28
Illinois (-7.5) at Nebraska
Bennett Illinois Illinois 27 13
Dylan Illinois Nebraska 38 31
Eli Nebraska Nebraska 20 23
Jared Illinois Nebraska 20 14
Lando Illinois Illinois 31 21
Marty Illinois Nebraska 24 20
Tim Illinois Illinois 31 21
Michigan State at Michigan (-22.5)
Bennett Michigan Michigan 10 38
Dylan Michigan Michigan 13 49
Eli Michigan Michigan State 13 33
Jared Michigan Michigan State 20 37
Lando Michigan Michigan State 21 38
Marty Michigan Michigan 10 35
Tim Michigan Michigan State 17 38
Ohio State (-15.5) at Penn State
Bennett Ohio State Penn State 37 23
Dylan Ohio State Penn State 35 24
Eli Penn State Penn State 56 17
Jared Ohio State Penn State 38 24
Lando Ohio State Penn State 35 21
Marty Ohio State Penn State 42 28
Tim Ohio State Penn State 37 27
Picks for each Big Ten game ordered by game and picker.