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The B1G Preview And Degenerate Challenge: Conference Play Is Underway

Ohio State hosts Wisconsin in the marquee game of the week.

Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Jeff Okudah celebrates a third down stop during the second quarter of the NCAA football game against the Wisconsin Badgers. ADAM CAIRNS/Columbus Dispatch via Imagn Content Services, LLC

We are three (and a zero) weeks in, and the picture is starting to get clear! Michigan and Ohio State have been viewed as the class of the Big Ten so far, but its performance against Auburn on the road has placed Penn State squarely in the conversation. On the other side of the conference, Minnesota remains the lone undefeated team in the West, and now they travel to put their record on the line against a Michigan State team that, seemingly, is still unable to defend the pass. How will Chris Autman-Bell’s injury affect the game? We’ll find out!

Of course, the game of the week, or at least what we think the game of the week is as of right now, will be played later on Saturday by Ohio State and Wisconsin. The Badgers have not beaten the Buckeyes since 2010 (yes, the 2011 team with Russel Wilson failed to beat Ohio State), and this year, the Badger offense is a tad better than it usually is, but the defense is a tad worse. Might that be the formula to finally get a win? We shall find out!

The Games


Chattanooga Mocs (3-0) at Illinois Fighting Illini (2-1)

8:30 PM Eastern, B1G Network
Illinois -20

I’ve been told Chattanooga is one of the good FCS squads, so maybe they’ll give Illinois a game. Unlike his counterpart in Pat Fitzgerald, Bret Bielema is not known for falling prey to the FCS squads. After all, he’s the one who implemented the “flatten lesser competition” tradition at Wisconsin.

Should you watch: It’s worth a look if the other two games prove to be boring.
Prediction: Illinois 33, Chattanooga 10


Maryland Terrapins (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) at No. 4 Michigan Wolverines (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

12:00 PM Eastern, Fox
Michigan -17

Michigan is pretty good. They were pretty good last year too. How good? We’re about to find out when they face a real team.

Take the sentence above, replace “Michigan” with “Maryland,” and acknowledge that SMU is a real team.

Should you watch: You have other priorities at this time.
Prediction: Michigan 34, Maryland 27

Central Michigan Chippewas (1-2) at No. 14 Penn State Nittany Lions (3-0)

12:00 PM Eastern, B1G Network
Penn State -28

The trendy word after the Auburn game has been “letdown.” Penn State will be riding high off that win, and they’ll come out sluggish against a Central Michigan team that can score if given the chance (or if it’s the fourth quarter and Oklahoma State is playing the team managers).

I myself am curious to see who comes out for Penn State. Many years before we’ve seen the Lions be unable to shake off a loss, or come out, uh, disinterested after a big win, so this is a perfect opportunity to prove this year is different.

Should you watch: Yes, of course!
Prediction: Penn State 56, Central Michigan 17

Minnesota Golden Gophers (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) at Michigan State Spartans (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten)

3:30 PM Eastern, B1G Network
Minnesota -3

This game would have been a lot more interesting if Washington hadn’t exposed Michigan State’s secondary for what it still is:

Stop sign, turnstyle, traffic cone, scarecrow, banana peel, acting as an offensive line.

The astute in the group will notice that the image above is how we’ve described Penn State’s offensive line over the past who knows how many season. It’s that bad.

However, Minnesota did lose its best wide receiver for the year, the Spartans still have hope!

Should you watch: It’s the better of the two games on the 3:30 slot.
Prediction: Minnesota 31, Michigan State 27

Indiana Hoosiers (3-0) at Cincinnati Bearcats (2-1)

3:30 PM Eastern, ESPN2
Cincinnati -16.5

I don’t think this game will get out of hand the way last year’s game did. Cincinnati lost a ton of talent to the NFL, and they’ve already lost a game to Arkansas to boot. Indiana has also found a way to keep games close enough (mostly by making miraculous comebacks in the fourth quarter, but I digress), so maybe history repeats itself here.

Should you watch: If the Minnesota/Michigan State game turns out to be a dud, this one might be good.
Prediction: Cincinnati 28, Indiana 24

Iowa Hawkeyes (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten) at Rutgers Scarlet Knights (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

7:00 PM Eastern, FS1
Iowa -7.5

This game will go one of two ways: It’s going to be the abomination only fans of each team and the sickest of sickos will watch, or it’s going to be a barn burner that will put the other games in the time slot to shame. I’m going with the former.

Should you watch: If you’re into torture masquerading as defense, sure!
Prediction: Iowa 10, Rutgers 8 (7OT)

Wisconsin Badgers (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten) at No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

7:30 PM Eastern, ABC
Ohio State -18.5

We know the script here. Wisconsin will play Ohio State even in the first half, then Ohio State pulls away in the second to make the score look worse than it really was. Can Wisconsin’s defense actually replicate what Notre Dame did, but continue to score into the second half? If they can do that, they can flip the script. Otherwise, well...

Should you watch: Haven’t you heard? It’s the marquee game of the week!
Prediction: Ohio State 38, Wisconsin 20

Miami (OH) Redhawks (1-2) at Northwestern Wildcats (1-2)

7:30 PM Eastern, B1G Network
Northwestern -7

How Northwestern continues to be favored over anyone is beyond me at this point. Then again, maybe this is just all part of the plan. For those of you paying attention, Northwestern has failed to beat an out of conference opponent in each of their two division-winning seasons (yes, in 2020 they did so by not actually playing any non-conference games, but still).

Should you watch: If Miami Ohio is doing the thing, then you most definitely should!
Prediction: Northwestern 31, Miami (OH) 27

Florida Atlantic Owls (2-2) at Purdue Boilermakers (1-2)

7:30 PM Eastern, B1G Network
Purdue -20

Purdue could easily be undefeated right now. They should at least be 2-1. But self-inflicted wounds keep getting in the way when things matter most. Florida Atlantic can score with the best of them, so I’m not sure that 20 points is realistic here for the Boilers.

Should you watch: No, the other three games will provide more entertainment in their own ways.
Prediction: Purdue 45, Florida Atlantic 28

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.

The Standings

The results are in! Through three and a zero weeks, here’s how things shake out:

  1. Dylan: 239 points
  2. Eli: 231 points
  3. Marty: 219 points
  4. Jared: 209 points
  5. Tim: 205 points
  6. Bennett: 189 points
  7. Clay: 186 points
  8. Lando: 158 points

A breakdown of how each person picked and how many points they got each week is upcoming in a separate post.