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Big 10 Report (Week 5)
by ASA - 09/30/2010
By the way, don't miss our NFL Sunday Night Game of the Year this weekend. It's available right now at http://www.bigal.com/picks
Here's our latest Big 10 Conference Report:
#2 Ohio State Buckeyes (4-0, 4-0 ATS) vs. Illinois Fighting Illini (2-1, 2-1 ATS)
Saturday, October 2 – 11:00 AM CST – Big Ten Network
OSU: Last week: Defeated Ohio, 43-7
ILL: Last week: Bye
The Buckeyes are 7-0 (3-4 ATS) in their last seven trips to Champaign, winning by an average score of 29-11. This is their first road game of the season after sweeping their non-conference schedule (average margin of victory is 34 PPG). They opened as 18 point favorites and are 10-5 ATS in their last 15 as double digit road favorites against Big Ten opponents.
Illinois struggled in their season opener against Missouri but bounced back with two consecutive wins against Southern Illinois and Northern Illinois. They are coming off a bye week which gave injured players like cornerback Terry Hawthorne and receiver Eddie McGee time to rest up. Illinois is 1-21 as a double digit home underdog but has covered on six of the last nine occasions.
Illinois defeated 2007 #1 OSU and gave 2006 #1 OSU a real scare. They’ve had an extra week to prepare for this OSU squad that ranks in the top ten in both total offense and total defense. If Illinois can run the ball effectively (229 YPG) they might have a shot at covering against the Buckeyes.
#11 Wisconsin Badgers (4-0, 1-3 ATS) vs. #24 Michigan State Spartans (4-0, 2-2 ATS)
Saturday, October 2 – 2:30 PM CST – ABC or ESPN
UW: Last week: Defeated Austin Peay, 70-3
MSU: Last Week: Defeated Northern Colorado, 45-7
Wisconsin averages 258 rushing yards per game (10th in the nation) behind their three headed rushing attack of John Clay (125 YPG), James White (7.9 YPC avg) and Montee Ball (3 TD’s). They will be tested against this MSU defense that allows just 85 rushing YPG. UW ran for 193 yards in their 38-30 come-from-behind victory over MSU last year. Wide receivers Nick Toon (foot) and David Gilreath (concussion) return to the starting line-up for the Badgers.
Michigan State’s offense has looked fantastic in their 4-0 start. QB Cousins is completing 67% of his passes and RB’s Bell and Baker have combined to run for 845 yards (8.1 YPC) and 12 touchdowns. This will be the first good defense that they face as UW ranks 16th in total defense, surrendering just 265 YPG. Head coach Dantonio will return after a one-week absence following a mild heart attack.
Wisconsin is just 3-9 ATS in their last 12 Big Ten road games and just 4-8 ATS in their last 12 Big Ten road games as a favorite. They opened as 2 point favorites against Michigan State, whom they’ve struggled against in the past. They are just 2-8 SU on the road against MSU in the past 10 but have covered 3 of the past 4. MSU turned the ball over four times against UW last year and allowed the Badgers to control the ball for 17 more minutes. The Spartans have revenge on their mind and the return of Dantonio gives them a boost.
#22 Penn State Nittany Lions (3-1, 1-3 ATS) vs. #17 Iowa Hawkeyes (3-1, 2-2 ATS)
Saturday, October 2 – 7:00 PM CST – ABC or ESPN
PSU: Last week: Defeated Temple, 22-13
IOWA: Last week: Defeated Ball State, 45-0
Iowa bounced back from their loss to Arizona with a shutout win over Ball State. They allowed just 112 total yards and now rank #1 in total defense. Their offense will be thin at RB, (Hampton, Wegher, and O’Meara all out) but senior QB Stanzi is quietly playing some of the best football of his career. He’s averaging more than 15 yards per completion with 9 touchdowns and just one INT. They open as 7 point favorites against PSU.
Joe Pa’s squad found a way to beat Temple behind a career best 187 rushing yards from RB Evan Royster. While the Nittany Lions' offense has shown inconsistencies under true freshman quarterback Rob Bolden, the defense has played at its usual high level. The unit ranks eighth nationally in points allowed. PSU has revenge on their mind after Iowa upset the #4 Nittany Lions in Happy Valley last season.
Iowa has covered in eight of the past ten meetings (six of last ten meetings have been decided by a touchdown or less) against Penn State. PSU frosh QB Bolden struggled in his only road start so far – a 3-24 loss to Alabama – and Kinnick Stadium is never an easy place to play and this is Iowa’s homecoming game. PSU has covered in six of their last seven Big Ten road games but Iowa is 13-3 ATS as home favorites of a touchdown or less.
#19 Michigan Wolverines (4-0, 3-1 ATS) vs. Indiana Hoosiers (3-0, 2-1 ATS)
Saturday, October 2 – 2:30 PM CST – ESPNU
UM: Last week: Defeated Bowling Green, 65-21
IU: Defeated Akron, 35-20
Michigan opened as 14 point favorites but that number has shrunk to 10 since. Heisman front-runner QB Robinson should be fine following his knee injury Saturday and leads the nations #2 offense against this Indiana defense that struggled against Western Kentucky and Akron. The Wolverines are 15-1 in their last 16 visits to Bloomington and have covered 6 of the last 7 times.
Indiana’s offense is averaging 41 PPG behind the Big Ten's leading passer, Ben Chappell (296.7 YPG, 9 TD’s and 0 INT’s). Their defense is allowing 177 rush YPG (5.2 YPC) and haven’t faced an offense with the speed and athleticism of Michigan. Their offense will have a good chance of keeping this game close as MU’s defense allows 400 YPG and 23 PPG.
IU is just 1-6 ATS in Big Ten openers while Michigan is just 2-7 ATS in their last 9 Big Ten road games. Michigan has won 16 straight meetings against the Hoosiers by an average margin of 21.2 PPG. But they only won by 3 points last season and were out-gained and needed a touchdown with 2:29 left to seal the victory.
Northwestern Wildcats (4-0, 2-2 ATS) vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers (1-3, 1-3 ATS)
Saturday, October 2 – 11:00 AM CST – Big Ten Network or ESPN
NU: Last week: Defeated Central Michigan, 30-25
MINN: Last week: Lost to Northern Illinois, 23-34
Northwestern aims for their third road win of the season as a 5 point favorite against a Minnesota squad that possesses the only losing record in the Big Ten. QB Dan Persa is completing 80% of his passes with 8 touchdowns and just one interception and has this NU offense averaging 419 YPG and 30 PPG. This offense could have another big day against this Gophers D that allowed 297 rushing yards (10.6 YPC) and 34 points to Northern Illinois last week.
Minnesota is in desperation mode after dropping three consecutive home games and absolutely needs this win on their homecoming. Coach Tim Brewster is under fire, and he needs to get things turned around fast against a team the Gophers beat last year. The Gophers were out-gained and trailing heading into the 4th quarter in 2009, but scored two late touchdowns to cover against the Wildcats.
Northwestern is 8-3 ATS the past 11 road trips to Minnesota. They aren’t often favored in Big Ten road games but are an impressive 7-3 ATS since 1995. Minnesota is 4-1-1 ATS in their last six Big Ten road openers.
Purdue Boilermakers (2-2, 1-3 ATS)
Last week: Lost to Toledo, 20-31
This couldn’t have been a better time for a bye week. Quarterback Marve's knee injury appears to be a torn ACL, and the junior likely will miss the rest of the season. Purdue’s biggest concern should be the defense which struggled against Toledo, the nation's worst offense. Next week they travel to Northwestern to kick-off conference play.