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Big 10 Report

   by ASA - 10/21/2010

Big Ten Conference Report – Week 8

ASA Inc.

Iowa Hawkeyes (5-1, 4-2 ATS) vs. Wisconsin Badgers (6-1, 2-5 ATS)

Saturday, October 23 – 2:30 PM CST – ABC/ESPN

IOWA: Last week: Defeated Michigan, 38-28

UW: Last week: Defeated Ohio State, 31-18

These two “mirror image” rivals share a lot of similarities on both offense and defense. Both teams have a very balanced attack that slightly favors the run. Wisconsin averages 433 yards per game and scores 36.3 ppg. Iowa averages 419 yards per game and scores 34.3 ppg. The Badgers are coming off of arguably the biggest home game in school history – an upset of then #1 Ohio State. They’ll try to avoid a letdown on the road and notch their second straight win over a highly ranked opponent.

The Hawkeyes defeated Michigan in Ann Arbor despite allowing 522 yards and 29 first downs. They capitalized on a +4 turnover ratio while QB Stanzi (248 yards, 3 TD) and RB Robinson (143 rushing yards, 2 TD) both had huge days on offense. Stanzi is now completing 68% of his passes with 13 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions this season. Wisconsin’s defense shutdown OSU’s Pryor last week and is allowing just 56% to opposing QB’s this season.

Wisconsin rode RB’s John Clay and James White for 179 yards on 40 carries against a normally stout Ohio State run defense. Their offensive line dominated OSU’s defense and kept QB Tolziens jersey nice and clean. They’ll try and duplicate that performance against this Iowa defense that is allowing just 84 rushing yards per game. Iowa did show some chinks in the armor last week, however; as they allowed a season high 187 rushing yards to Michigan (previous high was 78).

Stanzi is 28/41 for 332 yards with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions in two starts against the Badgers (both Hawkeye victories). Iowa is 10-3-1 playing against Wisconsin at Kinnick Stadium since 1980. They’ve covered 4 of the last 5 home games and are 7-1 ATS in the past 8 meetings overall. Wisconsin is just 2-6 ATS in its last 8 as a road ‘dog and they opened as a 5.5 point underdog.

Northwestern Wildcats (5-1, 2-4 ATS) vs. Michigan State Spartans (7-0, 5-2 ATS)

Saturday, October 23 – 11:00 AM CST – ESPN

NU: Last week: Idle

MSU: Last week: Defeated Illinois, 26-6

The Spartans are 7-0 for the first time since ‘66, but they have yet to play a game outside the state of Michigan. Their offense struggled last week against Illinois for the first time this season. The defensive unit picked up the slack by holding the Illini to just 255 yards (2.7 yards per carry) and forcing four turnovers. Michigan State's opportunistic defense has recorded 12 interceptions this fall and is allowing just 16.6 ppg. The Spartans opened as a 7 point road favorite, but that line has dropped down to 5.

Had Northwestern not missed two field goals in its last game against Purdue two weeks ago, we’d probably be looking at a battle of the unbeaten in the Big Ten. NW outgained the Boilermakers by 110 yards, but couldn’t convert their drives into touchdowns and lost by three. Northwestern QB Persa is averaging 277 ypg (78%) with 10 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions while rushing for 295 yards and 3 touchdowns (team’s leading passer & rusher). They’ve had an extra week off to get healthy and prepare for the Spartans. The Wildcats are 12-4 ATS in their last 16 games following a loss.

The underdog is 7-1 ATS in their last 8 meetings and Northwestern is 5-1 ATS in its past 6 meetings. The Wildcats are 18-8 ATS in their last 26 games as an underdog and are usually good for one significant upset per year. They upset an undefeated Iowa team a year ago and they’ve notched five wins over ranked opponents since 2005.

Ohio State Buckeyes (6-1, 5-2 ATS) vs. Purdue Boilermakers (4-2, 3-3 ATS)

Saturday, October 23 – 11:00 AM CST – Big Ten Network

OSU: Last week: Lost to Wisconsin, 18-31

PU: Last week: Defeated Minnesota, 28-17

Purdue is one of those teams that always plays well against Ohio State. They are 3-5 in the last eight meetings with OSU, covering six of those eight. But this one looks like it could get ugly. OSU is in a revenge situation after last year’s loss to Purdue and the Buckeyes are coming off of their first loss this season. After the Buckeyes last nine regular season losses, they’ve bounced back by going a perfect 9-0 the week after. They are averaging 32 PPG and winning by an average of 23 PPG the week after a loss (7-2 ATS). They opened as 23 point favorites.

Few would have envisioned a 2-0 Big Ten start several weeks ago, but Purdue continues to show improvement on both sides of the ball. After just two starts, freshman quarterback Rob Henry now leads the team in rushing with 394 yards (5.6 ypc) with four touchdowns. He does, however, continue to struggle throwing the ball. He’s completing just 51% of his passes for 5.6 yards per completion with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Now he has to travel to the Horseshoe to face an OSU defense that has allowed just 4 touchdown passes and has forced 12 interceptions.

The Boilermakers haven’t been a 20 point underdog in over 13 years and they are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 road games. OSU is 7-1 ATS in its last 8 games as a 20 or more point favorite and is also 10-1 ATS in its last 11 home games. Purdue held Ohio State to just 34 rushing yards on 21 attempts and forced five OSU turnovers in their 26-18 upset win last season. The Boilermakers are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 meetings.

Illinois Fighting Illini (3-2, 4-1 ATS) vs. Indiana Hoosiers (4-2, 3-3 ATS)

Saturday, October 23 – 11:00 PM CST – Big Ten Network

ILL: Last week: Lost to Michigan State, 6-26

IND: Last week: Defeated Arkansas State, 36-34

Illinois performed well defensively in their road game at Michigan State last week, but couldn’t muster more than six points on offense. Indiana’s lone Big Ten victory last year came against the Illini. Ben Chappell and Indiana's high-powered pass attack will try to duplicate last year’s performance (333 passing yards, 3 TD’s) against an improved Illinois defense that’s allowing just 303 yards per game. Illinois opened as a 12.5 point favorite.

Illinois held a 6-3 lead over the Spartans at halftime last week, but turned the ball over four times and allowed 23 2nd half points. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase had another freshman-like game, completing 15 of 27 for 141 yards with 3 interceptions. He’s now completing just 58% with 4 touchdowns and 7 interceptions this season. Illinois’ defense has faced a trio of stud quarterbacks so far this season in Terrelle Pryor, Blaine Gabbert, and Kirk Cousins; and each quarterback led Illinois’ opponent to victory. Indiana’s Ben Chappell (16 TD’s, 68%) will try to do the same.

Indiana has no trouble piling up yards and points on offense. But their defense is simply incompetent. Last week, Arkansas State's QB Aplin completed 33/44 for 275 yards with two touchdowns and nearly led the Red Wolves to an upset. This Hoosier defense allows 401 ypg (89th), 29 ppg (83rd), and will be tested by this Illini offense.

Indiana is just 10-22-1 ATS in its previous 23 Big Ten road games. The Hoosiers are also just 6-13 ATS in their last 19 games as a double digit underdog. The Illini are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 home games and 1-8 ATS in their last 9 games as a favorite. Illinois has won two of the last three meetings and the home team is 6-2 ATS in their last 8 meetings.

Minnesota Gophers (1-6, 3-4 ATS) vs. Penn State Nittany Lions (3-3, 1-5 ATS)

Saturday, October 23 – 11:00 AM CST – ESPNU

MINN: Last Week: Lost to Purdue, 17-28

PSU: Last week: Idle

After six straight losses, Minnesota fired fourth-year head coach Tim Brewster. Offensive coordinator Jeff Horton will take over as interim head coach and his first task will be to take on a hungry Penn State team coming off of their bye week. Penn State has won three straight over the Gophers by an average margin of 17 ppg. Last year, PSU outgained Minnesota by 326 yards and held the ball for 42 minutes. Penn State opened this meeting as a 9 point favorite.

Besides scoring 44 points in their season opening victory over Youngstown State, Penn State’s offense has failed to take off. They’ve been held under 25 points and are averaging just 13 ppg in their last five games. Freshman QB Bolden has just 4 touchdowns and is completing 56% of his passes and RB Royster has just 388 rushing yards and one touchdown. Expect this offense to have a little more success post-bye week and against this Gophers defense that allows a Big Ten-high 31.7 points a game.

Minnesota is 0-4 at home this season. They have a good balance on offense with QB Weber’s 14 touchdown passes and 237 passing yards per game, and RB’s Bennett and Eskridge 765 rushing yards. It’s their defense that can’t stop anyone. They are allowing 201 rushing yards per game (102nd nationally) and 414 total ypg (97th). They’ve only held one opponent under 20 points and that was Middle Tennessee State in week one.

The Gophers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 home games but 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games as an underdog. Penn State is 4-0 ATS in its last 4 games as a road favorite and they are 3-0-1 ATS in their last 4 meetings.

Michigan Wolverines (5-2, 3-4 ATS)

UM: Last week: Lost to Iowa, 28-38

The bye week comes at a perfect time for Rich Rodriguez’s crew. Star QB Denard Robinson left last week with a shoulder injury and will use this week to heal up. Defensively this team needs to get a lot better before their trip to Happy Valley next Saturday. This unit ranks 105th in the nation and has allowed 496 ypg and 36 ppg in three Big Ten games this season.

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