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Big 10 Conference Report

   by ASA - 11/05/2010

Michigan Wolverines (5-3, 3-5 ATS) vs. Illinois Fighting Illini (5-3, 6-2 ATS)

Saturday, November 6 – 11:00 AM CST – ESPN

UM: Last week: Lost to Penn State, 31-41

ILL: Last week: Defeated Purdue, 44-10

Much more was expected from Michigan last week against Penn State. They were coming off of their bye week and facing a banged-up Nittany Lions squad starting a new quarterback. But it was more of the same from this woeful defense. They allowed 41 points and 435 yards and provided no help for QB Robinson and this Michigan offense that once against put up big numbers for naught. They open as a 3 point home favorite over a red-hot Illinois team.

The Fighting Illini are one of the biggest surprises of the CFB season. Once predicted to be a middle of the road Big Ten team, they have a great shot at running the table and finishing 9-3. Their three losses have come against teams that are currently ranked in the top 15 (Michigan State, Ohio State, Missouri) and they’ve played well in each loss. In their past two games against Indiana and Purdue, Illinois has scored 43.5 ppg and has allowed just 11.5 ppg.

Illinois QB Scheelhaase has completed 29/41 (70%) for 318 yards and with six touchdowns and no interceptions in the last two games and he should have another big day against this secondary that allows 290 passing ypg (117th) and 30 ppg (87th). Wolverines QB Robinson is averaging 350 total ypg with 22 touchdowns and always manages to keep this team competitive despite their incompetent defense.

After dropping six straight to Michigan from 2000-2007, the Illini have won the past two (2-0 ATS) by an average score of 42-17. Last year, Illinois ran for 377 yards and four touchdowns and scored 31 unanswered points in their blowout victory. Illinois is 7-1 ATS in its last 8 games as an underdog and 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games as a road underdog. The Wolverines have failed to cover in four straight games and are just 7-20 ATS in their last 27 conference games.

Purdue Boilermakers (4-4, 3-5 ATS) vs. Wisconsin Badgers (7-1, 3-5 ATS)

Saturday, November 6 – 11:00 PM CST – Big Ten Network

PU: Last week: Lost to Illinois, 10-44

UW: Last week: Idle

Wisconsin is coming off of a much needed bye week after arguably their two biggest regular season wins of Bret Bielema’s head coaching tenure. The Boilermakers, after a 2-0 conference start, have lost two straight road games by a combined score of 10-93 while getting outgained by a total of 567 yards. UW will try to avoid a letdown against this Purdue squad that still needs a couple of victories to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2007. The Badgers opened as a -19.5 point favorite.

The Badgers dominated last year’s meetings. They held Purdue to just 141 total yards and eight first downs and forced three turnovers in their 37-0 victory. UW’s John Clay rumbled for 123 rushing yards and 3 scores while Purdue QB’s completed just 9 of 33 passes (27%) for 81 yards.

Both of these teams have injury concerns, but Purdue’s injury bug has hit them the hardest. They’ve already lost their top two quarterbacks, top two running backs, and top wide receiver for the season. Their fill in QB Henry, along with a starting cornerback and a starting safety, missed last week’s game and are all questionable for this weekend (Sean Robinson is the #1 QB on Purdue’s depth chart this weekend). UW had a number of key contributors injured in their last game win over Iowa. RB White, TE Kendricks, DT Kohout and WR Toon all missed action. All four are expected to play this weekend.

The Badgers have won four straight (4-0 ATS) over the Boilermakers, winning the last two by a combined score of 61-3. Wisconsin is 4-8 ATS in its last 12 as a road favorite in conference games and just 3-12 ATS in its last 15 games as a double digit favorite on the road. Purdue is 1-4-1 ATS in its last 6 home games but they are 7-2-1 ATS in its last 10 games as a double digit underdog.

Indiana Hoosiers (4-4, 4-4 ATS) vs. Iowa Hawkeyes (6-2, 5-3 ATS)

Saturday, November 6 – 11:00 AM CST – Big Ten Network

IND: Last week: Lost to Northwestern, 17-20

IOWA: Last week: Defeated Michigan State, 37-6

The Hawkeyes will have to avoid a letdown against Indiana after their 31 point victory over previously undefeated Michigan State last weekend. Indiana lost their fourth consecutive conference game last week in a narrow loss at Northwestern. The Hoosiers upset Iowa in 2006 & 2007, but have dropped the last two by 27 ppg. This is Indiana’s last home game of the season and they opened as a 17 point home underdog.

Iowa trailed Indiana 14-24 in last year’s meeting but exploded for 28 4th quarter points to win 42-24. QB Stanzi threw five interceptions in that game and that more than doubles his INT total for this season. He’s completing 69% of his passes with 19 touchdowns and just two interceptions and has this offense averaging 34 points per game.

Indiana quarterback Ben Chappell and this Indiana offense heavily favor the pass (65/35 pass/run ratio). Chappell is completing 65% of his passes with 18 touchdowns, but has struggled against good defenses. Ohio State and Illinois held this Hoosier offense to just 11.5 ppg and limited Chappell to 56% passing with one touchdown and five interceptions. Iowa’s 12th ranked defense will present another difficult test for Chappell and this Indiana offense.

Iowa is 16-5 ATS in their last 21 road games but is 0-6 ATS in its last 6 as a double digit road favorite. Indiana is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games as a home underdog but just 6-14 ATS in their last 20 games as a double digit underdog. The Hawkeyes are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 meetings with Indiana.

Michigan State Spartans (8-1, 6-3 ATS) vs. Minnesota Gophers (1-8, 3-6 ATS)

Saturday, November 6 – 11:00 AM CST – Big Ten Network

MSU: Last week: Lost to Iowa, 6-37

MINN: Last Week: Lost to Ohio State, 10-52

The Spartans need to forget about last week’s ugly loss quickly because they are still in good shape for a Big Ten title and a trip to the Rose Bowl. They take aim for a little revenge against this Minnesota squad that upset them a year ago. Minnesota QB Weber threw for 416 yards and five touchdowns, but faces a much taller task this time around. Michigan State opened as a 24 point favorite.

After rushing for an average of 225 ypg (5.8 ypc) with 15 touchdowns in the first six games of the season, MSU is averaging just 76 rush ypg (3.2) with just three touchdowns the past three weeks. The Spartans will try to re-ignite their running attack against this Minnesota defense that allows 202 rush ypg (last in the Big Ten and 106th overall).

QB Cousins threw three interceptions last week against Iowa after throwing just four the first eight games of the season. He had a good game against Minnesota last season (236 yards, 2 TD’s) and will look to rebound against this defense that allows over 34 points per game. The Gophers have allowed 428 passing yards (73% completions) and five touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks the past two weeks.

MSU has dropped three straight against the Gophers (losing by an average of 15 ppg) and is just 2-7 ATS in the past 9 meetings. Minnesota is just 2-6 ATS in its last 8 games overall but is 6-2 ATS in its last 8 games as a double digit road underdog. Michigan State is 4-1 ATS in its past 5 as a home favorite. The favorite is just 1-8 ATS in the last 9 meetings.

Penn State Nittany Lions (5-3, 3-5 ATS) vs. Northwestern Wildcats (6-2, 2-6 ATS)

Saturday, November – 2:30 PM CST – ABC or ESPN2

PSU: Last week: Defeated Michigan, 41-31

NU: Last week: Defeated Indiana, 20-17

Legendary coach Joe Paterno aims for his 400th victory when the Wildcats visit Happy Valley on Saturday. Northwestern is 4-0 on the road this season, but has only won by an average margin of 5.7 ppg and has covered in just one of those wins. Penn State has won three straight meetings with NU and 10 of the last 13 by an average margin score of 31-17. They opened as a 7 point home favorite.

Penn State’s offense finally showed some life last week against Michigan. After averaging just 16 points per game in the previous six, the Nittany Lions torched the Wolverines for 435 total yards and 41 points. In his first start under center, Matt McGloin threw for 250 yards and a score with no turnovers. RB Royster ran for 150 yards and two touchdowns and helped this offense control the ball for +15 more minutes than Michigan.

Both teams boast above average defenses. Penn State is surrendering just 343 yards per game and 20 points per game despite playing a few strong offenses (Alabama, Iowa, Temple, and Michigan). Northwestern is allowing 371 and 20.2 points per game.

In last year’s meeting, Northwestern held a 13-10 halftime lead. PSU scored 24 unanswered points and outgained the Wildcats by 145 yards in the 2nd half on the way to their 34-13 victory. Northwestern is 9-0 ATS in its last 9 games as a road underdog but 0-5 ATS in its last 5 games overall. Penn State is 1-5 ATS in its last 6 games as a home favorite but they are 4-1 ATS in its last five home games against Northwestern.

Ohio State Buckeyes (8-1, 7-2 ATS) - Idle

OSU: Last week: Defeated Minnesota, 52-10

After their road loss to Wisconsin on October 16, the Buckeyes have responded with back to back wins by a combined score of 101-10. They racked up 52 points and 507 yards in their most recent game @Minnesota. They still boast the nation’s #2 total defense and #4 scoring defense. Their linebacking corps has been decimated by injuries and they’ll use the bye week to heal up and get new guys acclimated. Next up is a home date with Penn State on November 13th.

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