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Big 10 Report

   by ASA - 10/09/2013


Wisconsin (-10, 57.5) vs. Northwestern – 2:30 PM CST
Wisconsin returns from its bye week as a heavy 10-point favorite over the visiting Wildcats of Northwestern for Homecoming in Madison. This is a bad situation for Northwestern. Wisconsin is coming off of a loss to Ohio State, but had a bye week to prepare for the Wildcats. Northwestern, on the other hand, is off of a home loss to Ohio State in the proclaimed “biggest game in Northwestern history.” The Wildcats will have to regroup quickly, because the Badgers are ready to get back on the field and rarely lose in Madison. Wisconsin proved that it was more than just a power running football team against OSU. QB Stave had a big night with 295 passing yards and 2 TD and WR Abbrederis proved he’s one of the top receiving threats in the Big Ten with 207 receiving yards. But it’s still the rushing attack that leads this team (6th nationally with 300.6 rush YPG). Standout running back Melvin Gordon is expected back from a knee injury this week and Wisconsin will try to see the success that OSU did against Northwestern last week (248 rush yards on 48 carries with 5 TD). The Badgers will try to rush the ball effectively to control the clock and keep it out of the hands of Northwestern’s spread offense. Much like Wisconsin, NU saw a lot of success passing the ball against Ohio State but had little results from the rushing game. QB’s Siemian & Colter combined to complete 25-of-30 passes for 347 yards with 2 TD and 1 INT. Unfortunately, the Wildcats rushed for just 94 yards on 43 carries (2.2 YPC). Wisconsin’s attacking defense ranks 13th against the pass and 12th against the run and are well prepared for the Wildcats’ attack. Wisconsin is 2-0 SU & ATS the last two meetings in Madison by 40 PPG (70-23 win in 2010 last meeting). They’ve split the last 12 in the series 6-6 SU, but Northwestern is 9-3 ATS in those meetings. Wisconsin is 13-4 ATS in the last 17 home games as a double-digit favorite.

Penn State (+2.5, 51) vs. Michigan – 4:00 PM CST
Penn State is off of a 20-point loss at Indiana. That was a huge game for the Hoosiers. They were off of a bye week and had never beaten PSU before. It was also a bit of a desperation game for IU as they were sitting at 2-2 with three tough conference games ahead of them. PSU had its chances but couldn’t convert them into points and Indiana exploded for 23 4th quarter points after leading 21-17 heading into the final 15 minutes. PSU freshman QB Hackenberg had 340 passing yards with 3 TD and 0 INT against the Hoosiers last week and seems to get better and better with each start. But it was the defense that was the undoing for PSU against IU. The Nittany Lions had difficulty stopping IU’s spread-offense attack. They allowed 336 passing yards and 150 rushing yards. Michigan operates under a more traditional pro-style offense but was pretty dynamic against Minnesota last week. They rode a number of big plays in the 2nd half en route to the 29-point victory over the Gophers. QB Gardner didn’t turn the ball over for the first time in his career as a starting QB but still has 10 turnovers to his name this season. Michigan’s defense will be a tough test for PSU’s Hackenberg. Michigan ranks 9th against the rush and 13th in total defense. Opposing QB’s have completed just 53.6% with 7 TD and 7 INT this season. The Nittany Lions are 5-0 ATS following a loss under head coach Bill O’Brien. Michigan is 4-1 ATS in its last five as a Big Ten road favorite.

Purdue (+14.5, 57) vs. Nebraska – 11:00 AM CST
Purdue had an open week and coach Darrell Hazell aimed to get things right for this downward spiraling crew. Two weeks ago the Boilers suffered their third straight defeat of the season in an embarrassing 24-55 home loss to Northern Illinois. Their only win this season was an unimpressive six-point win over FCS Indiana State. The Rob Henry era at QB appears to be over as Purdue will now go with freshman Danny Etling under center. Etling completed 19-of-39 passes for 241 yards with 2 TD and 2 INT against in relief duty last week. It really can’t get any worst for this offense that ranks 119th in total offense and 114th in scoring offense. The defense hasn’t been quite as bad as the offense, but it’s still a big issue. Purdue ranks 79th in yards allowed this season and has allowed more than 31 points in four of five games. Purdue plays at home this week as a two-touchdown underdog to the visiting Huskers of Nebraska. Nebraska had its most promising defensive performance of the year last week against Illinois. This defense that had been prone to giving up big plays held Illinois to just 372 yards and two touchdowns in the 20-point victory. Nebraska’s biggest issue now may be that it has a quarterback controversy on its hands. Freshman Tommy Armstrong Jr. has delivered in place of the hobbled Taylor Martinez. Armstrong has completed 20-of-28 passes for 304 yards with 3 TD and 0 INT in two games while Martinez heals from a turf toe injury. Martinez still may not be able to return this weekend and if Armstrong has another strong outing in his place, the fire will only get hotter. Nebraska is 11-5 ATS in its last 16 games as at least a two-touchdown road favorite. Purdue has been a two-touchdown home underdog just twice since 1998 and covered both of those games.

Michigan State (-9.5, 52.5) vs. Indiana – 11:00 AM CST
Michigan State’s offense has shown clear improvement over the past couple of weeks. QB Cook threw for 277 yards and two scores on the road against a tough Iowa defense last week. The running game churned out 135 yards on 37 carries and MSU was able to control the ball for +15 minutes more than the Hawkeyes. The defense, per usual, was dominant. Sparty held the Hawks to just 264 total yards and 13 first downs. A fairly formidable Iowa rush offense was held to just 23 yards on 16 carries. If the offense continues to develop, the Spartans will be a prime challenger for the Big Ten title; especially if the defense remains as dominant (1st nationally in total “D”). That defense faces a stiff test this week against a high-powered Indiana spread-attack. Indiana will have to try to avoid a big-game hangover after triumphing over Penn State for the first time in school history. The Hoosiers put up 486 yards and 44 points in Kevin Wilson’s biggest win as head coach. QB Nate Sudfeld (321 pass yards, 2 TDs) bounced back nicely from his struggles against Missouri and the defense was able to hold Penn State in check throughout the game. Indiana's offense ranks 9th in yards per game and 11th in points per game, but will face the top defense in the nation this Saturday. Indiana is 1-8 SU and 2-7 ATS in its last nine meetings with Michigan State. They’re 0-4 SU & ATS in the last four trips to East Lansing, losing by an average of 34 points per game. Michigan State is 4-10 ATS in its last 14 home games as a favorite of seven points or more.

Illinois - BYE
The Illini never really mounted a serious challenge against Nebraska last week. They fell behind 23-5 by halftime and the defense couldn’t come up with a timely stop of Nebraska. The Huskers ran for 335 yards on 50 carries and that prevented Illinois’ offense from ever getting into consistent rhythm. Illinois’ QB Scheelhaase remains a headache with just 136 passing yards (50%) with 0 TD and 1 INT and it seems the Illini will either get “great Scheelhaase” or “terrible Scheelhaase” with no in-between. Illinois is off this week before a critical home stretch against Wisconsin and Michigan State.

Minnesota - BYE
Minnesota dropped its second consecutive game by double digits in its 29-point blowout loss at Michigan last week. Head coach Jerry Kill again suffered a seizure early Saturday morning and was unable to be on the sideline for Minnesota. There will be a lot of attention paid to Kill and his health over the off week and questions will arise to if he should continue his coaching career. The Gophers offense has managed just 446 total yards and 20 points over the last two weeks. That includes just 83 rush yards per game on 2.4 YPC. The defense isn’t good enough to make up for the ineffectiveness of the offense and the Gophers appear mired in another losing season. Minnesota resumes play next Saturday at Northwestern.

Ohio State - BYE
Ohio State showed adversity last week when Northwestern held a late lead and appeared to have all the momentum on its side. Braxton Miller showed up late after a shaky performance early in the game and the rushing attack took the wind out of Northwestern’s sails on multiple occasions. OSU rushed for 248 yards on 48 carries with five rushing touchdowns. The Buckeyes allowed just 94 rushing yards, but the secondary was again exposed. The Bucks allowed 295 pass yards to Wisconsin two weeks ago and allowed Northwestern to complete 25-of-30 passes for 343 yards. OSU has this week off before its next game against Iowa. It appears now that the Bucks have smooth sailing until their rivalry game at Michigan to conclude the season on Nov. 30th.

Iowa - BYE
Like most opponents Michigan State plays, Iowa was held in check on offense last weekend. The Hawks gained just 264 total yards and 13 first downs in the 14-26 loss. Iowa’s power run game was held to just 23 yards on 16 carries and QB Rudock was forced to air it out 46 times to limited success (241 yards 2 TD & 2 INT). Iowa gained just 95 yards in the 2nd half and 64 of those yards came on the last drive of the game. Iowa has a week off before a critical matchup against Ohio State.

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