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Big 10 Weekly Preview
by ASA - 09/13/2018
OHIO STATE -12.5 @ TCU, Saturday at 8:00 PM ET @ Arlington, TX
OHIO STATE – To say the Buckeyes have been impressive in their first two games with head coach Urban Meyer serving his early season suspension. Meyer will miss this game as well before he is back on the sidelines at home vs Tulane. The Bucks should finally be tested this week after obliterating their first two opponents (Oregon State & Rutgers) by a combined score of 129-34. Ohio State continued their domination of Rutgers last week in their 52-3 win. With that win OSU has now beaten the Scarlet Knights each of the last 3 season by a combined score of 167-3! The offense has looked great under the direction of new QB Dwayne Haskins as he has completed almost 80% of his passes with 9 TD’s. The defense looked much better last week after allowing Oregon State to put up 31 points in the opener. They held Rutgers to a miniscule 2.1 YPP on 61 offensive snaps. They forced the Knights to punt on 9 of their 13 possessions with 2 others ending in Rutgers turnovers.
TCU – It’s safe to say that TCU will be by far the best defense this OSU offense has seen this season. The Horned Frogs brought back 6 starters and 20 letter winners back on that side of the ball. They allowed just 19 PPG last season and have allowed 19 points in two games this season – both easy wins over Southern and SMU. They’ve also been fantastic defending the pass as their two opponents have combined for only 212 passing yards this season. However, the best offense they faced last year, Oklahoma, did light them up twice scoring 38 & 41 points so it will be interesting to see if they can hold up against the Buckeyes potent playmakers. The Frogs have had an extra day to prepare for this one after taking care of in-city rival SMU last Friday night 42-12. It was a game that TCU led just 14-12 at half before outscoring the Mustangs 28-0 after the break.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS – Dating back to 2004, TCU is a money making 24-12-1 the last 37 times they’ve been tabbed an underdog by the oddmakers. Digging deeper, the Horned Frogs have been a double digit underdog just 20 times since the start of the 1997 season (ASA’s inaugural season) and they are 16-4 ATS (80%) in those games. Ohio State has been very solid as a double digit favorite away from home hitting 57.5% since 1980 (42-31-1 ATS).
BALL STATE +14 @ INDIANA, Saturday at 12 PM ET
BALL STATE – After rolling over Central Connecticut State in week 1 the Cards caught Notre Dame in a perfect spot for a letdown last week coming off their big win over Michigan. Ball State took advantage of it giving the Irish everything they could handle easily covering the 34 point spread with ease in the 24-16 loss. Ball State was outgained by just 65 yards but also ran a ridiculous 97 offensive plays to just 72 for the Irish. On a yards per play basis the Cardinals were only able to muster 3.6 YPP while allowing Notre Dame 5.75 YPP. The BSU offense has been extremely balanced after two weeks averaging 258 YPG passing and 242 YPG rushing. Their run defense was fantastic last week holding Notre Dame to just 117 yards on 2.7 YPC. Ball State left it all on the field in South Bend and now they must regroup and take on another of the state’s big boys on the road this weekend.
INDIANA – IU moved to 2-0 and their players and coaches are breathing a sigh of relief after holding on at home vs Virginia last weekend. The Hoosiers (-5) held on for the 20-16 win as the Cavs threatened late and ended the game on the Indiana 27 yard line. Head coach Tom Allen has this team playing much more physical and running the ball on offense which is quite the change from the pass-happy Kevin Wilson regime before him. In two games IU has run the ball 89 times while attempting just 59 passes. Sophomore QB Peyton Ramsey has completed 73% of this passes with 5 TD’s. However the offensive star has been freshman RB Stevie Scott who rushed for 204 yards in last Saturday’s win. This team used to have to put up huge offensive numbers each week because their defense was not a strength. This Indiana stop unit has allowed just 4.75 YPP over their first 2 games so things might be changing in Bloomington.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS – These 2 have met 4 times since the start of the 2008 season with Ball State winning 3 of those games (4-0 ATS). The most recent meeting was in 2016 and that was an Indiana win 30-20 as a 16.5 point favorite. The Cards have covered 9 of their last 10 non-conference games. Indiana is now 0-2 ATS this year and they are 1-9-1 ATS their last 11 games dating back to last season. The Hoosiers are just 5-13 ATS the last 18 when favored by 2 TD’s or more (dating back to 1991).
TEMPLE +16 @ MARYLAND, Saturday at 12 PM ET
TEMPLE – The Owls came into the 2018 season with high hopes. Returning a number of key players and coming off a 7-6 season which included a bowl win, this team expected to contend in the AAC. They still could do that, but they are off to a slow start to say the least with an 0-2 record. Two home losses at the hands of Villanova and Buffalo were no fluke as Temple was outgained in each by a combined 226 yards. The offense has been a problem for the Owls as they are averaging just 303 YPG and have scored just 4 offensive TD’s in two games. They also have two special teams TD’s which makes their 23 PPG average a bit deceiving. Their defense has also fallen off allowing 414 YPG through their first two after giving up 380 YPG last season.
MARYLAND – The Terps had some serious distractions entering the season with their head coach DJ Durkin suspended indefinitely shortly before the season began. The interim leader, Matt Canada, wasn’t even with the team last year throwing another potential wrench in the Terps early season plans. This team has responded unlike many thought they could or would with two easy wins to start the season. After handling Texas as a 13.5 point underdog, the Terps were in a letdown spot last week and rolled over Bowling Green on the road 45-14. Maryland trailed 14-10 at half but exploded for 35 unanswered points after halftime. After Bowling Green put up 151 yards in the first half the Terp defense was lights out in the second half allowing a grand total of 7 yards and no points. They outgained the Falcons 565 to 158 in the dominating performance. This Saturday the Terps host Temple in their first true home. They have to be careful not to look ahead to their Big Ten opener vs Minnesota the following week as the Owls will come in desperate after starting 0-2.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS –The Terps are 7-1 SU in this series which dates back to 1997. Maryland is 2-0 ATS this year covering the spread by a combined 34.5 points. Temple is 0-2 ATS this season failing to cover the spread by a combined 27.5 points. The road team in this series has covered 5 in a row. Since 2013 Maryland has been a favorite of more than 2 TD’s 7 times and they’ve covered 6 of those.
KENT STATE +34.5 @ PENN STATE, Saturday at 12 PM ET
KENT STATE – The Golden Flashes come into this game with a 1-1 record which means they’ve already tallied half of the wins they had all last season (2-10 record last year). They rolled an overmatched Howard team last week by a final score of 54-14. It was the first time since 2008 they reached 50 points. However in week one KSU played Illinois on the road which gives us some perspective on this team. The Flashes lost their game @ Illinois 31-24 but led 17-3 at half. The yardage was almost dead even in that game so they hung tight with a lower tier Big Ten team. Our takeaway from those two games is their offense is drastically improved. This is a team that averaged 12.8 PPG on just 275 YPG a year ago. They were held to less than 10 points in 5 of their 12 games last year! This year they’ve already scored 78 points in 2 games which is more than HALF their entire point total from 12 games last year (154). They’ve also gained nearly 1,000 yards in 2 games which is about 30% of the entire yardage they gained last year. They’ll have to continue that offensive progression this week to stay within reach of PSU.
PENN STATE – PSU crushed in-state rival Pitt 51-6 a week ago which has some saying this team is back to top 10 caliber after struggling at home with Appalachian State a week earlier. This is a very solid team but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Last week’s win in Pittsburgh wasn’t quite as dominating as it may have seemed. The PSU offense only had 390 yards of total offense and outgained the Panthers by just 90 yards. They led just 7-6 late in the 2nd quarter when a few big plays went their way. On their final 3 drive of the half Pitt missed a FG, they were shut out on downs at the PSU 4-yard line, and then fumbled a snap on a punt leading to a short drive TD and a 14-6 halftime lead. The Panthers gained 231 of their 300 total yards by halftime but had just 6 points due to squandered opportunities. The Lions dominated the 2nd half to the tune of 37-0 including a safety and punt return for a score. The Penn State defense was great in the 2nd half as well as Pitt didn’t cross midfield until 30 seconds remaining in the game. That came with an asterisk however as it came after a PSU fumble which was returned across the 50 by the Panther defense.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS – These two have met 5 times with Penn State winning all 5 by an average score of 29-6. The most recent meeting was in Happy Valley in 2016 when PSU topped Kent 33-13 but failed to cover the 24 point spread. PSU is just 5-13 ATS (38%) their last 18 as a favorite of 24 or more – including 0-1 ATS this season. Kent is 2-0 ATS this year covering by a combined 41 points.
TROY +11.5 @ NEBRASKA, Saturday at 12 PM ET
TROY – Troy was throttled by Boise St at home in their first game of the season losing 56-20. They were only outgained by 37 yards in that game but four turnovers did them in. Of Boise’s 56 points, 21 came directly as the result of Trojan turnovers including 2 fumbles returned for TD’s. That loss doesn’t look terrible after Boise rolled again last week beating UConn 62-7. Troy bounced back last week and ripped apart Florida Atlantic 59-7. The flipped the script in week to and rather than giving their opponent points as a result of turnovers, the Trojans scored 28 of their 59 points after four FAMU giveaways. Troy did lose their QB and top RB, however they still have high hopes for this season as they bring back 12 starters and 54 lettermen from a team that finished 11-2 last year including an upset win @ LSU.
NEBRASKA – The Huskers had to wait an extra week for new head coach Scott Frost’s debut after their original opener vs Akron was cancelled due to weather. Last week they played host to Colorado in a game that went back and forth before the Buffs pulled out 33-28 win. After CU took the 33-28 lead with just over 1:00 minute remaining, Nebraska’s back-up, walk-on QB Andrew Bunch was able to drive his team to the Buffalo 20 yard line before time ran out. Bunch was in the game because on the previous series, starting true freshman QB Adrian Martinez was taken off the field with a knee injury. Before his injury, Martinez had accounted for 304 total yards (187 passing & 117 rushing) and 3 TD’s. His injury wasn’t as serious as initially thought and as of this writing he is questionable for this game. Defensively the Huskers looked stronger allowing 395 yards (gave up 436 per game last year) and picking up 7 sacks which was HALF of what they had all of last year (14).
INSIDE THE NUMBERS – The most recent two meetings between these two teams came in the 2003 and 2006 seasons. In those two games Nebraska outscored Troy by a combined score of 86-0 and outgained them 943 to 290. Since 1980 Nebraska has covered 60.5% of their games when coming off a SU & ATS loss (46-30-2 ATS). Dating back to 2001, Troy is 36-23 ATS as an underdog of 10 or more points.
RUTGERS +2.5 @ KANSAS, Saturday 12 PM ET
RUTGERS – After getting off to a fast start beating Texas State 35-7 in week one, the Scarlet Knights were quickly brought back down to earth last weekend in their 52-3 loss @ Ohio State. They trailed 35-0 at half and 45-3 at the end of the 3rd quarter. Rutgers was outgained by nearly 450 yards and totaled only 134 total yards for the game. Looking on the positive side, they at least scored. Each of the previous two years the Knights were shutout by the Buckeyes. Starting true freshman QB Artur Sitkowski left the game with a shoulder injury after completing 6 of his 18 passes for 38 yards. There was no structural damage to Sitkowski’s shoulder and there is a chance he’ll be able to play this weekend @ Kansas. If he can’t go, back up Giovanni Rescigno, who threw for just over 500 yards last year, will get the start.
KANSAS – The Jayhawks put an end to the second longest road losing streak in college football last Saturday when the beat Central Michigan 31-7 as a 3-point underdog. They came into the game having lost 46 consecutive road games. While Kansas did outplay CMU, the score was a bit deceiving. KU only outgained the Chippewas by 80 yards and on a yards per play basis it was very close at 5.0 for Kansas to 4.7 for CMU. Kansas led just 7-0 at half but 5 CMU turnovers in the 2nd half alone led to the comfortable margin. The offense was led by freshman RB Pooka Williams as he rushed for 125 yards and 2 TD’s. Williams did not play in the Jayhawks first game which was an embarrassing home loss to FCS Nicholls State. The Jayhawks are in a rare spot here as they are favored. They have been a favorite vs an FBS team just TWICE since the start of the 2015 season and they lost both of those games outright (vs Central Michigan & Ohio).
INSIDE THE NUMBERS – Since late September of the 2009 season, Kansas has been favored (vs FBS teams) just 10 times and they are 2-8 ATS in those games. The only meeting between these two game in 2015 when Rutgers (-13.5) came away with a 27-14 win at home. Rutgers is 1-10 SU their last 11 road games with their only win during that stretch coming @ Illinois last year 35-24. This line is getting closer to pick-em and if Rutgers would happen to go off as a favorite it would be rare. They have been a road favorite only once in their last 20 games away from home.
SMU +35.5 @ MICHIGAN, Saturday at 3:30 PM ET
SMU – The Mustangs had high hopes coming into the season as they returned 14 starters, including QB Ben Hicks, from a team that went 7-6 a year ago. They did lose their head coach Chad Morris to Arkansas but the Mustangs hired veteran head man Sonny Dykes (former head coach at Cal and La Tech). Well the hopes of a promising start have gone out the window as SMU is 0-2 getting blown out by both North Texas and TCU. They have been outscored by a combined 88 to 35 and outgained by a combined 922 to 498 in those two losses. Dykes also coached this team in their bowl game last year after Morris took off for Arkansas and the Mustangs lost that game as well 51-10 to La Tech. Not a great start for the Sonny Dykes era.
MICHIGAN – The Wolverines bounced back from their disappointing season opener @ Notre Dame with an easy 49-3 win over Western Michigan. They jumped out quickly and led 35-0 at half scoring TD’s on 5 of their first 6 offensive possessions. They ran only 53 plays (WMU ran 74) and attempted only 18 passes in their 49 point performance. After rushing for only 58 yards on 1.8 YPC vs the stout Notre Dame defense, Michigan went for 308 yards on the ground on nearly 9 YPC vs the Broncos. The defense continued to play great. After holding the Irish to just 69 second half yards a week earlier, Michigan gave up just 208 total yards on 2.8 yards per play vs the WMU offense. Not bad against a team that put up over 600 total yards the week before vs Syracuse.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS – SMU has covered 6 of the last 7 times they’ve been an underdog of 3 TD’s or more. Their one ATS loss during that stretch was last week vs TCU. Since 2000, Michigan has been a favorite of 31 or more 5 times when coming off an ATS win the week before. They are 0-5 ATS in those games.
BYU +22 @ WISCONSIN, Saturday at 3:30 PM ET
BYU – The Cougars got off to a big start two weeks ago beating Arizona on the road 28-23 in what looked like a huge win at the time. Well Arizona went on to lose again last week @ Houston 45-18 so not as big of a win as we might have once thought. Add that to the fact that BYU turned around and lost at home to Cal last week maybe the Cougs are right back where we thought they might be at the start of the season. The Bears waltzed into Provo and beat BYU 21-18 as a 2-point underdog. Cal outgained the Cougs by 100 yards in a game that was probably closer than it should have been as 7 of BYU’s 18 points came on a Cal fumble returned 36-yards for a TD. BYU’s defense has been solid in their two games but the offense has been very pedestrian averaging only 4.6 YPP in their two games combined.
WISCONSIN – The Badgers (-35) got off to a very slow start last week and trailed New Mexico at home 7-3 at the end of the first quarter. Wisconsin only led 10-7 at half. After half they scored TD’s on 5 of their 6 possessions en route to an easy 45-14 win. RB Jonathan Taylor ran for a career high 253 yards and the Badgers outgained the Lobos 568 to 211. New Mexico took the opening drive 87 yards for a TD and then totaled just 124 yards for the rest of the game. The UW defense was bolstered by the return of starting DE Isaiahh Lowdermilk who missed the season opener due to an injury. The defense has allowed only 2 TD’s on the season and Western Kentucky & New Mexico combined to average only 4.37 YPP. The offense will be given a boost this week with the return of WR Danny Davis who was suspended for the first 2 games of the season. In our opinion Davis is Wisconsin’s most talented receiver so his return will be big for QB Hornibrook and the passing game.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS – These two met in Provo last year and Wisconsin (-14) rolled to an easy 40-6 win outgaining the Cougars by 300 yards. BYU has been a dog of 21 or more only 8 times since the start of the 1980 season. They are 5-2-1 ATS in those games. The Cougars are also an impressive 43-27-1 ATS (61.5%) as a road dog since 1980.
MIAMI OH +14 @ MINNESOTA, Saturday at 3:30 PM ET
MIAMI OH – The Redhawks come to Minneapolis after losing 21-0 last week to rival Cincinnati. It was the Bearcats 13th straight win over Miami in one of the country’s oldest rivalries. That loss dropped Miami to 0-2 on the season as they lost in week one to Marshall by a final score of 35-28. The Redhawks were actually favored in both games. Despite their two losses they’ve only been outgained by 34 total yards on the season. The problem for Miami offensive has been their inability to run the ball as they’ve rushed for just 87 and 59 yards in their two games. Last week their offense only crossed midfield once the entire game.
MINNESOTA – The Gophs picked up a big win over a solid Fresno State team last Saturday but also lost their top offensive player in the process. RB Rodney Smith, who’s started 32 career games for the Gophers, was lost for the season due to a knee injury. Smith had 154 yards rushing on 25 carries this year and has run for just under 3,000 yards in his Minnesota career. They will also most likely be without Smith’s back up Shannon Brooks who has yet to play due to an injury suffered during the winter. After scoring 79 points the previous Saturday vs Idaho, the Minnesota defense held Fresno scoreless for almost 3 full quarters in their 21-14 win. The host Gophers actually trailed 14-13 late in the fourth quarter and scored the game clinching TD with just over 3:00 minutes remaining. On their final drive of the game Fresno moved the ball to the Minnesota 4-yard line and had a first and goal with just over 1:00 remaining. Minny (2-0) clinched the win with an interception in the endzone by Antoine Winfield Jr.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS – Miami OH is 0-2 ATS this year and lost both games outright despite being favored in both. Favored teams that lose each of their first two games of the season outright are 15-6 ATS in game 3 when facing a non-conference foe. However they are 1-5 ATS the last 6 years the week after facing rival Cincinnati. Since the start of the 2007 season, the Gophers have been a favorite of 14 points or more 16 times. They are 5-11 ATS in those games.
SOUTH FLORIDA -10 @ ILLINOIS, Saturday at 3:30 PM ET @ Soldier Field
SOUTH FLORIDA – USF had a cakewalk in week one vs Elon and then played host to Georgia Tech last week and picked up a 49-38 win. However, that was one of the more misleading scores from last weekend. USF was outgained 602 to 426 and had not one but TWO kickoff returns for TD’s in the game (98 yards & 97 yards). The Bulls trailed by 10 points early in the 4th quarter and scored the game’s final 3 TD’s two of those coming as a direct result of Yellow Jacket turnovers. Georgia Tech rolled over this South Florida defense for 419 yards rushing in the loss. Stopping the run looks like a concern for this defense as they allowed Elon to run for almost 200 yards in the opener. Starting QB Blake Barnett (Alabama transfer) led the Bulls with 202 yards passing and 91 yards rushing in last Saturday’s win.
ILLINOIS – Illinois comes in with a perfect 2-0 record but they have been fairly underwhelming in doing so. Their first win came at home vs Kent State in a game the Illini trailed 17-3 at half. Illinois finally took a 31-24 lead in the 4th quarter of that game and had to hang on for dear life as Kent moved the ball to the Illini 4-yard line on their final drive of the game. That was a Kent team that was 2-10 a year ago. Last week they beat Western Illinois 34-14 but needed 3 Leatherneck turnovers and a blocked punt for a TD to pull away. The Illini only outgained WIU by 15 yards and they were actually outgained on a yards per play basis. This versus a Leatherneck team that is now 0-2 with their other loss coming to Montana State. The Illini have only outgained their first two overmatched opponents 5.9 YPP to 5.6 YPP. Illinois is also banged up heading into this game with 2 WR’s now out for the season (Dudek and Carter) and starting QB AJ Bush struggling with an injured hamstring and questionable for this game.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS – The Illini have played 3 games in their history at Soldier Field and lost all 3 (in 1994, 2013, and 2015). USF (-17) played host to Illinois last year and controlled the game winning 47-23 outgaining the Illini 680 to 354. Illinois is 3-10 ATS their last 13 vs teams outside the Big 10.
MISSOURI -6.5 @ PURDUE, Saturday at 7:30 PM ET
MISSOURI – The Tigers remember last year’s embarrassment at home vs Purdue when they were crushed 35-3 as a 7-point favorite. Now the Tigers are laying that same number this season but the game is in West Lafayette. Mizzou comes into this revenge game with a 2-0 record having rolled over their first two opponents UT Martin and Wyoming. Offensively they look like they have picked up right where they left off last season scoring 91 points in their first 2 games. This team won 6 straight games to close out last season and averaged 51 PPG during that stretch. So adding in their two games this season, the Tigers have averaged 50 PPG over their last 8 contests. They are led by NFL prospect Drew Lock at QB who already has nearly 700 passing this year, completed 74% of his passes with 8 TD’s and no interceptions.
PURDUE – We hate to use the term must win game, especially early in the season but that is the bed this Purdue team has made for itself. After a tough loss to open the season at home vs Northwestern, the Boilers fell flat last Saturday and were upset by Eastern Michigan (+16). The 20-19 loss was excruciating for Purdue as they led 19-17 with just over 4:00 minutes remaining and missed a chip shot 38 yard FG which would have given them a 5-point lead. They then allowed EMU to go on a 72 yard drive eating up the final 4:00 minutes of clock and kick the game winning FG as time expired. It was the second straight game that Purdue lost despite outgaining their opponent. Key Boiler penalties kept that final drive alive, something the Boilermakers struggled with as well vs Northwestern. Because of that, head coach Jeff Brohm has said players who commit dumb penalties will now start losing playing time and be taken out of games as they do so.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS – Purdue crushed Mizzou on the road 35-3 last year as a 7-point underdog. It was no fluke as the Boilers outgained the Tigers by 275 yards! Missouri has been on quite a spread run since last October covering 9 of their last 11 games with the 9 covers coming by 142.5 combined points (15 points per game). The Tigers have only won 3 of their last 14 road games outright and they are a full TD favorite here. Purdue is 0-2 ATS losing both of their first two games outright as favorites. If this number pushes back to 7, The Boilers are just 2-11 ATS the last 13 times they’ve been a home dog of 7 or more.
AKRON +21 @ NORTHWESTERN, Saturday at 7:30 PM ET
AKRON – The Zips come into Evanston with a 1-0 record after throttling FCS Morgan State last weekend. Their season opener @ Nebraska was cancelled due to weather two weeks ago. In last week’s 41-7 win over Morgan State, the Akron defense held Bears to just 80 total yards over the first 3 quarters. With some backups in the game and a 41-0 lead, the Zips did allowed 111 yards in the 4th quarter and Morgan State scored their only points with 11 seconds left in the game. Akron is experience on that side of the ball with 11 of their top 12 tacklers back from last year. The offense is a bit inexperienced but they do return dynamic QB Kato Nelson who took over as the starter for their final 5 games last year throwing for just under 1,000 yards and 8 TD’s. Akron was 7-7 last season but they were outgained by an average of 130 YPG so they probably weren’t quite as good as their record in 2017.
NORTHWESTERN – After taking advantage of turnovers in their opening win @ Purdue, the Cats played host last Saturday to Duke and had revenge on their minds. That’s because NW was crushed at Duke last year 41-17. Well this one proves that revenge doesn’t always matter. Duke rolled up another easy win beating the Wildcats 21-7 in Evanston last Saturday. The Devils did so even though they played the entire fourth quarter with starting QB Daniel Jones out with an injury. Jones is now out indefinitely with a broken collarbone. NW ran 88 offensive plays in the game to Duke’s 63. Despite running 25 more plays, the Wildcats offense was only able to muster 7 points. They did have plenty of chances to add to that number but they threw 2 interceptions and they were stopped on downs 4 times in Duke territory. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald continued to rotate QB’s Clayton Thorson and TJ Green as Thorson comes back from a major knee injury.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS – The Zips are 0-6 SU and just 1-5 ATS their last 6 road openers. Northwestern played one MAC team last year (Bowling Green) and the Cats won and covered. However, previous to that game, the Cats were just 1-10 ATS their previous 11 games vs the MAC. Since 1980 Northwestern is just 8-18-1 ATS as a home favorite when coming off a SU loss.