Big Ten Report - Week 9
October 24, 2013
Week 8 of the Big Ten card saw the underdogs cash in three of five games, including an outright victory by Minnesota (+12 ½) at Northwestern. Home teams went 3-2 with all three of the home winners grabbing double-digit victories, although Ohio State and Michigan State didn't cash as heavy 'chalk.' Bettors watched the 'over' go 3-2.
2013 BIG TEN STANDINGS
Team SU Conference ATS Over/Under
Illinois 3-3 0-2 3-3 4-2
Indiana 3-3 1-1 3-3 5-1
Iowa 4-3 1-2 4-3 5-2
Michigan 6-1 2-1 4-3 5-2
Michigan State 6-1 3-0 3-3-1 3-4
Minnesota 5-2 1-2 4-3 4-3
Nebraska 5-1 2-0 4-2 3-3
Northwestern 4-3 0-3 2-5 3-4
Ohio State 7-0 3-0 4-2-1 5-2
Penn State 4-2 1-1 3-3 4-2
Purdue 1-5 0-2 1-5 3-3
Wisconsin 5-2 3-1 6-0-1 3-4
Ohio State (-14 ½, 56 ½) vs. Penn State (ABC, 8:00 p.m. ET)
It was a tale of two halves for Ohio State on Saturday against Iowa. The Buckeyes trailed by seven at halftime but scored touchdowns on their first three second half drives and outscored the Hawks 24-7 in the final two quarters. OSU held Iowa to just 143 yards on 18 plays in the 2nd half – 75 yards came on one TD pass – while the Buckeyes gained 316 on 54 plays. QB Braxton Miller (222 pass yards, 2 TDs, 102 rush yards) and RB Carlos Hyde (149 rush yards, 2 TDs) led this Buckeyes offense and the defense overcame an ejection of their best pass-defender – CB Bradley Roby. Even with Roby, OSU’s pass defense has been average at best this season, but again the Bucks allowed 245 pass yards and 3 pass TD against a mediocre Iowa pass offense. OSU will again face another test this weekend against freshman star QB Christian Hackenberg of Penn State. PSU had a much-needed bye week after an emotionally draining four overtime win over Michigan in its last game. Hackenberg (11 TD & 6 INT) is far beyond his years as a starting QB and the two-headed rushing attack of Zwinack (393 yards, 8 TD) & Belton (369 yards, 3 TD) will need to have a big day against this OSU defense that ranks 15th in total defense. PSU’s defense has has allowed over 40 points against Indiana & Michigan in its last two outings, but still ranks 17th in total defense. Penn State has no bowl aspirations to live up to but coach O’Brien has shown that he has no difficulty motivating his team to play spoiler. PSU is 0-4 SU & ATS in its last four as a 14+ point underdog. Penn State is 2-5 SU & ATS in its last seven games against Ohio State, but both of those wins and covers came in two of its last three trips to Ohio Stadium.
Nebraska (-10 ½, 52) at Minnesota (ESPN, 12:00 p.m. ET)
Nebraska enjoyed a bye week after handing its business against Purdue for the third consecutive game won in blowout fashion. Backup quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. threw three interceptions and completed only six passes, thus resolving the “quarterback controversy” between him and the previously injured Taylor Martinez. Martinez should make his return from turf toe this weekend and he’ll need quality reps before the Huskers begin a daunting November slate (Northwestern, atMichigan, Michigan State, atPenn State). Nebraska will be playing its first game without star guard Spencer Long which might affect the Huskers’ rushing effort (10th nationally in rush YPG). Yards won’t come easy for RB Abdullah (816 RY) against this Gopher defense that ranks 25th against the run. Minnesota is off of its most notable win of 2013 with a 20-17 upset at Northwestern. Minny held Northwestern to just 94 rush yards on 3.6 YPC and forced three NU turnovers. The Gophers were still outgained and didn’t do anything special on offense. QB Nelson relieved QB Leidner and completed 8-of-11 passes with 1 TD and no INT. Nelson will likely get the start Saturday against Nebraska but we expect to see both him and Leidner share snaps. Nebraska has won and covered both of its meetings with Minnesota as a B1G member by an average score of 40-14. Nebraska is 11-4 ATS in its last 15 games as a road favorite of 10 points or more. Contrarily, the Gophers are 10-5 ATS in their last 15 as a home underdog of 10 points or more.
Michigan State (-10 ½, 50) at Illinois (ESPN2, 3:30 p.m. ET)
Last week we noted how Michigan State’s offense had finally turned a corner and become respectable again. We ate those words after watching MSU against Purdue last weekend. The Spartans mustered just 294 yards and one offensive touchdown against a Purdue defense that had allowed 41+ points over its last three games. MSU’s lone touchdown came late in the 4th quarter on a trick play. QB Cook completed just 13-of-25 passes for 107 yards with no scores. It wasn’t a surprise to see Michigan State’s defense pitch a shutout of Purdue’s offense. Sparty’s defense has been dominant all season long and it allowed just 226 yards and 14 first downs on Saturday. MSU ranks 1st nationally against the run, 4th against the pass, 1st in overall defense, and 4th in scoring defense. Still, this defense can only carry the Spartans so far, and they’ll need to be sharper on offense as the schedule gets tougher – starting this week with a road game against Illinois. Illinois stumbled out of the gate against Wisconsin last week, falling behind 21-0 just 10 minutes into the game. The Illini got back into the game with a 17-point 2nd quarter and took an 11-point deficit into halftime. The defense couldn’t slow the Badgers’ rushing attack in the 2nd half, though, as UW racked up 28 2nd half points and 289 rush yards overall. Quarterback play wasn't the issue, as Nathan Scheelhaase and Reilly O'Toole combined to complete 25 of 32 passes for 318 yards, but two fumbles led to Wisconsin touchdowns and Illinois' couldn’t run the ball with much success (72 yards on 2 ½ YPC). These two haven’t met since 2010, but MSU is 8-1 SU & ATS in the past nine meetings. Michigan State is 7-1-1 ATS in its last nine road games while Illinois is 9-5 ATS in its last 14 home games as an underdog of 10 points or more.
Iowa (-3 ½, 53) vs. Northwestern (Big Ten, 12:00 p.m. ET)
Iowa had an excellent game plan for Ohio State coming off the open week. The Hawkeyes racked up 17 first-half points against Ohio State and controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Unfortunately, everything came unraveled in the 2nd half. Iowa was outscored 24-7 in the 2nd half as OSU scored on four straight 2nd half possessions. Iowa had a difficult time stopping the run, which was a strength through the first half of the season. OSU racked up 273 rush yards (5.4 YPC) and scored the first two rushing touchdowns of 2013 against this Iowa defense.The Hawkeyes came up short but proved that they could certainly make some noise down the stretch in the wide-open Legends Division. They’ll face another test this week against a desperate Northwestern squad coming off of three straight defeats. The Wildcats’ offense mustered just 328 yards against Minnesota last week. QB Siemian completed just 25-of-46 passes for 234 yards with 1 TD and 2 INT (one which Minnesota returned for a touchdown).Northwestern clearly missed QB Colter and RB Mark, both of whom were out with an injury. Colter is questionable for Saturday’s contest while Mark has already been ruled out. Northwestern is 6-2 SU & ATS in the last eight meetings with Iowa, including last year’s 28-17 win. The Wildcats are 13-5 ATS in the last 18 games as a road underdog.
Wisconsin - BYE
Wisconsin will have its 2nd bye week of the month after back-to-back crushing victories over Northwestern and Illinois. Last week at Illinois, the Badgers jumped out to a 21-0 lead just 10 minutes into the game. The Illini cut the deficit to 11 points at halftime, but UW scored 28 2nd half points to put the game out of reach. The Badgers tallied 478 yards and 25 first downs while only seeing 8 third down opportunities. RB’s Gordon & White combined for 240 rush yards (6 ½ YPC) and six total touchdowns. The most promising performance was an efficient game by QB Stave. Stave completed 16-of-21 passes for 189 yards with 2 TD and 0 INT. Star LB Borland didn’t play in the 2nd half because of an injury and the defense was noticeably worse without the senior leader. He’ll try to get healthy during the off week as the Badgers prepare for a road trip to Iowa.
Michigan - BYE
The Wolverines’ offense was utterly unstoppable against Indiana last week. The Wolverines totaled 751 total yards of offense and 35 first downs. QB Gardner threw for 503 yards and rushed for 81 more and accounted for five total touchdowns. WR Gallon set a school record with 369 receiving yards and RB Toussaint had 151 rush yards and four scores. Michigan needed every single one of those yards as Indiana wasn’t rolling over in defeat. The Wolves defense allowed 572 yards and 28 first downs and Indiana trailed by just two points with 6:00 remaining. The defense has now allowed 45 ½ PPG over the last two weeks and it’ll need to be addressed over the bye week. Next up is a road trip to in-state rival Michigan State.
Indiana - BYE
Indiana’s offense is pretty close to unstoppable, but the Hoosiers won’t win many games as long as the defense continues to play like it is. IU ranks 9th in total offense and 11th in points per game. QB’s Sudfeld & Roberson have combined for 22 TD passes and RB Coleman has 9 rush TD. They’ve scored 35+ points in five of seven games this season. Defensively the Hoosiers rank at or near the bottom in every major statistical category. They allowed 751 yards and 63 points to Michigan last week. Fixing the issues on the defensive side of the ball will be priorities 1, 2, and 3 during the bye week. A home game against Minnesota is up next.
Purdue - BYE
Purdue’s defense showed up for the first time this season against Michigan State last week. This Boiler stop unit was allowing 37.8 PPG heading into last week’s game but held the Spartans to just one offensive touchdown (MSU scored a defensive touchdown to push their total to 14). The offense had several chances but couldn't finish drives in Spartans territory. Purdue needs to clean up its pass protection after allowing five sacks as young QB Etling barely had time to throw the ball. The Boilers didn’t get a lot going against MSU’s top-ranked defense, gaining just 226 total yards. The Boilers have a week off before hosting Ohio State next Saturday.