I’ll be making predictions on all conference games and using them for the purpose of trying to select winners vs. the Vegas point spread. There are seven games to look at this week. One could be a play if the line doesn’t move in the wrong direction, and a couple more have an outside chance to be a play.
My current record: 9-11
Until gambling becomes legal in my state, I’m sticking with my regular source so I won’t know the point spread that’s available to me until game day, which will essentially be the closing line. So I’ll have to wait until then to see if I get the number I need to make a play (wager). At the bottom of my write-ups, I submit the number I’ll need to make a play, and how that number compares to the current line.
Iowa’s offense should be able to impose its will against a below average Nebraska defense. And, aside from Michigan St. and Michigan, this Iowa defense will be the best Nebraska has faced all season. Prior to last Saturday’s game against Michigan St., I figured Nebraska’s offense could successfully move the ball against any team in the conference, but Michigan St. proved me wrong. But the Iowa coaching staff can make some questionable decisions, so I give Nebraska the edge in the game planning/strategy department and consequently figure Nebraska to put up more points than the three field goals they turned in last Saturday. And Iowa QB Nate Stanley can make some poor decisions himself, so while I think Stanley will play well at times, I also figure him to throw two interceptions in this game. I don’t think any of this will be enough to get Nebraska the win, though. I figure the game to be fairly competitive throughout, but I like Iowa as the better team. Especially when playing at home.
As of now, Iowa is favored by 10 points, which is exactly how I see it so this game will not be a play.
The winner of this game is bowl eligible, the loser is not. Purdue HC Jeff Brohm has yet to clearly state that he is staying at Purdue, which leads me to believe that shortly after this game he’ll be announcing his intention to take the Louisville job. I don’t think Brohm would intentionally throw the game, but maybe on a subconscious level he wouldn’t mind losing this one. It’d be a lot easier to break his commitment to Purdue if there was no game left on the schedule. Purdue hasn’t won since the Louisville job opened two weeks ago. Again, not saying Brohm is tanking, just saying there might be enough of a distraction to take away some of the edge and dedication Brohm puts into his game planning and preparation. And I think that could make for a small difference in this game. A few weeks ago I would have had Purdue winning this game. But right now, Indiana appears to be the hungrier team and QB Peyton Ramsey has been playing great lately. This one could go either way, but I like Indiana at home.
As of now, Purdue is favored by 4 points. I would take Indiana plus 4 or more points, so if the line doesn’t dip below 4 on Saturday, this game will be a play.
The two worst offenses in the conference square off in this one. Michigan St. has an outstanding defense, so I like the Spartans to win by over 20 points. The Michigan St. offense should get plenty of possessions and probably good field position, so the Spartans are bound to put some points on the board. Rutgers hasn’t won a conference game and is generally considered the worst team in the conference, but lately has been putting up a good fight. Backup QB Giovanni Rescigno provided a bit of a spark last in last Saturday’s game against Penn St., and may get the start in this one. The concern with a team at the bottom of the conference playing its last game of the season, on the road no less, is that Rutgers may be just wanting to get this season over with, not put forth a good effort and get blown out by something like 40 points. But I don’t think that will be the case. Michigan St. is the better team and should win, but I’m figuring not by as much as most might think.
As of now, Michigan St. is favored by 26.5 points. I would need 28 or more points to take Rutgers, so this game has a slight chance to be a play.
I struggled with the idea of adding about three more points to Northwestern’s score, but couldn’t bring myself to put too much of a cushion on this one. Northwestern hasn’t blown anybody out, this is a rivalry game, and it has to be difficult for the Wildcats to take Illinois seriously after the Illini were blown out at home last Saturday. But still, this one could be a blowout, and I mean by more than the 22 point spread I’m calling for. The question is, will Illinois come to play. The Illini gave up pretty early in the game in last Saturday’s 63-0 loss, and may have given up for the season. But I don’t think that will be the case. I look for Illinois to put forth a good effort, and for Northwestern to be a bit flat. But effort aside, Illinois is a bumbling mess, and Northwestern plays a solid game on both sides of the ball, so I like Northwestern by a comfortable margin in this one.
As of now, Northwestern is favored by 18 points. I would take Northwestern minus 15 or less, so this game probably won’t be a play.
Maryland has burned me a couple of times ATS this season. I keep expecting the Terps to display the kind of offense we saw in last Saturday’s near upset at home against Ohio St., but for whatever reason, Maryland doesn’t bring that show on the road. Penn St. has a good defense, and Maryland is on the road here, so I figure only two TDs for the Terps. Maryland has a good defense as well, and Penn St.’s offense has regressed a bit in the latter half of the season. QB Trace McSorley was banged up a few weeks back, and hasn’t quite been himself since. But McSorley is a fierce competitor and he’s had another week to heal, so I figure him to guide the Penn St. offense to enough points to cover the two TDs I’m calling for from Maryland.
As of now, Penn St is favored by 13.5 points, which is pretty close to how I see it so this game will not be a play.
Wisconsin QB Alex Hornibrook’s status is still unclear, but I’m OK with handicapping this game the same way regardless of whether or not Hornibrook plays. Backup QB Jack Coan seemed to find his comfort zone in the second half of last Saturday’s game and made some very nice throws in the clutch. Coan had been shaky to say the least while filling in for Hornibrook the past few games, but I think he’ll be ok in this game. And I’d expect Hornibrook to be a bit rusty if he is cleared to play. And Hornibrook wasn’t playing all that well before he was injured, so the difference in QBs is minimal at this point, I think. But Wisconsin will be in trouble if they have to rely too heavily on the QB position. The Badgers strength is in the running game. Minnesota has been playing better the past couple of weeks and has the added incentive of needing a win here to qualify for a bowl game. Wisconsin hasn’t been blowing anybody out, the defense is nothing more than average and the offense is one dimensional. I think Minnesota makes this game closer than most might think.
As of now, Wisconsin is favored by 10 points. I would need 12 or more points to take Minnesota, so this game has a slight chance to be a play.
I love this game. My favorite rivalry and it’s always best when it comes down to this one game to determine the title. This appears to be Michigan’s year; Ohio St. hasn’t lived up to its lofty standards all season, while Michigan has been steamrolling its way through a challenging schedule. Michigan’s defense has been outstanding, Ohio St.’s has not. In fact, the Buckeyes are coming off their worst defensive performance of the season in last Saturday’s game at Maryland. All indications are that Michigan should easily win this game. But this is a rivalry game. At Ohio St. And Ohio St. HC Urban Meyer most always finds a way to win. Ohio St. has plenty of talent, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Again, at times the Buckeyes offense hasn’t lived up to expectations, but I expect Ohio St. to have some success even against this outstanding Michigan defense. It won’t be easy, and I don’t expect Ohio St. to put a huge number on the scoreboard, but I don’t think Michigan is going to be able to completely shut down this offense in the same dominating fashion it has against previous opponents. I also expect a better defensive performance from Ohio St. than we saw last Saturday. But still, I don’t think the Buckeyes are suddenly going to turn into a good defensive team. Michigan has pretty good offense themselves, full of talent. Both QBs in this game are great, and both teams are loaded at the skill positions. The offenses are about even, but Michigan has the better defense. And that’s going to be the difference in this game. I like Michigan on the road in a very competitive game.
As of now, Michigan is favored by 3.5 points, which is close to how I see it, so this game most likely will not be a play.
My method is to begin making my predictions for the upcoming week on Sunday while Saturday’s games are still fresh in my mind. I don’t look at the Vegas point spreads until I’m done handicapping all of the games. If the point spread that I predict for a particular game differs from the closing line by seven or more points, I consider it a “play”,—i.e. a game that I would wager on. If the difference is less than seven points, I back off. I’ll also back off if a report comes out during the week (after I’ve already handicapped the game) that there is an issue involving the starting quarterback (an injury I did not know about) or the head coach (health issues, scandal, etc.).