First, last week's performance was as terrible as advertised, sadly. 1-3 against the spread, 3-1 overall. Blegh. There was no Minnesota game preview last week because I passed the bar exam and felt like celebrating instead of writing; had I made a prediction, I would have chosen MSU straight up and Minnesota to cover, but I can't credit myself with those victories in good conscience. So, like any other poor gambler, I'm out to make my (fake) money back this week, right? Right??
INDIANA AT WISCONSIN (-21.5).
Wisconsin didn't show up until the second half against Purdue, but once they came alive, they put the game away in a hurry. At first glance, this looks like a big spread, but I wonder if the Hoosiers have anything left in the tank after last week's game against Iowa. It's nice that they're circling the wagons around Damarlo Belcher, but one team is much better than the other.
Straight up and spread picks: Wisconsin.
IOWA AT NORTHWESTERN (+11.5) -- MISS OF THE WEEK.
Another spread that seems awfully big, given the history between these two teams. You maaaay have heard that Northwestern has won 4 of the last 5 in this series. Northwestern has all kinds of problems on the offensive line and in the secondary. Iowa is well positioned to take advantage of those weaknesses with an outstanding defensive line, and a great play action passing game. Still, 11.5 points is a lot for Iowa to give here. I'll take the points, but I wouldn't think of touching this game with real money.
Straight up pick: Iowa. Spread pick: Northwestern.
MICHIGAN AT PURDUE (+12.5).
Purdue's defense has given up 49, 44, and 34 points in the last three weeks; their offense has scored 0, 10, and 13 points in those same games. Michigan is going to put a looot of points up on the board, and while Michigan's defense has made several bad offenses look very good this year, Purdue's injury crisis will preclude them from taking full advantage of the opportunity. I think Michigan wins by two touchdowns, and keeps it rolling for once more week before crashing back to earth in the season's final two games.
Straight up and spread picks: Michigan.
MINNESOTA AT ILLINOIS (-20.5).
Minnesota is awful, and while it seems that they've been covering spreads in the most backdoor fashion possible all year, they're actually just 3-6 ATS. Illinois will be aaaangry after last week's "performance" in Ann Arbor, and won't allow the Gophers more than 10 points. Will Illinois score 31? I bet they do.
Straight up and spread picks: Illinois.
PENN STATE AT OHIO STATE (-17.5) -- LOCK OF THE WEEK.
The weekend's only compelling game. Penn State now has a bit of an offense under Matt McGloin, but his recent success has come against Michigan and Northwestern, two very mediocre defenses. Ohio State? Not so mediocre. Tressel takes no prisoners in November, and I bet a strong Buckeye pass rush yields 3 McGloin interceptions. Meanwhile, Penn State's rush defense has been poor (68th nationally) and a steady diet of Boom Herron won't help improve those numbers. Some in the PSU camp have been incredulous that the spread is so big. On the contrary: I bet that OSU, fresh off a bye week and playing at home, covers it with relative ease.
Straight up and spread picks: Ohio State.
YEAR TO DATE (Pete and LVS):
STRAIGHT UP PICKS: 59-11: 21-8 Big Ten
SPREAD PICKS: 26-31-2; 13-15-1 Big Ten
LOCK OF THE WEEK: 9-1 straight up, 4-5-1 spread
MISS OF THE WEEK: 4-6 straight up, 2-8 spread