Another college football weekend is upon us, and this week, we get Big Ten games for the first time. Illinois travels to Wisconsin to open up the season tonight, and then on Saturday there are six more Big Ten matchups.
It was not a good opening week for my college football picks last week, as I went 3-6-1, but we are back for more this weekend, starting with the Big Ten opener tonight:
Illinois +20.5 @ Wisconsin (Friday)
It is year 5 of the Lovie Smith era in Champaign, and if the Illini don’t take a step forward this year, it is a problem. Smith through seasons 1-4 was 3-9, 2-10, 4-8, and 6-6 last year, with a loss to Cal in the Redbox Bowl. However, it appears they are going in the right direction. Illinois is returning a lot of guys from last season, whereas Wisconsin lost key players, most notably RB Jonathan Taylor. Starting QB Jack Coan is out for the season, and now redshirt freshman Graham Mertz will make this first career start. Illinois shocked Wisconsin last year, and I think they will hang around in this one.
Ohio State Team Total Over 46.5
I want Nebraska to be competitive in this game, I really do. But Ohio State might put up 50 points by halftime. This offense is too good, and they will be looking to make a big statement in their opening game against Nebraska. Their last game was a crushing loss to Clemson in the College Football Playoff, and I feel like OSU is about to release 10 months of fury. QB Justin Fields will be in the Heisman race, and I think he will have a big game. I’m staying away from the spread, and going with Ohio State to put up Over 46.5 points.
Michigan @ Minnesota +3
I am just not comfortable betting Michigan as a favorite on the road against a good Minnesota team that went 11-2 and won the Outback Bowl last season. This Michigan team is somewhat inexperienced, as they have a new QB in Joe Milton, and lost four starters from their 2019 team on the offensive line, and all four were All-Conference players. I think this game will be close from start to finish, and in that case, I’ll take the Gophers +3 at home.
Alabama -22 @ Tennessee
I think Alabama absolutely rolls Tennessee in this one. Bama is looking like a surefire National Championship contender, with double-digit wins in each of their first four games. They have also had tremendous success against Tennessee in Neyland Stadium in the past few years. The margin of victory for Alabama in the Saban era at Neyland Stadium has been 20, 31, 31, 14, 39, and 37 points. That is crazy. Tennessee hasn’t covered in this series since 2015, and after playing as bad as they did last week, I don’t see the Vols keeping this very competitive for long. Bama wins big.
Penn State -6.5 @ Indiana
Penn State is the better team, and head coach James Franklin will have his team ready. Although losing RB Journey Brown to injury hurts, I think QB Sean Clifford will take step forward this season in his development. Indiana is no slouch though, and QB Michael Penix Jr. is a major dual-threat player who can give the PSU defense problems. In the end, I think Indiana keeps it close, but Penn State pulls away late.
Auburn @ Ole Miss Under 71.5
Ole Miss looked awful last week against Arkansas. QB Matt Corral threw 6 interceptions. 6! For Auburn, QB Bo Nix continued his road struggles last week, as he threw 3 picks and lost to South Carolina. For his Auburn career, Nix is 8-1 with 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions when playing at home. He is 3-5 with 10 TD’s and 10 picks on the road. After throwing a combined 9 interceptions between these two QB’s last week, it is hard to bank on sustained offensive success in this one, especially with a total as high as 71.5. I like the Under.
Maryland +11 @ Northwestern
Both teams will finish near the bottom of the Big Ten, but I don’t know how Northwestern can be favored by 11 points against anyone. Take Maryland +11.
NC State +14.5 @ North Carolina
North Carolina is coming off of a bad loss to a poor Florida State team, and NC State is 4-1 with their only loss coming on the road to #19 Virginia Tech. I’m surprised this number is as big as it is. NC State has won 4 of the last 5 games at UNC straight up, including the last 3 in a row. In this series, the road team is 6-1 ATS in the last 7 games. This will be a competitive game, and I see NC State covering the relatively big number.
Iowa -3 @ Purdue
Purdue will be without their head coach Jeff Brohm for their season opener, as he is still in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19. Brohm named his younger brother, Brian Brahm, Purdue’s co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, the acting head coach for Saturday’s game. He also will call plays, something Brian has never done in a game. I think it’s as simple as that. Kirk Ferentz, who has a career Big Ten record of 97–75, against an interim head coach for one game who has never called plays. Give me the Hawkeyes to win and cover.
Oklahoma @ TCU Over 59
Big 12 football produces some high-scoring games, and I don’t see that changing here. Oklahoma is putting up over 40 points a game, and their defense is giving up 30. Take the over.
Louisiana Monroe @ South Alabama Under 56.5
ULM cannot score. They have scored 7 points or less in 3 of their 5 games this season. South Alabama is a slow-paced offense scoring 24 a game. To be fair, both defenses aren’t exactly stellar either, as ULM is giving up 36 points a game, and South Alabama is giving up 27 a game. But, ULM’s offense has been so stagnant that I just can’t see them putting up enough points to push this one over.
Title Photo: Photo by Ralph Freso / Getty Images