The majority of Big Ten football teams have reached the halfway point of their regular seasons, and the conference is in business.
Four Big Ten teams cracked the latest AP Top 25, including No. 24 Illinois making its first appearance in the poll since 2011. Three Big Ten teams — No. 2 Ohio State, No. 5 Michigan and No. 10 Penn State — remain undefeated.
Maryland head coach Mike Locksley’s squad very well could have joined those four teams this week, but the Terps suffered a 31-29 heartbreaking loss to Purdue at home. The Terps forced three turnovers and generated more total yardage than the Boilermakers but could not get the job done. Maryland will have the opportunity to get back to .500 in conference play with this week’s matchup at Indiana.
On Saturday, 10 Big Ten teams will be in action, all in conference play. Presented by DraftKings Sportsbook, let’s dive into the odds for each game.
No. 10 Penn State at No. 5 Michigan (-7)
The game of the week in the Big Ten, this top-10 showdown between the Nittany Lions and the Wolverines is the conference’s game of the year thus far. Both teams have yet to lose a game, meaning the winner will be in the driver’s seat in the Big Ten East alongside Ohio State. Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy had arguably his best start of the year last week against Indiana, throwing for more than 300 yards and three touchdowns. Coming off a bye, head coach James Franklin should have Penn State extra-prepared heading into Ann Arbor. Saturday’s noon showdown should be a dandy.
Minnesota (-3.5) at No. 24 Illinois
Who had this circled as a crucial Big Ten West showdown before the season? The 5-1 upstart Fighting Illini not only have a chance to secure bowl eligibility at home Saturday, but they can continue their stay atop the division. Oddsmakers expect otherwise, though, as Minnesota is favored on the road despite being the unranked team in this matchup. Sixth-year quarterback Tanner Morgan and crew lost to Purdue at home in week five to fall out of the rankings but had a bye week sandwiched between then and Saturday’s matchup. Minnesota is still ranked 23 spots higher than Illinois in ESPN’s SP+ rankings. A low-scoring battle is expected between the Big Ten’s top two scoring defenses.
Maryland (-10.5) at Indiana
The perception around Maryland could be a lot higher heading into Saturday’s road contest. The Terps could have been 5-1, looking to improve on their best start in years and clinch bowl eligibility halfway through October. Instead, Maryland remains a heavy favorite but will need to win this game to avoid falling to a lowly 1-3 mark in Big Ten play and putting its postseason hopes in jeopardy. Indiana competed with Michigan in the first half of last week’s game, but the outlook for the Hoosiers remains bleak. Indiana has lost three straight and boasts the worst scoring defense in the Big Ten. Maryland is rightfully a significant favorite.
Wisconsin (-5) at Michigan State
In the preseason, this matchup would have been scouted as a premier cross-divisional game between then-No. 15 Michigan State and then-No. 18 Wisconsin. Instead, the Spartans are in free-fall mode and the Badgers fired long-time successful head coach Paul Chryst. The Badgers rebounded nicely last week in interim head coach Jim Leonhard’s debut, throttling Northwestern, 42-7, while Graham Mertz threw for 299 yards. Michigan State, meanwhile, has lost four straight games by an average of 20.3 points. Both teams are in trouble, but it seems like the better of two disappointing teams is favored here.
Nebraska at Purdue (-11)
After defeating the Terps, the thought that Purdue could easily be 6-0 is not crazy. The Boilermakers stand at a respectable 4-2 but blew last-minute leads to both Penn State and Syracuse earlier in the season. Led by veteran quarterback Aidan O’Connell, the Boilermakers are looking like the best team in the Big Ten West. Nebraska is in a dire state, as a once proud program is in jeopardy of going under .500 for the seventh time in the last eight seasons. With former head coach Scott Frost out of Lincoln, the Huskers have won their last two conference games, albeit against bottom-feeders Indiana and Rutgers. It is hard to imagine Nebraska extending its winning streak to three against a Purdue team that is finding its identity.
Iowa, Northwestern, Ohio State and Rutgers all have a bye week.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.