Everything is on the line in the final week of Big Ten regular-season football.
Ohio State and Michigan will play for the Big Ten East title. In the Big Ten West, Iowa and Purdue are tied for first at 5-3 in conference play, and Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin are one game behind at 4-4. Nine Big Ten teams are already bowl eligible, and Michigan State has one last chance to get to win No. 6.
With odds presented by DraftKings Sportsbook, let’s dive right into a loaded rivalry weekend slate.
Nebraska at Iowa (-10.5)
With the Heroes Trophy on the line every Black Friday, Nebraska can only play spoiler to Iowa’s Big Ten title hopes. The stakes are simple: If Iowa beats Nebraska, it wins the Big Ten West and will play either Michigan or Ohio State in the conference title game. The Hawkeyes are tied with Purdue but have the tiebreaker by virtue of pounding the Boilermakers, 24-3, on Nov. 5. Iowa has separated itself as a program compared to Nebraska, and the recent results of the rivalry indicate that. Iowa has won seven straight against Nebraska — though the last four by single digits — and eight of the last nine matchups.
Rutgers at Maryland (-14)
Despite riding a three-game losing streak, the Terps are massive favorites against the Scarlet Knights. Maryland pushed Ohio State to the brink last Saturday, trailing by just six points with the ball with less than a minute remaining. Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was hurt on its last offensive play of the game, but he claims his knee feels good and hopes it is just a bruise. Rutgers is a mess at 4-7, coming off four straight losses and losing seven of its last eight. Like Tagovailoa did, quarterback Gavin Wimsatt had a nightmare game against Penn State, completing just 34.5% of his passes last Saturday. If Tagovailoa is good to go, the two-touchdown spread is justified.
Michigan at Ohio State (-7.5)
“The Game” is for all the marbles in the Big Ten East. Both teams come off less than impressive performances, with Ohio State struggling with Maryland and Michigan barely squeaking by Illinois at home. Michigan, which leads the all-time series 59-51-6, beat the Buckeyes last season for the first time since 2011. The gap between the two programs is now as even as ever, and Saturday’s noon kickoff should bring another epic battle. Whichever team loses, as long as they are competitive, should still have a path to the College Football Playoff. USC quarterback Caleb Williams has closed the gap on C.J. Stroud in the Heisman race, but Stroud can make a major statement against the Wolverines.
Illinois (-14) at Northwestern
Assisted by poor officiating, Illinois saw its Big Ten West title hopes slip away at Michigan last Saturday. Still, the Fighting Illini are having a sensational year and will finish with their most regular-season wins since 2007. Illinois would need a win against Northwestern, an Iowa loss to Nebraska and a Purdue loss to Indiana to win the division. Regardless, this game matters. Illinois beat in-state rival Northwestern last season, but it had lost the previous six matchups in the rivalry. Northwestern has been absolutely putrid this season, losing 10 straight since beating Nebraska in week zero. The winner of this game will take home the Land of Lincoln Trophy.
Minnesota at Wisconsin (-3.5)
The Golden Gophers and the Badgers have split victories in the last four showdowns for Paul Bunyan’s Axe. The most played rivalry in FBS college football, Wisconsin holds the slightest 62-61-8 advantage over Minnesota in the all-time series. Having lost to both Purdue and Iowa, Minnesota cannot be the Big Ten West’s representative in the conference title game regardless of what happens Saturday. Wisconsin cannot be the division’s representative either but can offer interesting tiebreaker possibilities. Minnesota’s all-time winningest quarterback Tanner Morgan has missed the past two games due to injury.
Purdue (-10.5) at Indiana
Purdue does not control its own destiny, but it needs two things to happen to win the Big Ten West outright and represent the division in the Big Ten championship game. First, it needs Nebraska to upset Iowa Friday. If that happens, then Purdue will control its own destiny Saturday. At 4-7, Indiana has had a tough go this season. However, the Hoosiers snapped a seven-game losing streak with a ferocious comeback against Michigan State last week, ending the game with 25 unanswered points in a 39-31 double-overtime win. Indiana can make it tough on Purdue in the annual matchup for the Old Oaken Bucket, but Boilermakers quarterback Aidan O’Connell and crew could be playing for a lot. Purdue leads the all-time series, 75-42-6.
Michigan State at Penn State (-18)
In a down year for Michigan State, Penn State is a rightful significant favorite over the Spartans. In search of the Land Grant Trophy, Penn State can reach a landmark with 10 wins on the season. If the Spartans can pull the shocker in front of a raucous Beaver Stadium, they will become the 10th Big Ten team to go bowling. The Spartans blew a golden chance against Indiana last week, as this week’s challenge presents a much tougher path to the postseason.