College football’s week one is here, and 13 Big Ten teams will take the field. This weekend holds a three-day slate, including two conference games, from Thursday to Saturday.
The conference gave everyone a slight preview of what is to come with two games in the sport’s annual “week zero” on Aug. 27. Northwestern upset Nebraska, 31-28, in Dublin, Ireland, while Illinois dismantled Wyoming, 38-6, at home.
Let’s dive into the odds (as of Monday) for this weekend’s slate. All game lines presented are courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
Penn State (-3.5) at Purdue
The Nittany Lions and Boilermakers square off in a FOX primetime matchup to start week one with a bang. Neither team cracked the preseason AP Top 25 poll, but both received votes to be ranked from various writers. Penn State holds quite the lead on Purdue in the all-time series, going 15-3-1 in 19 games against the Boilermakers. The two schools have not played each other since 2019, though, so there will be a lot of unfamiliarity in this cross-divisional matchup. Both teams are led by sixth-year quarterbacks in Sean Clifford (Penn State) and Aidan O’Connell (Purdue). Purdue’s Ross-Ade Stadium should be rocking for its high-profile visitors as the Boilermakers have a chance to make an early-season statement.
New Mexico State at Minnesota (-36.5)
Independent New Mexico State travels to Minnesota following a 23-12 home loss to Nevada in week zero. At +425 odds, the Golden Gophers have the third-best chances to win the Big Ten West. Quarterback Tanner Morgan and running back Mohamed Ibrahim lead a veteran Minnesota offense, a unit that should feel good about potentially doing damage this fall. Minnesota has previously beaten New Mexico State in two of its home openers (2018 and 2011). The massive line seems to be fair for Thursday’s 9 p.m. showdown.
Western Michigan at No. 15 Michigan State (-22)
The No. 15 team in America opens its slate against Western Michigan, which is projected to finish No. 4 in the six-team MAC West division. Michigan State has won 12 straight games against its in-state foe, a streak that has lasted more than 100 years. The reigning Peach Bowl champions, head coach Mel Tucker has turned Michigan State back into a squad to be feared after a few down seasons. As the three-touchdown line indicates, Michigan State should have no problem putting away the Broncos.
Illinois at Indiana (-3)
Another cross-divisional contest, both Indiana and Illinois do not hold high expectations heading into the season. Both teams are projected bottom-two teams in their respective Big Ten divisions, with Indiana certainly being ruled the favorite because it is the home team. Illinois has the benefit of already having a win under its belt after facing Wyoming last Saturday, though the Cowboys are not projected to be a formidable team by any means. Perhaps the momentum will help Illinois in a primetime road environment, and a low-scoring game is expected. A first Big Ten win for either team could provide a morale boost heading into the rest of nonconference play.
Buffalo at Maryland (-24)
With the highest total of any game involving a Big Ten opponent in week one, fireworks are expected when the Bulls come to College Park. Saturday marks the start of a season for a Maryland team that, on paper, looks like the best squad that the Terps have had in a long time. Starting quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, star receivers Rakim Jarrett and Dontay Demus and the entire 2021 starting offensive line return to make an impact this fall. The spread has already grown from 21 to 24 points in the past week, with the expectation being that Maryland should bury Buffalo at home. Rutgers transfer quarterback Cole Snyder was recently named the starter for the Bulls, but his unit will have a hard time matching the offense output that Tagovailoa & co. are expected to deliver on a weekly basis.
Colorado State at No. 8 Michigan (-30.5)
The Rams are the first of three non-Power Five nonconference opponents that Michigan will face this season. With Michigan’s quarterback competition still ongoing, head coach Jim Harbaugh named Cade McNamara the game one starter and J.J. McCarthy the game two starter. After making their first-ever College Football Playoff last season, the Wolverines should coast through an easy nonconference schedule before getting to Big Ten play. The Rams should be decent but pose no threat to Michigan as four-plus-touchdown underdogs.
No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 2 Ohio State (-17.5)
It is amazing to think that one team is favored by three possessions in a top-five matchup, but Ohio State is just that good. One of the favorites to win the national championship at +300 odds, the Buckeyes should be incredible in 2022. Heisman favorite CJ Stroud leads an electric offense that also includes bonafide NFL wide receiver prospect Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Notre Dame still should be a great team — as the preseason rankings foretell — under new head coach Marcus Freeman as he returns 14 total starters from an 11-win team. Astoundingly enough, though, the odds suggest that the Fighting Irish are no match for the Buckeyes.
Note: Odds for the following games have not been listed on DraftKings as of Monday — Rutgers at Boston College; South Dakota State at Iowa; North Dakota at Nebraska; Illinois State at No. 18 Wisconsin.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.