The Big Ten has played well through one full week of the college football season, only having lost to teams within the conference. All 14 of the league’s teams are in action this week, and with the season now in full swing, they will look to make their mark in week two against non-conference opponents.
Let’s take a look at the spreads for this week’s matchups, courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
Ohio at Penn State (-24.5)
Following a thrilling 35-31 victory over Purdue, Penn State returns home to Happy Valley for a nonconference matchup with Ohio. The Nittany Lions open as big favorites against the Bobcats following their performance in West Lafayette, and at 1-0 they should bring out a rambunctious crowd to back them. Other than a near-costly interception, quarterback Sean Clifford had one of the best games of his career last Thursday, throwing for 282 yards and four touchdowns. Concerns about Clifford’s ability to lead the Penn State offense were more-or-less quieted (at least for now), and optimism is high among Nittany Lion fans that this year’s team could be a contender in the conference. Ohio enters with some momentum after a 41-38 win against Florida Atlantic, but it realistically will struggle to match the talent level of Penn State. If it does, it will be one of the most stunning upsets of the season.
Duke at Northwestern (-10)
Northwestern earned a bye week after beating Nebraska, 31-28, in a week-zero game played in Dublin, Ireland. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald is one of the best in the game at maximizing talent, and while Nebraska is still in a period of flux, the Wildcats’ season-opening win was huge for their chances of making a bowl game this year. Northwestern fell behind early but managed to lock down on defense and shut out the Cornhuskers in the final quarter en route to a win. Uncharacteristically, the Wildcats racked up 528 total yards of offense. They’ll need to keep that momentum going against a Duke team that obliterated Temple, 30-0, on Saturday and averaged nearly eight yards per play. Northwestern opens as a healthy home favorite against the Blue Devils and is in good position to start the season 2-0.
Arkansas State at Ohio State (-43.5)
In the weekend’s marquee matchup, No. 2 Ohio State hosted No. 5 Notre Dame as 17.5-point favorites but had to work for the win, defeating the Fighting Irish, 21-10. Many looked at the Buckeyes’ offense as the cornerstone of their team, but quarterback CJ Stroud and co. failed to take over the game and put up the gaudy numbers they are capable of. Instead, Ohio State’s defense, led by new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, completely shut down Notre Dame’s offense, which was led by quarterback Tyler Buchner in his first career start. The Irish, led by defense-oriented head coach Marcus Freeman, managed to slow down the Buckeyes and cover the spread last weekend, but the talent gap between Arkansas State and Ohio State is enough that the Buckeyes should dominate from start to finish, warranting a 40-plus point spread and an over/under nearing 70.
Washington State at Wisconsin (-17.5)
Wisconsin took care of business in week one, shutting out Illinois State and taking the game, 38-0. Braelon Allen looked impressive out of the backfield, rushing for 148 yards and two touchdowns, including a 96-yard touchdown run. The Badgers’ defense also provided its fair share of highlights, including a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown by safety John Torchio.
Washington State struggled to put away Idaho in its first game, intercepting a pass with just 12 seconds remaining to seal the win. On paper, Wisconsin should easily handle the Cougars, but the nature of the Badgers offense makes it hard to pull away quickly and score in spurts. Regardless, Wisconsin should roll its way to a victory on Saturday.
Maryland (-28) at Charlotte
Maryland defeated Buffalo, 31-10, in its season opener Saturday. Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa and the Terps’ acclaimed passing attack was decent, but the running game led the way. Running back Roman Hemby led the team with seven carries for 114 yards and two touchdowns and was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week. On the defensive side of the ball, senior Jakorian Bennett broke up a team-high five passes.
Charlotte is off to one of the worst starts of any team in the FBS at 0-2, suffering a 30-point loss to Florida Atlantic and a 17-point home loss to William & Mary — an FCS opponent. The 49ers look like they could be in for a long season, and a four-touchdown spread seems very attainable for Maryland to cover on Saturday.
Iowa State at Iowa (-3.5)
Last week, Iowa hosted FCS powerhouse South Dakota State and was simply abysmal on offense, failing to find the end zone even once. The final score was 7-3 in a game that saw no touchdowns and 21 combined punts between the two teams. The Hawkeyes’ defense was good enough to outscore the offense, getting two safeties for a total of four points — one more than the offense’s three. Quarterback Spencer Petras had a QBR of just 1.1, which ranks last among all FBS quarterbacks through one week. Iowa State, on the other hand, dropped 42 points in its first game, albeit playing against Southeast Missouri State.
A six-game win streak in the series, home field advantage and an elite defense is enough to give Iowa a slight edge in the game for the Cy-Hawk trophy, but things need to change in Iowa City if the Hawkeyes have any realistic aspirations of being a contender.
Akron at Michigan State (-34.5)
Michigan State easily beat in-state foe Western Michigan last Friday, led by quarterback Payton Thorne’s four passing touchdowns on the way to a 35-13 win. Jalen Berger stepped up as the Spartans’ top running back and will look to try and replicate the success they saw last season with Walter Camp Player of the Year Kenneth Walker III.
Akron, unlike Michigan State, has been one of the worst FBS programs in the nation over the last few years. The Zips managed to start 1-0 with an overtime victory over St. Francis (PA), one that did little to inspire confidence in their ability to hang with the Spartans. Saturday should be an easy win for Michigan State, but a 34.5-point spread is a lot to cover, especially if head coach Mel Tucker mixes in some new faces as the game goes on.
Virginia at Illinois (-5)
After an emphatic 38-6 win over Wyoming, Illinois lost a heart-breaker to Indiana, 23-20. The Fighting Illini took a four-point lead late in the fourth quarter, but the Hoosiers were able to march down the field in the remaining two minutes and score what ended up being a game-winning touchdown. Still, this year’s Illinois team looks much-improved from a season ago and could contend for bowl eligibility.
Virginia provides an interesting opponent, as the Cavaliers boast one of the best passing attacks in the country, led by quarterback Brennan Armstrong. They struggled to put away Richmond, but still came out with a 17-point victory. Saturday’s game between Virginia and Illinois should be one of the best of the weekend involving a Big Ten team and could come down to the final minutes.
Georgia Southern at Nebraska (-22.5)
The clock is ticking fast on head coach Scott Frost’s time at Nebraska, and after a week zero loss to Northwestern and a home win over North Dakota that was more competitive than expected, the Cornhuskers need a statement victory. Running back Anthony Grant has been Nebraska’s best offensive player through two games, rushing for 290 yards and four touchdowns.
Georgia Southern walloped Morgan State, 59-7, in its season opener, passing for 367 yards and running up the score despite being held scoreless in the first quarter. The Eagles did allow 172 rushing yards to Morgan State, though, providing a potential weakness for Nebraska to exploit. The Cornhuskers should, by all accounts, win this game, but whether or not they will cover a 22.5-point spread and win resoundingly remains to be seen.
Hawaii at Michigan (-50)
The largest spread of the week belongs to the matchup between Hawaii and Michigan, which projects to be one of the most lopsided games all season. This week, it’ll be JJ McCarthy’s turn to try out for the Wolverines’ starting quarterback job after Cade McNamara got the nod in week one against Colorado State, completing just nine-of-18 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown but leading the team to a commanding 51-7 victory.
By most metrics, Hawaii has been the worst team in the country to start the season after an offseason of turmoil and turnover. The Rainbow Warriors have lost their first two games by an average of 42.5 points and rank as the worst team in the FBS by ESPN’s Football Power Index. A 50-point spread is a lofty goal for Michigan to reach, but a 63-10 loss to Vanderbilt at home in week zero doesn’t bode well for Hawaii’s fortunes in Ann Arbor Saturday.
Note: Lines are not available on DraftKings Sportsbook for Western Illinois at Minnesota, Indiana State at Purdue, Wagner at Rutgers and Idaho at Indiana at this time.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.