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Big Ten Report - Week 4

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Big Ten · ACC · Pac-12
In Week 3, the 12 schools in the Big Ten went 7-5 both straight up and against the spread in non-conference play. A lot of talk was made out of Wisconsin getting robbed in the desert against Arizona State but the group was also lucky to see Michigan get past Akron at the Big House. The 'over' went 6-6 last weekend.

2013 BIG TEN STANDINGS
Team SU Conference  ATS Over/Under
Illinois 2-1 0-0 2-1 2-1
Indiana 2-1 0-0 2-1 2-1
Iowa 2-1 0-0 1-2 2-1
Michigan 3-0 0-0 1-2 1-2
Michigan State 3-0 0-0 1-2 1-2
Minnesota 2-1 0-0 2-1 2-1
Nebraska 2-1 0-0 1-2 2-1
Northwestern 3-0 0-0 2-1 2-1
Ohio State 3-0 0-0 2-1 2-1
Penn State 2-1 0-0 1-2 2-1
Purdue 1-2 0-0 1-2 1-2
Wisconsin 2-1 0-0 2-1 1-2


Wisconsin (-24, 47.5) vs. Purdue (ESPN2, 3:30 p.m. ET)
There’s not much left to say about the events that led to a loss for Wisconsin against Arizona State. Wisconsin was far from perfect in that game, but the Badgers fought hard in all three phases and it’s a shame that the refs took away an opportunity for a game-winning field goal in the final seconds. Wisconsin received another huge effort from their running game, especially RB Gordon who tallied 193 yards and two touchdowns. He now ranks 2nd in the NCAA in rushing yards and 1st with a 12.9 YPC average. QB Stave was an inefficient 15-of-30 passing for 187 yards, but he didn’t have a turnover and faced constant pressure on dropbacks. Defensively the Badgers performed well against a very strong offense. They held ASU QB Kelly to just 56% completions with no touchdown passes. They also held ASU to just 116 rushing yards on a 2.8 YPC average. They’ll have to rebound quickly and try to avoid a hangover here for first official Big Ten game of the season. Purdue played its best game last week in a home loss to Notre Dame. The Boilers held a lead over the Irish into the 4th quarter, but that’s when the wheels fell off. Notre Dame gained 214 of its 400 yards in the 4th quarter and also had an interception returned for a touchdown. Quarterback Rob Henry looked the most comfortable he’s looked all season, but the offense only had 38 rushing yards on 21 carries (1.8 YPC) and the defense couldn’t get off the field late in the game. The schedule doesn’t do them any favors as they now have to travel to Camp Randall Stadium, where they’ve lost three straight – including a 45-point loss the last time here. Wisconsin is 7-0 SU & ATS in its last seven games against Purdue, winning by an average of 24.7 points per game. Last year the Badgers notched 645 total yards and 467 rushing yards.

Michigan State (+6.5, 41.5) at Notre Dame (NBC, 3:30 p.m. ET)
Michigan State finally discovered its offense last week. It came against FCS Youngstown State, but it was a refreshing sight nonetheless. Newly appointed starting QB Connor Cook completed 15-of-22 passes for 202 yards and four scores and the running game churned out 277 yards on 49 carries and helped the Spartans hold the ball for nearly 40 minutes of game time. The 547 total yards and 30 first downs were season highs for this offense and they couldn’t have come at a better time. MSU’s defense was its usual self. Sparty’s stop unit allowed just 172 total yards and eight first downs. This defense ranks 1st in total yards allowed, 4th against the rush, 5th against the pass, and 12th in points allowed. Now the Spartans have a newfound confidence heading into their rival matchup with Notre Dame. ND might be getting a bit overvalued by the oddsmakers early this season. They are already 0-3 ATS with three less than inspiring performances. Temple was able to hang around too long, Michigan beat ND by double digits, and Notre Dame nearly pulled off an upset on the road last week. They don’t have much of a running game to speak (92nd in rush YPG with 2 rushing TD) and are asking QB Rees to do too much. He’s answered the call nicely (969 passing yards & 7 touchdowns), but he’ll face his most difficult test against the Spartans this weekend. Sparty’s pass defense has allowed opposing QB’s to complete just 35-of-101 passes (34%) for 126 yards per game with 3 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. The Irish have won two years in a row over MSU, including last year’s 20-3 shutdown performance. MSU has covered seven of the last eight trips to South Bend.

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Michigan (-17.5, 51) at Connecticut – (ESPN, 8:00 p.m. ET)

Michigan was extremely fortunate to come away with a home win last week against mighty…Akron? That’s right; the same team that beat Notre Dame by double digits needed a 4th & Goal stop on defense in the final seconds to hold off the Zips. Michigan played uninspired football with four turnovers. Devin Gardner completed just 16-of-30 passes for 248 yards with 2 TD and 3 INT and the Wolves were 3-of-10 on 3rd down. Michigan’s defense was also vulnerable, allowing 418 yards, 21 first downs, and 50% conversions on 3rd down to the lowly Zips. They’ll try to work on all of those issues in their final game before conference play begins. The Wolves are 17.5 point favorites in their first road game at UConn this Saturday. We would say that UConn has the “advantage” of playing at home here, but that doesn’t appear to be the case this year. UConn is 0-2 at home this season after losing to FCS Towson in week one and Maryland last week. The Huskies have problems all over the place. They rank 124th in rushing yards, 104th in total yards, and 101st in yards allowed. Michigan won the only prior meeting in 2010, 30-10. The Wolves are 4-9 SU in true road openers since 2000 and haven’t been this big of a non-conference road favorite since 1998.

Indiana (+3, 71) vs. Missouri (Big Ten, 8:00 p.m. ET)
Indiana put together arguably its best performance of the season in last week’s win over a quality Bowling Green opponent. BGU blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown early in the game, but that was the only TD from the Falcons. Indiana’s normally transparent defense held BGU to just three offensive points. The Falcons did achieve 409 yards and 24 first downs, but the Hoosiers made stops when it mattered. Indiana got more than enough offense behind 335 passing yards from QB Sudfeld and a combined 284 rushing yards from RB’s Houston & Coleman. This week an SEC opponent comes to Bloomington and it marks the Hoosiers’ toughest opponent to date. Missouri had last week off after two easy wins in its first two games. The Tigers beat FCS Murray State (by 44 points) and Toledo (by 15) at home to start 2-0. Missouri has had a very balanced attack through two games, averaging 265 rush yards per game and 274 pass yards per game. QB Franklin has completed 66.7% of his passes and there are four players with 110+ rushing yards. This is just Missouri’s 3rd regular season true road game since 2002. The Tigers are 10-2 SU & 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games as a road favorite.

Penn State (-20.5, 53.5) vs. Kent State (Big Ten, 3:30 p.m. ET)
Penn State mounted a solid comeback last week after being down 28-10 to UCF, but it was too little too late and the Nittany Lions fell by three, 34-31. UCF was able to gain 508 yards against this PSU defense with little resistance. QB Bortles completed 20-of-27 for 288 and three scores and UCF ran for 220 yards on 37 carries (5.9 YPC average). The Lions will have a chance to clean up that defense here against Kent State before it plays against three potent Big Ten offenses – Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio State. PSU’s offense wasn’t the problem against UCF. Freshman QB Hackenberg had another strong outing (21-of-28, 262 YDS, 1 TD, 0 INT) and PSU notched 193 rushing yards on 5.5 YPC. This offense is playing consistently well and Hackenberg is maturing every week under HC Obrien’s tutelage. Kent State has had a rough go of things early this season after an impressive 11-3 finish last year. Top playmaker RB Archer has been injured since week one and this offense has suffered greatly. The Flashes rank 116th in total offense and 109th in scoring. The defense isn’t any better. KSU’s stop unit ranks 103rd in yards allowed and 93rd in points allowed. They are beat up after a blowout road loss to a physical LSU team last weekend and things won’t get any easier here in Happy Valley on Saturday. These two met in State College in 2010 with PSU winning, 24-0 as a 21-point favorite.

Minnesota (-4.5, 51) vs. San Jose State (ESPN2, 12:00 p.m. ET)
Health is a main concern this week for the Gophers. Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill missed the 2nd half of last week’s game after suffering his fourth game-day seizure. He is back to practice and is expected to be back on the sidelines this weekend. The same can’t be said about starting QB Nelson. Nelson suffered a hamstring injury in the 2nd quarter and was unable to return in the 2nd half. He remains questionable for Saturday’s non-conference finale against San Jose State. QB Leidner came in to complete 7-of-8 passes for 105 yards and also rushed for 64 yards in Nelson’s absence. The Gophers are also preparing to welcome back 2012 leading rusher Donnell Kirkwood back from an ankle injury. San Jose State is no gimme win for the Gophers. The Spartans have one of the top QB’s in the nation in David Fales. Fales had a rough outing at Stanford in his last game (29-of-43 for 216 with 1 TD and 1 INT), but Stanford has arguably the top defense in the nation behind only Alabama. Fales threw for 33 TD and 9 INT a year ago and Gophers pass defense will have to step up this week. Minnesota is 4-1 ATS in its last five games hosting non-conference opponents.

Iowa (-16.5, 50.5) vs. Western Michigan (Big Ten, 12:00 p.m. ET)
Iowa is 2-1 this season and, for better or worse, all three have been tightly contested. Last week Iowa survived a late comeback attempt by in-state rival Iowa State. The Hawkeyes had a 27-7 lead in the 4th quarter before two quick ISU touchdowns made it a 6-point game with 2:26 remaining. Iowa has ridden RB Weisman hard and often. He leads the nation with 85 rushing attempts (10 more than 2nd place) and that has led to 425 rushing yards. Defensively the Hawks have been stellar. They are holding opponents to fewer than 100 rushing yards per game and rank 28th in total yards allowed. They need to be, as their offense isn’t going to win many shootouts this season. Western Michigan comes to town this weekend having already dropped two road games against Big Ten opponents. The Broncos lost at Michigan State in week one by 16 points and at Northwestern last week by 21 points (2-0 ATS in those contests). Offensively they struggled against MSU & NW, averaging just 274 YPG and 15 PPG. Quarterbacks have completed just 34-of-89 passes (38%) in those two losses with four TD and four INT. Iowa is just 5-15 ATS its last 20 games when favored by 15 points or more.

Ohio State (-50) vs. FCS Florida A&M (Big Ten, 12:00 p.m. ET)
Maybe Braxton Miller should sit out more often? It didn’t matter that the Buckeyes were without their Heisman candidate QB at Cal last week. Backup QB Guiton led the Buckeyes to a season-high 52 points. He threw for 276 yards and 4 TD (no INT) and rushed for 92. RB Hall pitched in with 168 yards and three scores as OSU ran away with this one. Cal features a pretty potent offense that was able to rack up 503 yards and 34 points, but OSU never really felt threatened in this game (Cal never cut it to single digits after 11:27 remaining in the 1st quarter). They’ll get a tune-up game this week against FCS Florida A&M before conference play kicks off with a key game against Wisconsin next weekend.

Northwestern (-28) vs. FCS Maine (Big Ten, 3:30 p.m. ET)
Northwestern notched its fifth straight victory by 14 points or more (dating back to 2012) with last week’s 21-point win over Western Michigan. The Wildcats ran 55 times for 332 yards and four touchdowns. This year’s team is more dynamic on offense than they’ve ever been and that’s remarkable considering they’re still without top RB Mark. That defense remains too generous (442 YPG allowed) but they’ve been able to mask it with timely takeaways. Still, that stop-unit will get one last chance to correct itself with a tune-up game against FCS Maine this weekend.

Nebraska (-20.5) vs. FCS South Dakota State (Big Ten, 3:30 p.m. ET)
Nebraska was feeling good up 21-3 against UCLA last week before everything fell apart. UCLA scored 38 unanswered points en route to a 20-point victory over Nebraska in Lincoln. The Bruins had their way with the Huskers in a 28-point 3rd quarter outburst. Overall, the Huskers were outgained by 173 yards and had six fewer first downs. Nebraska managed just 3.0 YPC and was converted on just 21% of its third downs. To make things worse, a voice recording came out this week of HC Bo Pelini bashing the Nebraska faithful (though the recording was from 2011). Will the Huskers unravel under the circumstances? Or will they come together to salvage their season? Unfortunately we won’t get much of an answer as they take on FCS South Dakota State this week.

Illinois – Bye Week
Illinois gets a bye week after suffering its first loss of the season to Washington. Credit the Illini for cutting the deficit to seven points in the 4th quarter after trailing by 21, but they were outplayed the entire game. Washington outgained Illinois by 288 yards and had a +13 first down advantage. The Illini defense allowed UW QB Price to complete an extremely efficient 28-of-35 passes for 342 yards and two scores. After two solid performances to start the season, Illini QB Scheelhaase reverted back to his 2012 form. He completed just 9-of-25 passes for 156 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. Illinois will take the week off before hosting Miami (OH) next week.

  
HEADLINES
Edwards: Florida at Alabama
David: Total Notes - Week 4
Marshall: Tech Trends - Week 4
Williams: ACC Report - Week 4
Edwards: Oklahoma at West Virginia
ASA: Big Ten Report - Week 4
Williams: Pac-12 Report - Week 4
Sportsbook: Saturday's Top Action
Rogers: Bad Company - Week 4
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