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Big Ten Report - Week 8
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Big Ten · ACC · Pac-12
Week 7 of the Big Ten slate watched favorites go 3-1 both straight up and against the spread. The lone underdog to cash was Penn State (+2), who defeated Michigan 43-30 in the fourth overtime. Home teams went 3-1 and three of the margins were decided by double digits. Bettors watched the ‘over/under’ go 2-2.

Team SU Conference  ATS Over/Under
Illinois 3-2 0-1 3-2 3-2
Indiana 3-3 1-1 3-3 5-1
Iowa 4-2 1-1 3-3 4-2
Michigan 5-1 1-1 3-3 4-2
Michigan State 5-1 2-0 3-2-1 3-3
Minnesota 4-2 0-2 3-3 4-2
Nebraska 5-1 2-0 4-2 3-3
Northwestern 4-2 0-2 2-4 3-3
Ohio State 6-0 2-0 4-1-1 4-2
Penn State 4-2 1-1 3-3 4-2
Purdue 1-5 0-2 1-5 3-3
Wisconsin 4-2 2-1 5-0-1 2-4

Ohio State (-17, 55 ½) vs. Iowa (ESPN, 3:30 p.m. ET)
OSU is off of a well-deserved bye week after back-to-back hard-fought victories over Wisconsin and Northwestern. The Buckeyes return home Saturday as a heavy 2+ touchdown favorite when they take on the Hawkeyes. This is an intriguing matchup considering the Buckeyes have ridden a stout rushing attack the past two weeks (192 yards vs. Wisconsin & 248 yards vs. Northwestern) but now face an Iowa defense that has yet to allow a rushing touchdown and ranks 8th in rush yards allowed per game. OSU’s RB Hyde has now played three games since returning from suspension. He has 294 rushing yards (6.1 YPC average) and four total touchdowns. OSU’s rush defense will again be tested against Iowa’s power rushing scheme, but the Buckeyes have been great against the rush this year. They held Wisconsin and Northwestern – two prolific rushing teams – to just 198 combined rushing yards on 2.8 YPC. All signs indicate that if the Hawkeyes want a shot at winning this game, it will be on QB Rudock to expose this leaky OSU secondary. Rudock has 7 TD and 3 INT in his last four games but is far from elite. Still, the Bucks allowed 295 pass yards to Wisconsin two weeks ago and allowed Northwestern to complete 25-of-30 passes for 343 yards. Rudock and the rest of this offense used the bye week to sharpen things on offense after getting shutdown by Michigan State in their last game (264 total yards and 13 first downs) The Hawkeyes last won in Columbus in 1991 but are 7-2 ATS in their last seven games as a 15+ point underdog. OSU is 18-10 ATS in its last 28 as a favorite of 15+ or more.

Wisconsin (-12 ½, 55 ½) at Illinois (Big Ten, 8:00 p.m. ET)
The Badgers played arguably their most complete game of the season in last week’s blowout of Northwestern. Granted they got a downtrodden opponent off of its own “Game of the Year” loss a week before, but it’s hard to imagine a more dominant performance by the Badgers. Defensively the Badgers held Northwestern without a touchdown and limited them to just 241 yards, 10 first downs, and 2-of-17 on 3rd down. Wisconsin now ranks 5th nationally in both total defense (267 YPG) and points per game allowed (13.2 PPG). The offense did its thing with 527 total yards including 286 rush yards – 172 from star RB Gordon returning from a minor knee injury. The Illini are off of a bye week after getting blasted by Nebraska two weeks ago. The Illini never really mounted a serious challenge against Nebraska last week. They fell behind 23-5 by halftime and the defense couldn’t come up with a timely stop of Nebraska. The Huskers ran for 335 yards on 50 carries and that prevented Illinois’ offense from ever getting into consistent rhythm. Illinois’ QB Scheelhaase remains a headache with just 136 passing yards (50%) with 0 TD and 1 INT and it seems the Illini will either get “great Scheelhaase” or “terrible Scheelhaase” with no in-between. Wisconsin has won three straight over Illinois each by double digits (12.6 points per game), but the Illini are 4-2 ATS in the last six vs. Wisconsin. Illinois is also 9-3 ATS in its last 12 games as a home underdog of 10+ points.

Michigan State (-26 ½, 42 ½) vs. Purdue (Big Ten, 12:00 p.m. ET)

Looks like Mark Dantonio has finally found himself an offense to go with the nation’s #1 defense. Sure Indiana’s defense isn’t the greatest barometer, but the Spartans have to be encouraged by what QB Cook and this offensive unit has done lately. MSU racked up 473 yards and 24 first downs in the 42-point outburst against Indiana last week – in an almost perfect balance of 238 rushing yards and 235 passing yards. Cool now has 9 TD and just 2 INT over the last four games and is gaining confidence by the week. Defensively the Spartans played arguably its toughest offensive matchup in Indiana. MSU allowed 28 points, but held IU to just 92 rush yards on 3.4 YPC average and held IU QB’s to 25-of-47 completions. The Spartans have only been a 26+ point Big Ten favorite twice since 1990, so that should tell you how poor Purdue is playing right now. The Boilers’ only win this season was a narrow 6-point escape over FCS Indiana State at home. Purdue has lost to five FBS opponents by an average of 28.2 points per game. Freshman QB Etling completed just 14-of-35 passes and led the team to 11 first downs in the 44-7 blowout loss at home to Nebraska last week. The Boilers' problems on offense clearly go beyond the quarterback position as Purdue didn't cross midfield until the fourth quarter last week against Nebraska. This is a bad football team. It ranks 121st in total offense, 120th in scoring offense, 82nd in total defense, and 116th in scoring defense. Purdue has only been a 26+ point underdog once since 1996 (2011 against Wisconsin – one of the best Big Ten offenses of all-time). Michigan State is 4-0 in the last four meetings with Purdue (2-1-1 ATS), but is just 3-10 ATS in its last 13 games as a 20+ point Big Ten favorite.

Michigan (-7 ½, 67) vs. Indiana (Big Ten, 3:30 p.m. ET)
Michigan and Penn State battled through four overtimes before the winner was decided last week – and it wasn’t the Wolverines. The Wolves nearly pulled off another escape after a strong second half, but breakdowns in all three phases led to a crushing loss. The defense broke down at the end of regulation, the offense couldn't find the end zone in overtime and the normally reliable Brendan Gibbons missed three field goal attempts. Devin Gardner threw two more interceptions and Michigan mustered 149 rushing yards on just 2.8 YPC. The defense held the Nittany Lions to just 85 rush yards on 1.9 YPC, but allowed too many big plays in the passing game. After allowing 43 points to PSU in four overtimes, Michigan will have to bounce back quickly before the Wolves play the high-octane offense of Indiana. The Hoosiers offense saw more success against Michigan State’s vaunted defense than most opponents do, but the defense failed to show up again as the Hoosiers allowed 35+ points for the fourth time this season. The Spartans were able to churn out 238 rush yards on 5.1 YPC while QB Cook passed for 235 and two scores. The Hoosiers' quarterback situation took another turn as Tre Roberson outperformed Nate Sudfeld. Roberson is more of a dual-threat so expect coaches to at least get him a handful of touchdes throughout this game, especially if Sudfeld struggles. Indiana is just 1-32 all-time vs. Michigan and has lost 17 in a row. The Hoosiers have covered the last two meetings, losing by just 10 total points. The Hoosiers are just 2-8 ATS in the last 10 games as a Big Ten road underdog of 7+ points.

Northwestern (-12, 53 ½) vs. Minnesota (ESPN2, 12:00 p.m. ET)
Northwestern clearly had a hangover from the Ohio State game as nothing went right for the Wildcats in Madison last week. Wisconsin held QB’s Siemian & Colter to just 17-of-39 completions and the rushing attack managed just 44 yards on 25 carries. The Wildcats were just 2-of-17 on 3rd downs, had just 10 first downs, and didn’t score a touchdown. Injuries are starting to become a concern for Pat Fitzgerald's crew, as Venric Mark (ankle) barely played and Kain Colter (ankle) didn't do much at quarterback. The good news is that OSU & Wisconsin aren’t in Northwestern’s division, so the Wildcats can still make some noise in the conference – starting with Minnesota this weekend. Adversity continues for the Gophers as head coach Jerry Kill has taken a leave of absence as he tries to get his epilepsy under control. Although Minnesota assistants and players know how to adjust without Kill, it doesn't make the situation much easier. On the field, Minnesota dropped its second consecutive game by double digits in its 29-point blowout loss at Michigan two weeks ago. The Gophers offense has managed just 446 total yards and 20 points over the last two weeks. That includes just 83 rush yards per game on 2.4 YPC. QB’s Philip Nelson and Mitch Leidner have been mediocre all season long. They’ve combined for just 3 TD and 5 INT through six games. The defense isn’t good enough to make up for the ineffectiveness. Minnesota has allowed its last three opponents to average 432.6 YPG and 30 PPG. Offensively Minnesota is averaging just 242 YPG and 10 PPG in Big Ten play. Northwestern has won five of the last six over Minnesota, including the last time in Evanston by 15 points.

Penn State - BYE
It’s hard to get a gauge on Penn State. Two weeks ago the Nittany Lions were blown out by Indiana by 20 points. Last week they outlasted the previously undefeated Michigan Wolverines in four overtimes. Head coach Bill O'Brien played to win while Michigan's coaches went conservative, and freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg rebounded from some mistakes to lead the game-tying touchdown drive at the end of regulation. Penn State gets a well-deserved week off before heading to Ohio State to see if it can pull off some more magic.

Nebraska - BYE
Nebraska handled its business against Purdue and for the third consecutive game won in blowout fashion. Backup quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. threw three interceptions and completed only six passes (thus resolving the “quarterback controversy” between him and the injured Taylor Martinez), but he had plenty of help from the run game that notched 251 yards on 56 carries. The defense once again took a step forward and this unit is gaining more and more confidence each week. The Huskers once again are off this week, which should allow top signal-caller Taylor Martinez to heal from his toe injury.

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