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Big Ten Report - Week 7
Editor's Note: Don't miss out on college football winners in Week 7 from ASA on VegasInsider.com. Click to win!

ACC · Big Ten · Big 12 · Pac-12
2017 BIG 10 STANDINGS
Team SU Conference ATS Over/Under
Illinois 2-3 0-2 1-4 2-3
Indiana 3-2 0-2 2-3 2-3
Iowa 4-2 1-2 3-3 2-4
Maryland 3-2 1-1 3-2 4-1
Michigan 4-1 1-1 2-3 1-3-1
Michigan State 4-1 2-0 4-1 1-4
Minnesota 3-2 0-2 2-3 3-2
Nebraska 3-3 2-2 2-4 3-3
Northwestern 2-3 0-2 2-3 2-2-1
Ohio State 5-1 3-0 3-3 4-2
Penn State 6-0 3-0 4-1-1 1-5
Purdue 3-2 1-1 4-1 2-3
Rutgers 1-4 0-2 3-2 2-3
Wisconsin 5-0 2-0 3-2 4-1

Purdue at Wisconsin (-16.5) – (BTN, 3:30 p.m. ET)

The Boilers coming off a bye picked up a big home win last Saturday over Minnesota. While the final score was 31-17, it was much closer than that. Purdue actually trailed 17-16 with under 2:00 minutes remaining in the game. A 12-yard TD run with just over 1:00 minute remaining (plus 2-point conversion) and a 76-yard pick-six with just 10 seconds left made it a 14-point final margin. It was a game that saw an hour and 28 minute weather delay in the fourth quarter. It was also a game that was dominated by Purdue on the stat sheet. They had 4 more first downs, outgained the Gophers by 111 yards despite running 7 fewer offensive plays.

It was amazing the Boilermakers were down only 14-6 at half after turning the ball over on 4 of their first 5 possessions. They were happy to get starting RB Markell Jones back on the field for the first time this year as he finished with 52 yards on 12 carries. Defensively this could be a tough match up for Purdue as they allowed Minnesota to rush for 227 yards last week and now they face a Wisconsin team that ranks first in the Big Ten averaging 257 YPG on the ground.

The Badgers walked into Memorial Stadium last Saturday and put an end to the Huskers 20-game winning streak in night home games. The game turned very early on Nebraska’s first offensive possession. The Huskers took the ball 58 yards in five plays inside the Wisconsin 20-yard line and their opening drive looking promising. A tipped pass and Badger 78-yard interception for a TD took a potential Nebraska lead and turned it into a Wisconsin 7-0 score just 2:30 into the game. UW started fairly slow again as they were outgained at halftime and minus the pick-six played even on the scoreboard (17-10 halftime lead).

In their second drive after halftime, Wisconsin QB Hornibrook threw an interception for a TD and the game was tied at 17. After that the Badgers absolutely dominated. Hornibrook threw the pick-six with 10:43 to go in the third quarter and Wisconsin passed the ball a grand total of TWO times after that. From that point on they outscored Nebraska 21-0 and ran the ball 29 times for 177 yards en route to their 38-17 win. They finished with 353 yards rushing led by freshman RB Jonathan Taylor who had 249 yards on 25 carries. Taylor now leads the Big Ten in rushing averaging 153 YPG a mile ahead of Ohio State’s JK Dobbins, who is second averaging 111 YPG. The Badgers continue to excel in the second half outscoring opponents, 119-21.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS – These two met last year in West Lafayette and Wisconsin was favored by 27.5 points. The Badgers covered a tight one winning, 49-20. Wisky has absolutely dominated this series as of late winning 11 straight (10-1 ATS). The average score in those 11 Badger wins was 36-12. Bucky has covered just 2 of the last 9 times they’ve been a double digit home Big Ten favorite. This is just the second time this season Purdue is on the road (won at Mizzou). The Boilers are 13-3 ATS their last 16 road tilts.

Ohio State (-24) at Nebraska – (FS1, 7:30 p.m. ET)

OSU just continues to roll over their opponents. Last week, they faced a formidable Maryland team that has road wins this season over Texas and Minnesota. The Terps didn’t look formidable at the Horseshoe as Ohio State throttled them 62-14, while outgaining Maryland by a ridiculous 518 yards. The OSU defense played great allowing just one offensive TD on paltry 66 total yards. That was the fewest yards allowed by a Buckeye defense since the 1960 season. Maryland completed just three passes the entire game and averaged only 1.2 YPP in the game.

On the other side of the ball, the Buckeye offense is now officially clicking under new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. After a slow start their first two games of the season, they have now outscored their last four opponents, 210-42 outgaining them by a combined 1,645 yards or 411 YPG! They now lead the Big Ten in total offense and are the only team in the conference putting up more than 7 YPP (7.4). The only low point for the game was when the Bucks lost starting right guard Brandon Bowen for the season with a broken leg.

It will be interesting to see how Nebraska responds after last Saturday’s huge home game vs Wisconsin. The Huskers actually played well in the first half outgaining the Badgers. If not for a Wisconsin pick-six on the Huskers first drive of the game, the score would have been 10-10 at half. The Huskers were run into the ground in the second half and could be a bit demoralized and gassed after allowing Wisconsin to run for 353 yards on over 7 YPC. Offensively, they were actually pretty good putting up 381 yards on 6.2 YPP vs a very good Wisconsin defense.

The Huskers simply couldn’t capitalize and they had plenty of chances getting into Badger territory on six of their seven first half drives and coming away with only 10 points. How is this team going to get back up and attempt to slow down an OSU offense that has been absolutely unstoppable as of late? They could use the pointspread as a motivator as this is officially the largest home underdog number in the history of Nebraska football. The largest before this weekend was last weekend when they were +11.5 vs Wisconsin. Not only that, they’ve only been a dog of 24 or more (home or away) only one time EVER. That was in 2004 at Oklahoma where the Huskers were +30 and covered losing, 30-3.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS – OSU is favored by a full TD+ higher than they were at home vs the Huskers last year. Last year, the Buckeyes (-17) rolled over Nebraska 62-3. Nebraska has been a dog of 21 or more only twice in their HISTORY (both road games). They are 1-1 ATS in those games. The Bucks have been a conference road favorite of 21 or more 28 times since 1980. They are 28-0 SU and 18-10 ATS in those games. The Huskers are just 4-8 ATS as a double digit dog dating back to the 2006 season.

Michigan (-6) at Indiana – (ABC, 12:00 p.m. ET)

Michigan was upset by arch-rival MSU last weekend, 14-10 in a game that was played in heavy rain and wind during the second half. It was the eighth time in the last 10 seasons that the Spartans have topped the Wolverines. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is now 1-4 against rivals MSU and Ohio State. Michigan had more first downs, more total yardage, but were -5 in turnover ratio in the game. Their first turnover led directly to a Spartan TD. On top of that, one of their two fumbles came at the MSU 1-yard line as the Wolves were going in to score. The other 3 turnovers were all in their own territory and the Michigan defense stood strong and held Michigan State scoreless after those mistakes.

The defenses dominated allowing a combined total of just 552 yards and an average of only 4.0 YPP. Of the 29 offensive possessions in the game, 23 either ended in a punt (18) or a turnover (5). The Wolverines went into halftime down 14-3 and the defense did their part after the break holding MSU scoreless on just 34 yards of offense. John O’Korn took over at QB for an injured Wilton Speight at struggled big time with three picks and just a 45% completion rate. Speight is out again this week and will most likely be sidelined for a few more if not longer due to a back injury.

Indiana had a non-conference home game last week against Charleston Southern. The Hoosiers dominated by rolling to a 27-0 win, while outgaining the Buccaneers by over 300 yards. The defense was dominant holding CS to 134 total yards on 54 plays (2.48 YPP). The Bucs didn’t complete a pass the entire game (0 for 10)! Offensively, the Hoosiers made a change at QB starting true freshman Peyton Ramsey (first career start) in place of senior Richard Lagow. Ramsey has thrown 89 career passes and 41 of those came last week against Charleston Southern. He was great last week completing nearly 80% of his pass attempts for 321 yards and two TD’s. However putting up those numbers against Southern and facing the Michigan defense are two entirely different situations.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS – Since Harbaugh took over at Michigan in 2015, the Wolverines have won four of their five games SU following an outright loss. Since 1980, these two Big Ten foes have met 29 times. Michigan has won 28 of those games (17-12 ATS). The last time IU topped Michigan was back in 1987. Going back even further, Michigan has won 36 of the last 37 meetings dating back to 1968! Our ATS database goes back to 1980 and Michigan has been favored in all 29 games vs IU since then. This current spread of Michigan -5.5 is the lowest number in the last 30 meetings.

Michigan State (-4) at Minnesota – (BTN, 8:00 PM ET)

MSU pulled the upset at Michigan last week but it wasn’t without help. The Wolverines actually outgained Sparty but they also turned the ball over a whopping five times (0 for MSU). One of those turnovers led to a MSU touchdown and another basically took away a Michigan TD with a fumble at the Spartans 1-yard line. Michigan State took a 14-3 lead into halftime and then came out to a monsoon in the second half with heavy wind and rain. They did next to nothing offensively in the second half with their initial first down after halftime coming with just 2:25 remaining in the game.

They did hold on to win 14-10 despite gaining barely 30 yards the entire second half. It was MSU’s 8th win in the last 10 years over their arch rival. While the offense struggled, the defense played great again holding Michigan to 300 total yards, their lowest output of the year, on 4.0 YPP. The Spartans now rank second in the Big Ten in total defense allowing only 258 YPG. MSU is now off three huge games (Notre Dame, Iowa, and Michigan) and we’ll see how they respond on the road this weekend.

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The P.J. Fleck era started with a bang as the Gophs won their first 3 games of the season. The problem was, none of those wins were against a significant opponent. Those three victories came against Buffalo, Oregon State, and Middle Tennessee State who rank 104th, 110th, and 107th respectively in the Football Outsiders efficiency ratings. Minny has since plummeted back to earth quickly with two straight losses to start the Big Ten season. They were beaten at home by Maryland two weeks ago and then lost 31-17 at Purdue last Saturday. The game was much closer than that as Minnesota actually led 17-16 with under 1:30 remaining in the game.

After those two losses to start the conference season, this obviously becomes a huge home game for Minny. The defense, which looked very good after their first 3 games, has now allowed back to back 400+ yard games in league play. They may get a reprieve here facing an MSU offense that has scored 18, 17, and 14 points there last three games. Offensively they can run the ball (190 YPG). However, if they are forced to pass we’re not sure first year starting QB Rhoda can be a guy that carries them as Minnesota ranks 12th in the Big Ten in passing yardage. The Gophs are banged up at WR and in the secondary where they enter this game with only 2 healthy scholarship cornerbacks.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS – Minnesota has covered 11 of the last 15 meetings in this Big Ten battle dating back to 1995. However, the Gophers have only won six of the 26 meetings SU since 1980. Since 1997, MSU has been favored 9 times in this series going just 1-8 ATS in those contests. Minny is 19-10 ATS overall the last 29 games they’ve been tabbed a home underdog.

Northwestern (-3) at Maryland – (ESPN2, 3:30 p.m. ET)

Northwestern has faced off against two of the Big Ten’s and country’s best to start the conference season losing to both Wisconsin and Penn State. Last week, they played host to the Nittany Lions as a 14-point home dog and were walloped 31-7. The Wildcats continue to struggle running the ball which they considered a probable strength entering the season. After rushing for just 25 yards on 34 attempts vs Wisconsin two weeks ago, the Cats ran for just 67 yards on 30 carries last week vs PSU. Thus, in their two Big Ten games, NW has a total of 92 yards rushing on 64 attempts (1.4 YPC). For the entire season, they sit dead last in the conference in rushing (114 YPG), a full 10 yards per game behind 13th-place Illinois.

Defensively they’ve played quite well. While they did allow 33 points to Wisconsin and 31 to PSU, they held both in check on the stat sheet. Last week the Lions had just 381 yards on 4.8 YPP. The Cats rush defense in particular has been outstanding holding PSU to just 95 yards rushing and Wisconsin to only 109 yards on the ground a week earlier. Those are two of the better rushing teams with two of the top RB’s (Barkley & Taylor) in the country. Now they face another top notch rushing attack as Maryland ranks third in the Big Ten in rushing offense.

The Terps have had a roller coaster week to say the least. After beating Minnesota on the road two weeks ago they turned around and were absolutely destroyed at Ohio State last week. The Buckeyes rolled to a 62-14 win and outgained Maryland by over 500 yards! The offense literally couldn’t do anything last Saturday putting up 66 TOTAL yards on 55 offensive plays. Starting QB Bortenschlager, who played so well in his first start at Minnesota, completed THREE passes the entire game for 16 yards. He also had -43 yards rushing (sacks included) thus Bortenschlager accounted for -27 yards in the game. Maryland was held to less than 10 yards in 9 of their 14 offensive possessions.

Before hitting a wall last Saturday, the Terps rushing attack had been very good. Even after last week’s debacle, they still rank third in the Big Ten in rushing and Ty Johnson (102 YPG rushing) remains one of the top backs in the conference. They now face a NW defense that has shut down two of the top rushing attacks in the country the last few weeks so this one may fall on Bortenschlager and the Terp defense which ranks 13th in the conference allowing 420 YPG.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS – This is the first meeting between these two since Maryland joined the Big Ten a few years ago. Northwestern has been a road favorite in the Big Ten only 17 times over the last 38 seasons (10-7 ATS). Of the last 21 times Maryland has been a home underdog, they’ve lost 19 of those games outright pulling only 2 upsets. The Cats have been a road favorite already once this season losing at Duke 41-17 as a 2-point favorite.

Rutgers at Illinois (-2.5) – (BTN, 12:00 p.m. ET)

Rutgers is coming into this game off a bye week. They are 0-2 in the Big Ten with losses at Nebraska and at home vs Ohio State. While they look like they are improved with more playmakers offensively and simply better athletes than they’ve had across the board, they are still potentially the worst team in the Big Ten. If it’s not them, it’s Illinois so we’ll find out who will most likely bring up the conference rear after this game. Rutgers has been outgained in every game this year with the exception of FCS Morgan State. That just happens to be their only win in the last 13 months! In fact, if you throw out FCS competition, the Scarlet Knights are just 2-19 SU their last 21 games. They have lost 16 consecutive Big Ten games.

For the season, Rutgers is getting outgained by 61 YPG and 1.0 YPP. Along with Illinois, their opponent this weekend, Rutgers ranks dead last in the Big Ten in total offense at 303 YPG. They hope to have one of their top offensively playmakers back for this game as WR Janarion Grant has missed the last few weeks with headaches and concussion like symptoms. If he plays, who will be throwing to Grant? We don’t know. Head coach Chris Ash said this week he is opening up the QB competition for this week’s game vs Illinois. While Kyle Bolin has started every game thus far, Ash is also open to freshman Johnathan Lewis or Gio Rescigno taking the snaps on Saturday.

Illinois has been outscored 73-22 in their two Big Ten games this season, losses to Nebraska and Iowa. While Rutgers is winless in their last 16 Big Ten games, the Illini have won just 3 of their last 18 conference games. Last week’s final score at Iowa (45-16 loss) was a bit deceiving. It was a one score game going into the fourth quarter with Iowa leading 24-16. The Hawkeyes scored TD’s on three of their first four drives in the fourth quarter, putting the game out of reach. Even with the wide margin win, the stats were surprisingly quite close with both teams accumulating 20 first downs and Iowa outgaining the Illini by just 5 yards.

Illinois did have four turnovers which led to 17 of Iowa’s 45 points. New starting QB Jeff George, Jr. struggled throwing three interceptions and 0 TD’s. QB play has been a huge issue for Illinois as neither Chayce Crouch nor Jeff George has been very good. Those two have combined to throw just two TD passes and nine interceptions through the first five games. Illinois currently ranks last in total offense in the Big Ten (tied with Rutgers) and they also are dead last in total defense.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS – Last year Illinois traveled to Rutgers as a 4-point favorite and beat the Scarlet Knights 24-7. Since 2011, Illinois has been a Big Ten favorite only 12 times. They are 3-9 ATS in those contests. The Illini are just 18-27 ATS their last 45 as a home favorite overall. Rutgers is surprisingly 26-16-1 ATS the last 43 times they’ve been an underdog of seven points or less.

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