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NCAAF · 19 days ago

B1G Bets: Best 8 Big Ten Football Picks for Week 12

Danny Mogollon

Danny Mogollon

B1G Bets: Best 8 Big Ten Football Picks for Week 12

With a strong Week 11, we’re back up to 60 percent on the season, including 74 percent on BIGGER Bets and 83 percent on B1GGEST Bets. With just two Saturdays left in the 2023 college football season, let’s dive into Week 12.

Five B1G West teams can clinch a bowl berth with a win. While Minnesota (+27.5) has no chance in Columbus, we will get at least one, as Nebraska and Wisconsin go head-to-head in Madison. Having already locked up bowl eligibility, first-place Iowa (8-2) can win the West division and secure a trip to the B1G Championship Game.

Record: 36-24-1 overall (+16.5 units) | ATS: 19-12-1 | Team Totals: 14-11 | Game Totals: 3-1

Scared money, don’t make money. Let’s eat!

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B1GGEST Bets (1.5 Units):

Last Week: 1-0; Season: 5-1 (+6 Units)


More B1G: Big Ten Power Rankings | Harrison for Heisman? | Harbaugh Accepts Suspension 

B1GGER Bets (1 Units):

Last Week: 1-0; Season: 20-7 (+13 Units)

PENN STATE -20 Rutgers (DraftKings)

Money Line: Penn State -1400 | Rutgers +800 | Total: 40.5

Time: 12:00 p.m. ET; TV: FS1 | Location: Beaver Stadium | University Park, PA

Penn State: CFP Ranking: 12 | SP+: 5 | PFF: 9

Rutgers: CFP Ranking: NR | SP+: 52 | PFF: 60

Rutgers is much improved this season, but their inability to throw the football puts a ceiling on their success and limits them against better defenses. They’ve played three elite units in Michigan, Ohio State, and Iowa. In those games, the Scarlet Knights scored 23 points in total. That’s 7.67 PPG.

The passing offense is objectively bad: ranked 105th in passing success rate and 81st in EPA/pass. In October/November, Gavin Wimsatt is 51 of 118 passing (43.2%) with season-low completion percentages in three straight games.

Rutgers needs to run, and after giving up over 200 rushing yards to Michigan, you know PSU’s defense will look to bounce back this week.

While RU’s defense is the team’s strength, part of their success is playing complementary football. The Scarlet Knights run the football, play slowly (112th in plays per minute), and are ranked 36th in time of possession.

Do you know who’s sixth in time of possession? Penn State. When Rutgers lost the time of possession battle last week, they allowed 22 points to Iowa (18.8 PPG). That’s a Hawkeyes offense that has topped 20 against a Power Five opponent twice in eight tries, and Saturday was the first time without the help of a special teams TD.

Yes, against Michigan and Ohio State, Penn State’s offense looked Iowa-esque. Against the rest of the Big Ten, including Iowa, the Nittany Lions are averaging 37.2 PPG. Drew Allar was 28 of 64 (43.8%, 4.1 YPP, 2 TDs) vs. those two teams and is 163 of 246 (66.2%, 6.9 YPP, 19 TDs) against everyone else.

James Franklin is 9-0 against Rutgers, as both joined the Big Ten in 2014. He’s 4-0 in State College versus the Scarlet Knights, scoring 28-3, 35-6, 27-6, and 38-0.

Expect RU’s defense to wear down again and PSU to flex against an inferior foe.

Check out SportsGrid’s CFB Game Picks and CFB Player Props

B1G Bets (1/2 Unit):

Last Week: 3-0; Season: 11-16-1 (-2.5 Units)

Michigan -19 MARYLAND (DraftKings)

Money Line: Michigan -1400 | Maryland +8000 | Total: 49.5

Time: 12:00 p.m. ET; TV: FOX | Location: SECU Stadium | College Park, MD

Michigan: CFP Ranking: 3 | SP+: 1 | PFF: 2

Maryland: CFP Ranking: NR | SP+: 35 | PFF: 55

Five Keys to Victory: Michigan | Maryland | Weather: MICH-MAR | OSU-MIN | ILL-IOWA | PSU-RU

Michigan, while 5-4-1 ATS this season, is 4-1 when we back the Wolverines and a perfect 4-0 ATS on the road with wins by 38 points at Nebraska, 42 at Minnesota, and 49 at Michigan State. They break their opponent’s will, and I expect that to happen again against Maryland, which has been in a tailspin since playing OSU tough in the first half in Columbus.

The two times the Terps stepped up in competition this season, Maryland failed to cover at the Buckeyes (lost 37-17) and against No. 11 Penn State (lost 51-15). Beating a Nebraska team that threw four INTs by an FG isn’t the losing streak stopper that has me thinking they’ve turned it around.

And now they’re running into a Michigan juggernaut that has been hammering teams. The one question many had about the Wolverines going into last week was, what happened to the running game? They found it in Happy Valley. It’s the best Blake Corum (145 yards, 2 TDs) and Donovan Edwards (52 yards, 5.2 YPC, TD) have looked all season.

Expect the Wolverines to win the line of scrimmage against the Terps, move the ball through the air and ground, and limit a one-dimensional Maryland offense (89th in rushing success rate) that has scored 28 points in the past two games against Penn State and Nebraska.

I don’t know if everything going on with the NCAA provides motivation or helps Michigan much when playing Penn State and Ohio State. They have enough motivation. But against Maryland? I believe this week…a “sandwich” game…helps them focus. They are a two-time defending B1G and National Championship favorite playing angrily with a chip on their shoulders.

IOWA -3 Illinois (BetMGM)

Money Line: Iowa -155 | Illinois +130 | Total: 32.5

Time: 3:30 p.m. ET; TV: FS1 | Location: Kinnick Stadium | Iowa City, IA

Wisconsin: CFP Ranking: NR | SP+: 38 | PFF: 53

Nebraska: CFP Ranking: NR | SP+: 57 | PFF: 62

We know. Iowa’s offense is terrible. Really bad. It upsets people that they’re ranked 16th in the CFP. But the defense is elite. We’re talking No. 2 in SP+, No. 2 in points per drive, No. 12 in defensive success rate, and No. 18 in EPA margin.

Losing Cooper DeJean hurts, especially against a team that just threw for 507 yards last week. But that was against Indiana, who allows 30 PPG (13th in the B1G), while Iowa is third at 12.3 PPG.

QB1 Luke Altmyer has been cleared to play for Illinois, but he’s not the guy who threw for over 500 yards. Bret Bielema could stick with John Paddock (“the guy”). I wouldn’t be surprised to see both. In other injury news, leading rusher Kaden Feagin hasn’t practiced this week, while WR2 Pat Bryant is a game-time decision and is expected to play.

I’ll take Iowa’s defense against any B1G West offense. We’re going with the side this week because the Illini are also the same team that allowed Indiana to score 45 points last week. They’ve given up at least 24 points in four straight games and eight overall this season.

In four road games, they’ve allowed 32 PPG.

The Hawkeyes are also coming off one of their best offensive games of the season. Deacon Hill set a new career high with 223 passing yards, his second straight start completing over 64 percent of his passes (previous high was 43%) with a rating of over 110 (previous high was 81).

The running game was effective and balanced as the Leshon Williams, Kaleb Johnson, and Jaziun Patterson trio had over 50 rushing yards on their way to 170 yards (4.6 YPC) against a quality Rutgers defense.

The spread of three indicates these teams are even. They’re not. The Hawkeyes are the better team. Lay the field goal.

WISCONSIN -4.5 Nebraska (BetMGM)

Money Line: Wisconsin -200 | Nebraska +165 | Total: 36.5

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET; TV: NBC | Location: Camp Randall Stadium | Madison, WI

Wisconsin: CFP Ranking: NR | SP+: 38 | PFF: 53

Nebraska: CFP Ranking: NR | SP+: 57 | PFF: 62

Wisconsin is coming off its worst game of the season, a 24-10 loss to Northwestern, their lone touchdown coming with 11 seconds left. And they’re pissed. Luke Fickell called their performance “embarrassing.”

His players were harsher.

Safety Hunter Wohler called the team “soft,” “flat,” and said they were “pushed around” with “nothing to say about it.” Quarterback Tanner Mordecai said he will have his eye out for which teammates have “a big give-a-s—- factor in this program.”

It’s a night game in Camp Randall. For some, it will be their final home game as Badgers (senior night). For others who want to show how much they care, it’s the first game of the rest of their Wisconsin career.

This isn’t just about the vibes.

On a down-for-down basis, the Badgers are also the better team. They have an edge in EPA margin (35 to 53), offense (success rate of 33 to 92), where they’re much better and more balanced, and special teams (SP+ 21 to 97).

We’re still not sure about the status of Braelon Allen, or we’d have more confidence in this pick. On the positive side, this is Mordecai’s second game back from injury, and he wasn’t afraid to use his legs last week.

Two weeks ago, Michigan State snapped a six-game losing streak against the Huskers. Last week, Maryland ended a four-game slide in Lincoln. On Saturday, the Badgers will avoid a fourth straight defeat by knocking off Nebraska.

Nebraska UNDER 15.5 (FanDuel)

Where the Badgers have the most significant edge is on defense. A defense that allowed Northwestern (Northwestern!) to convert their first ten third-down attempts. They will be better this week.

According to HC Matt Rhule, Nebraska QB1 Heinrich Haarberg left last week’s game with an ankle injury, which he will test on Friday. Rhule added that Haarberg “will be available in some capacity,” but Jeff Sims and Chubba Purdy took most of the reps in practice this week.

Sims, benched in favor of Haarberg, threw his fifth and sixth interceptions against Maryland. That’s in 47 attempts! One of Purdy’s three passes was picked off as all three QBs threw an INT last week. In limited duty last season, Purdy was 46.8% passing with no TDs to three INTs and 3.1 YPP.

The offense is terrible—118th in net/points drive, 92nd in success rate, and 88th in EPA—and potentially a disaster (27 turnovers). The Cornhuskers are last in the Big Ten in pass attempts, which is saying something, so they have to run the ball to have any chance, and their rush production has gone down in conference play (4.0 YPC).

Wisconsin’s run defense is among the best in the country: 31st in success rate and 32 EPA/rush. Expect Wohler and their deep group of hard-hitting linebackers to bring it on Saturday.

Michigan State +4 INDIANA (BetRivers)

Money Line: Indiana -185 | Michigan State +150 | Total: 47

Time: 12:00 p.m. ET; TV: BTN | Location: Memorial Stadium | Bloomington, IN

Indiana: CFP Ranking: NR | SP+: 94 | PFF: 106

Michigan State: CFP Ranking: NR | SP+: 86 | PFF: 77

These are two bad teams. Is Michigan State better than Indiana? I’d lean towards Sparty having more talent and being the better team. Most of the computers and metrics agree with me.

MSU has a decent defense, and they excel on third/fourth downs (22nd in success rate), while IU’s offense is 128th in third/fourth down success.

Neither team can make a bowl, regardless of the outcome on Saturday. The Hoosiers have played their best football over the past three weeks; however, they’re coming off a heartbreaking overtime loss (preceded by a near upset of Penn State and an upset over Wisconsin), with a game against in-state rival Purdue next week, a game that will mean a lot more to them.

Over the past six games, the Spartans have been in everyone other than Michigan and Ohio State. They were tied at Iowa with 5:00 remaining, lost by three at Rutgers, trailed Minnesota by five midway through the fourth quarter, and beat Nebraska last week. All teams that are better than the Hoosiers. We took the points at Rutgers and will do so again at Indiana.

OHIO STATE-Minnesota UNDER 50 (DraftKings)

Money Line: Ohio State -5000 | Minnesota +1400 | Spread: Ohio State -27.5

Time: 4:00 p.m. ET; TV: BTN | Location: Ohio Stadium | Columbus, OH

Ohio State: CFP Ranking: 2 | SP+: 3 | PFF: 4

Minnesota: CFP Ranking: NR | SP+: 55 | PFF: 40

Ohio State is coming off a 38-point win, but it’s just their second Big Ten win by more than 20 points, and they’ve covered just once in the past nine games the week before Michigan. Also, they’re a lot better than Minnesota.

Unable to trust either side, let’s go with the UNDER.

The unit I trust in this game is an OSU defense that’s second nation in scoring defense (9.9 PPG). The Buckeyes haven’t allowed more than 17 points in a game all season and have held eight opponents to 14 points or less.

A Gophers offense, ranked 106th in net points/drive, 80th in EPA/margin, and 79th in success rate, isn’t the group to break through.

At the same time, I don’t expect the Buckeyes to show much the week before their trip to Ann Arbor. And even if they jump out to a big lead as they did last week (35-3), expect them to take their foot off the gas in the second half (three points in total).


Money Line: Purdue -150 | Northwestern +125 | Total: 47.5

Time: 12:00 p.m. ET; TV: BTN | Location: Ryan Field | Evanston, IL

Purdue: CFP Ranking: NR | SP+: 85 | PFF: 63

Northwestern: CFP Ranking: NR | SP+: 75 | PFF: 72

Finally, give me Northwestern, getting points at home.

They’re 4-1 in Ryan Field, with their lone loss coming to Penn State (tied at the half). The Wildcats smoked UTEP 38-7, upset Minnesota 37-34, and Maryland 33-27.

This is a different team with Ben Bryant at quarterback, who led them to 24 first-half points at Wisconsin last week in yet another upset. That one was in Madison, but playing the role of home dog is their comfort zone.

The Wildcats couldn’t feel better going into this game, one win from clinching a bowl with David Braun being named the full-time head coach.

The Boilermakers got their much-needed win last week to snap their four-game losing streak, with their rivalry game against Indiana in Week 13 circled on their calendar.

This is a toss-up game. Give me the home dog and the points.

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