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NCAAF · 3 months ago

B1G Bets: Big Ten Week 4 Game Odds, Preview & Picks

Danny Mogollon

Danny Mogollon

B1G Bets: Big Ten Week 4 Game Odds, Preview & Picks

With a 5-1 record in Week 3, we’re now 11-2 over the past two weeks, including a winner with our first BIGGEST Bet of the season.

With five Big Ten matchups this week, starting with Wisconsin at Purdue tonight (see more below), the schedule is down to nine games in Week 4, and we have plays in six.

Overall Record: 12-4 overall (+8 units) | ATS: 7-3 | Team Totals: 4-1 | Game Totals: 1-0

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

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B1GGEST Bets (1.5 Units):

Last Week: 1-0; Season: 1-0 (+1.5 Units)

Iowa UNDER 12.5 (DraftKings)

Spread: Penn State -14.5 | Money Line: Penn State -720 | Iowa +500 | Total: 40.5

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET; TV: CBS | Location: Beaver Stadium | University Park, PA

Penn State: AP Top 25: 7 | Coaches Poll: 7 | SP+: 9 | PFF: 7

Iowa: AP Top 25: 24 | Coaches Poll: 22 | SP+: 28 | PFF: 23

Spread: Penn State -14.5 | Money Line: Penn State -720 | Iowa +500 | Total: 40.5

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET; TV: CBS | Location: Beaver Stadium | University Park, PA

Penn State: AP Top 25: 7 | Coaches Poll: 7 | SP+: 9 | PFF: 7

Iowa: AP Top 25: 24 | Coaches Poll: 22 | SP+: 28 | PFF: 23

This matchup pits one of the best defenses in the country against one of the worst offenses in college football.

Let’s start with the good. PSU is ranked fifth in defensive success rate – 20th vs. the pass and 13th vs. the run. They are tenth in EPA/pass and 27th in EPA/rush. Bill Connelly’s SP+ ranks the Nittany Lions as the fourth-best defense in the FBS.

The bad? Iowa is 121st in offensive success rate – 112th in passing and 86th in rushing. They are 101st in EPA/pass and 47th in EPA/rush. Bill Connelly’s SP+ ranks the Hawkeyes as the 81st-best offense in the FBS.

Moreover, Iowa struggles in early downs (81st in EPA), while PSU excels (second in EPA), which means a lot of third and long situations for the Hawkeyes (113th in third/fourth down success rate). That’s when it will get ugly.

Iowa QB Cade McNamara might be fully participating in practice, but when he tries to move, it’s obvious he’s nowhere close to 100 percent. That limits his ability to play action and put everything into his throws. The former Michigan man doesn’t look right.

Those Iowa numbers don’t even factor in losing their top pass catcher, TE Luke Lachey, or their top two running backs, Kaleb Johnson and Jaziun Patterson. Lachey and Patterson were injured last week.

Then, consider two of their first three opponents: Utah State (106th SP+ defense) and Western Michigan (116th). Yikes.

McNamara is only completing 53.5% of his passes and now has to deal with the pass rush of Abdul Carter, Chop Robinson, and Adisa Isaac while going up against one of the best secondaries in the country. The Hawkeyes will struggle to get first downs.

If this line hits 14 again, I may get in on PSU ATS.


Spread: Minnesota -11.5 | Money Line: Minnesota -450 | Northwestern +340 | Total: 38.5

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET; TV: BTN | Location: Ryan Field | Evanston, IL

Minnesota: AP Top 25: NR | Coaches Poll: NR | SP+: 42 | PFF: 32

Northwestern: AP Top 25: NR | Coaches Poll: NR | SP+: 89 | PFF: 91

If you’ve followed B1G Bets this season, you should have seen this pick coming. We were on the Minnesota defense two weeks ago when they held EMU to six points, and a week ago, we told you they couldn’t hang with UNC (lost 31-13).

The Gophers were out of their element defending Drake Maye (40 passes). Back to the B1G West, they’ll feel at home on the road against Northwestern. This is a horses-for-courses defense.

This week, they’ll face Ben Bryant, who is completing 55.2% of his passes, averaging 4.7 yards per pass (wow), with two TD passes to three INTs.

Against two Power Five teams, the Wildcats have scored 21 total points, which includes two touchdowns in the garbage time (1:30 or less remaining) of blowout losses in Weeks 1 (Rutgers) and 3 (Duke)!

I’m not sure how many points the Gophers will score, but I believe they can run the ball and control the clock (119th in pace of play). Like any team in the Big Ten, they play old-school complementary football, where the offense helps the defense.

While Minnesota’s defense is overrated by some metrics (tenth in SP+), it’s probably the stingiest unit Northwestern has seen. The Gophers are good at forcing third downs, making it hard for the Wildcats to move the ball without making a mistake before reaching pay dirt.

Joe Rossi’s defense held eight opponents to 13 points or less last season and their first two this season (Nebraska scored ten in Week 1). They’ll do it again on Saturday night.

B1GGER Bets (1 Units):

Last Week: 2-0; Season: 7-1 (+6 Units)

NOTRE DAME +3.5 Ohio State (Bet Rivers)

Money Line: Ohio State -150 | Notre Dame +125 | Total: 55.5

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET; TV: CBS | Location: Notre Dame Stadium | South Bend, IN

Ohio State: AP Top 25: 6 | Coaches Poll: 4 | SP+: 1 | PFF: 2

Notre Dame: AP Top 25: 9 | Coaches Poll: 9 | SP+: 4 | PFF: 6

This is a pretty even matchup, and both teams are stepping up in competition.

Ohio State and Notre Dame have been effective at throwing the football, OSU more so (fourth EPA/Pass vs. 16th). Both teams have been tough to throw on (top ten success rate).

Where the most significant questions come are in the trenches for the Buckeyes. The offensive tackles still have a lot of room to grow and have struggled against the run. When they have the ball, despite a talented backfield led by TreVeyon Henderson, Ohio State is 88th in offensive success rate when it comes to running the football, with Indiana the most formidable defense they’ve faced so far.


Def Rush Success Rate

Def EPA/Rush




Western Kentucky



Notre Dame



It might not surprise you to learn the Irish, while not elite, are better against the run than either IU or WKU (OSU also played FCS Youngstown State). ND’s interior line play has been a pleasant surprise (which was the buzz coming out of fall camp).

I also wonder if the Buckeyes will be able to stop the run. Their rush defense is a mediocre 55th in EPA/rush, a decent 44th in success rate, and a horrific 112th in stuff rate. They aren’t getting into the opponent’s backfield enough. Here’s where we must look at their opponents again, as Indiana is possibly the worst rushing team in college football.


Off Rush Success Rate

Off EPA/Rush




Western Kentucky



Notre Dame



OSU’s ability—or inability—to stop the run seems to get overlooked while their defense gets heavy praise. They were elite defensively last season… until they finally faced a top-30 offense and gave up 87 points to Michigan and Georgia.

Who knows where the Fighting Irish will end up, but they’re ninth, a third into the season (46 PPG). The last time the Buckeyes kept an offense this good below 30 points was in 2020 (Clemson scored 28 in the CFP Semifinal).

Behind Sam Hartman, Notre Dame is a much-improved passing team (16th EPA/pass, 63rd in success rate). The super senior has 13 touchdown passes to no INTs while completing 71.1% of his passes for 11.8 yards per pass (fourth in FBS).

Ohio State is coming off their best defensive game with solid performances from talented edge rushers Jack Sawyer and J.T. Tuimoloau. Still, the duo has yet to record a sack this season (one TFL combined). Notre Dame has an excellent offensive line with left tackle Joe Alt, a sure-fire first-rounder.

Getting to Hartman is a must, but can OSU do so and still stop the run? The Irish’s rushing attack is the kind that has given the Buckeyes trouble. Audric Estimé leads the nation with 521 rushing yards and is second in yards per game (130.3) while picking up a whopping 8.27 yards per carry, as the Irish have not overworked him.

OSU’s Kyle McCord is coming off his best game, but I still have questions about the first-year starter, who has the same number of big-time throws as turnover-worthy plays (four) per PFF. This is his first start against a ranked team, and the Irish have allowed opponents to complete just 50 percent of their passes with an FBS-best 50.9 passer rating allowed.

I may regret this, but with the more reliable offensive line, the more proven quarterback, and home-field advantage (although I do expect to see red in the stands), everything adds up to an Irish upset, but just to be safe, we’ll take the points with a little moneyline sprinkle.

B1G Bets (1/2 Unit):

Last Week: 2-1; Season: 4-3 (+1/2 Unit)

MICHIGAN STATE +7.5 Maryland

Money Line: Maryland -315 | Michigan State +250 | Total: 52.5

Time: 3:30 p.m. ET; TV: NBC | Location: Spartan Stadium | East Lansing, MI

Maryland: AP Top 25: NR (34) | Coaches Poll: NR (32) | SP+: 31 | PFF: 33

Michigan State: AP Top 25: NR | Coaches Poll: NR | SP+: 54 | PFF: 58

After watching Sparty get obliterated by Washington last week and Maryland running off 42 straight points against Virginia to cover our B1GGEST Bet, I’m a bit hesitant. But I can’t just say, “Scared money, don’t make money,” I have to live it!

Washington is playing the best football of any team in America right now and was probably the worst team at the worst time for Michigan State to face. As good as Taulia Tagovailoa is, he isn’t Michael Penix Jr., and as good as Maryland’s receivers are, they don’t have two projected first-round picks like the Huskies.

After being embarrassed on their home field and with an extra week to regroup from losing their head coach, you have to believe MSU will respond with some fight this week. If they will save their season, it needs to start now. Meanwhile, the Terps are the most “f-around and find out” team in the Big Ten. (Thanks to Bud Elliott for that one.)

In the past two games, Maryland has trailed vastly inferior opponents, 14-0. Of 133 teams, Charlotte is 129th in SP+, and Virginia is 94th (Stanford is the only Power Five school rated lower). As bad as the Spartans were last week, they’re still 54th, so by far the best opponent Maryland has faced to date.

The Terps still have questions along their offensive line, and MSU has recorded ten sacks, as nine defenders have at least half a sack. I’d expect a heavy dose of Nate Carter (5.0 YPC, four TDS) when State has the ball against a defense, allowing the 15th most yards before contact (2.95) per play. Maryland’s defense is 95th in EPA/rush and 97th in passing success rate.

(FRI) PURDUE +6 Wisconsin (DraftKings)

Money Line: Wisconsin -230 | Purdue +188 | Total: 54.5

Time: 7:00 p.m. ET; TV: FS1 | Location: Ross-Ade Stadium | West Lafayette, IN

Wisconsin: AP Top 25: NR (36) | Coaches Poll: NR | SP+: 25 | PFF: 34

Purdue: AP Top 25: NR | Coaches Poll: NR | SP+: 67 | PFF: 54

Isn’t Purdue coming off a home loss to Syracuse and Wisconsin off a 21-point win? Yes. But Syracuse might be good, and the Badgers were out-gained by Georgia Southern at home by a yard. Wisconsin was also +7 in turnovers last week (+7!!!!), including +24.5 points in turnover luck.

Eye test: neither team has looked great this season, which the numbers back up. Wisconsin’s offense is 109th in EPA/pass and 93rd in passing success rate, while Purdue is 128th in EPA/rush and 80th in rushing success rate. Meanwhile, the Badgers are 76th in defensive rushing success rate, and the Boilermakers are 118th in defensive passing success rate.

Is Wisconsin the better team? I believe so, but not enough to be nearly a touchdown favorite on the road. Take the points.

Florida Atlantic UNDER 14.5 (DraftKings)

Spread: Illinois -15.5 | Money Line: Illinois -530 | FAU +780 | Total: 45.5

Time: 3:30 p.m. ET; TV: BTN | Location: Memorial Stadium | Champaign, IL

Illinois: AP Top 25: NR | Coaches Poll: NR | SP+: 52 | PFF: 51

Florida Atlantic: AP Top 25: NR | Coaches Poll: NR | SP+: 92 | PFF: 103

Another horses-for-courses matchup. After having a lot of trouble with dual-threat quarterbacks in their first two games of the season, Illinois did an excellent job on Penn State’s Drew Allar. The strong-armed passer was 16 of 33, and the Illini held them to 5.0 yards per play, as PSU’s vaunted RB duo combined for 91 yards (3.8 YPC).

The Illini’s Johnny Newton was the best player on the field and will be again this Saturday.

Just as important is that FAU’s offense is one Illinois can control. They’re 125th in EPA/pass, 116th in rushing success rate, 103rd in early down EPA, and 127th in third/fourth down success.

Moreover, they will be without their starting quarterback, Casey Thompson (formerly of Nebraska), who is out for the season, with Daniel Richardson (Central Michigan transfer) taking over. He was sacked twice and threw an INT in relief last week. The injuries don’t stop there for the Owls, as leading rusher Larry McCammon is day-to-day with an ankle injury, which kept him out of last week’s game, while RB2 Zuberi Mobley is out for the season.

Against a banged-up team from the American, it’s the Illini’s chance to get healthy and end their two-game losing streak.

A week after throwing four interceptions, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bret Bielema get back to basics, run the ball, and play complementary football.

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