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NCAAF · 2 months ago

B1G Bets: Big Ten Week 5 Game Odds, Preview & Picks

Danny Mogollon

Danny Mogollon

B1G Bets: Big Ten Week 5 Game Odds, Preview & Picks

Week 4 (2-4) of the college football season was not our best, but we did go 2-1 in B1GGER and B1GGEST Bets, so we only dropped 0.5 units on the week, and we’re happy where we are with four weeks in the books.

Ohio State and Wisconsin are idle this week, while Rutgers hosts putrid FCS Wagner, which leaves six games on the board, including five conference games, four of which have a double-digit spread.

Record: 14-8 overall (+7.5 units) | ATS: 8-5 | Team Totals: 5-3 | Game Totals: 1-0

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

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B1GGEST Bets (1.5 Units):

Last Week: 1-1; Season: 2-1 (+1.5 Units)


B1GGER Bets (1 Units):

Last Week: 1-0; Season: 8-1 (+7 Units)

Michigan -17 NEBRASKA (DraftKings)

Money Line: Michigan -1200 | Nebraska +720 | Total: 39.5

Time: 3:30 p.m. ET; TV: FOX | Location: Memorial Stadium | Lincoln, NE

Michigan: AP Top 25: 2 | Coaches Poll: 2 | SP+: 1 | PFF: 3

Nebraska: AP Top 25: NR | Coaches Poll: NR | SP+: 59 | PFF: 69

Many in the media have poo-pooed Michigan’s 4-0 start, and we haven’t been on the Wolverines all season (0-3-1 ATS). Jim Harbaugh’s team excels in every aspect of the game, not just defense. They also run the ball well and throw it effectively.

JJ McCarthy (eighth in passer rating, tops in B1G) is playing the best football of his career, as his wideout Roman Wilson (17.9 YPC, 6 TDs), while Blake Corum has scored eight touchdowns.

The Huskers have some good defensive numbers but look at the competition. Minnesota’s offense is 87th in SP+, and their best-skill player (RB Darius Taylor has 529 yards in the past three games) had one touch against Nebraska. NIU is 128th in offensive SP+, while Louisiana Tech is 84th and played with their backup QB. Meanwhile, a Colorado offense that struggled to score six points at Oregon scored 36 on the Huskers.

They are not ready for Michigan’s offensive line. Also, not all the numbers for Nebraska are good. They’re 84th in eckel rate, which measures quality possessions and opportunity creation.

Then there’s special teams. The Wolverines are 16th in SP+, and the Cornhuskers are 112th, similar to what we saw under Scott Frost. Michigan is above average regarding field position, while Nebraska is 114th on offense and 102nd on defense.

The Maize and Blue have slow-walked their first four games. They haven’t throttled anyone but are second nationally in game control. Michigan has scored 30-plus in every game this season…do they keep that up? With their first road test, the Wolverines could ramp things up this week. Everything (see more on the defense below) points towards a Michigan blowout.

More B1G: Big Ten Power Rankings Going Into Week 5 | 3 B1G Teams in Natty Odds Top 6 | Iowa’s Drive to 325


Nebraska has been better the past two weeks (63 points) after scoring just 24 points in the first two games.

Could that be because of the change at QB (due to injury)? Maybe. Heinrich Haarberg has run the ball well and isn’t as turnover-prone (although he has fumbled three times). The more skeptical person would point out that the Huskers played a pair of G5 opponents with terrible defenses. If we’re being honest, so does Colorado (held Nebraska to 14 points), while Minnesota (held Nebraska to 10 points) allowed 37 points to Northwestern last week!

The Huskers are a one-dimensional running team ranked 122nd in rushing success rate and down two of their top three backs. We learned last year that the better the competition, the less effective Anthony Grant is.

Haarberg (who we expect to start) may not have an INT as a passer, but he’s barely completing half his passes (51.1%) and averaging 5.9 yards per pass. He’s been better than Jeff Sims (practicing), but that isn’t saying much. Their passing game is 93rd in EPA/pass, and the offense generally doesn’t create many scoring opportunities. A big reason is their struggles on early downs (109th EPA).

The Wolverines have by far the best defense Nebraska has faced thus far. They are stout upfront and are led by elite DT Kris Jenkins (2.5 TFLs) and underrated edge Jaylen Harrell (2.5 sacks). Linebacker Junior Colson (22 tackles) is a one-man wrecking machine against the run, leading a rush defense that is 17th in success rate. With the return of All-American caliber CB Will Johnson and All-B1G safety Rod Moore last week (first game for both), the secondary is as healthy as they’ve been all season. Despite missing several vital pieces through four games, Michigan is 12th in EPA/pass.

Nebraska will have a lot of trouble putting together drives against a Michigan defense that is first in success rate and points per drive. Both teams play at a slow tempo, which will limit possessions.

More Michigan-Nebraska: Michigan-Nebraska Video Breakdown | Harbaugh Discovers YouTubeTV! 

Indiana UNDER 17.5 (FanDuel)

Spread: Maryland -14.5 | Money Line: Maryland -630 | Indiana +450 | Total: Maryland 50.5

Time: 3:30 p.m. ET; TV: BTN | Location: SECU Stadium | College Park, MD

Maryland: AP Top 25: NR (31) | Coaches Poll: NR (29) | SP+: 33 | PFF: 21

Indiana: AP Top 25: NR | Coaches Poll: NR | SP+: 85 | PFF: 91

I was tempted to go with UNDER 50.5 for the game, so it’s something to consider, but we’ll focus on the Indiana offense.

The Hoosiers don’t do anything well. They’re 94th in yards per play, 127th in offensive success rate (131st passing, 78th rushing), 78th in EPA/pass, and 123rd in EPA/rush. They don’t do much on early downs (119th EPA), which leads to low conversations on 3rd/4th downs (130th in success rate).  

They’re 121st nationally in yards per carry (3.2), including 5.1 YCP against FCS Indiana State on 42 rushes (30 percent of their carries). Quarterback Tayven Jackson flashed some potential against Louisville two weeks ago, but last week, he was 11 of 26 passing (42.3 percent) against Akron with 8.4 QBR! The redshirt freshman (5 pass attempts vs. OSU in Week 1) will be making his first career road start and first start against a Big Ten opponent.

In two games against P5 foes, the Hoosiers have scored 17 points. While Maryland’s defense isn’t as good as Ohio State’s (held IU to 3 points), the Terps are better than Louisville’s (held IU to 14 points). It’s not an elite B1G defense, but it might be on that next tier.

Somewhat susceptible to the running game, the Terps limit explosive runs and have been great in defending the pass (23rd in EPA/pass). They’re outstanding on those critical early downs (17th EPA). Against two P5 offenses, Maryland has allowed 23 points total.

Their linebackers are productive and led by safety Beau Brade (23 tackles, 2 PDs, INT); there’s no shortage of athletes in the secondary.

Before you make your bets for Week 5, make sure to check out SportsGrid’s college football picks and five-star player props!

B1G Bets (1/2 Unit):

Last Week: 0-3; Season: 4-6 (-1 Unit)


Spread: Penn State -26.5 | Money Line: Penn State -4000 | Northwestern +1400 | Total: 46.5

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

Penn State: AP Top 25: 6 | Coaches Poll: 7 | SP+: 10 | PFF: 5

Northwestern: AP Top 25: NR | Coaches Poll: NR | SP+: 93 | PFF: 89

Nine-and-a-half! It’s a small number, I know.

Did you not see Penn State play last week? Sure, that was against Iowa… I’m here to tell you Northwestern’s offense might be worse (110th in Offensive SP+).

This Nittany Lions defense is elite, and the numbers back it up. They’re fourth nationally in scoring defense (8.8 PPG), first in the B1G in yards per play (4.1), first national in yards per drive allowed (18.0), and have arguably the best pass defense in the country (first in EPA/pass).

The Wildcats found some success late Saturday night against Minnesota. Still, I don’t see that carrying over into Week 5, not against a PSU defense with a pass rush second in the Big Ten in sacks (13) and backed by the cornerback duo of Kalen King and Johnny Dixon. The Wildcats have also seen many passes deflected, indicating a lack of separation from the receivers.

Before they exploded in the fourth quarter against Minnesota, the ‘Cats had 31 points in 11 quarters against Rutgers, Duke, and Minnesota (with 14 points coming in the final two minutes against RU and Duke). None of those defenses are as good or deep as Penn State’s.

Yes, UNDER 9.5 is a ridiculous number for a Power Five school, so this is only a B1G bet. Having pitched four straight scoreless frames could help the cause, as the defense will want to keep that streak going. The same goes for Northwestern’s win last week, which makes it less likely they will be overlooked.

Another shutout wouldn’t surprise me.

Michigan State UNDER 12.5 (FanDuel)

Spread: Iowa -12.5 | Money Line: Iowa -465 | Michigan State +350 | Total: 36.5

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET; TV: NBC | Location: Kinnick Stadium | Iowa City, IA

Iowa: AP Top 25: NR | Coaches Poll: NR (37) | SP+: 39 | PFF: 30

Michigan State: AP Top 25: NR | Coaches Poll: NR | SP+: 63 | PFF: 72

I expect this to be one of the ugliest games of the season, and so is Vegas, with a total of 36.5.

The Hawkeyes defense will do their part. That I can guarantee. Even in a 31-0 loss to Penn State, Iowa’s defense held the Nittany Lions to 4.1 yards per play. How bad (or good) is that? Well, it’s worse than Iowa’s 4.5 YPP on the season.

The Hawkeyes have allowed 4.21 yards per play, seventh in the country. They’re 22nd in Net Pts/drive, 28th in defensive success rate, and especially tough to pass on (39th EPA/pass). Phil Parker’s unit is strong on early downs and takes advantage of the field position (ninth) their special teams typically set them up with (MSU is 105th in offensive field position).

Sparty’s offense started well against Central Michigan and Richmond, but since then, they saw their coach suspended, subsequently fired, and haven’t responded well. Against Washington and Maryland, MSU combined for 16 points.

QB Noah Kim was 30 of 63 passing (47.6%) for 5.2 yards per pass with one TD pass to three INTs in their two losses. They’re 98th in EPA per pass and despite good numbers from Nathan Carter, the running game is 102nd in success rate.

MSU is bad on early downs (106th in EPA, FD percentage 92nd) and not much better on third/fourth downs (87th success rate). Maybe this offense finds itself at some point this season, but not in Kinnick Stadium under the lights.

One final thought. The Spartans had 13 players listed as out on the availability report last week. With Mel Tucker’s firing becoming official this week, the transfer portal opened (30-day window) for Michigan State’s players, and four games into the season, they can still redshirt in 2023 and not burn a year of eligibility.

There’s nothing official regarding players jumping ship, but it’s something to consider.

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