Big Ten Bets Week 2: Punting is Winning!

After a 4-1 Week 1, we look to keep the early season momentum going.

Do you want to win or have fun? Betting team total UNDERS may not be everyone’s definition of F-U-N, fun, but winning is.

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

Last Week: 4-1 |Season: 4-1 | Sides: 3-0 | Team Total: 1-1

B1GGER Bets (2 Units): Last Week: 0-0; Season: 0-0

Virginia +4.5 ILLINOIS

The ball didn’t bounce the Fighting Illini’s way last week, sure, but they also allowed an Indiana offense, which only scored more than 15 points once in nine Big Ten games last season, to march 75 yards in less than two minutes to beat them (23-20). I’m not impressed. Sorry, not sorry.

Yes, the Hoosiers added Connor Bazelak, a castoff from Missouri. Now Illinois has to deal with a much better passer and runner (105 yards rushing last week) in Brennan Armstrong, who threw for 405 yards and five touchdowns against the Illini a year ago.

Illinois gets a lot of credit for their pass defense but let’s look at the last six teams they played in 2021: Wisconsin, Penn State (with Sean Clifford banged up), Rutgers, Minnesota, Iowa, and Northwestern. Five of the six ranked 109th or worse in passing offense. Of course, the Illini had good numbers!

This line implies Illinois is the better team, but I have to see it to believe it.

Virginia: Out for Season: RB Amaad Foston | Out Indefinitely: WR Malachi Fields

Illinois: Out for Season: RB WR Shawn Miller | Out Indefinitely: QB Donovan Leary | Out: RB Josh McCray | Probable: OL Julian Pearl

Total: 57.5 | Money Line: Illinois -190 | Virginia +155

Time: 4:00 p.m. ET; TV: ESPNU (Kevin Brown, Hutson Mason)

Location: Champaign, IL | Stadium: Memorial Stadium (60,670)

Virginia: AP Top 25: NR | Coaches Poll | NR | SP+: 61

Illinois: AP Top 25: NR | Coaches Poll: NR | SP+: 70

B1G Bets (1 Unit): Last Week: 4-1; Season: 4-1

MICHIGAN -13 Hawaii (1st Quarter)

Five-star sophomore quarterback JJ McCarthy is starting for the first time in his career and facing possibly the worst defense in college football under the lights in the Big House. Not your typical sleepy noon start against an inferior foe.

The Wolverines are a 51.5-point favorite, as they should be, but recent history suggests favorites of over 50 points aren’t winning wagers. So, what to do?

Expect Michigan and McCarthy to come out aggressive. That means throwing the football and using the dual threat’s athleticism as a runner (50 yards on three carries last week). The Wolverines have more explosive players than I can list, including Hawaiian native Roman Wilson, who scored Michigan’s first touchdown of the season on a 61-yard catch and run.

Look for the Wolverines to start quick and grab an early two or three-touchdown lead.

Michigan: Questionable: LB Nikhai Hill-Green

Hawaii: Out: QB Cammon Cooper | Questionable: WR Zion Bowens | Probable: Brayden Schager

Total: 67.5 | Money Line: Michigan Off the Board | Colorado State +4000

Time: 8:00 p.m. ET; TV: BTN (Lisa Byington, Jake Butt)

Location: Ann Arbor, MI | Stadium: Michigan Stadium (109,901)

Michigan: AP Top 25: 4 | Coaches Poll: 5 | SP+: 5

Hawaii: AP Top 25: NR | Coaches Poll | NR | SP+: 128

WISCONSIN -17 Washington State

I’m becoming a believer in the Badgers.

Graham Mertz isn’t as bad as you think. His overall numbers from last season are terrible, but he improved as the season went on. During Wisconsin’s 8-1 finish, Mertz posted the 29th best Total QBR in college football (as Bill Connelly pointed out) ahead of media darling Devin Leary of NC State and third-round pick Desmond Ridder of Cincinnati.

The junior quarterback has a big arm, a big-play threat in Chimere Dike (106 yards on three catches last week), and can feed off Wisconsin’s running game. Man-child Braelon Allen is built like a linebacker and led all P5 runners with his 4.5 yards after contact as a 17-year-old freshman. Yes, that’s yards after contact. He’s no plodder with speed to go the distance, which he flashed with his 96-yard touchdown run last week.

Washington State UNDER 15.5

Of course, the biggest reason to back the Badgers is their defense.

They opened their season with a shutout against Illinois State (38-0), while the Washington State Cougars slogged their way to a seven-point win against Idaho (24-17). Transfer quarterback Cameron Ward did not impress (despite three TD passes), as WSU averaged just 5.6 yards per pass. An ugly number against any opponent, never mind an FCS defense.

Now they will have to travel to Camp Randell to face arguably the best defensive coordinator in the country, Jim Leonhard. The Badgers are led by edge rusher Nick Herbig (two sacks last week), with breakout star sophomore inside linebacker Jordan Turner impressing as well (one sack, two TFLs). Interior linemen Isaiah Mullens and Keeanu Benton, a pair of 300-pounders, will make it tough on WSU’s run game.

Wisconsin: Out for Season: QB Chase Wolf, DE Mike Jarvis, S Travian Blaylock | Out: DE Isaac Townsend, LB Spencer Lytle, Aaron Witt | Questionable: WR Stephan Bracey, TE Cam Large, TE Jack Pugh, OL Tanor Bortolini, OL Riley Mahlman, CB Justin Clark, CB Alexander Smith

Washington State: Out for Season: WR C.J. Moore, OL Rodrick Tialavea | Questionable: WR Zeriah Beason

Total: 49.5 | Money Line: Wisconsin -1100 | Washington State +700

Time: 3:30 p.m. ET; TV: FOX (Jason Benetti, Brock Huard)

Location: Madison, WI | Stadium: Camp Randall Stadium (80,321)

Wisconsin: AP Top 25: 19 | Coaches Poll: 18 | SP+: 9

Washington State: AP Top 25: NR | Coaches Poll | NR | SP+: 73

Iowa State UNDER 18.5

Part of me is tempted to lay the points with the Hawkeyes (zig when others zag), and if this line shifts to three, I just might, but after scoring a mere field goal against South Dakota State last week, the lack of faith in Iowa’s offense is legit.

Legit best describes this Hawkeyes defense. It’s a top-10 unit that had to be nearly perfect a week ago and was: three points allowed, four points scored (two safeties), 120 total yards (2.1 YPP), 1.1 yards per carry, and maybe the most impressive 3.3 yards per pass.

The Cyclones must replace quarterback Brock Purdy, running back Breece Hall, and tight end Charlie Kolar from last season. That’s a lot. A quarterback who has questionable accuracy screams turnover against the ball-hawking Iowa secondary. Let’s not forget the punter from down under, Tory Taylor, who averaged 47.9 yards per punt, including seven inside the 20-yard line in Week 1. Remember, “punting is winning” and “I cheer for the punter.”

During Iowa’s current six-game winning streak in the Cy-Hawk Trophy game, ISU has scored more than 17 points just once. History is not on their side in Iowa City.

You don’t have to believe in Iowa as a team. You can crow about OC Brian Ferentz and nepotism until the cows come home. But you better not question Phil Parker’s defense.

Iowa: Out for Season: WR Jackson Ritter | Out: WR Keagan Johnson, WR Nico Ragaini, WR Diante Vines | Probable: RB Gavin Williams

Iowa State: Doubtful: RB Cartevious Norton | Questionable: OL Jake Remsburg

Total: 4o | Money Line: Iowa -175 | Iowa State +145

Time: 4:00 p.m. ET; TV: BTN (Brandon Gaudin, Anthony Herron)

Location: Iowa City, IA | Stadium: Kinnick Stadium (69,250)

Iowa: AP Top 25: NR | Coaches Poll: NR | SP+: 41

Iowa State: AP Top 25: NR | Coaches Poll | NR | SP+: 42

Northwestern Wildcats UNDER 34.5

The Northwestern Wildcats proved in Week 0 that the offense will be much better in 2022 with 31 points against Nebraska. But how much better?

Consider the Wildcats scored more than 34.5 points once last season (exactly 35 vs. Ohio), and over their final eight games, they failed to score more than 28 points in any two consecutive games. Before you get too excited about their W0 effort, note Nebraska allowed 175 rushing yards and 5.3 YPC to North Dakota.

This feels like a market overcorrection as the ‘Cats return to the long-grass of Ryan Field. Under first-year head coach Mike Elko (former DC at Texas A&M), the Duke Blue Devils pitched a shutout of Temple in Week 1. Their defense was susceptible to the big play in 2021, but Northwestern is far from an explosive offense.

I’d be surprised if both defensive-minded coaches don’t lean on the running game.

Northwestern: Questionable: TE Charlie Mangieri

Duke: No Injuries Reported

Total: 56.5 | Money Line: Northwestern -375 | Duke +280

Time: 12:00 p.m. ET; TV: FS1 (Eric Collins, Devin Gardner)

Location: Evanston, IL | Stadium: Ryan Field (47,130)

Northwestern: AP Top 25: NR | Coaches Poll: NR | SP+: 80

Duke: AP Top 25: NR | Coaches Poll | NR | SP+: 109