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Big Ten: Week 3 Preview

Taylor Martinez and No. 23 Nebraska could make a huge statement with a win over No. 16 UCLA.

Taylor Martinez and No. 23 Nebraska could make a huge statement with a win over No. 16 UCLA.

So far, so good for the Big Ten’s big guns.  Nine of the conference’s 12 teams enter Week 3 unbeaten. Some have looked dominant in the opening two weeks, some have scraped by with an unbeaten record intact. Of course, all that could change this week as some of those teams face competition that is a little stiffer than what’s come before.

Here is the BettingSports.com preview of the main games in the Big Ten this weekend, beginning with a cracking came between ranked sides.

No. 16 UCLA at No. 23 Nebraska

Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, NE

Brett Hundley torched the Cornhuskers last year.

Brett Hundley torched the Cornhuskers last year.

After an all too close season-opener against Wyoming, No. 23 Nebraska (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) made short work of Southern Mississippi last Saturday, and remains unbeaten on the early season. The team will face its toughest challenge so far this Saturday with a visit from No. 16 UCLA (1-0, 0-0 Pac-12), a team that beat the Cornhuskers 36-30 a year ago.

Nebraska will look to put the clamps on Bruins’ quarterback Brett Hundley, who torched the Huskers for 305 passing yards, 53 rushing yards, and four touchdowns in last season’s game at the Rose Bowl. That game saw Nebraska give up 653 yards on the day, the second most in school history.

The Bruins opened their season with a 58-20 victory over Nevada before taking a week off. Tragedy struck the team last Sunday as wide receiver Nick Pasquale was hit and killed by a car in San Clemente, Calif. UCLA will dedicate the remainder of the season to the freshman.

Nebraska is 6-5 all-time against UCLA, including a 4-1 record at home. In fact, the Cornhuskers have taken each of the last four meetings between the schools in Lincoln.

Nebraska (-205) opened as the favorite over UCLA (+180) on the moneyline, but those numbers have dropped heavily ahead of kickoff. Bovada currently has the Cornhuskers at -145 and plenty of pundits are picking UCLA to take an upset win.

The spread opened at 4 but has dropped to 3. Nebraska (1-1-0 ATS) covered the spread last week after failing to top the 31-point mark in the season-opener with Wyoming. UCLA (1-0-0 ATS) easily covered the spread two weeks ago against the Wolf Pack.

The total opened at 68.5 and has risen to as much as 69.5. Neither Nebraska (2-0-0) nor UCLA (1-0-0) has seen the total go under yet this season.

No. 21 Notre Dame at Purdue

Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, IN

Purdue will look to spoil Notre Dame's season.

Purdue will look to spoil Notre Dame’s season.

Purdue (1-1, 0-0 Big Ten) rebounded from an opening week loss at Cincinnati by defeating Indiana State 20-14 last weekend. The Boilermakers were hardly convincing against the FCS school but expect the team to come ready to play Saturday as they face in-state rivals Notre Dame (1-1) for the Shillelagh Trophy.

Notre Dame leaked 41 points against Michigan last weekend, losing its first regular season game since November 2011. The Irish, who rode their defense all the way to the National Championship Game last season, looked anything but a defensive powerhouse. That’s good news for a Boilermakers side that pushed Notre Dame to the limit last season, narrowly losing 20-17.

While little is expected of a Purdue side that is in full-on rebuilding mode this season, this matchup will offer a chance to see ascertain how good the Irish are this year. A loss here would prove costly.

Notre Dame is 54-25-2 all-time against Purdue and 25-14-2 in games played in West Lafayette. The Irish has won the last five, and seven of the last eight, meetings between the schools. Purdue’s last win over the Irish came on September 29, 2007, in a game played at Ross-Ade Stadium.

Notre Dame (-1300) opened as a heavy favorite over Purdue (+894) on the moneyline with the spread at 21.5. Subsequently, the latter has dropped to 19. Both sides have yet to cover the spread this season, but based on last year’s meeting, the smart money may be on the Boilermakers on Saturday afternoon.

The over/under opened at 52 but has dropped to 49. Purdue has seen the total go under in both games this season while Notre Dame has split the over/under evenly in two games.

Around the Conference

Wisconsin has yet to concede a point this season.

Wisconsin has yet to concede a point this season.

The Shillelagh Trophy isn’t the only hardware up for grabs this weekend. Iowa (1-1, 0-0 Big Ten) will take on Iowa State (0-1, 0-0 Big 12), with the Cy-Hawk Trophy, and some major bragging rights, on the line. The Hawkeyes are 39-18 all-time against the Cyclones but the team from Ames has taken the last two. Iowa enters as the favorite with the spread between 1.5 and 3.

No. 20 Wisconsin (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) has certainly taken advantage of a soft schedule, beating Massachusetts 45-0 and Tennessee Tech 48-0. Things will be a little tougher for the Badgers this weekend as they make their way to Arizona State (1-0, 0-0 Pac-12). The Sun Devils own a 2-1 all-time record over the Badgers, but both win came back in the 60s. Wisconsin won the most recent meeting between the schools (Sept. 2010). Despite having yet to concede a point, the Badgers open as underdogs with the spread at 5.5. This may be the best chance to pick-up an underdog victory on this week’s schedule.

No. 11 Michigan (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) will look to continue its climb up the rankings this week when Akron (1-1, 0-0 MAC) arrives in Ann Arbor. A win alone is unlikely to push the Wolverines upwards, but a huge win could do it. Covering the spread (-37.5) will almost certainly do it.

No. 4 Ohio State (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) will face its toughest test of the young season Saturday night, taking on California (1-1, 0-0 Pac-12) in Berkeley, Calif. The Golden Bears kept things close last year as the Buckeyes took a narrow 35-28 win in Columbus. Things could be close again if quarterback Braxton Miller, who remains questionable after last week’s knee sprain, doesn’t take to the field. Coach Urban Meyer is said to be ‘confident’ the Heisman hopeful will see action. Cal hasn’t defeated OSU since the 1921 Rose Bowl. The Buckeyes have won six straight since then and open as a 14.5-point favorite.

For the full Week 3 schedule, including links to the BettingSports.com matchup pages, see below.


Week 3

Saturday (All times ET)

12:00 Bowling Green (2-0, 1-0 MAC) at Indiana (1-1, 0-0 Big Ten) (matchup)

12:00 Western Illinois (2-0, 0-0 MVC) at Minnesota (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) (matchup)

12:00 No. 16 UCLA (1-0, 0-0 Pac-12) at No. 23 Nebraska (2-0, 2-0 Big Ten) (matchup)

12:00 Akron (1-1, 0-0 MAC) at No. 11 Michigan (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) (matchup)

2:00 Youngstown State (2-0, 0-0 MVC) at Michigan State (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) (matchup)

6:00 Iowa (1-1, 0-0 Big Ten) at Iowa State (0-1, 0-0 Big 12) (matchup)

6:00 UCF (2-0, 0-0 American) at Penn State (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) (matchup)

6:00 No. 19 Washington (1-0, 0-0 Pac-12) at Illinois (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) (matchup)

7:00 No. 4 Ohio State (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) at California (1-1, 0-0 Pac-12) (matchup)

8:00 No. 21 Notre Dame (1-1) at Purdue (1-1, 0-0 Big Ten) (matchup)

9:00 Western Michigan (0-2, 0-0 MAC) at No. 17 Northwestern (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) (matchup)

10:30 No. 20 Wisconsin (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) at Arizona State (1-0, 0-0 Pac-12) (matchup)

For a comprehensive list of College Football odds, click here.

Up-to-date College Football Futures, courtesy of Bovada, can be found here.

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