Big Ten: Week 8 Preview
It’s doesn’t take much of a stretch to imagine Ohio State finishing the regular season unbeaten and emerging victorious from the Big Ten Championship Game. Yes, the Buckeyes have to contend with other schools looking to pull off a huge upset week in and week out. Yes, the pressure of prolonging an undefeated streak, which currently stands at 18 games, could so easily prove to be too much of a distraction and derail the Buckeyes. Still, looking ahead at the schedule, a second undefeated season doesn’t look so unimaginable.
The problem is a second undefeated season doesn’t necessarily equate to a berth in the BCS National Championship Game in Pasadena, Calif., on January 6. The Buckeyes can thank Michigan, Nebraska, Northwestern, and Wisconsin for that. In fact, the Buckeyes can blame the Big Ten as a whole.
The Big Ten’s reputation, which has been shaky to say the least over the last few years, has taken another hit this season. Realistically speaking, the conference sits behind the SEC, Pac-12, and ACC in terms of viewer and voter appeal. Even the Big 12, with its surprise offerings from Texas Tech and Baylor appears to be gaining more momentum than the Big Ten, which is further bad news for the Buckeyes.
In short, if Urban Meyer’s team wants a shot at a national title, it’s not enough to merely go undefeated. Instead, the team’s going to need some help along the way. Somewhere, somehow, somebody has to topple the likes of Alabama, Oregon, Clemson, and Florida State. The Tigers and Seminoles meet on Saturday, which is good news for Ohio State. But can anybody else beat the Tide or Ducks? Furthermore, would the selection committee go with a 12-1 SEC team over a 13-0 OSU?
Still, there’s a lot of football to be played in the 2013 season and while destiny might not be in the team’s own hands, all Ohio State can really do is keep winning, starting with this weekend’s visit from Iowa.
Iowa at No. 4 Ohio State
Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH, 3:30 p.m. ET
Whether your betting ethos pays into historical records or not, it’s hard to look past the recent stretch of dominance No. 4 Ohio State (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) has exercised over Iowa (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten).
The Buckeyes have won four on the bounce against the Hawkeyes but that’s only part of the story. Since the Hawkeyes last recorded back-to-back wins over OSU (1959-60), the team has gone 5-34-1 against their conference rivals. That includes just one win in the last 21 years, which translates to 13 games. There’s a reason then the Buckeyes opened as a 17-point favorite.
But, when the teams take to the field in Columbus, Ohio, there’s always the chance that we could be looking at a title-crushing upset.
If the Hawkeyes are to achieve such a feat, they’ll need to lean on their run defense, which has allowed just 88.5 points per game, good enough for eighth in the nation. If that defense can confine quarterback Braxton Miller and running back Carlos Hyde, and if the secondary plays much better than it has previously this season, then the Hawkeyes might be walking away with an unsuspecting victory. The problem is, shutting down the Buckeyes’ high-powered offense is easier said than done.
Get in depth Iowa vs. Ohio State odds and trends now.
After opening at 17, the spread has risen to 18.5 as kickoff approaches. Ohio State (5-1-0 ATS) has had few problems covering the spread this season, while Iowa (3-3-0 ATS) has been inconsistent. Meanwhile, OSU has covered the spread in five of its last six home games against the Hawkeyes, and has gone 7-2-1 ATS over the last 10 games of the head-to-head series.
The total opened at 53 and has subsequently risen as high as 54.5 with some sportsbooks. Both Ohio State (4-2-0) and Iowa (4-1-1) have favored the over this season.
Indiana at Michigan
Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI, 3:30 p.m. ET
Last week’s 43-40 overtime loss to Penn State didn’t just put a spanner in OSU’s title hopes; it also stripped Michigan (5-1, 1-1 Big Ten) of its AP ranking. While the Wolverines’ performances have left a lot to be desired this season, the season in far from a bust for Brady Hoke’s side.
The Legends Division is wide open this season and with four games left against division opponents, Michigan still has a good shot at the Big Ten title game and, who knows, a place in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.
This weekend the Wolverines face Indiana (3-3, 1-1 Big Ten), a team that doesn’t look all that impressive on paper but a team that beat Penn State, comfortably. There will be more than a few anxious bodies walking into the Big House, and we’re not just talking about Wolverine fans.
The Hoosiers followed up a 44-24 win over the Nittany Lions with last week’s 42-28 loss to Michigan State, in the team’s first road game of the season. Back-to-back games in the Great Lakes State aren’t the nicest way to start the road portion of the schedule, particularly when your team is 52-9 all-time against the Wolverines.
The Hoosiers haven’t knocked off the Wolverines since October 24, 1987, a stretch that has spanned 17 straight losses. The Hoosiers haven’t won in Ann Arbor, Mich., since October 21, 1967, compiling a run of 16 straight road losses. But while history says this one will go to Michigan, the 2013 Wolverines’ unsure footing this season means an upset isn’t out of the question, however unlikely it is.
Get in depth Indiana vs. Michigan odds and trends now.
The spread opened at 10.5 in favor of Michigan, but has slumped to as low as 9. Neither the Wolverines (3-3-0 ATS) nor the Hoosiers (3-3-0 ATS) have been consistent against the spread this season. The Wolverines have covered in their last five home games against the Hoosiers.
The total opened at 69 and has dipped to 67. Both Michigan (4-2-0) and Indiana (5-1-0) have favored the over this season.
Around the Conference
No. 25 Wisconsin (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) will travel to Champaign, Ill., to face Illinois (3-2, 0-1 Big Ten) under the lights Saturday night. The Badgers will look to hold on to their AP ranking and some slim hopes of heading to the Big Ten title game for a third consecutive year, which would require OSU to suffer a meltdown.
Winners of three straight and 12 of the last 16 against the Fighting Illini, Wisconsin opened as a 10-point favorite. The spread now stands at 14.5, and with the Badgers (5-1-0 ATS) faring well against the spread this season, the smart money is on a road win and Wisconsin covering.
Michigan State (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) will look to stay at the top of the Legend’s Division as it hosts a Purdue (1-5, 0-2 Big Ten) that narrowly avoided being shutout at home in last week’s 44-7 loss to Nebraska. The Spartans have won four straight over the Boilermakers and opened as a 21-point favorite. That number has risen to 28 ahead of kickoff but with the Spartans just 3-2-1 ATS this season, backing Purdue against the spread looks sensible.
Finally, Minnesota (4-2, 0-2 Big Ten) travels to Evanston, Ill., to face Northwestern (4-2, 0-2 Big Ten) in a battle of teams searching for a first conference win. The Wildcats have won three straight and five of the last six against the Golden Gophers, and opening as a home favorite. The spread opened at 10.5 and has risen to 12.5. Minnesota (3-3-0 ATS) has fared marginally better against the spread than Northwestern (2-4-0 ATS) but neither has been reliable.
BIG TEN SCHEDULE
Saturday (All times ET)
12:00 Minnesota (4-2, 0-2 Big Ten) at Northwestern (4-2, 0-2 Big Ten) (matchup)
12:00 Purdue (1-5, 0-2 Big Ten) at Michigan State (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) (matchup)
3:30 Indiana (3-3, 1-1 Big Ten) at Michigan (5-1, 1-1 Big Ten) (matchup)
3:30 Iowa (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten) at No. 4 Ohio State (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) (matchup)
8:00 No. 25 Wisconsin (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) at Illinois (3-2, 0-1 Big Ten) (matchup)
Bye: Nebraska, Penn State
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