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Week 1 was wild, and the Big Ten largely took care of business with their intra-conference slate. This sets up a huge Week 2 that shouldn’t disappoint. A couple of Big Ten/Pac-12 matchups and an intrastate Big Ten/Big 12 matchup for the Cy Hawk Trophy will provide plenty of storylines and intrigue to see where the Big Ten stands nationally. The betting lines for each game seem appropriate and will serve as a reliable benchmark for how this weekend should play out.
#10 Iowa @ #9 Iowa St. (-4.5)
It’s the 68th meeting for the Cy Hawk Trophy, the trophy that determines the king of Iowa for the year, and this week’s matchup is the biggest in recent memory. After the Hawkeyes thrashed Indiana and the Cyclones narrowly squeaked by Northern Iowa, it seems like this could be the 6th straight Hawkeye victory. The questions for Iowa are: can their running game control the clock, and will their defense continue to force turnovers against the Cyclones’ veteran QB Brock Purdy? He was efficient but non-descript in Week 1, completing 21/26 passes for a meager 199 yards. He will need to be much more explosive against an Iowa defense that forced 3 INTs against the Hoosiers and returned two of them for TDs.
This will be a close game, so take the 4.5 and Iowa just might pull off the upset in Ames.
#12 Oregon @ #3 OSU (-13.5)
This 2015 National Championship rematch has been two years in the making. Last season, Ohio State was scheduled to travel to Eugene as part of a two-year Home and Home contract. Thanks to COVID and the decisions of their respective conferences, the game was canceled. Now the Ducks travel to Columbus, fresh off a game against Fresno State that was much closer than expected. For those who haven’t been reading the tea leaves in Eugene, this edition of the Ducks is a far cry from the speedy Chip Kelly teams that were built for the spread offense. Head Coach Mario Christobal is a former offensive lineman who wants to pound the football. The problem with this philosophy is that it plays right into Ohio State’s hands. To beat Ohio State, teams must score… and score often. With defensive linemen Haskell Garrett and Zach Harrison leading the charge for the Buckeyes, there won’t be many running lanes to find. QB CJ Stroud struggled in the 1st half against Minnesota but still finished with a stat line that most quarterbacks only dream of. Factor in a noon eastern time kick (that’s 9 AM for the fellas from Oregon) and this game has all the ingredients of a long day for the Ducks.
Lay the points. It will be tough for Oregon to start fast with the early start time.
Washington @ Michigan (-6.5)
Michigan won its opening week matchup against Western Michigan but lost their star WR Ronnie Bell. Washington just flat out lost…. And to an FCS team. Now Montana is a perennial FCS powerhouse, but how does a team with superior talent lose when they allow only 232 yards of total offense and force a 2/13 3rddown conversion rate? Turnovers, that’s how, and the Huskies had 3 of them. The Huskies are offensively challenged. Not that Michigan is an offensive juggernaut, but even without Bell, the Wolverines will be in good shape on Saturday night. Now that Penn State appears to be back, this is a must-win game for Jim Harbaugh. After an extremely rough 2020, a fast start to 2021 would help keep the UM train on the tracks. Michigan QB Cade McNamara doesn’t yet appear to be the answer, but a strong running game will more than cover for his deficiencies.
Michigan should win this game. The question is, are they good enough to win by a TD?… Lay the points.
THE BEST BET
Eastern Michigan @ Wisconsin (-25.5)
No one is confusing the Eastern Michigan Eagles with the Penn State Nittany Lions, but this game does still have a decent level of intrigue. With Wisconsin favored by fewer than four touchdowns, it seems nearly too good to be true. Even though the Badgers struggled to score against the Nittany Lions, they were able to drive into the red zone three times, but they came away with zero points. That won’t happen again. Eastern Michigan isn’t Penn State and won’t be able to slow the Badgers’ running attack. Wisconsin can bully Eastern Michigan up front and will find plenty of running lanes. The Eagles surrendered over 100 rushing yards to FCS St. Francis (PA) last week. Badgers QB Graham Mertz wasn’t great in Week 1, but he won’t have to be great in Week 2.
Lay the 25.5, as the Badgers should roll up over 300 yards rushing.