Big Ten Games to Circle

Continuing a look at games to circle with the Big Ten. Here are six I picked out where you have the opportunity to fade teams:

October 10- Northwestern at Michigan: There’s a lot of excitement about Michigan this season with coach Jim Harbaugh in Ann Arbor. One of their bigger games on the schedule is against Michigan State at home. With Northwestern going to Michigan the week before, I can see the Wolverines overlooking the Wildcats.

October 17- Nebraska at Minnesota: I’m going to pick on Nebraska a few times here. They have a new coach and lost their star running back. The Cornhuskers host Wisconsin on October 10. Regardless of that result, I can see a major letdown from Nebraska when they travel to Minnesota a week after.

October 31- Nebraska at Purdue: Purdue is probably the worst team in the conference but this might be a time to back them against the spread. Nebraska plays Michigan State the week after and I’m not sure if the Cornhuskers will be too excited about being in West Lafayette on Halloween.

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Holiday Bowl Preview

USC and Nebraska play Saturday night in the Holiday Bowl. It’s a short trip for the Trojans to San Diego, while the Cornhuskers have to do some traveling. Nebraska will be without head coach Bo Pelini who was fired after his per usual nine-win season in Lincoln. Apparently that doesn’t cut it at Nebraska, and the Cornhuskers surprisingly hired Oregon State coach Mike Riley to take over the program. Riley won’t be on the sideline yet and I don’t see Nebraska having any motivation in this game.

USC has been to better bowl games before but this program has been quickly rebuilt after facing sanctions and scholarship losses. This bowl game is important for the Trojans to gain momentum into 2015. The USC offense led by quarterback Cody Kessler might be able to score at will against a Nebraska defense that really fell off towards the end of the season.

Another reason to pick USC is to pick against a Big Ten school. Nebraska’s best win was probably out of conference against Miami. They did beat Iowa but it took an epic Hawkeyes collapse for the Cornhuskers to win the game. USC had the better schedule and should have a slight home field advantage.

Pick: USC (-7) over Nebraska

*Note my Week 17 NFL picks will be posted on the website after 11 pm central time on Saturday night.

Big Ten Win Total and Standings Preview

Best Bets

Iowa over 8.5 wins (-115): This pick mostly has to do with the schedule. The Hawkeyes avoid Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan in the East. Their toughest non-conference game is at Pittsburgh. Starting 10-0 is a really possibility for Iowa before hosting Wisconsin and Nebraska to end the season. The Hawkeyes return most of their offensive contributors including quarterback Jake Rudock and running back Mark Weisman. Continue reading