Big Ten betting primer: Matchups between ranked opponents highlight Saturday’s slate

Iowa defensive end Chauncey Golston vs. Northwestern, 10-26-2019
Iowa defensive end Chauncey Golston (AP Photo David Banks)
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Defense will likely determine which program hoists the Heartland Trophy, as No. 18 Iowa and No. 13 Wisconsin clash at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday.

A rare clash between ranked opponents at TCF Bank Stadium, meanwhile, ups the ante in the Governor’s Victory Bell rivalry, as No. 4 Penn State and No. 17 Minnesota are featured in a battle of undefeateds.

In other Big 10 betting action in Week 11, No. 1 Ohio State is laying its most points ever in a conference matchup as it hosts Maryland at The Shoe.

Below is a rundown of Saturday’ five Big Ten matchups, complete with betting lines, kickoff times and more information to help your handicapping.

No. 18 Iowa at No. 13 Wisconsin (-9.5, 38)

Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET / 3 p.m. CT (FOX)

What bettors need to know: Dealing a total of 38, oddsmakers are expecting a low-scoring battle, and rightfully so. Combined, the two teams are allowing 21.5 points per game. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, in fact, has never led a better scoring defense (10.1 ppg, 3rd best in the nation) in his 20 years in charge of the program. In 2008, the Hawkeyes surrendered 13.0 points. The Badgers, coming off a bye week, yield 11.4 points per game in 2019 (5th in nation).

The rushing battle between Iowa’s front seven and Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor looms large. Taylor ranks fifth in the nation with 126.1 rushing yards per game. The Hawkeyes are the only team in the country not to allow a rush over 20 yards this season.

Iowa QB Nate Stanley is expected to make his 35th straight start. He leads the team to 28.4 points per game but sees this number slip against better B1G defenses. In nine matchups against conference rivals allowing fewer than three touchdowns per game, the Hawkeyes average 21.4 behind the senior.

Iowa’s two losses to Penn State (10-3) and Michigan (17-12), as a 4- and 3.5-point underdog, respectively, each were by a single possession. The Hawkeyes have not lost to a ranked opponent by more than a touchdown in their last four opportunities.

Wisconsin was a 2.5-point favorite in Golden Nugget’s Game of the Year lines released in May.

Maryland at No. 1 Ohio State (-43.5, 64)

Kickoff: noon ET / 11 a.m. CT (FOX)

What bettors need to know: The 43.5-point spread is the largest in recent history for Ohio State in a Big Ten clash. The blue-chip program gifted 40 points to Northwestern in 1981, routing the Wildcats 70-6 at The Shoe.

Maryland is 0-21 SU and 4-17 ATS (19.0%) against Big Ten ranked opponents since moving to the conference from the ACC. They fail to cover an 18.2 average line by a whopping 12.8 points per game.

Since 1980, in four Big Ten contests with a line north of 40 points, the underdog has not scored more than a touchdown in any game.

No. 4 Penn State (-6.5, 47.5) at No. 17 Minnesota

Kickoff: noon ET / 11 a.m. CT (ABC)

What bettors need to know: Snow could fall in the first ranked clash in Minnesota since 1999. The Gophers own the third-longest winning streak in the nation, going 10-0 SU and 7-2-1 ATS since mid-November 2018. The Gophers offense is posting 37.8 points per game in this span, as opposed to 25.7 the 10 games prior.

Penn State is just 1-6 SU and 2-5 ATS in seven road clashes facing ranked opponents in the James Franklin era. The offense stumbles to just 17.4 points per game, failing to surpass its projected team total in the betting market in all but one contest.

Also read: Notre Dame vs. Duke betting primer

Purdue at Northwestern (-2, 40)

Kickoff: noon ET / 11 a.m. CT (BTN)

What bettors need to know: Northwestern’s offense is historically bad, averaging 9.8 points per game. This ranks last among all FBS programs. The unit has not found the end zone in over a month — 13 straight quarters.

Purdue has dropped seven of the last eight meetings, going 2-6 ATS. Offense has been hard to come by for the Boilermakers in this series span, averaging 19.0 points.

Illinois at Michigan State (-14.5, 45)

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET / 2:30 p.m. CT (FS1)

What bettors need to know: The Illini enter on a three-game win streak, their best run since 2011. Since a humiliating 34-31 home defeat to Eastern Michigan laying 7 points in Week 3, Lovie Smith’s group has gone 5-1 ATS, covering a 10.5 average line by 11.0 points. This includes a pair of double-digit wins, at Purdue and hosting Rutgers, the last two weeks.

Michigan State has done a poor job avenging defeats at Spartan Stadium in recent years, going 1-5 SU and 0-6 ATS in revenge matchups since November 2017. This includes three outright defeats as the betting favorite, twice laying 10 points (Northwestern 2018, Arizona State 2019). Illinois shocked Sparty 31-27 as 8.5-point pups in their last meeting in 2016, Smith’s first year in charge.

Trends compiled with queries performed at SportsDatabase.

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