Indiana laying historic point spread vs. Rutgers

Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr
Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

It has been nearly 40 years since Indiana was as large a favorite in a conference game as it is Saturday at home against Rutgers.

Indiana is -27 on oddsboards in early wagering, marking the largest number the Hoosiers have laid to a Big Ten opponent since 1980. On Oct. 25 of that season, Indiana was a 28-point home favorite against Northwestern, but failed to cover the four-touchdown spread in a 35-20 win.

Indiana (3-2 straight up and against the spread) has already covered large lines this season in home wins over Eastern Illinois as a 36.5-point favorite and UConn as 28-point chalk.

Rutgers’ season is spiraling out of control. Coach Chris Ash was fired four games into his fourth season with the Scarlet Knights (1-4 SU and ATS), and quarterback Art Sitkowski and running back Raheem Blackshear asked interim coach Nunzio Campanile to keep them on the bench Saturday to remain eligible to redshirt. The Knights, who are failing to cover by an average of 11.2 points per game, turned to third-string QB Johnny Langan, who was 14-of-26 passing for 171 yards and two interceptions in his collegiate debut in the 48-7 loss to Maryland.

While the Scarlet Knights have not won a Big Ten game since 2017 and have a 17-game losing streak against Power-5 opponents, they have covered the number in four of their five meetings with Indiana. Last season in Piscataway, the Hoosiers won 24-17 but failed to cover as 14.5-point favorites. The final score wasn’t indicative of how much Indiana dominated the game, however. The Hoosiers out-gained Rutgers 451-291 and were ahead 24-7 entering the fourth quarter, but two turnovers in the second half led to 10 points for Rutgers.

Irish facing worst underdog coach

Notre Dame is an 11-point home favorite over rival USC on Saturday, and bettors worried about laying double-digits should feel relieved knowing the Irish are going up against Clay Helton. When his team is priced as the underdog, Helton has the worst SU (2-13) and ATS marks (3-12) in the country among active coaches. One of those covers did come against Notre Dame last season, however, when the Irish won 24-17 as 10-point road favorites to complete a perfect regular season.

Big Ten quick-hitters

Indiana’s 25.5-point spread is the largest for Saturday’s Big Ten action. No. 16 Michigan owns the next-highest, laying 19 on the road against the Illinois, which could be without former Michigan quarterback Brandon Peters (upper-body injury). Peters exited in the first half of Saturday’s 40-17 loss at Minnesota and is questionable to play against his former team.

Also dealing with injury issues are Maryland (-5) and Purdue, who face off Saturday in West Lafayette. With Maryland QB Josh Jackson (high-ankle sprain) and Purdue QB Elijah Sindelar (clavicle) out, the 5-point spread could come down to the play of backups Tyrrell Pigrome and Jack Plummer.

Pigrome, who was Maryland’s No. 1 QB before Jackson transferred in from Virginia Tech, should be boosted by the return of three offensive line starters. The Terps (3-2 SU and ATS) also get back cornerback Marcus Lewis against the Boilers’ wideouts, who are still dealing with the absence of star Rondale Moore. Purdue is 1-4 SU and 2-3 ATS, as it ranks second-worst in FBS in nearly every traditional rushing statistic, including a dismal 1.9 yards per carry.

No. 10 Penn State, which held Plummer to just 13 completions and 119 yards in a 35-7 win, is a 3-point road favorite for the Big Ten’s Game of the Week at No. 17 Iowa (4-1 SU, 3-2 ATS). PSU QB Sean Clifford has been serviceable in his first year under center, but he hasn’t faced a defense like Iowa’s in a raucous environment yet this season.