Lessons learned from last week’s 2-3 primer . . . Indiana needs to do a better job of coaching its DBs not to bump into each other on game-changing deep balls. . . . And never pick a team that’s lost its previous two games by a combined 136-0, even if it’s getting six points at home against a team whose coach is going after his first major-college win. Especially if that team is named Rutgers.
And now, onto this week’s learning opportunities: Wisconsin-Iowa, Indiana-Northwestern, Rutgers-Minnesota, Illinois-Michigan, Michigan State-Maryland.
Because I still need the reps, that’s five games for the price of three. And because I’m tempted to pick too many teams from North Carolina, let’s just stay in the good ol’ Big Ten this week.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
The Game: Wisconsin minus-3 at Iowa
The Pick: Wisconsin, 24-17
The Comment: The Badgers, who already have run a 2-2 gauntlet vs. top 10 teams, are solid on defense, and have a fine young QB to go with their traditional power running. Hawkeyes won’t be easy, but Wisconsin has no margin for missteps now.
The Game: Indiana plus 1.5 at Northwestern
The Pick: Northwestern, 35-31
The Comment: IU is playing well, with improved defense and good bursts of offense. But NU has gotten its act together in season-reviving trips to Iowa and Michigan State. And the Wildcats also have no margin for setbacks, courtesy of that messy 1-3 start.
The Game: Rutgers plus-17.5 at Minnesota
The Pick: Minnesota 41-6
The Comment: Scarlet Knights have been outscored 160-7 in their last three games, including a 24-7 home loss to previously struggling Illinois. Gophers, coming off 31-10 win at Maryland, are confident and competent.
The Game: Illinois plus 36.5 at Michigan
The Pick: Michigan, 52-10
The Comment: Ordinarily, I try stay away from five-touchdown lines. But the Wolverines, coming off a bye week, will be hungry. And Harbaugh is—well, Harbaugh. Last time Harbaugh and Lovie Smith met, on Nov. 19, 2012, Harbaugh gave Colin Kaepernik his first NFL start, and he led the 49ers past Smith’s Bears, 32-7. Plus, it's not clear how many healthy QBs Illinois has.
The Game: Michigan State minus-2.5 at Maryland
The Pick: Michigan State, 30-24
The Comment: I know. Sparty is a mess. But Maryland could use a napkin, too. And the Spartans, who are tracking for Big Ten flop of the year, ought to be ornery enough—and talented enough—to stop their four-game losing streak against the turtling Terrapins.
Last week: 2-3
Season : 15-16
Lines from Pregame.com[/membership]