Big Ten football picks: #5 Penn State vs. #13 Minnesota & 4 more

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Zack Rhodes

November 8th, 2019

After at 1-2 record last weekend against the spread, we now sit at 24-23-1 for the season. Not exactly where we want to be, but we have five games to get it right this week, highlighted by a clash of undefeated teams in Minnesota and Penn State and a do-or-die matchup between Iowa and Wisconsin. Let’s get to the picks (all games Saturday).

#5 Penn State at #13 Minnesota, noon ET, ABC

Penn State Nittany Lions
-6.5 (-111)
O 47 (-112)
Minnesota Golden Gophers
+6.5 (-109)
U 47 (-108)
Whether it’s in a introductory press conference or a corporate board room, "culture" is the trendy word in athletics and business these days. The two head coaches facing off in this critical Big Ten battle are two of the best in creating a foundational culture that develops young men as both players and people.

James Franklin deserves a ton of credit for cultivating the new generation of Nittany Lions and reestablishing Penn State among the elite programs in the country, but P.J. Fleck is the guy who continually moves mountains and makes miracles happen. The newly extended coach, who will now make $4.6 million in 2020, has the Golden Gophers 8-0 for the first time since 1941. They'll look to do the impossible and win the Big Ten title for the first time since 1967.
It’s shaping up to be a historic season for the Gophers, but they'll get their stiffest test so from a Penn State team that continues to impress. In a battle of two of the better defenses in the country (Minnesota is 13th in total defense, while Penn State in ninth), this game will be reminiscent of Penn State’s 17-12 road victory last month at Iowa. The Nittany Lions might escape Minneapolis with a win, but it’ll be close. Row the boat, give me Minnesota plus the points.

Pick: Penn State +6.5

#18 Iowa at #16 Wisconsin (-8.5), 4 p.m. ET, FOX

With the Iowa defense only giving up nine touchdowns so far this season (tied with Penn State for second in the country) and Wisconsin’s stop unit leading the nation in total defense, it’s hard to imagine either team scoring a lot of points. With its senior quarterback and stout D, Iowa will keep it close.

Pick: Iowa +8.5

Maryland at #3 Ohio State (-43.5), noon ET, FOX

This many points is a ridiculous number to lay, but Ohio State is rested off a bye. There's one thing we know for sureif you get Maryland down early, the Terps will get blown out. I’m tired of betting on the worst coach in America and betting against the best team in the country. Give me the Buckeyes minus a million.

Pick: Ohio State -43.5

Illinois at Michigan State (-15), 3:30 p.m. ET, FS1

You have to wonder where Michigan State’s confidence is, after the Spartans scored a total of 17 points while they got walloped by Ohio State, Wisconsin and Penn State in consecutive weeks. I still think Michigan State has some talent, but Illinois is playing with a ton of confidence since its big win over Wisconsin three weeks ago.

Pick: Illinois +15

Purdue at Northwestern (-2.5), noon ET, Big Ten Network

I don’t know how they’re going to do it, but with Purdue starting walk-on Aidan O’Connell at quarterback and star receiver Rondale Moore officially ruled out, I think the fiery Pat Fitzgerald seizes the opportunity to get a second win in what has been a nightmare season.

Pick: Northwestern -2.5

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