Irish to Declaw Michigan? Buckeyes to Add to Badgers' Misery? Big Ten. Big Week.

Herb Gould

You probably don’t want to know how easy it is to go from 6-0 to 2-4 in just two easy steps. But since it happened to me last week, here it is:

1, With Ohio State and Wisconsin coming to hapless Northwestern and Illinois, which were getting 28 and 31 points, respectively, I figured one was bound to cover. The problem is, I took the Wildcats instead of the Illini.

The theory being that Northwestern, which has a habit of bouncing back from slow starts to seasons, would at least stay within four touchdowns—especially coming off a bye after losing at Nebraska and Wisconsin by a combined 12 points. And that Illinois, which has been consistently inconsistent, would not be able to cope with Wisconsin’s smothering defense or Jonathan Taylor’s Heisman-worthy running game.

2, Arizona State was in position to stay within 14 points until a late Utah touchdown.. And Penn State looked golden when it opened a 21-0 lead, but it scored no more, failing to cover nine points against Michigan.

Recapping, when you have two home dogs and pick the wrong one, and when the wrong favorite covers with a late TD. . . it’s not going to be a good week.

That said, I remain 26-19-3 ATS this fall. And even though I was 2-4 ATS, I was 5-1 straight up for a 38-10 season total.

Moving on, this is a dramatic week in the Big Ten. Wisconsin’s trip to Ohio State is the obvious headliner. But Michigan’s big night game with Notre Dame is must-see as well as must-win—for both teams, really.

And if sputtering Michigan State is going to get going, this would be a good time. Especially because Penn State comes to East Lansing after a pair of draining victories at Iowa and vs. Michigan.

Good luck in sports!

THE GAMES

(Central Flyover Time)

Wisconsin plus-14 at Ohio State, 11 a.m., FOX

Penn State minus-6.5 at Michigan State, 2:30 p.m., ABC

Illinois plus-9.5 at Purdue, 11 a.m., BTN

Auburn plus-10.5 at LSU, 2:30 p.m, CBS

Maryland plus-16.5 at Minnesota, 2:30 p.m, ESPN

Notre Dame minus-1.5 at Michigan, 6:30 p.m., ABC

THE PICKS

(ATS winner in bold**)**

Wisconsin plus-14 at Ohio State, 11 a.m., FOX

Wisconsin limps into the Shoe coming off a 24-23 day of infamy at Illinois. Ohio State is on a roll, after smoking Northwestern 52-3. This game looked very different a week ago. But that’s college football. The Buckeyes have all the edges. The Badgers have all the questions marks.

The Pick: Ohio State

The Score: Buckeyes, 38-14

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Illinois plus-9.5 at Purdue, 11 a.m., BTN

Can the Illini keep it going? Will they have a huge dose of confidence—or a hangover? Seems like Purdue, despite its 2-5 record, will seize this opportunity.Maybe it’s because I’ve seen a lot of Illinois disappointments in West Lafayette. Or maybe it’s because I think Purdue, for all its troubles, is more capable than it has shown.

The Pick: Purdue

The Score: Boilermakers, 38-24

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Penn State minus-6.5 at Michigan State, 2:30 p.m., ABC

I am trying to find reasons why Sparty can keep this close. Strong defense. Back to the wall. Coming off a bye while the Nittany Lions are facing their third straight challenging week. But there are more reasons why Penn State gets it done. A balanced attack. An athletic defense. And s wobbly MSU offense.

The Pick: Penn State

The Score: Nittany Lions, 24-13

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Auburn plus-10.5 at LSU, 2:30 p.m, CBS

I was firmly seated on the Auburn bandwagon earlier this year. And that Florida loss might have said more about the Gators than the Plains Tigers. On the other hand, the Bayou Tigers look like such a juggernaut. And where Auburn has a very promising freshman quarterback, LSU has the current Heisman frontrunner. And home-field advantage. And is gushing swagger.

The Pick: LSU

The Score: LSU 34-21

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Maryland plus-16.5 at Minnesota, 2:30 p.m, ESPN

Do not adjust your sets. Minnesota, which is 7-0 for the first time since 1960, is a 17-point favorite to get to 8-0. It has pounded its last three opponents (Illinois, Nebraska and Rutgers). Maryland, after a rousing 2-0 start, has sunk into the abyss. What happens to the Gophers after this—Penn State, Iowa, Wisconsin—remains to be seen. But this is now. Row the boat!

The Pick: Minnesota

The Score: Gophers, 42-21

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Notre Dame minus-1.5 at Michigan, 6:30 p.m., ABC

Wow. If I were to pick this game 20 times, I’d go each way 10 times. And the betting world seems to agree. This line has gone from Notre Dame minus-2 to Michigan minus-1.5. ND definitely looks like the better and more reliable team going in. Balanced offense, sharp defense. The thing is, this looks like a real crossroads game for Michigan. The loss at Wisconsin was very discouraging. The loss at Penn State showed some potential. Two losses with Ohio State and Michigan State still to come? And Jim Harbaugh angrily denying reports he’s exploring NFL options. Talk about a must-win. A loss here might signal the end of the Harbaugh era. I think the defense wills the Wolverines to victory, aided by players rallying around Harbaugh. Also, ND’s best showings (at Georgia, which no longer looks as formidable, and vs. enigmatic USC, which gave the Irish a pretty good game) might not be as compelling as we think. With so many of my expert friends hoisting the leprechaun, I'm feeling trepidations. But sticking with the Champions of the West. Gulp. . .

The Pick: Michigan

The Score: Wolverines, 24-21

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LAST WEEK ATS: 2-4. . . SEASON: 26-19-3

LAST WEEK STRAIGHT UP: 5-1 . . . SEASON 38-10

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Herb Gould

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