Badgers, Buckeyes: Big Lines to Cover Against a Pair of NUs that Had High Hopes

Northwestern, Nebraska serious dogs. Maryland-Penn State, Gophers-Purdue have intrigue. Irish tackle unbeaten Virginia

It was a good last week, especially considering that I missed on two of the teams that I would like to think I know best. Northwestern, getting 9½ points at home to low-scoring Michigan State was a no-brainer that turned out to be a 31-10 no-show.

Expecting Georgia to use its superior athleticism and ear-shattering home-field advantage to steamroll Notre Dame by more than two touchdowns also seemed logical. But the Irish fought all the way to a 23-17 loss.

That said, I am very happy to report that I expected Wisconsin to humble Michigan and Auburn to get it done at Texas A&M. Add in Florida taking Tennessee to the woodshed and Boston College taking care of business at Rutgers—and I will take a 4-2 week with a satisfied smile and move along. Five games over .500 (13-8-3) works for me.

Trickier deals this week. Northwestern and Nebraska are getting a lot of points. Who knows what Maryland is really made of? Or Minnesota and Purdue, for that matter.

Time to make some guesses.

Good luck in sports.

THE GAMES

(Central Flyover Time)

Penn State minus-6.5 at Maryland, 7 p.m. Friday, FS1

Northwestern plus-24.5 at Wisconsin, 11 a.m., ABC

Minnesota minus-1.5 at Purdue, 2:30 p.m., ESPN

Virginia plus-12.5 at Notre Dame, 2:30 p.m, NBC

Mississippi State plus-10 at Auburn, 6 p.m., ESPN

Ohio State minus-17 at Nebraska, 6:30 p.m., ABC

THE PICKS

Penn State minus-6.5 at Maryland, 7 p.m. Friday, FS1

Which Maryland are we going to get? After smoking their first two opponents, including then-No. 21 Syracuse, the Terrapins laid the proverbial egg at Temple. Stoked by a raucous home crowd and the lesson taught by the Owls, Maryland gives Penn State a game.

The Pick: Maryland

The Score: Penn State, 31-27

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Northwestern plus-24.5 at Wisconsin, 11 a.m., ABC

Yes, Wisconsin is awfully good. But Northwestern, on life support after a lackluster 31-10 home loss to Michigan State, needs to show a pulse in a tough stretch that sends it to Nebraska next week before home dates with Ohio State and Iowa. This week, at least, 31-10, is not without virtue.

The Pick: Northwestern

The Score: Wisconsin, 31-10

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Minnesota minus-1.5 at Purdue, 2:30 p.m., ESPN

Three cardiac comebacks by Minnesota (3-0) might be a trend. I have a feeling, though, that the pluck stops here. Purdue (1-2) has lost to two better teams than the Gophers have played. QB Elijah Sindelar (concussion) or not, Purdue needs a win before things get out of hand.

The Pick: Purdue

The Score: Boilermakers, 27-23

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Virginia plus-12.5 at Notre Dame, 2:30 p.m, NBC

Let’s not be cavalier about Virginia—which already has won at Pitt, where UCF lost. UVa is unlikely to win in South Bend, but this is the kind of game where the Irish, coming off that emotional trip to Georgia, let an opponent hang around. And the Cavs have the defense to do that.

The Pick:Virginia

The Score: Notre Dame 31-20

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Mississippi State plus-10 at Auburn, 6 p.m., ESPN

Yeah, Mississippi State is capable. But Auburn, which already has beaten two ranked opponents (Oregon and Texas A&M) in the Lone Star State, is looking like it has a very high ceiling.

The Pick: Auburn

The Score: Tigers, 35-20

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Ohio State minus-17 at Nebraska, 6:30 p.m., ABC

With so many experts out there giving Nebraska the benefit of the doubt this week, I feel like I’m on an island. Yeah, the Huskers piled up 690 yards at Illinois. But they needed them to survive 42-38 because they made turnovers and didn’t make tackles. Give me Ohio State. Scott Frost will get it done. But this Nebraska 2019, not the Nebraska of the future.

The Pick: Ohio State

The Score: Buckeyes, 42-23

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LAST WEEK ATS: 4-2. . . SEASON: 13-8-3

LAST WEEK STRAIGHT UP: 5-1 . . . SEASON 18-6

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