There's something for everybody in the second week of Big Ten competition, even if one game has been canceled due to COVID-19 issues. Michigan came out roaring against Minnesota and looks to continue building momentum at the expense of their in-state rival. An under-the-radar clash of quarterbacks takes place as Michael Penix Jr. leads his stunning Hoosiers against Noah Vedral and a Rutgers team that handily dismissed Michigan State.
Unfortunately, Wisconsin's COVID-19 outbreak within its program means the Badgers' game with Nebraska has been canceled, but fans still have Ohio State-Penn State to look forward to.
Note: All times are ET and all games are on Saturday, Oct. 31 unless otherwise noted.
Minnesota (-20.5) at Maryland, 7:30 p.m. (Fri.)
The Golden Gophers managed some offense but not nearly enough in last week's loss to Michigan. On the flip side, Maryland was held to a field goal in a pasting at the hands of Northwestern.
While Minnesota doesn't have the luxury of any bye weeks, the Terrapins have officially replaced Rutgers as the league's likely get-right game. Tanner Morgan, Mohamed Ibrahim, and Rashod Bateman all have reasons to like their chances of racking up yardage by the boatload. Minnesota 38, Maryland 7
Michigan State (+25.5) at Michigan, 12 p.m.
Considering Mel Tucker's defensive background, few expected the Spartans to drop a game to Rutgers, let alone by 11 points. The difficulty level gets ratcheted up as their annual blood feud with Michigan pops up in week two.
Joe Milton joined Graham Mertz in showing the Big Ten has some exciting, young quarterbacks among its ranks. Rocky Lombardi has a solid wide receiver corps to work with, but it's absolutely necessary Michigan State establish some manner of a run game this week. Adjusting for the rivalry factor, the Spartans cover but Michigan starts the season 2-0. Michigan 37, Michigan State 17
Illinois (+7) vs. Purdue, 12 p.m.
With Rondale Moore's status for the game clear as mud, we move forward with what we know. The Aidan O'Connell-David Bell connection doesn't spell good things for an Illinois secondary that Graham Mertz torched in his first collegiate start. While O'Connell may not match Mertz in ability, their stat lines post-Illini could look similar. Zander Horvath also provides the Boilermakers with a credible run threat.
Brandon Peters goes up against a far more forgiving pass defense than he faced against the Badgers. Purdue didn't especially slow the Hawkeyes' running game which should give Lovie Smith hope that Mike Epstein finds his rhythm. Defense could be optional in this game. Purdue 27, Illinois 24
Indiana (-12) at Rutgers, 3:30 p.m.
After a thrilling overtime win against Penn State, Indiana is a Top 25 team and ready to climb even higher. Drawing the Scarlet Knights has been a long-time notch in the win column well before kickoff. Nebraska transfer quarterback Noah Vedral showed us that isn't the case in 2020.
The Hoosiers do provide more offensive pop than Michigan State does, though. Michael Penix, Jr. and Stevie Scott III both showed they're a step above what Rutgers faced last week. The Scarlet Knights continue to show they're not quite a pushover anymore, but the Hoosiers claim a victory that should launch them into the top 15 of the polls. Indiana 31, Rutgers 10
Northwestern (+2.5) at Iowa, 3:30 p.m.
The Wildcats have found an offense! Alright, a 43-3 blasting of Maryland isn't the most impressive addition to a resume, but don't forget that Northwestern averaged a little more than 16 points per game in 2019.
We'll get a far better idea of just how good the dynamic duo of quarterback Peyton Ramsey and offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian is against the Hawkeyes. Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras racked up yardage last week, but 265 yards that equate to no points is still useless. Kirk Ferentz also needs to see markedly improved performances from running backs Tyler Goodson and Mekhi Sargent.
That's far from a given against a Northwestern defense well-equipped to stuff Iowa's ground game. If Petras can navigate a pesky Wildcat secondary, the home team can take this one. However, here's guessing the defensive effort we saw against Maryland was no fluke. Northwestern 30, Iowa 20
Ohio State (-12.5) at Penn State, 7:30 p.m.
Even after blitzing Nebraska by 35 points, holes were apparent in the Buckeyes' armor. Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions fell short in heartbreaking fashion to Indiana despite Sean Clifford's best efforts.
Justin Fields and Clifford are still two of the best quarterbacks in the Big Ten, so expect each to offer their own highlight reel. However, the Huskers drew up a blueprint Penn State can try and copy to at least stagger Trey Sermon and Master Teague III. Ohio State's defense is coming together, but the talent to make big plays when it counts remains.
As for Penn State, without running backs Journey Brown and Noah Cain, the onus is on Devyn Ford to assist Clifford. If the Nittany Lions can get Jahan Dotson and Pat Freiermuth involved to the level they were against Indiana, this could be a tight game. But as good as Indiana QB Michael Penix Jr. is, Fields is on an entirely different level. Ohio State 45, Penn State 27
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