The Backdoor Cover - Big Ten Edition
By: Josh Gamble
*All lines are accurate as of Friday afternoon*
Maryland @ Penn State (-25) – Over/Under 64.5
Both of these teams played much better than I think anyone expected last week. Most thought that Penn State would get run out of town against the Buckeyes after dropping their first game to the Hoosiers. Maryland, who played poorly in their first game, bounced back and defeated Minnesota after being a heavy underdog. Whether or not Minnesota is ultimately overrated, Maryland’s offense looked impressive last week. The line in this game opened at 21 points and has been pushed out to 25. The more the line moves in this direction, the more value you will get with taking Maryland. At this point, unless there is a reversal in the line, there is not any value in taking the Nittany Lions. I think the better play here is the over. The total has risen by 4 points since its open; however, I still see value at this point. Take the over.
Michigan (-3.5) @ Indiana – Over/Under 54
This is a matchup between two teams that are on opposite ends of the story line. Indiana opened the season with an impressive win against Penn State. This win looks even better after seeing Penn State play Ohio State pretty tough last week. Michigan, on the other hand, is coming off a bad, bad loss. The Wolverines dropped their game last week against Michigan State in which they were three score favorites at home. Many Michigan faithful are calling for Harbaugh and Don Brown to be fired. That being said, Michigan currently holds a 24 game win streak against the Hoosiers. It is always tough to judge a team when they come off a loss in a rivalry game regardless of the other team’s talent level. The line is this game opened at 2 points with a modest rise up to 3.5. You are seeing a split between the two teams as far as the wagers are concerned. The Wolverines hold about 70% of the spread bets right now while almost all of the moneyline action is on the Hoosiers. Too many questions for Michigan to pick either side with any confidence, but I do see value on the Hoosiers moneyline at +145. The number that I believe is the most exploitable in this game is the total. 54 points seems awfully low to me. Indiana does not have a good defense and I would expect Michigan to score a fair number of points. On the flip side, Michigan does not quite have the defense they are accustomed to having under Don Brown. Take the over 54.
Photo courtesy of cleveland.com
Rutgers @ Ohio State (-38.5) – Over/Under 64.5
Ohio State is far and away the best team in the conference. Rutgers seems improved, but they are still not a good football team. I do not see this game being anywhere near competitive, but 38.5 is a lot of points. I am always a little weary of these big spreads in conference games. There is a good chance that this game will be over before it even starts and Ohio State will go to halftime with a huge lead. At that point, especially in conference games, you will see the backups start to come into the game for the team that is leading. Most notably, I do not think we will see much of Justin Fields in the second half as I would expect him to be out of the game by the fourth quarter at the latest. The play in this game for me is the first half line. Ohio State are 24 point favorites in the first half. By betting the first half, you will avoid any potential backup players affecting whether or not they can cover the spread. Take Ohio State -24 in the first half.
Minnesota (-7) @ Illinois – Over/Under 62.5
Minnesota has been one of the more disappointing teams in the Big Ten so far this season. The chic pick to win their division to start the season is now 0-2. Illinois, even though they put up a fight against Purdue last week, are one of the worst teams in the conference. I think this is a game in which Minnesota can start trending back in the right direction and I would expect them to cover the touchdown in this game. I also think that the over is playable in this game as well. Both of these teams have very bad defenses. Illinois’ offense leaves a lot to be desired but I still see them being able to score enough points to push this game to the over.
Michigan State @ Iowa (-6.5) – Over/Under 46.5
In previous years, this would have been a matchup that I would be excited about. This year is not one of them. Michigan State is coming off a big win against the rival Wolverines, but this is also the team that lost to Rutgers. Iowa has not been overly impressive this season either. Impressive enough to be a 6.5-point favorite, I guess. Betting trends have things split right down the middle on both the spread and the total in this game. I am just not seeing enough value in any of these numbers to play this game with any sort of confidence.
Nebraska @ Northwestern (-3.5) – Over/Under 54.5
Northwestern is arguably the biggest surprise in the conference thus far sitting at 2-0. That being said, they have no played any elite talent yet. I think that both of these teams are actually pretty evenly matched. With the line sitting at 3.5, there may be slight value for Nebraska, but not enough value for me to bet with confidence. The only seemingly viable play in this game is the under. There is heavy action on the under in this game and the number is holding steady regardless. As long as the action does not begin to move the total down, there is value in this play.
Below you will find all of my college plays for the week. Please be sure to follow me on Twitter @Jtothe_ROC to get all of my plays. I will post my official cards for the night and you will get plays that happen before this weekly write-up comes out. As always, I am happy to answer any questions you may have. Good luck and let’s cash those tickets!
Official Big Ten Card
MD/PSU O 64.5
Michigan/Indiana O 54
Ohio State 1H -24
Tuesday Night’s MACtion (posted to Twitter)
Kent State -4 (Loss)
Buffalo -14 (Win)
Ohio -4 (Push)
Thursday Night action (posted to Twitter)
Nevada 1H -10 (Win)
Nevada -17.5 (Win)
Wyoming -3.5 (Loss)
Picks For Tonight
BYU/Boise St O 61 (2 units)
*Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Jtothe_ROC for updates on my official card for Saturday’s slate of games*