College Picks: Big Ten in spotlight with 3 pivotal matchups

Oct 26, 2021, 11:05 PM | Updated: Oct 27, 2021, 11:07 am
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh yells to officials during a timeout in the first half of an NCAA colleg...

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh yells to officials during a timeout in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Nebraska on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, in Lincoln, Neb. (AP Photo/Rebecca S. Gratz)

(AP Photo/Rebecca S. Gratz)

The Big Ten eliminator begins.

The Midwest is in the spotlight on the weekend before the College Football Playoff releases its first rankings with a couple ranked matchups and another game pitting two of the best defenses in the country.

No. 20 Penn State took some of the luster off the Big Ten’s big weekend by losing a nine-overtime stalemate to Illinois last week, but the Nittany Lions will still be the best team No. 5 Ohio State has faced since losing to Oregon.

C.J. Stroud and the Buckeyes have the nation’s best offense at 49.3 points per game and 8.44 yards per play but their primetime showdown comes hours after the main event kicks off in East Lansing, Michigan.

No. 6 Michigan and No. 8 Michigan State are both 7-0 heading into their first top-10 matchup since Bump Elliott was leading the Wolverines and Duffy Daugherty was roaming the sideline for the Spartans in 1964.

Still to come over the last five weeks in the Big Ten East is Michigan at Penn State (Nov. 13); Michigan State at Ohio State (Nov. 20); and Ohio State at Michigan and Penn State at Michigan State on Thanksgiving weekend.

There is a big game in the West Division, too.

No. 9 Iowa, which hasn’t played since being upset by Purdue, visits Wisconsin. Despite their struggles, the Badgers (4-3) are still very much in control of their road to the Big Ten championship game. The game matches two top-10 defenses and two offense that are … limited.

The picks with lines provide by FanDuel Sportsbook:


Troy (plus 17 1/2) at No. 24 Coastal Carolina

Chants looking to rebound from their first regular-season loss since 2019 … COASTAL CAROLINA 48-24.


No. 1 Georgia (minus 14 1/2) vs. Florida at Jacksonville, Florida

Will Gators coach Dan Mullen turn the offense over to freshman QB Anthony Richardson? … GEORGIA 28–17.

No. 2 Cincinnati (minus 24 1/2) at Tulane

After a grinder against Navy, Bearcats get back to the blowouts … CINCINNATI 45-17.

Texas Tech (plus 19 1/2) at No. 4 Oklahoma

Texas Tech fired coach Matt Wells earlier this week with Red Raiders a victory away from bowl eligibility, but the toughest part of the schedule still ahead … OKLAHOMA 45-24.

No. 20 Penn State (plus 18 1/2) at No. 5 Ohio State

Buckeyes have scored at least 50 in four straight games; the only Big Ten team to have five straight 50-plus games was Michigan in 1903 … OHIO STATE 35-20.

No. 6 Michigan (minus 4 1/2) at No. 8 Michigan State

That 7-0 start won’t mean much for Jim Harbaugh if he falls to 0-2 against Spartans coach Mel Tucker … MICHIGAN 26-20.

Colorado (plus 23 1/4) at No. 7 Oregon

Buffs have the worst offense in the Pac-12 at 4.24 yards per play. Have fun dealing with Ducks DE Kayvon Thibodeaux … OREGON 31-10.

No. 9 Iowa (plus 3 1/2) at Wisconsin

The 36 1/2 points total from the bookmakers is the lowest on the schedule this week by four points; This game should be played in the snow for the full #B1G effect … WISCONSIN 18-15.

No. 10 Mississippi (plus 2 1/2) at No. 18 Auburn

Tigers have won five straight meetings and have not lost at home to the Rebels since 2012 … OLE MISS 31-28.

North Carolina (plus 3 1/2) at No. 11 Notre Dame

Irish will be missing All-America safety Kyle Hamilton (knee) … NOTRE DAME 28-23.

No. 12 Kentucky (minus 1 1/2) at Mississippi State

Mike Leach’s Bulldogs have thrown the most passes in the SEC (404); the Wildcats have thrown the second-fewest (184) … MISSISSIPPI STATE 23-21.

Duke (plus 16 1/4) at No. 13 Wake Forest

Demon Deacons have yet to be held under 35 points during their 7-0 start … WAKE FOREST 42-21.

Kansas (plus 30 1/2) at No. 15 Oklahoma State.

Jayhawks have lost 16 straight Big 12 games … OKLAHOMA STATE 35-10.

Texas (plus 2 1/2) at No. 16 Baylor

Charlie Strong’s first season as Texas coach: 6-7. Tom Herman’s first season as Texas coach: 7-6. Can Steve Sarkisian, already with three losses, break the trend? … BAYLOR 28-24.

Miami (plus 9 1/2) at No. 17 Pittsburgh

Just when folks start getting excited about the Panthers, things tend to go sideways; How about this time? … PITT 28-20.

No. 19 SMU (plus 1/2) at Houston

No. 2 defense in the AAC (Houston) vs. the No. 2 offense (SMU) … HOUSTON 27-24.

Fresno State (plus 1 1./2) at No. 21 San Diego State

Best teams in the Mountain West square off … SAN DIEGO STATE 23-21.

No. 22 Iowa State (minus 6 1/2) at West Virginia

Cyclones have won three straight meetings by an average of 25 points … IOWA STATE 34-17, BEST BET.

Virginia (plus 2 1/2) at No. 25 BYU

Cavaliers coach Bronco Mendenhall faces his former team from the first time … VIRGINIA 38-35.


UCLA (plus 6 1/2) at Utah — @bkbeban

Utes can grab a commanding position in the Pac-12 South with a victory … UTAH 35-31.

Purdue (plus 7 1/2) at Nebraska — @seanfrommelt

If the Huskers (3-5) are going to get bowl eligible, this is pretty much a must-win … NEBRASKA 28-23.

Florida State (plus 9 1/2) at Clemson — @ZeusTX81

Tigers have won five straight meetings, but they have yet to score 20 points in regulation against an FBS team … CLEMSON 24-14.

Boise State (minus 2 1/2) at Colorado State — @shawn_bubba

Broncos are 10-0 against the Rams since joining the Mountain West … BOISE STATE 26-21.


Last week: 17-4 straight; 14-7 against the spread.

Season: 121-60 straight; 102-79 against the spread.


Follow Ralph D. Russo at and listen at


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College Picks: Big Ten in spotlight with 3 pivotal matchups