B1G Bets: Big Ten Week 3 Game Odds, Preview & Picks

We got the bounce back we were looking for with a 6-1 record in Week 2, including 4-0 on our BIGGER Bets.

It’s still early in the season with many unknowns. Just how vulnerable are the Ohio State Buckeyes? How long will it take Wisconsin’s personnel to adjust to the new schemes? How will Michigan State’s players respond to losing their head coach in-season?

But that doesn’t mean we don’t have opinions on this week’s games, including the first BIGGEST Bet of the college football season.

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Overall Record: 7-3 overall (+4 units) | ATS: 4-3 | Team Totals: 3-0

Scared money don’t make money. Let’s eat!

B1GGEST Bets (1.5 Units):

Last Week: 0-0; Season: 0-0 (Even)

No Picks.

MARYLAND -14.5 Virginia

Money Line: Maryland -650 | Virginia +460 | Total: 47.5

Time: 7:00 p.m. ET; TV: FS1 | Location: SECU Stadium | College Park, MD

Maryland: AP Top 25: NR (37) | Coaches Poll: NR (34) | SP+: 34 | PFF: 41

Virginia: AP Top 25: NR | Coaches Poll: NR | SP+: 93 | PFF: 89

A sluggish start (trailed 14-0 3:10 into the game, including a pick-six) sandwiched with a garbage-time touchdown (1:22 left) resulted in a 38-20 final against Charlotte, with Maryland winning the middle 55 minutes, 38-0. They dominated the game with a few outlier plays going against them.

Don’t expect the Terps to come out sleepwalking against former ACC rival Virginia on Friday night in College Park. The Cavaliers might be the worst Power 5 team in the country and are coming off blowing a 35-25 fourth-quarter lead to James Madison in an emotional game.

JMU moved the ball very comfortably against UVA. The Virginia defense is ranked 128th in success rate, 120th in EPA/Pass, and 106th in EPA/Run. Conversely, the Terps offense ranks 31st in success rate, 69th in EPA/Pass, and 21st in EPA/Run.

Maryland also has a significant defensive (see more below) and special teams edge (45-119) per SP+.

Whether it’s the eye test or analytics, this line is way too small any way you slice it.

Additionally, JMU was favored at UVA (-6) last week. Yes, the Cavs were without QB Tony Muskett, but you can make a case that freshman Anthony Colandrea is just as good. Whoever is at QB, I’m stunned this line is so small, and it opened at 13.5! Surely, the books don’t have the Terps and Dukes as near equals. But that’s what the spread (factoring location) is telling us.

Pound the shell on Friday night.

B1GGER Bets (1 Units):

Last Week: 4-0; Season: 5-1 (+4)

NORTH CAROLINA -7.5 Minnesota

Money Line: North Carolina -280 | Minnesota +225 | Total: 50.5

Time: 3:30 p.m. ET; TV: ESPN | Location: Kenan Stadium | Chapel Hill, NC

North Carolina: AP Top 25: 20 | Coaches Poll: 18 | SP+: 25 | PFF: 18

Minnesota: AP Top 25: NR (34) | Coaches Poll: NR (44) | SP+: 42 | PFF: 22

Through two games, Minnesota has allowed a mere 16 total points. Before you get too giddy about the D, note who the Gophers played: Nebraska and Eastern Michigan.

This week, they face the best offense on their September schedule. Led by potential top-five pick Drake Maye, North Carolina ranks 16th in offensive success rate and 27th in EPA/Pass. As talented as Maye is, UNC’s rushing attack has been even better, as they lead the nation in EPA/Rush.

I expect UNC to move the ball against a Minnesota defense that is more vulnerable than you think. They’re 95th in defensive success rate and especially poor against the run, 126th in EPA/Rush, and 120th defensive success rush rate. Their average tackle depth versus the run (5.77 yards) is the second-highest among Power 5 schools per PFF.

Even though their numbers against the pass are excellent, I believe that is more of a product of their opponents.

Going back to last season (they faced one top-45 passing offense in 2022), the Gophers have feasted on bad opposing quarterbacks. This will be a massive test for them against Maye’s rocket arm. Especially factoring in losing four vital defensive backs to the NFL, the transfer portal, and retirement in the offseason. This is a substantial first test.

UNC’s defense is vulnerable too, but the Gophers aren’t the offense to take advantage, as they’re ranked 92nd in offensive success rate with just three touchdowns on the season, tied with Nebraska for the fewest in the Big Ten.

Like Illinois at Kansas last week, this feels like a bad matchup on the road for a Big Ten West team that will be out of its element.

IOWA -28 Western Michigan

Money Line: Iowa -4500 | Western Michigan +1600 | Total: 42.5

Time: 3:30 p.m. ET; TV: ESPN | Location: Kenan Stadium | Chapel Hill, NC

North Carolina: AP Top 25: 20 | Coaches Poll: 18 | SP+: 25 | PFF: 18

Minnesota: AP Top 25: NR (34) | Coaches Poll: NR (44) | SP+: 42 | PFF: 22

Iowa has an edge in every aspect of the game, with ridiculous mismatches on defense and special teams. Western Michigan’s offense is ranked 94th in success rate and 113th in SP+. They struggle on early downs and have done well converting third downs through two games, but that’s not the recipe for success against an elite defense like Iowa’s, which is why WMU’s team total is 6.5.

The Broncos allowed 48 points to Syracuse last week and are the worst defense left on Iowa’s schedule. If you don’t know about the Drive to 325, the Hawkeyes are behind the pace, and this is their best chance to gain some ground. You’d think they’re incentivized to try to crack 40.

Quarterback Cade McNamara said this is the “most healthy” he’s felt in a month, and this is his first whole week of practice since he injured his quad (Aug. 12). There’s also the emergence of freshman Jaziun Patterson, who broke out with 86 yards on ten carries against a good Iowa State defense. He and Kaleb Johnson give them a legit one-two punch in the running game.

Did I mention special teams? SP+ has Iowa’s special teams ranked 18th and WMU’s 115th. If you can find a line on the Hawkeyes scoring touchdowns on offense, defense, and special teams, hit your boy up!

B1G Bets (1/2 Unit):

Last Week: 2-1; Season: 2-2 (-EVEN)

Virginia UNDER 15.5

By SP+, the mismatch between Maryland and Virginia is even more significant when the Cavaliers have the ball. The Terps D ranks 29th compared to UVA’s 114th-ranked offense. Virginia’s offensive success rate is 118th (93rd passing, 100th rushing), while Maryland’s defense is 45th in success rate.

Tony Muskett is expected to start for the ‘Hoos, but considering his performance against Tennessee (9 of 17 for 94 yards, 5.5 yards per pass) in Week 1, I’m not sure that’s bad for the Terps.

Maryland can be vulnerable to the run… but no worries because the Cavs (116th EPA/Rush) can’t run the football. Ranked 114th in plays per minute, Virginia is also in no hurry to score.

Louisville-Indiana UNDER 50.5

Spread: Louisville -10.5 | Money Line: Louisville -365 | Indiana +285

Time: 12:00 p.m. ET; TV: BTN | Location: Lucas Oil Stadium | Indianapolis, IN

Louisville: AP Top 25: NR | Coaches Poll: NR (47) | SP+: 27 | PFF: 31

Indiana: AP Top 25: NR | Coaches Poll: NR | SP+: 79 | PFF: 94

When they held Ohio State to 23 points, Indiana showed in Week 1 that their defense, led by linebacker Aaron Casey (18 tackles), can be feisty. Their defensive success rate is ranked 56th and should match up well with Louisville’s offense, ranked 68th.

Tom Allen is an excellent defensive coach whose team plays hard and runs to the ball with bad intentions. They excel in getting opponents off the field, ranked seventh in 3rd/4th down success.

We can’t say many good things about an IU offense that’s 122nd in success rate, will be starting freshman Tayven Jackson, and can’t run the football (105th success rate, 104th EPA/Rush), going up against a Louisville defense that excels against the pass (20th in success rate).

Neither team pushes the tempo, with the Hoosiers one of the slower-paced teams in the country, 97th in plays per minute. There is no reason this total will crack 50.

Virginia Tech UNDER 13.5

Spread: Rutgers -6.5 | Money Line: Rutgers -275 | Virginia Tech +220 | Total: 37.5

Time: 3:30 p.m. ET; TV: BTN | Location: SHI Stadium | Piscataway, NJ

Rutgers: AP Top 25: NR| Coaches Poll: NR | SP+: 59 | PFF: 59

Virginia Tech: AP Top 25: NR | Coaches Poll: NR | SP+: 73 | PFF: 77

The last time we saw the Virginia Tech offense, they were shut out in the second half by a bad Purdue defense at home.

The Hokies are ranked 125th in offensive success rate (131st rushing) and 124th in EPA on offense. They struggle to put together quality possessions needed to create scoring opportunities. They don’t do well on early downs (107th EPA) and are even worse on 3rd/4th downs (113th), making scoring quite challenging.

The status of quarterback Grant Wells (ankle) is unclear, Ali Jennings is out, and Jaylin Lane is questionable, which means Tech’s starting quarterback and top two wideouts could miss the game.

As we’ve been saying all season, Rutgers has a solid defense. They shut down the run (25th in defensive rush success rate) and are efficient against the pass (29th EPA/Pass), as they limit big plays.

When the Scarlet Knights have the ball, they do their best to help their defense, ranked 112th in pace.

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