COVID restrictions turned football gambling into a game of whack-a-mole with a peashooter. That’s not to gripe or complain about the irregular nature of the season. To not expect cancellations is to live in a world of far-flung and baseless optimism.

This is not an excuse for my sub-.500 record. The cancellation of last week’s Ohio State vs. Illinois game probably saved me a loss. The 2020 season on its own generated a downpour of hail stones to go with the dense fog that is gambling in what we now know were very unordinary times. 

To quote William Goldman in a different context, “Nobody knows anything, dipstick.” 

Okay, so it was paraphrasing, dipstick. 

This is not to lament the season or the snug-fit scheduling window of the Big Ten. I much enjoy Scott Frost’s complaints department, one so rich it’s transmitted gout to most of Lincoln. He’s about to take to Twitter and complain to Walmart about the retail giant’s low inventory of Playstation 5 consoles.

Sigh, and back to the bad news. We knew what we signed up for, we just didn’t expect such high-velocity lashes.

Author’s note: All lines taken from mybookie.ag. Lines may have shifted since the pick’s inception. 

Pick 1: Hawkeyes to cover (again)

The game: Iowa vs. Illinois (+11.5) … O/U 50.5

The play: Iowa

The logic: Iowa mucked it up against Nebraska to the tune of a 6-point win last weekend, but the Hawkeyes are primed for a big showing on defense against Illinois. There is no multi-faceted approach to the Illini’s offense. A run first, run second, and run third mentality permeates the team. Expect Iowa to somehow get 12 defenders in the box, that’s a strategy joke for all you defensive savants, and force quarterback Brandon Peters into errant throws. 

There is not much punch to Iowa’s passing game with quarterback Spencer Petras’ putrid numbers, but expect a touchdown from Iowa’s defense to sure-up the 11.5 point deficit. 

Pick 2: Badgers to cover 

The game: Indiana vs. Wisconsin (-14.5) … O/U 45.5

The play: Wisconsin

The logic: Wisconsin’s loss to Northwestern all but eliminated the Badgers from contention for the Big Ten Championship. The third cancellation on the Badgers schedule rubber-stamped their appearance in Consolation Saturday or Champions Week or whatever they plan to christen the slate of games (for now) all marked irrelevant except for one. 

Oddsmakers knew the unfortunate injury news regarding Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. as early as Sunday night when the line came out at its current number. With Jack Tuttle under center on Saturday, expect Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard to mix in a variety of looks and blitz packages to unsettle the sophomore. Indiana will scheme ways for Tuttle to get the ball to its playmakers at wide receiver, but how will Tuttle sustain longer drives if the Badgers force him to go the length of the field and do not allow explosive plays? 

Pick 3: Over 62 in the B1G West Basement 

The game: Nebraska vs. Purdue (-1.5 ) … O/U 62

The play: Over

The logic: I bore witness to Purdue’s loss to Rutgers last week. Bore witness to the whole lot of numbers that made the Bob Diaco defense look a whole lot like the Nick Holt defense of previous years. Rutgers converted 10 of 17 third downs, committed no turnovers, and struck a nice balance between quarterbacks Johnny Langan and Artur Sitkowski. 

Nebraska can strike a similar balance between Adrian Martinez and Luke McCaffrey, though the skill set from the two differs from what the quarterbacks at Rutgers do. Purdue’s offense continues to hum along, slowly forming the question in the minds of so many Boilermakers fans as to whether the team should just attempt an onside kick on every kickoff. Nebraska has not been tested by any sort of pass-first offense on its schedule outside of Ohio State in Week 1, when Justin Fields only completed 20 of 21 passes for 276 yards. Expect the teams to trade scores for the better part of the game. 

Last week: 0-2
Overall record: 8-9

The B1G’s other Week 7 lines

Ohio State vs. Michigan State (-24) … O/U 59.5
Penn State vs. Rutgers (+11) … O/U 55.5
Maryland vs. Michigan (-5) … O/U 58.5