Sure, we all want to sink our teeth into the fat of Big Ten play until it comes to making picks ATS. 

Farewell to the likes of UConn, Army (a curt and professional goodbye at that), and the conference’s sister schools in the MAC. Big Ten teams are done messing around with lesser versions of themselves outside the conference. Early October means we’re left to the company of the conference family. Lean on some vices, especially Purdue and Maryland fans, we’re all we’ve got. 

Stickler’s note: All lines taken from Lines may have shifted since the column’s inception. Sure looks like a lot of ghosts in your car as you merge into the carpool lane. Also, and this stays between us: Is it normal for anyone to listen to Steely Dan at that volume?

The game: Michigan vs. Illinois +21.5

The play: Michigan

The logic: Michigan can run up big scores against Rutgers to convince other people the program is fine, totally fine, nothing to see here on offense. 

Last week there really was nothing to see here on offense. The Wolverines managed 10 points against Iowa and still managed to cover in an ugly affair writers and opinion makers all over the world compared to the days when Fielding Yost conned some innocent classmates into enough money for an egg cream. 

Michigan continues to listen to a bunch of different music, one day country, the next day rap, a half-morning of classical, to find their identity. Games against a team like Illinois should give them the confidence to work on a rhythm between quarterback Shae Patterson and the most talented skill players on offense, his wide receivers. 

Illinois’ yards given up per pass attempt are in the bottom 100 nationally. In the yo-yo world of Michigan’s delicate makeup as to the offense, expect them to show up against an Illinois defense who in efforts to stop Minnesota from passing all over them last week gave up over 330 yards rushing. The Wolverines should be able to pick their spots against Illinois on offense and giving Illinois only a week to prepare for Don Brown’s defense is a defensive score waiting to happen for the Wolverines. As the most lost of all Lost Boys, I’m willing to look (the) Hook in the eye. 

Completely understandable if you root against me. Cuteness has its limits. 

The game: Rutgers vs. Indiana -27.5 o/u 49.5

The play: Indiana

The logic: The largest supplement of Vitamin B makes its way to Bloomington for a Hoosier recharge. There are a number of glaring statistics to choose from in opposition to the Scarlet Knights, including yielding over 36 points per game, nearly 5 yards a rushing attempt, and 12 yards per completion. 

Any of those stats for the Rutgers defense, one ranked 77 nationally in yards per game, is enough to lay a heavy number. Indiana comes off a bye and prior to that a near upset against Michigan State. Not everyone’s grail is the same sanctity of holiness and the Hoosiers need to win this game to maintain an unsteady outside shot at bowl eligibility. Look for them to take more shots downfield against such a dismal defense. In breaking news, one of the holdovers from Ralphie Cifaretto’s old crew is going to take some snaps at quarterback for the Future Schiano’s. 

The game:Michigan State vs. Wisconsin +10 o/u 40

The play Wisconsin

The logic: What a horrible two game stretch for the Spartans who have to go to Madison this weekend after last Saturday in Columbus. Double-digits makes me a little queasy, but I, a creative sort who shifts casting decisions for who would play friends and family in a biopic, am fresh out of ideas as to how Michigan State scores. And yes, I’ve cast Richard Belzer as the voice of my thought process. 

Look for Wisconsin to break away in the early third quarter on the legs of Jonathan Taylor in his most prominent Hesiman showcase until the Ohio State game. Even when things look grim on a third and long, expect Michigan State to commit a penalty to extend drives for the Badgers. 

Three very public plays. The ultra-sharps who bet “draw” in a game of heads or tails hate my picks so much they love them.  

Last week’s record: 2-1

Overall Record: 10-7-1

Status on the card: After my showings the last few weeks, one promoter talked to another and I was extended an invite to join the War Games. 

The elation lasted all of five minutes until it became clear the promoter spoke with a heavy tongue and I was offered a spot on the card for Wart Games, the local independent card sponsored by Davenport-based dermatologist to the stars of Iowa, Dr. Kenneth Mulgren.