Cue Ice Cube, last Saturday was a good day and I didn’t need the Lakers to cover the number against the SuperSonics. I’d like to thank Maryland for caring just enough to come in barely under the number, Iowa’s defense, and the entirety of the Ohio State football program.

Stickler’s note: All lines taken from Lines may have shifted from the column’s inception. We see you holding that eleventh item Snickers bar in your hand as you wait in the 10 items or less express lane. 

Game: Illinois vs. Minnesota -14 o/u 58

The play: Minnesota

The logic: There are two conflicting schools of thought on the game. I could go with the fact Lovie Smith is 2-0 ATS against PJ Fleck in head-to-head match ups. There’s also the fact Minnesota beat its four opponents by a total of 20 points, including the 38-31 victory over Purdue on the road last weekend when the Boilermakers were brutalized by injuries.

In the excavation of year-long statistics, this number is going to come down to the forward pass. Someone else explain the concept to Paul Johnson.

Minnesota averages 16.4 yards for completion. On defense Illinois allows 13.4 yards per completion. The disparity between the two numbers tells me Minnesota will take shots downfield against Illinois and run up the score for its first solid-footing victory of the season even with some rain in Minneapolis. Tell John Gustafson and Max Goldman to ready their ran slickers and prepare for a Golden Gopher aerial assault. Minnesota needs a reassuring win in conference, covering the number against Illinois fulfills that task. 

Sports Betting in Big Ten Country

There is big news coming to the upcoming 2022-23 Big Ten football season (and NFL season). Ohio online sports betting and Maryland sports betting are on the way.

21+ and present in OH. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER.

Game: Iowa vs. Michigan -4.5 o/u 47.5

The play: Iowa

The logic: The collective frenzy whipped into anointing Michigan the best team in conference due to the time Jim Harbaugh and the program put in finishing second in the division to Ohio State inflated expectations at the beginning of the year. 

Iowa trucks along on the merits of its steady defense and the controlled and poised play of quarterback Nate Stanley. Though the Hawkeyes are thin at corner, expect the defensive line to keep quarterback Shea Patterson in the pocket while limiting the majority of damage he can do throwing on the run. 

Michigan’s defense should be a bother to anyone taking the Wolverines giving points. In the pre-season adulation of the Wolverines I chose to look past the loss of three players from the defense making the NFL. Stanley won’t wilt on the road. Expect him to make key throws on third down to extend drives. The vitamin B of Rutgers that energizes the conference will not be enough to carry over to Week Six for the Wolverines to cover the number. 

Purdue vs. Penn State -28 o/u 56

The play: Under

The logic: Purdue is a shell of itself, wrecked and rocked by injuries to most notably quarterback Elijah Sindelar and wide receiver Rondale Moore. The Boilermakers are a sassy desk receptionist and surgeon in recovery short of being an ABC medical drama with all the injuries this season. How they muster the scores to keep up with Penn State is unfathomable.  

Yes, fresh off the drubbing of Maryland, there’s the faintest sense of living in the future for the Nittany Lions. A game next Saturday at Kinnick Stadium against Iowa looms like a bad social obligation. Usually look ahead games see the offense sputtering while the defense limits the opposition to field goals. 

The Nittany Lions are dominant on both sides of the ball, ranked in the top 10 nationally in both yards per play and opponent yards per play. I do not want to discredit the team’s accomplishments this year, but Purdue is a show-little game with Iowa up next. Look for Penn State to make quick work of Purdue without James Franklin going into the medical tent to morph into Ultra James Franklin, a Pennsylvania folk hero who overshadows his poor decisions at the end of games by running up the score when his team has a win in the bank. 

Last week’s record: 3-0

Overall record: 8-6-1

Status on the card: The plaudits and congratulatory texts that came from the week were well and good. So nice to hear from so many people who urged me to take out a life insurance policy and name them as a beneficiary after my 0-3 effort from earlier in the season. The perks extended beyond vapid exclamation points and people using my success to tell me how happy they are for me. I was promoted out of the animal car and no longer needed to share space in the backseat with Frankie, Koko B. Ware’s macaw and the British Bulldog’s Matilda while Damian, Jake “The Snake” Roberts python claimed shotgun.