Saturday Tradition staff picks for Week 8 B1G slate
Welcome college football fans to Week 8 of the season! With some key top-10 teams falling last weekend, action is truly ramping up as we hit late October.
This week, the B1G will play host to a key separation game between Penn State and Ohio State. Winner of that game will have a leg up in the B1G East and will have a solid trajectory toward the College Football Playoff.
Elsewhere around the league, a pair of rivalry showdowns go down with Floyd of Rosedale and the Paul Bunyan Trophy up for grabs. Rutgers also hits the field with a shot at bowl eligibility on the line.
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Without further ado, let’s get to some picks!
Records through Week 7
- Alex Hickey: 13-8
- Paul Harvey: 13-8
Penn State vs. Ohio State (-4.5)
- AH: This game is a toss-up, so if you want a sure thing take the under (45.5) in this meeting of the nation’s top 2 scoring defenses. But I expect the Nittany Lions to cover, and I truly think Penn State has an excellent chance at its first outright win in Columbus since 2011. PICK: Penn State
- PH: I understand the people who say this Penn State team is built to go toe-to-toe with Ohio State. Counterpoint: This Buckeye defense might be built to go toe-to-toe with… anyone? That remains to be seen, but I like OSU outright and with a late cover. PICK: Ohio State
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Rutgers (-5) vs. Indiana
- AH: Everyone in the Hoosier State wants Tom Allen to get fired (except for Purdue fans). Rutgers is bowl-eligible with a win and on cloud nine after last week’s 18-point rally in the fourth quarter. Which means… give me the Hoosiers in an unexpected rebound spot. PICK: Indiana
- PH: Rutgers had its back against a wall late against Michigan State but pulled off a miraculous recovery. Considering the issues of the Hoosiers, I’m not expecting the Scarlet Knights to need that kind of comeback with a bowl game on the line. PICK: Rutgers
Minnesota vs. Iowa (-3.5)
- AH: I’ll use the same joke as last week, when Wisconsin was favored over Iowa by 10: is this the point spread, or the over/under? PJ Fleck has never beaten Iowa, as fans on both sides of the Floyd of Rosedale divide are well aware. I have a feeling Vegas was smart to give this one a hook, though — look for a 12-9 Hawkeyes win (1 touchdown, 1 field goal, 1 safety) that gives the Gophers a cover and a loss. PICK: Minnesota
- PH: Iowa continues to lose offensive playmakers, but the team continues to win games. That’s because the defense is once again elite, and Tory Taylor can pin teams back at will. Bottom line: Minnesota does not have the offense to string together drives of 60+ yards against the Hawkeyes. PICK: Iowa
Wisconsin (-2.5) vs. Illinois
- AH: The Illini battered the Badgers so badly last year that Paul Chryst was fired the very next day. This is not the same Illinois defense that held Wisconsin to 2 rushing yards on 24 carries. But Wisconsin isn’t so improved that it should be a road favorite in this game. PICK: Illinois
- PH: I’m not sure what to expect out of the Badgers this week. Braelon Allen certainly helps level any playing field, but Braedyn Locke is still a question mark for a road game. I’ll also take Bret Bielema having his guys ready to go against his former program. PICK: Illinois
Northwestern vs. Nebraska (-11)
- AH: The Wildcats are 108th nationally stopping the run, and that’s the 1 thing the Huskers are capable of doing well offensively. If Northwestern covers here, it’ll be straight through the back door. Be cautious of that possibility, but… PICK: Nebraska
- PH: Picking Nebraska to cover, particularly a double-digit lead, is something that felt like insanity in recent seasons. I am impressed with how Northwestern has fought this season, but the Huskers are starting to click. Heinrich Haarberg has been handed the reins of the offense, and we’ll see what he can string together down the stretch. PICK: Nebraska
Michigan (-24) vs. Michigan State
- AH: Every week we have a game where I say, “that’s definitely going to be a push,” and here we are – although it will likely happen as a result of a late Michigan State score. Because if you know what plays the Spartans are running, you should be able to beat them by 60. Hardly any of them are good. PICK: Michigan
- PH: This looked like a pedestrian pick for Michigan to cover, and then Thursday’s bombshell of a sign-stealing investigation was dropped. I do believe those reports and the investigation have an impact on Saturday’s game, but not in a way that favors the Spartans. Look for Jim Harbaugh’s unit to come out with even more fire and looking to make a statement. PICK: Michigan
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