Big Ten Week 11 Overview: Iowa on Upset Alert Hosting Northwestern

Jay Pryce

Monday, November 5, 2018 12:55 PM UTC

Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 12:55 PM UTC

Northwestern can cement its lead in the Big Ten West with a win at No. 16 Iowa on Satrurday, but it will have to overcome a 10-point spread to do so. Our thoughts on the Wildcats-Hawkeyes showcase, as well as opening lines and betting info on all the Week 11 conference action here. 

Big Ten Spotlight: Northwestern at Iowa (-10)Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (FOX)Free NCAAF Pick: Northwestern ATSBest Line Offered: Pinnacle

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Oddsmakers listed Iowa (6-3 SU, 7-1-1 ATS) a touchdown favorite in Games of the Year lines back in May, the number increasing to -10 for the Big Ten clash on Saturday. Be weary of the increase.

Northwestern (5-4 SU, 4-5 ATS) head coach Pat Fitzgerald, the king of outright upsets in college football, shines in this betting spot against the Hawkeyes. Catching more than a touchdown in the annual clash, he is a remarkable 5-0 SU and ATS. Covering a 12.9 average line by 20.3 points per game, the Wildcats outscore Iowa by a 23.8 to 16.4 average score line.

Look for Northwestern to attack through the air relentlessly. The two programs sit on opposite sides of the spectrum in terms of rushing efficiency — at least when the Wildcats control possession. Northwestern ranks 128 out of 130 FBS teams with 2.6 yards per carry. Iowa, on the other hand, yields 3.1 yards per rush, 10th best nationally. Fitzgerald, in fact, has all but abandoned the run late in the season, throwing the ball 42.7 times per game (fifth most).

Recent Big Ten programs which do not field elite passing defenses have struggled to slow the Cats. Fitzgerald has guided Northwestern to a 17-3 SU and 14-6 ATS record in his last 20 games against conference opponents allowing more than 6.0 yards per pass. This includes a 5-2 SU and ATS record catching points. Iowa's 6.6 yards per pass allowed is above average, but likely not enough to stymie Northwestern's passing game. The Wildcats average 29.2 points per tilt under these conditions.

Northwestern has allowed 27 points or less in nine of its last 10 Big Ten games. The Iowa offense is better than projected, but not explosive enough to surpass 30 points in this spot. Wildcats put up 20-plus, cover the 10-point spread, and have the Hawkeyes on upset alert.

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Around the Big Ten (All Games Saturday)

Maryland at Indiana (-2.5), noon ET, on BTN: The last three meetings between Maryland (5-4 SU, 5-4 ATS) and Indiana (4-5 SU, 3-6 ATS) has seen 75, 78, and 81 total points. The "over" cashed in each by a whopping 20.8 average margin.

No. 10 Ohio State (-4) at Michigan State, noon ET, on FOX: Ohio State (8-1 SU, 3-6 ATS) has failed to reach its projected team total in each of the last three games by a combined 43.8 points. It's the third largest deficit in a three-game run for head coach Urban Meyer. Expect a turnaround soon, possibly this week. The "over" is 8-2-1 (80 percent) all-time when Mark Dantonio leads Michigan State (6-3 SU, 4-5 ATS) as a home underdog at Spartan Stadium. Books listed the Buckeyes 6-point favorites in advanced lines in May.

Illinois at Nebraska (-17.5), noon ET, on BTN: Illinois (4-5 SU, 4-5 ATS) is 4-12 ATS as an underdog of less than 27 points in Big Ten play under head coach Lovie Smith. The 'under,' meanwhile, has hit in all five series matchups since Nebraska (2-7 ATS, 4-5 ATS) joined the Big Ten in 2011. A combined final score of 45.0 points is 11.0 shy of a 56.0 average total.

Wisconsin at No. 14 Penn State (-8), noon ET, on ABC: Oddsmakers posted Penn State (6-3 SU, 4-4-1 ATS) a 4.5-point favorite over the summer, the line nearly doubling on the relisting. Past situations suggest Wisconsin might struggle to score. Over the last decade, the Badgers average 19.9 points per game as a road underdog. The number dips to 16.7 points in three contests under current head coach Paul Chryst.

Purdue (-11.5) at Minnesota, 3:30 p.m. ET, on ESPN2: Purdue (5-4 SU, 5-4 ATS) is laying double digits on the college football oddsboard to a Big Ten opponent for just the third time since 2011. It has topped the number in nine of the last 11 under these conditions. Minnesota (4-5 SU, 5-4 ATS), the defense in disarray, is surrendering 43.2 points per game to conference opponents, allowing 30 or more in all six contests this season.

No. 5 Michigan (-37.5) at Rutgers, 3:30 p.m. ET, on BTN: Michigan (8-1 SU, 6-3 ATS) averages 42.5 points per game when laying more than 17 points to a Big Ten opponent behind head coach Jim Harbaugh. The "over" has cashed in seven of 10 contests.

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