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If I Were A Betting Man: Week 12 picks

Dear Penn State Athletic Director Sandy Barbour and Ohio State lead team physician Dr. Jim Borchers,

Thank you for co-chairing the Big Ten’s task force that ultimately swayed the league’s presidents and chancellors to reverse course and have a football season this fall. Without your hard work in August and September, we would have missed out on what has already been a season of amazing Big Ten storylines:

** Indiana is undefeated and in the top 10 with a 4-0 start that included one of the most incredible finishes in instant-replay history.

** Northwestern has had a tremendous bounce back after last year’s 3-9 disaster that snapped a string of four straight winning Big Ten records. The Wildcats are 4-0 with a stifling defense and have a marquee showdown with Wisconsin this week.

** Speaking of Wisconsin. How wild has its fall been? Freshman Graham Mertz enters with heavy expectations as the program’s highest-rated QB of the Rivals era, blows those out of the water with a five-touchdown debut, then gets COVID-19. The program is shut down, practices on and off, then returns to action at The Big House and annihilates Michigan.

** Ah, yes. Michigan. Jim Harbaugh was not on the hot seat before the season started. Now, podcasts from coast to coast are debating the Wolverines’ next head man after the team has looked lifeless in losses to Michigan State, Indiana and Wisconsin. Couple that with Penn State’s stunning 0-4 start, which has James Franklin looking up at Greg Schiano in the Big Ten East standings, and it is (mostly) a bad time to be a blueblood in the Big Ten.

** The bluest blueblood, however, (dressed in scarlet and gray) is looking as blue as ever. Ohio State QB Justin Fields has 11 touchdowns and 11 incomplete passes and could just bring the Heisman back to the Big Ten for the first time since 2006.

There are others, such as P.J. Fleck’s flop after Minnesota’s breakthrough season, Maryland’s improbable revival behind Tua Tagovailoa’s kid brother and Nebraska’s constant uphill struggle, but those are the high points.

So thank you again, Ms. Barbour and Dr. Borchers, for without your hard work and (mostly) successful protocols that have been put in place, the college football world would be much worse off.


Betting Man, on behalf of college football fans everywhere

This week, we welcome in a guest picker from the Rivals deep stable of Big Ten publishers, as Sean Callahan from HuskersOnline.com lends his expertise after seeing Nebraska face both Ohio State and Northwestern this year. And due to our two Big 12 games, South-Central recruiting analyst Sam Spiegelman returns to represent the analysts and seeks to recapture his betting magic from 2019.

Off we go.

Spreads are from Covers.com. All games are on Saturday unless otherwise noted and times are ET.

No. 9 Indiana (+20.5) at No. 3 Ohio State, noon, FOX

I don’t love Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. as much as the rest of the world, and I am fully onboard the Fields train. However, at some point you just have to believe in an upstart team, and 20.5 points is a nice cushion to start believing.

The Hoosiers have a legit defense that should be able to keep Ohio State in the 35-38 range and they should have just enough offense to crack 20. Look for IU to at least move to 5-0 against the spread if not straight up.

Trocchi: Indiana, $100

Callahan: Ohio State

Spiegelman: Ohio State

No. 10 Wisconsin (-7.5) at No. 19 Northwestern, 3:30 p.m., ABC

Close your eyes and picture that pre-pandemic time where the Badgers and Wildcats kick this game off at Wrigley Field, which was the original venue for this matchup.

Coming out of the home dugout is a Northwestern team with a rock solid defense, a just-enough offense and a penchant for playing best when the game is on the line. Out of the visiting dugout comes the league’s most dominant team to date with a COVID-free practice week and a tsunami of momentum.

Give me the Badgers to cover, barely, in a very fun one. Special bonus fact: Kirk Herbstreit was a sideline reporter for espn2 (no caps) the last time the two matched up as ranked opponents.

Trocchi: Wisconsin, $100

Callahan: Northwestern

Spiegelman: Wisconsin

Kansas State (+11) at No. 17 Iowa State, 4 p.m., FOX

Why did this game find its way into the Betting Man’s slate (other than 'Farmageddon' being the most underrated rivalry nickname in the country)? Iowa State sits in first place in the Big 12, and Kansas State is tied for third with Oklahoma and Texas. So while things are trending a bit south for Kansas State, especially with a COVID-19 outbreak limiting its practice numbers this week, the Wildcats never make it easy on opponents. K-State covered in five of its last six games and beat Iowa State last season.

But with Iowa State still eyeing a spot in the Big 12 title game and Kansas State barely hanging on with injuries, transfers and quarantined players, the lean here is the Cyclones.

Trocchi: Iowa State, $100

Callahan: Kansas State

Spiegelman: Kansas State

Tennessee (+10) at No. 23 Auburn, 7:30 p.m., ESPN

In this COVID fall, motivation is going to play a factor down the stretch, and the Vols are somewhat losing theirs. After a promising preseason and first two games, the good feels have given way to a four-game losing streak that has averaged losses by 23 points.

It seems Tennessee has about four to five rivalry games in the SEC, but this isn’t one of them. Auburn, meanwhile, has a chance to build some momentum heading into Alabama. The Tigers have the better offense, the better defense, and they are at home. War Eagle.

Trocchi: Auburn, $150

Callahan: Auburn

Spiegelman: Auburn

No. 14 Oklahoma State (+7) at No. 18 Oklahoma, 7:30 p.m., ABC

At 59, this is the lowest over/under in this matchup since 2014, which happens to be the last time Oklahoma State won Bedlam. I’m riding Captain Mullet one more time. Oklahoma State’s defense is very good, and when OU gets punched in the mouth, it has a tendency to get a bit staggered since it is so used to rolling through defenses unimpeded.

This should go down to the wire, and I’ll take the more experienced QB and seven points in my back pocket.

Trocchi: Oklahoma State, $100

Callahan: Oklahoma

Spiegelman: Oklahoma

Week 12 picks
Indiana-OSU Wisc.-NW KSU-ISU Tenn.-Auburn Okla St-OU






Okla St


Ohio St.






Ohio St.





Season standings

Trocchi: 27-21-1, plus $200

Publishers: 24-24-1

Analysts: 17-31-1

When there is a unanimous pick: 7-9-1