The conference season will start in the Big 10 with limited big games. Three of the six conference matchups feature double-digit spreads. Two of those not in the double-digit range are still at a touchdown, making the Minnesota at Northwestern game the only matchup featuring less than a touchdown spread.

There likely won’t be the big storyline from this weekend, but we’ll find out more if Northwestern can win the games it is supposed to win. And despite having to face Ohio State, we may see if the Hoosiers, undefeated at 4-0, can at least stay with a top-tier team.

Here are two games we’ll keep a close eye on this weekend. Last week’s betting guide for all power-five college football conferences went 6-4, with a 2-0 record in the Big 10. For the season, the betting guide has been 5-3 in the Big 10.

The Wisconsin Badgers face an over/under of 10 wins. Flickr/ Allison
The Wisconsin Badgers face an over/under of 10 wins. Flickr/ Allison

Iowa at Wisconsin (-7)

It’s hard to argue against this game being the biggest game of the weekend for the Big 10.

Last year’s game came down to the wire, with the Badgers edging the Hawkeyes by two points. This season, Iowa will travel to Wisconsin for the first big test of the year.

While Iowa has looked good in the first four games, especially impressive against North Texas, we’re concerned about the strength of schedule so far. The most difficult game for Iowa came at Iowa State. We understand the game’s rivalry aspect, but it was much closer than the final score indicated. Had the Cyclones been able to run the football just a little bit, who knows what would have happened.

The Badgers won’t hold back on the run, and since losing to Alabama in week 1, the defense has allowed only a field goal. That’s against inferior competition, but the opposition has been every bit as hard as Iowa’s.

We like the homefield advantage and the fact that Wisconsin has already toughened itself up by facing an elite college football program. We don’t have much information on Iowa based on its easy non-conference schedule, so we’re siding with Wisconsin. — Go chalk with Wisconsin

Nebraska will need to go over eight wins to achieve the over. Flickr/
Nebraska will need to go over eight wins to achieve the over. Flickr/

Nebraska at Illinois (+7)

We know Illinois isn’t lighting the world on fire, but giving up a touchdown to Nebraska at home? That sounds like a perfect opportunity to exploit this spread.

The Cornhuskers’ defense has been awful this year. In three of the four games this season, Nebraska has allowed four touchdowns or more. What’s most depressing for Nebraska fans is that not one of the four games played this year was against a current top-25 team.

The Fighting Illini have had a much tougher past two weeks, but showed resiliency last week in pulling out a hard-fought victory against Middle Tennessee. In past years, Illinois likely lost a game like that.

Illinois should be able to move the ball against Nebraska. And the Cornhuskers haven’t exactly been consistent on the offensive end of the ball either this year. Take the points at home and don’t be surprised if Illinois does more than just cover. — Go against the chalk with Illinois


Other Big 10 games

Spreads provided by Oddsshark

Army at Penn State (-24.5)

Purdue at Michigan State (-21.5)

Minnesota at Northwestern (-4.5)

Ohio State (-21) at Indiana

Michigan (-15.5) at Maryland

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