Big Ten Football Week 9: Predictions and Best Bets for Ohio State-Penn State, Michigan-Michigan State, and More


Week 8 in the Big Ten was entirely true to the status quo, unless you count Wisconsin snapping Purdue’s four-game win streak, which really wasn’t surprising considering the Boilermakers have lost 16 straight to the Badgers since 2003. No. 2 Ohio State (7-0) got an easy 54-10 win over Iowa (3-4), whose lack of balance between offense and defense continues to be alarming, while No. 13 Penn State (6-1) rebounded from an embarrassing loss at No. 4 Michigan (7-0) to beat Minnesota (4-3) handily 45-17.

This week, Ohio State travels to Penn State for a top-15 road tilt, while Michigan hosts in-state rival Michigan State as the Wolverines come off a bye week. Ohio State and Michigan will also have this coming Tuesday circled on the calendar as they anticipate the release of the first College Football Playoff rankings of the season.


No. 13 Penn State’s season hangs in the balance as Nittany Lions host No. 2 Ohio State (PSU +15.5, o/u 61)

Best Bets: Ohio State -15.5; Under 61

Ohio State and Penn State are both coming off dominant Week 8 wins against conference opponents: OSU over Iowa and PSU over Minnesota. After losing to Michigan in Week 7, Penn State’s last-chance playoff hopes hang in the balance when the Buckeyes come to State College on Saturday. The only chance the Nittany Lions have at the conference championship game – and by extension, at the College Football Playoff – is to force a three-way tie between the top teams in the East. That requires them to win out and requires an Ohio State win over Michigan on November 26, which would likely leave all three teams with an 11-1 record with losses to each other in conference play.

The order is a tall one for Penn State: the team looked utterly incompetent in Ann Arbor two weeks ago when the Wolverines executed an entirely predictable game plan led by efforts on the ground, and PSU quarterback Sean Clifford couldn’t find an answer in a 7-for-19, 120-yard effort.

On the flip side, Ohio State has looked unstoppable all season long, led by likely Heisman winner C.J. Stroud at quarterback.

“Being able to get pressure on the quarterback and make him uncomfortable would be valuable,” Penn State coach James Franklin said in an understatement on Thursday.

Maybe the Lions’ 45-17 win over Minnesota was a much-needed neck crack that will provide the team with momentum, and it shouldn’t hurt to have a home crowd (this weekend is a “stripe out” in State College).

A “Stripe Out” at Penn State in 2021. (Getty)

“They do a great job with the atmosphere,” OSU coach Ryan Day said on Wednesday. “We know their crowd’s gonna be in it and be a factor.”

He’s right about Beaver Stadium. But the Buckeyes put 54 points on a formidable Iowa defense last week, so Penn State’s offense won’t have room for the errors it’s been prone to throughout this season.

Prediction: Penn State keeps it a little closer than expected early on, but Ohio State finds a rhythm and pulls away easily in the second half to cover. The over/under line might be a bit high at 61 if Penn State can at least hold its own in the first half.


No. 4 Michigan seeks redemption against Michigan State in showdown for the Paul Bunyon Trophy (MICH -22.5, o/u 55)

Best Bets: Michigan State +22.5; Under 55

Michigan’s only regular-season loss came at the hands of Michigan State last season, a top-ten matchup that saw the Wolverines give up 15 points in the fourth quarter to lose a close one 37-33. Michigan State went on to be upset by Purdue and rocked by Ohio State while Michigan won out to win the conference title and advance to the playoff. But Michigan coaches and players say the loss in East Lansing still stings.

“Nobody’s watched the highlights of that game more than we have,” head coach Jim Harbaugh said Thursday. Star running back Blake Corum noted that he hasn’t beaten Michigan State since he arrived in Ann Arbor in 2020: “Saturday can’t come fast enough.”

Like last season, the Wolverines enter this game undefeated with hopes of bringing the Paul Bunyon Trophy back to Ann Arbor for the first time since 2019. “We gotta get Paul back,” senior offensive lineman Karsen Barnhart said last week.

There’s more than a trophy on the line, of course, with Michigan looking to make an impression ahead of the first College Football Playoff rankings release of the season, set for Tuesday, Nov. 1.

Michigan is coming off a bye week after a big win at home over Penn State. The Wolverines asserted their will in the run game to make the top-ten showdown much less competitive than expected.

Harbaugh said the bye week was “productive all the way around.” He said the team followed the lead of WR Ronnie Bell, who told his teammates to “be where your feet are,” i.e. to stay focused in their preparations.

Michigan State had a bye week as well after a hard-fought win in double overtime against Wisconsin two weeks ago. The win was the Spartans’ first in over a month after losing four straight.

While Wolverine players like Corum were careful not to emphasize this game over others, Spartans head coach Mel Tucker began his Tuesday press conference with, “This is not just another game for us.”

Michigan State has struggled on all sides of the ball this season. The Wisconsin win was a positive step but winning in double overtime at home over an embattled team under an interim coach is not exactly a statement. The team won’t get any help from The Big House on Saturday night.

That said, it’s always harder to rely on stats and record to predict rivalry games, and Michigan State has had Michigan’s number for two years straight now.

Prediction: Michigan wins this one, probably easily, but the Under and backdoor cover by Michigan State is in play as Michigan has yet to score over 41 points in conference play.


More Week 9 Predictions

The team at NBC Sports EDGE have taken a deep dive on this week’s Big Ten slate and are serving up their favorite plays for the week:

Northwestern @ Iowa                           Hawkeyes -10.5 (-107)

Vaughn Dalzell (@VmoneySports)

Iowa was laying -12 at Northwestern in their most recent meeting. The Hawkeyes won 17-12 but failed to cover. Despite Iowa’s offense being much worse in 2022 than 2021, the spread flips to Iowa -10.5 at home, so they are confident this is a Hawkeyes’ spot.

It does not matter whether or not Spencer Petras or Alex Padilla starts for Iowa, because the Hawkeyes are going to run the ball for a majority of this game and so should the Wildcats.

Northwestern’s rushing defense ranks 112th in the country at 187.6 yards per game. Iowa relies on both Leshon Williams (267 rushing yards, 3.7 ypc) and Kaleb Johnson (260 rushing yards, 4.3 ypc) to carry the load for the Hawkeye’s offense.

While their numbers will not blow you away, they might this Saturday. Northwestern’s defense is so bad that they could allow Iowa’s running game to have a day. Penn State won by 10, Wisconsin won by 35 and Maryland won by 7 with a backup quarterback. Iowa has a better defense than all those teams, so I believe the Hawkeyes can win by touchdowns because Northwestern should not score more than two touchdowns, if that.

Let’s take Iowa in a bounce back spot at home. I played the Hawkeyes -11 at -110 odds and would play this to -12.

For more Big Ten analysis and Week 9 advice from the EDGE team, click here. And if you’re looking for a deeper dive into Week 9 in College Football from a Bettor’s Perspective. Join NBC’s team of college analysts at 11A Eastern for an NCAA College Football Betting Preview Q&A on the NBC Sports YouTube page.


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When will UCLA, USC join the Big Ten Conference?


The Big Ten has served as one of the nation’s premier intercollegiate athletic conferences for over 125 years. Originally founded by a group of seven universities led by Purdue president James H. Smart, the group has grown by leaps and bounds since its formation in 1896. The conference that was originally comprised of seven teams grew to an eventual 14, and is now set to expand to 16 with the groundbreaking addition of UCLA and USC to the Big Ten.

RELATED: Big Ten primetime football finds a home in NBC and Peacock

When will USC, UCLA join the Big Ten?

Crosstown rival programs USC and UCLA both announced in summer 2022 that they will leave the Pac-12 Conference for the Big Ten on August 2, 2024.

The move rocked the college football world, considering the length of time that both schools were members of their previous conference. USC had held Pac-12 membership since 1922, winning a total of 39 conference football titles and nine basketball titles in that span. The UCLA Bruins were a part of the group since 1928, taking home 16 football and 32 basketball conference titles in those years.

UCLA and USC’s transition was announced on the heels of Oklahoma and Texas confirming their departure for the SEC last season, a move that is set to transpire ahead of the 2025 college football season.

Come 2024, the Pac-12 will be comprised of only 10 members, while the Big Ten will stretch from coast to coast.

RELATED: Click here for NBC coverage of college football

What schools are in the Big Ten Conference?

  • University of Michigan
  • Ohio State University
  • Penn State University
  • University Maryland
  • Michigan State University
  • Indiana University
  • Rutgers University
  • Purdue University
  • University of Illinois
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Wisconsin
  • University of Nebraska
  • Northwestern University
  • USC (will join in 2024)
  • UCLA (will join in 2024)

Why is it called the Big Ten?

Despite its current 14 members, the conference retains its title of “Big Ten” to this day. The name originated after Michigan rejoined in 1917, bringing the membership from nine to 10 teams. Media members were the first to dub the group the “Big Ten”, which was eventually confirmed as the conference’s official name in 1987.

RELATED: Purdue, Penn State to battle for Big Ten basketball title

How can I watch Big Ten football, basketball and more?

While Big Ten football coverage for the 2023 season will be split among NBC, Fox and CBS, NBC and Peacock will be the home of the conference’s biggest game every week with Big Ten Saturday Night. NBC Sports’ new agreement with the Big Ten will also feature coverage of several men’s and women’s basketball games, Olympic sports, golf and more.

It became official in August of 2022 that NBC will air Big Ten Saturday Night on NBC and Peacock, with a primetime football game each fall weekend.

How to watch the 2023 All-American Bowl: TV channel, live stream info, start time, rosters, and more


The 2023 All-American Bowl takes place this Saturday, January 7 inside the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas as 100 of the nation’s top senior football players will go head-to-head in this highly anticipated all-star game.

Live coverage begins at 1:00 PM ET on NBC and Peacock. See below for additional information on how to watch the 2023 All-American Bowl.

RELATED: Finalists Named for 2023 All-American Bowl’s Player of the Year Award

The All-American Bowl made its debut in December 2000 at Highlander Stadium in Dallas, Texas and since then has become one of the most-watched high school sporting events in America. Notable alumni that have participated in the event include NFL Wide Receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (2011), Dallas Cowboys Running Back Ezekiel Elliot (2013), Jacksonville Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence (2018), former Broncos QB Tim Tebow (2006), former Cleveland Browns OT Joe Thomas.

RELATED: 2023 All-American Bowl Rosters

How to watch the 2023 All-American Bowl:

RELATED: Finalists Named for 2023 All-American Bowl’s Player of the Year Award

How do I watch sports on Peacock?

Sign up for a Peacock Premium plan to start watching. With Peacock Premium, you can watch all our live sports like Premier League, Sunday Night Football, and cycling; next-day airings from channels like NBC, USA Network, and Telemundo; plus all the movies and TV you want on Peacock.

If you want to watch everything ad-free,* choose our $9.99/month Peacock Premium Plus plan.

*Please note: due to streaming rights, a small amount of programming will still contain ads (Peacock channels, events, and a limited number of shows and movies).

You can change or cancel your paid plan anytime.

What devices will Peacock support?

You can enjoy Peacock on a variety of devices. View the full list of supported devices here.