Big Ten Football Week 11: Previews, Predictions, Best Bets for Purdue-Illinois, Maryland-Penn State, and More


Week 10 saw some surprises as No. 2 Ohio State struggled to get off the ground in a rainy road game at Northwestern, ultimately sputtering its way to a 21-7 win, and Michigan State showed signs of life in an upset of then-No. 14 Illinois.

That result dropped Illinois to 21st in the latest CFP rankings and loosened the Fighting Illini’s hold on the Big Ten West. Illinois is 4-2 in conference play followed by four teams with 3-3 conference records, including their opponents this week, Purdue.


Purdue visits No. 21 Illinois in what could be decisive game for Big Ten West (ILL -6.5, o/u 44.5)

Best Bets: Illinois -6.5; Under 44.5

The division title is all but on the line in Champaign this week as Illinois and Purdue both look to take control of the Big Ten West with a win. As Illinois sits 4-2 in conference play, it has the tiebreaker over 3-3 Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota. Purdue also sits 3-3 and with a win this weekend, would take the lead of the division with two should-be-easy games left to play against Northwestern and at Indiana.

Illinois, meanwhile, needs to stay focused after being upset at home last week by Michigan State. Illinois quarterback Tommy DeVito said he couldn’t sleep after the loss. “Every time I close my eyes, I just see these plays over and over. And it’s like, what if I were to do this? What if I would’ve done that? It haunts you at night, but at the same time, makes you better and hungry for the next week.”

Purdue is also coming off a tough loss after getting knocked around by Iowa to the tune of 24-3 in Week 10. “I’m hopeful that our guys understand that we’re all going to have to do our part, and fight and scrap in order to figure out a way to win the next one,” head coach Jeff Brohm said after the loss.

Purdue has relied on their pass game all season but saw it falter in the last two weeks, as quarterback Aidan O’Connell threw for a combined five interceptions across the losses to Wisconsin and then Iowa, with no TDs in the latter game. Senior wide receiver Charlie Jones is sixth in the nation in receiving yards – he could be a difference-maker if O’Connell has a better day, but Illinois remains college football’s leader in points (10.4/game) and yards (232.2/game) allowed, so he’ll likely meet a challenge in the Illinois secondary.

On Thursday, Illini head coach Bret Bielema pointed out that Purdue has been able to win using their passing and running game, forcing his team to adjust their preparation for Saturday: “They’ve done it both ways… We have to get to Saturday and see how the game plays out.”

Illinois has a weapon of their own on the ground as junior running back Chase Brown leads the nation with 1,344 rush yards this season.

Prediction: Illinois turns it around this week and keeps control of their own destiny in the Big Ten West with a combination of defense and ground game. They cover with a touchdown-or-more margin of victory; solid defense by both teams keeps this game under the 44.5-point line.


Wisconsin and Iowa both look to stay alive in Iowa City on Saturday (Iowa +1.5, o/u 35)

Best Bets: Wisconsin -1.5, Under 35

A win for Purdue over Illinois would give some (albeit small) hope to the Wisconsin and Iowa faithful for their teams’ chances to advance to the conference championship: if Purdue wins out and Illinois loses to both Purdue and Michigan (with that Illinois loss to Michigan seeming likely), Wisconsin and Iowa both have a path to win the division. If either team wins its final three games, they would hold the tiebreaker over Purdue for the West. Neither Wisconsin nor Iowa can afford a loss, making their head-to-head matchup this weekend very high stakes.

The Wisconsin-Iowa rivalry is nearly 130 years old with the first meeting dating back to 1894. Since 2004, the Heartland Trophy has been presented to the winner each year.

Wisconsin has won five of the last six Heartland Trophies. (Dan Sanger/Getty)

This week, both teams are coming off momentum-building wins after Wisconsin’s 13-point victory over Maryland at home and Iowa’s impressive 21-point rout of Purdue last weekend.

Wisconsin interim coach Jim Leonhard complimented Iowa’s recent improvements on offense this week. “I think the last two games have by far been the best that they’ve played,” he said Monday. “They’re getting confident at the right time in the season.”

Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz echoed that sentiment during his presser on Tuesday, calling Iowa’s win over Purdue “our most complete football game as a team.”

“It’s going to be a challenge for our guys defensively,” Ferentz said. His squad is, of course, known for its defense: the Hawkeyes are third in college football in yards allowed (264.4/game) and fifth in points allowed (14.3/game).

The Badgers have shown big defensive improvements under Leonhard, the team’s former defensive coordinator. They held Maryland scoreless in the first half and to just three points in the first three quarters, with the Terps only earning a touchdown in garbage time with 57 seconds to play.

“We have to win the line of scrimmage with these guys,” Leonhard said.

Prediction: The spread is razor-thin at a point and a half, and this one does feel like it’ll be close. Iowa’s defense should limit the Badgers a bit, but the Badgers’ momentum carries them to a close, low-scoring victory on the road.


More Week 11 Predictions

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

Maryland @ Penn State: 

Penn State Team Total OVER 33.5 (-110)

Brad Thomas (@MrBradThomas)

Maryland has taken a few steps to improve over the past couple of seasons, but they are still in the bottom half of the Big Ten overall. That will be evident this weekend. I am backing Penn State to score over 33.5 points.

Maryland is 42nd in total scoring defense, allowing 24 points per game. They also rank 46th in DTD (defensive touchdown rate). The Terrapins allow touchdowns on nearly 25% of their defensive possessions.

Penn State has been an offensive juggernaut. They are scoring 34.4 points per game and 40.3 per game in their last three. The Nittany Lions should exploit a weak Maryland secondary, and their two beasts of running backs should gash the struggling Terrapin run defense.

The weather is expected to supply near perfect playing conditions. Penn State rolls. Back Penn State to score over 33.5 points.

For more Big Ten analysis and Week 11 advice from the EDGE team, click here. And if you’re looking for a deeper dive into Week 10 in College Football from a Bettor’s Perspective, join NBC’s team of college analysts at 11am 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.