Point Spreads: Indiana-Wisconsin Line Makes Major Move

Now that Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. is out for the year, the point spread on Saturday's game with Wisconsin has jumped a lot, mostly because of the uncertainty at the QB spot on both teams.
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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – There was never any doubt how much Michael Penix Jr. meant to Indiana's football team during this great run through the 2020 season, and it's no surprise that the perception of Indiana changes a lot with him now out for the year.

Penix was leading the Big Ten in passing yards when he tore his ACL last week in the 27-11 win over Maryland. Indiana is 5-1 now, and a huge challenge awaits this weekend in Madison against Wisconsin. The Badgers, who were considered the second-best team in the Big Ten when the season started, are loaded with talent.

They just haven't been able to prove it much.

The Badgers have played only three games, winning easily twice against Illinois (45-7) and Michigan (49-11), but then losing a critical Big Ten West showdown to Northwestern, turning the ball over five times in a 17-7 loss.

That uncertainty always made this game hard to figure, but the Penix news changes it even more. Because of that, the point spread on this game has moved dramatically, going from 9.5 points to 14, according to the DraftKings.com website. 

How the quarterbacks are going to play in this game is, without question, the big storyline. Jack Tuttle gets his first start for Indiana, and we have no idea what to expect.

The same is true, in a way, with Wisconsin's Graham Mertz. He was nearly perfect in his first start – 21-for-22 passing against Illinois – but he got flustered easily in the loss to Northwestern.

And now here comes the Hoosiers's opportunistic defense, which has racked up 16 interceptions and 20 sacks in six games this season. Those 16 picks lead the nation.

Here's a look at the opening lines for all seven Big Ten games this weekend:

Indiana at Wisconsin

  • GAMETIME: 3:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: ABC
  • RECORDS: Indiana (5-1); Wisconsin (2-1)
  • LAST WEEK: Indiana beat Maryland 27-11: Wisconsin did not play because of COVID-19 problems inside the Minnesota program.
  • OPENING LINE: Wisconsin favored by 9.5 points.
  • FRIDAY LINE: Wisconsin by 14 points.
  • THE SKINNY: The Badgers are suddenly two-touchdown favorites in this game, with the line jumping a lot after it was announced that Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. is out for the year with a torn ACL. Jack Tuttle takes over now for Indiana, and we're not really sure what he will bring to the table. My game-day prediction coming later this week, and it's a hard one to get a handle on.

Penn State at Rutgers

  • GAMETIME: Noon ET
  • TV: FOX Sports 1 or Big Ten Network
  • RECORDS: Penn State (1-5); Rutgers (2-4)
  • LAST WEEK: Penn State beat Michigan 27-17; Rutgers beat Purdue 37-30.
  • OPENING LINE: Penn State favored by 10
  • FRIDAY LINE: Penn State by 11.5 points.
  • THE SKINNY: The Nittany Lions finally got a win last week with a gutsy performance against Michigan, and they'd love to add another here to finish the season with some momentum. Rutgers did a great job of piecing together a win against Purdue, making a nice comeback with a bunch of backups. Surprising that there's positive vibes on both sides coming into this one.

Ohio State and Michigan State

  • GAMETIME: Noon ET
  • TV: ABC
  • RECORDS: Ohio State (4-0); Michigan State (2-3)
  • LAST WEEK: Ohio State did not play (COVID); Michigan State beat Northwestern 29-20.
  • OPENING LINE: Ohio State favored by 22.5 points.
  • FRIDAY LINE: Ohio State by 24 points.
  • THE SKINNY: The Buckeyes have serious COVID-19 concerns right now and they really need to play this game, because if they don't, they can't qualify for the Big Ten title game with the league office breaking their own rules. It's looking like we're good to go for now, but now there are issues next week with Michigan. What a crazy COVID year. Here's the latest from my colleague Brendan Gulick at Ohio State. CLICK HERE

Nebraska at Purdue

  • GAMETIME: Noon ET
  • TV: Big Ten Network
  • RECORDS: Nebraska (1-4); Purdue (2-3)
  • LAST WEEK: Nebraska lost to Iowa 26-20; Purdue lost to Rutgers 37-30.
  • OPENING LINE: Purdue favored by 1.5 points.
  • FRIDAY LINE: Purdue by 1.
  • THE SKINNY: The Boilermakers have lost three straight games, and some questionable calls have been a factor. They need to win the last two — Indiana is next on Dec. 12 — to avoid a second-straight losing season. Nebraska played better against Iowa, but it still wasn't enough. Purdue won this matchup a year. Money coming in on both sides here, and will likely be a pick 'em game or close at kickoff.

Iowa at Illinois

  • GAMETIME: 3:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: FOX Sports 1
  • RECORDS: Iowa (4-2); Illinois (2-3)
  • LAST WEEK: Iowa beat Nebraska 26-20. Illinois did not play because of COVID-19 issues within the Ohio State program.
  • OPENING LINE: Iowa favored by 12.5 points.
  • FRIDAY LINE: Iowa by 13.5 points.
  • THE SKINNY: The Hawkeyes struggled a bit before dispatching Nebraska in their annual rivalry game. That's four wins in a row now for the Hawkeyes, who suddenly have a bit of hope in winning the Big Ten West. Illinois had a nice win at Nebraska two weeks ago, so they'd love to be a thorn in the side of the Hawkeyes.

Maryland at Michigan

  • GAMETIME: CANCELED
  • TV: Big Ten Network
  • RECORDS: Maryland (2-2); Michigan (2-4)
  • LAST WEEK: Maryland lost to Indiana 27-11; Michigan lost to Penn State 27-17.
  • OPENING LINE: Michigan favored by 5.5 points
  • THE SKINNY: The Wolverines had to pause activities because of COVID, and what makes this interesting now is whether next week's Ohio State-Michigan will get played. It would be hard to imagine this great rivalry game not being played, and it also has Big Ten Championship Game implications as well.

Northwestern at Minnesota

  • GAMETIME: CANCELED
  • TV: FOX Sports 1 or Big Ten Network
  • RECORDS: Northwestern (5-1); Minnesota (2-3)
  • LAST WEEK: Northwestern lost to Michigan State 29-20; Minnesota did not play due to COVID-19 issues inside its program.
  • OPENING LINE: Northwestern favored by 10.5 points.
  • THE SKINNY: The Wildcats clinched the Big Ten West because of Minnesota not being able to play because of COVID. It's a nice reward for their bounce-back season after going 3-9 a year ago.