Once again, the Ohio State Buckeyes (-215) are favored by Big Ten odds to manhandle the Michigan Wolverines (+550) in what appears to be another lopsided Big Ten race.
However, think back to last season when the Buckeyes checked in at (-150) with Penn State at (+1600) and Michigan State (+2800).
Michigan defeated Ohio State, 42-27, in Ann Arbor, Mi., before routing Iowa in the Big Ten championship game and losing to national champion Georgia, 34-11, in the CFB Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl. As college football has generally become a story of the same five or six teams playing for a national championship each season, the Buckeyes are generally expected to be the Big Ten title winner.
The top of the Big 10 betting odds is currently set with Wisconsin (+1100), Penn State (+1600), Nebraska (+1600) and Iowa (+2000) rounding out the top five in the conference.
College football betting sites also note that Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud (+200) is the Heisman Trophy favorite over Alabama’s Bryce Williams (+350). Let’s dive into our Big Ten Conference betting preview and see where we should place our money.
Big 10 Odds to win Big 10 East:
Big Ten East: Stroud, Skill Players Make Buckeyes an Even Tougher Task
When evaluating Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud, the Buckeyes’ title hopes and his Heisman Trophy opportunity, last season’s 44 touchdowns with only six interceptions and the 4,435 passing yards give him and the Buckeyes the inside track.
Ohio State gets two key wide receivers back in Jaxon Smith-Njigba (+3000) and Garrett Wilson as they totaled 95 and 70 receptions last season as both went over 1,000 receiving yards.
Running back TreVeyon Henderson rushed for 6.8 yards per carry which was for 1,248 yards last season. He is currently posting (+3000) in Big 10 betting odds to win the Heisman as he will give Ohio State a solid rushing game with which to complement Stroud and the pass.
Henderson is also a legitimate threat coming out of the backfield as he caught 27 balls for 312 yards and four touchdowns in 2021.
Defensively, the Buckeyes had a tough time with physical offenses and coach Ryan Day hired Jim Knowles, who was the defensive coordinator of an aggressive team at Oklahoma State.
Ryan Day knows #OhioState is different than most other programs in college football. pic.twitter.com/b4iBAI6Kqn
— Bucknuts (@Bucknuts247) July 27, 2022
Ohio State had major problems in the run-stop against quality running backs with offensive lines. Oregon beat down the Buckeyes for 269 yards rushing on 38 carries while Michigan grounded 297 yards on 41 carries.
The Buckeyes only had 12 interceptions as leading tackler Ronnie Hickman had two of those, but defensive tackle Zach Harrison is the leading returnee in that category as he posted three. Ohio State has the most solid Big 10 odds for the league title as the Buckeyes (-215) sit on top of Michigan, who is closest at (+550) with Wisconsin (+1100), Penn State (+1600) and Iowa (+2000) stationary as the top five in odds to win the conference in 2022.
Ohio State opens against Notre Dame on Sept. 3 and the Buckeyes are a (-14.5) favorite with an OVER/UNDER at 58 (-110). OSU has control on the moneyline as well at (-770) while the Irish currently house (+510) odds.
Wolverines A Far Reach To Repeat Big Ten Accolades
Michigan has an interesting competition as quarterbacks JJ McCarthy and Cade McNamara will vie for the number one QB spot.
McNamara completed 64.2 percent of his passes with 15 touchdowns and six interceptions last season.
McCarthy started picking up more playing time in the seventh game vs. Indiana; however, he and the Wolverines, hit the wall in Michigan’s 34-11 loss to Georgia.
According to head coach Jim Harbaugh:
McNamara will begin as the starting Wolverines’ signal-caller, but at some point the five-star McCarthy will take the reigns on the Michigan offense. McCarthy (+9000) and McNamara (+15000) are currently long shots to win the Heisman Trophy according to Big Ten betting odds as Michigan lost leading rusher Hassan Haskins.
Michigan does return its second-best running back in Blake Corum (+10000), who ran for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2021.
The Wolverines return their top five wide receivers, led by Cornelius Johnson, who caught a team-high 40 passes for 627 yards. Whoever settles into the QB role will have a high level of skill to work with at the position.
Watch Ronnie Bell as a wideout as he was affixed with a torn ACL last season in week one and was Michigan’s leading receiver in 2020.
The Wolverines have to find a replacement for Aidan Hutchinson (+1800), who finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting to the winning Bryce Young (-600). Hutchinson is gone as is David Ojabo although linebacker Junior Colson is the leading returning tackler as he netted 60. Mazi Smith is an active lineman at 6-3, 326, as he deflected three passes and should be active with Mike Morris on that front.
The Wolverines have the second-best Big Ten odds (+550), but there is a plethora of teams behind them that have the potential to push them into the middle of the pack. Solidity does not turn to the quarterback position if players do not step up into their positions on defense.
Penn State Looks To Move Forward After Tough Season
Who has the best game day atmosphere in college football? pic.twitter.com/5NAMytJ8cv
— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 2, 2022
The Nittany Lions were humbled by Arkansas, 24-10, in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, FL, and now they come looking for a running game to start with in 2022.
Penn State has Big 10 odds sitting at (+1600) and they start with a running attack that averaged only 3.2 yards per carry, 13th in the 14-team league. Keyvone Lee returns to the backfield as the leading returnee after Noah Cain left for LSU. Lee’s 88 yards on 20 carries against Michigan was his best mark of the season. The Lions found only 108 yards rushing per game which was 118th among the 130 Division-1 college football teams. Incoming freshman Nick Singleton could be a focal point as he rushed for nearly 6500 yards in his high school career.
Quarterback Sean Clifford (+10000) returns for his fifth season as he is an average quarterback who never seems to have the talent to dominate a game against a solid opponent.
The Lions have hired former Miami Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz as the defensive coordinator. Getting PJ Mustipher back from injury will be a key in run stop while the secondary of Joey Porter, Jr., and Ji’Ayir Brown look to be the focal point of this defense. Brown was tied at the BCS with six interceptions last season.
The Lions and Michigan State can vie for third in the Big Ten East, but both are light years ahead of Maryland, Indiana, and Rutgers.
Spartans Look for Follow-Up to Last Season’s 11 Wins
Michigan State athletic administration should have taken kudos of bows in hiring Mel Tucker as it’s head coach. He sent Sparty to an 11-2 record after a 2-5 beginning in the Covid-ridden 2020 season.
Michigan State was even a national championship caliber team until a loss at Purdue and a blow-out session at Ohio State. The Spartans (+2800) have to find a replacement for running back Kenneth Walker, III, and resurgence on the offensive line which will also play a key role in the protection of quarterback Payton Thorne. The new Michigan State QB was sacked 21 times and threw 10 picks.
Wide receiver Jayden Reed was the leading Spartans receiver with 59 catches, 1,026 yards, and ten touchdown receptions. Tre Mosley is another solid wide-out that could turn MSU into more of a pass-oriented team.
The Spartans have to be able to match up with the passing games on their schedule after giving up 325 yards per game through the air.
Michigan State led the Big Ten with 42 quarterback sacks while they had a run defense with the fourth-best numbers in the Big 10 at only 117.2.
They return leading tackler in safety Xavien Henderson back on a defense that only found only ten interceptions.
With the win total sitting at 7.5, Michigan State is posting (-145), according to Big 10 odds, to go OVER and (+110) as an UNDER.
Maryland, Indiana and Rutgers Round Out the Big Ten East
Mike Locksley begins his fifth season as head coach at Maryland (+15000), as the Terrapins seem to be once again buried with little chance to get very far in the Big Ten East.
The Terrapins’ offense will be its calling card with an underrated quarterback in Taulia Tagovailoa, whose Big Ten betting odds for the Heisman Trophy are set at (+10000). He completed 69.2 percent of his passes for 3,860 yards, 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions a year ago.
He has a plethora of solid wide receivers returning, led by Rakin Jarrett, who caught 62 passes for 829 yards and five touchdowns.
The Terps mashed Virginia Tech in the Pinstripe Bowl, 54-10, to get their first bowl win since 2010. Maryland did give up 404.3 yards per game on the season, 12th in the league. Meanwhile, in Bloomington, Ind., the Hoosiers (+30000) turned into their own transfer portal as QB Connor Bazelak (Missouri), Shaun Shivers (Auburn) and Josh Henderson (North Carolina) will all bring different styles to Indiana. Tiawan Mullen returns to the secondary after he was injury-riddled in 2021. Last season, the Hoosiers were last in the league with 17 sacks and then they accrued only five interceptions.
Rutgers (+50000) looks to have competition at quarterback between Noah Vedral and Gavin Wimsatt, who came in early from his high school.
The Scarlet Knights were woeful offensively as Vedral had seven TD passes and seven interceptions while being sacked on 19 occasions.
Coach Greg Schiano brought in five new defensive coaches to try to jump-start the Scarlet Knights’ defense which gave up 161.8 yards rushing per game and accrued only five interceptions in 2021.
Big 10 West Odds to Win Big 10:
Big Ten West: Badgers Contend as Slight Favorite over Nebraska, Iowa
Wisconsin has a solid running back in sophomore Braylon Allen, who rushed for 1,268 yards with 12 touchdowns in 2021. Allen will be the focal point of coach Paul Chryst’s offense.
Allen’s Big 10 odds to win the Heisman sit at (+3000) and he is by far the best overall playmaker on the Badgers’ offense.
Scoring could be a problem if Graham Mertz is still not a passing threat at quarterback, where he led Wisconsin to only 160.2 yards passing per game, 13th in the league. He tossed only ten touchdown passes against 11 interceptions.
Kicking off Day 1
Our crew pic.twitter.com/WkF3bI5nJ8
— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) August 3, 2022
The passing game was so inept last season that the leading receiver Danny Davis, III, had 478 yards which placed him at 25th in the Big Ten.
Chimere Dyke is another solid returnee at wideout where he caught just 19 passes for 272 yards.
Defensively, the Badgers lost most of their starters, as they were second in quarterback sacks with 39 and second in interceptions where they accrued 16 passes. Wisconsin also led the nation by holding opponents to 239.1 yards total per game and 64.8 yards rushing per game.
The Badgers lost the second leading tackler in the Big Ten in Leo Chenal; however, linebacker Nick Herbig was the third leading tackler whose nine quarterback sacks were a major part of his 61 tackles. The linebacker positions and the secondary will be Wisconsin’s top areas on defense. The Badgers have to replace eight defensive players, including Chenal, who was second-team all-America and Jack Sanborn, first-team all-Big Ten.
Big 10 betting odds note that the Badgers’ win total is at 8.5 with the OVER at (-145) and the UNDER sitting at (+110).
Cornhuskers Look for Title Push in Big Ten West
It seems like Adrian Martinez has been the quarterback at Nebraska (+1600) for an NFL calendar. However, as Scott Frost begins his fifth season as the head coach, it’s the proverbial “put up or shut up” time for the Cornhuskers as Frost bought in Texas transfer Casey Thompson.
Thompson is a dual-threat quarterback and he completed in upwards of 64 percent of his passes as a Longhorn while throwing 30 TD tosses and rushing for five.
The move to Thompson (+10000) will accentuate the offense in a different way as Nebraska must improve off of last season’s 3-9 record that morphed to the bottom of the Big Ten and 1-8. College football betting sites are looking for the Cornhuskers to make a rebound off of last season as their win total is sitting at 7.5 with the OVER (even) and the UNDER at (-130).
Sophomore Rahmir Johnson could morph into the most solid offensive producer on this team. He tallied 495 yards on 112 carries with five touchdowns while catching 16 balls for 197 yards. In addition, he will have competition from likely four other running backs.
Thompson and Johnson are a duo with multiple skills which could be tough preparation for defenses on a short week.
Jaquez Yant is another factor in the offensive backfield as he averaged 6.3 yards per carry with the ‘Huskers were fourth in the Big Ten at 181 yards rushing per night.
Nebraska will possess one of the toughest linebacking corps in college football. Luke Reimer is the star of that position as he led the Cornhuskers with 108 tackles last season. When you look at this defense, the nine losses were by nine points or less. Defensively, Nebraska was in position to win games, but a lack of consistency on offense stopped the Cornhuskers from taking control in any of those outings.
Interestingly, the Cornhuskers open in Dublin, Ireland, on Aug. 27 against Northwestern, who they beat, 56-7, last season.
Nebraska (-12.5) also has solid Big 10 odds to recreate last season’s romp over Northwestern and the OVER/UNDER is listed at 50.5 with (-110) on both the OVER and UNDER.
Hawkeyes Looking to Fly Again in Big Ten West
Iowa (+2000) had a tough time solidifying its running game as the Hawkeyes rushed for only 123.6 yards on the ground per game. It was 11th in the Big Ten and Iowa didn’t find a hint of a passing game a year ago and the Hawks return both quarterbacks in Spencer Petras and Alex Padilla.
Iowa is another prototypical Big Ten team with a solid defense and no passing game.
The Hawkeyes have to break in a feature back as Gavin Williams and Leshon Williams look like the key options, but both averaged just over 20 yards rushing per game in relief of Goodson.
Goin’ campin’ ⛺️#Hawkeyes pic.twitter.com/q8bgpSSyQu
— Hawkeye Football (@HawkeyeFootball) August 3, 2022
The wide receiver positions will be the offense’s biggest threats, led by tight end Sam LaPorta, who made 53 catches for 670 yards and ten touchdowns.
Senior linebacker Jack Campbell will lead the defense after posting 140 tackles. Returnees Jermari Harris and Riley Moss had four interceptions each to lead the secondary.
Strong safety Kaevon Merriweather could be in for a big season as well with his athleticism and playmaking ability in the Iowa secondary.
With the level of defense and their 26-9 record in the last three seasons, Iowa could be a favorite to win the Big Ten West and once again play in the Big Ten title game where they were blasted, 42-3, by Michigan last December.
Fleck, Gophers Operate as Sleeper
Minnesota (+2800) coach P.J. Fleck has spoken of last season’s offensive inconsistency which started with the Gophers’ lack of a passing attack.
Quarterback Tanner Morgan found only 12 touchdown passes against nine interceptions as the Gophers’ 162 yards passing per outing was 12th in the league.
Morgan should be elated to have running back Mo Ibrahim returning to the backfield where he tore his Achilles tendon and was out all of last season. In 2020. He rushed for 1,076 yards on 201 carries and scored 15 touchdowns.
Morgan and Trey Potts, who rushed for three 100-yard games in his first five last season, should be a nice one-two punch for Minnesota as Ky Thomas transferred to Kansas. Defensively, the Gophers will look to recreate last season’s defensive attack. Minnesota held it’s opponents to 17.3 points per game and 278.8 yards per outing as both of those were in the top ten in college football.
Two keys return in defensive end Thomas Rush and tackle Trill Carter. Rush led the Gophers with 5.5 sacks which accrued 51 yards in losses. Minnesota will have to find depth and replacements for six defensive linemen that played and started on its Front-7.
Boilermakers Will Finish in front of Illini, Northwestern
Purdue could be a sleeper with it’s Big 10 conference odds sitting at (+3000). Quarterback Aidan O’Connell (+5000) returns after completing 71.8 percent of his passes with 28 touchdown throws and 11 interceptions.
O’Connell is a talented quarterback who is able to play with a high level of consistency throughout the season.
The Boilers lost David Bell, who was the number two receiver in the Big Ten, but Milton Wright will be the go-to receiver for coach Jeff Brohm. Wright caught 57 balls for 732 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns. Purdue could also be above the curve defensively as the defense only gave up 22.4 points (7th/B10) and 366.6 yards in total defense.
The secondary may be the Boilermakers’ best strength with Chris Jefferson and Cam Allen, who led Purdue with four interceptions. The Boilermakers feel like they can climb again in the Big Ten behind O’Connell’s prowess and a solid wide receiving corp. Purdue only has Illinois (+15000) and Northwestern (+200000) picked below them as both have mammoth Big 10 betting odds to win the league.
The Illini will be another run-oriented Big 10 offense with Chase Brown and Josh McCray at the key running back positions. Illinois will also plug in Syracuse transfer Tommy Devito at quarterback as he threw 19 touchdown passes in 2019.
Illinois’ defense has a plethora of returnees on the two deep. The Fighting Illini allowed only 21.9 points per game which was 29th in the nation after they were 97th in 2020 in allowing 34.9 points per game. Meanwhile, Northwestern will look for more steady play out of it’s wide receivers as South Carolina transfer Ryan Hilinski begins his second season. The Wildcats’ defense is looking to fix itself after giving up 145 yards rushing per game a year ago.
Northwestern has spent the last four seasons in trying to return to the team that won seven or eight games on average for several years. Sportsbooks feel Northwestern will have four wins in sitting with Big 10 conference odds. The Wildcats currently are at (-105) to go over four, but (-125) for under four wins.
Big Ten Championship Prediction
Take Ohio State over Nebraska in the Big Ten championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind.
Picking the Buckeyes to win the Big Ten is almost a given with all of the talent that they boast on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
The Heisman Trophy favorite in CJ Stroud (+200) and wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba will be a passing combination that will be highlighted all season. Generally, this conference doesn’t have close to the kind of athletes to match up with the Buckeyes.
The potential to get back into the Big Ten title game will be immeasurable for the Buckeyes. Remember, Ohio State lost to Michigan last season and the Buckeyes wound up in the Rose Bowl instead of college football’s national semifinals. On the flip side, Wisconsin (+1100) has the best odds to win the Big Ten West, but with their lack of a solid quarterback and athleticism across the boards, Nebraska (+1600) and Purdue (+2800) look like potential threats to the Badgers.
I like the Cornhuskers moving into their first Big Ten title game with the new signal caller in Texas transfer Casey Thompson. Nebraska was close, but no cigar in losing their eight Big Ten games by nine points or less last season.
There’s no one athletic enough to skew these Cornhuskers as Minnesota (+2800) and Wisconsin visit Lincoln while Nebraska (+1600) goes to Iowa (+2000) for the last game of the season.