The Big Ten Conference has hosted some of the most interesting games of the college football season in recent years, with several of the games of the regular season ending in dramatic comebacks or last second field goals. How about betting on the 10 Big Ten teams in action this weekend? Our team of writers is here to help you wade through the script of the Big Ten part-time football conference.
After the successes of last season, some have started predicting that the Big Ten has the best collection of teams in the country this year. The conference also contains the most top-tier teams of any conference in the country, including Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Penn State. The conference is also known for having a weak non-conference schedule, which gives the conference more of a challenge in terms of balancing out the schedule.
I was browsing through the college football odds this week and ran across a couple of surprising picks for my best bets of the week. I tend to lean towards teams I think will have a better season than the betting markets estimate, especially when they are playing a team that I think will struggle. This week’s best bets are a pair of teams that I think will have successful seasons despite a middling record. Last year, both the Big Ten and Big 12 conference had a difficult time fielding strong teams, so I don’t think teams are in much trouble this year.. Read more about big ten football rankings 2021 and let us know what you think.
We continue our college football conference preview with a look at the Big Ten Conference.
Every FBS team’s victory totals, conference title odds, and national championship odds have been published, and our experts — Bill Connelly, David Hale, Doug Kezirian, Joe Fortenbaugh, and Tyler Fulghum — have provided their best picks for the Big Ten below.
Caesars Sportsbook provided the odds.
Best bets in the Big Ten
Under 7.5 wins (+105) for the Michigan Wolverines
Fortenbaugh: The Wolverines have a new quarterback this year, continuing a worrisome pattern that has contributed to head coach Jim Harbaugh’s disappointing performance in six seasons in Ann Arbor. This year, Michigan is dealing with the added challenge of breaking in a completely new defense under first-year coordinator Mike Macdonald, which will take time and patience to get off the ground. I’ll need five defeats to pay my under ticket, and I believe three of them will come in the shape of away games against Wisconsin and Penn State, not to mention the yearly Ohio State rivalry. The games against Washington, Northwestern, and Indiana all offer problems, and don’t forget about the Maryland game, which comes a week after Penn State and a week before Ohio State.
The Nittany Lions of Penn State will win the conference (+800).
Penn State’s travel schedule is a source of concern, according to Hale. The Nittany Lions begin their season on the road, traveling to Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio State, and Michigan State. With home games against Auburn, Indiana, and Michigan, Penn State has a difficult schedule. Despite this, there’s a lot to admire about a seasoned squad that’s flying under the radar due to a dismal 2020 record. Remember, Penn State ended strong, seemed to solve its offensive problems, and had terrible luck in two defeats in which it outgained its opponent by more than 200 yards. Add in the biggest year-over-year swing in points off turnover margin, and Penn State is in desperate need of some good fortune to help them overcome their difficult schedule. Given Ohio State’s poor return and the improbability of any other Big Ten team’s route, buying Penn State at +800 is definitely worth the risk.
Over 4.5 wins for Michigan State Spartans (-140)
Connelly: In 2021, Sparty isn’t going to be a darkhorse East candidate, but 4.5 wins? When you consider a schedule that includes home games against Youngstown State, Western Kentucky, Maryland, and Nebraska, as well as winnable road trips to Rutgers, Northwestern, and Purdue, it’s a low bar. After winning in Ann Arbor last season, they also get Michigan at home.
Over 7.5 victories for the Indiana Hoosiers (-105)
Fulghum: Last year, Indiana was a complete revelation. In Big Ten play, they were 6-1 SU and 7-0 ATS. Tom Allen brings back 17 starters from last season’s squad. The schedule may be difficult, but I believe Tom Allen and quarterback Michael Penix Jr. can make the Hoosiers more than a one-year marvel. Allen’s defeat to Ole Miss in the Outback Bowl could serve as a powerful motivator for his team throughout the season.
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Indiana Hoosiers win by less than 7.5 points (-115)
Kezirian: I’m going to have to disagree with Tyler, with all due respect. Fading the squad that made a big stride ahead the previous season due to many lucky breaks is one of my favorite things to do. Without calling it a fluke, I’ll simply say that replicating Indiana’s success from last year will be very tough. I understand head coach Tom Allen’s pitch, and I’m right there cheering for him. But, as we all know, we must place our bets with our heads rather than our hearts. Is it really possible that the Indiana Hoosiers will only lose four games this season? In Happy Valley, they welcome Ohio State and play Penn State. I understand James Franklin may be a jerk, and he did lose to Indiana last year, but I’m going with two defeats. Indiana’s road trips to Iowa, Michigan, Maryland, and Purdue don’t exactly scream win, and the Hoosiers also play Cincinnati and Minnesota. Best wishes.
Under 8.5 wins for the Iowa Hawkeyes (-130)
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Kezirian: Iowa is such a strong program that it consistently outperforms expectations, yet an 8-4 season would still be seen favorably. This figure is just too high, since I believe the Hawkeyes will face far too many difficult opponents to win nine games. Two defeats should come from conference games versus Penn State and Wisconsin. Although a trip to Ames to play 7th-ranked and rival Iowa State is expected to be a defeat, Iowa has won five consecutive meetings. The Cyclones are excellent, but a rivalry is always difficult, and Iowa can win if it controls the trenches once again. Iowa also has difficult home matchups against Indiana, Purdue, and Minnesota, as well as road games against Maryland, Northwestern, and Nebraska. The Hawkeyes cannot lose to any of the six schools I just listed if they lose to Penn State, Wisconsin, or Iowa State. To put things in perspective, the Hawkeyes are just 4-point favorites at home against Indiana. Even without having to play Ohio State, this schedule will be difficult. For me, this is a fantastic play and my second-favorite in all of college football (behind Auburn under 7).
Under 6.5 victories for the Northwestern Wildcats (-120)
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Connelly: Northwestern has won 9+ games four times in the past ten seasons (and might have made it five with a complete slate last year) yet finished under.500 four times. Although just one of those poor seasons occurred since 2014, the Wildcats’ terrible 3-9 season in 2019 is nevertheless a current reminder of what might go wrong when Pat Fitzgerald’s squad isn’t balanced properly. This season, almost everyone returns a higher percentage of last year’s output than normal, but NU must replace its starting quarterback (a very strong one in Peyton Ramsey), top four receivers, top two linebackers, and three of its top four defensive backs. Oh, and Mike Hankwitz, the long-serving defensive coordinator, has retired. I have no doubt that Northwestern will have another fantastic season in the near future, but SP+ has them ranked 76th this season (last in returning output) with just a 15% probability of exceeding 6.5 wins. I’m inclined to pay attention.
Minnesota Golden Gophers to win the league (+2000); over 7 wins (-110).
Connelly: Last season, the Golden Gophers’ defense crumbled, and they went from 11-2 to 3-4, losing twice as many games in barely half the time. At the very least, it provides a great buy-low opportunity. The offense, headed by Tanner Morgan and Mohamed Ibrahim, should be solid in Minnesota-like ways, while the defense won’t be as bad. The Gophers are projected to finish 24th overall this season, with a 58 percent probability of winning eight or more games and just a 19 percent chance of winning six or less. And their chances of winning their division are strong enough to warrant a 20-1 conference championship wager as well.
As with most years, the Big Ten is home to the best college football teams in the country. However, even the best teams are susceptible to upsets. That’s why at ideasforeurope we combed through the schedule and made our best (and only) bets for the Big Ten in 2018.. Read more about big 10 power rankings football and let us know what you think.
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