Big Ten Championship Odds: Who Can Knock Off Ohio State?
Ohio State fans had a reason to be concerned about the state of their program when Urban Meyer stepped down. Yes, the talent was still there last season, so there should have been no reason for a decline.
However, since the team was going from a legend like Meyer to a first-year head coach in Ryan Day, disaster could have easily struck.
But it didn’t. The team still had one of the best offenses and defenses in the country. Two of the three Heisman Trophy finalists were Buckeyes. Neither one of them won, but no one was going to stop Joe Burrow last season.
Now comes the tough part—can Ryan Day do it again? He’ll have the same quarterback but will need someone to emerge in the backfield and at wide receiver. The team has plenty of talent at both positions, so it shouldn’t be too hard for them to reload.
However, where the Buckeyes could run into trouble is on defense. They will need to replace most of the secondary and the defensive line. While they have bodies to insert at defensive back, whoever gets a shot has some big shoes to fill.
As for the defensive line, well—you don’t just replace a guy like Chase Young. But if they don’t, teams like Michigan, Penn State, and Wisconsin will be ready to pounce. That is, assuming they can fill their roster holes.
Big Ten Championship Odds: Will It Be Four In A Row For Ohio State?
For a conference with the competitive reputation that the Big Ten has, you would think someone would have broken Ohio State’s conference title-winning streak (three years). But a contender has yet to emerge that can knock them off their pedestal.
DraftKings oddsmakers don’t seem to think anyone will this year, either (OSU Big Ten Championship Odds: -230). If anyone is going to, it only makes sense that oddsmakers pick Michigan (+500). Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh may need to pull off the upset if he is going to save his job this season.
It is certainly possible that he could. Dylan McCaffrey is expected to be a significant upgrade over Shea Patterson at quarterback. McCaffrey will inherit some decent running backs and will need a wide receiver or two from a talented group to step up.
What he will not inherit, though, is an offensive line—which is going to need work this year. Michigan’s defense will keep them in games and probably win a few, but the offense needs to pick it up if they are going to win the conference.
Penn State (+1000) could become a contender if Sean Clifford can take the next step in his development. But James Franklin also has the unenviable task of replacing 11 total starters—which probably explains why their odds are so long despite having an excellent season last year.
We Might Need Some Stinkin’ Badgers for the Big Ten Championship Odds
Wisconsin comes in with decent odds as well (Badgers Big Ten Championship Odds: +1000). But it wouldn’t be shocking if those odds were to get longer. The Badgers have been riding the production of a stud running back in recent years, and it is not clear they have one this season. Factor in the relative inexperience at wide receiver and the need for three new offensive linemen, and it becomes difficult to get behind the Badgers.
Many people are high on Nebraska (+1600) heading into Scott Frost’s third year. But there are a ton of questions facing the team heading into next season. Will it be Adrian Martine at quarterback or Luke McCaffrey? What do they have at wide receiver? Can they replace their entire defensive line?
Scott Frost is an excellent coach, so maybe he can fill all of their roster holes, or at least enough of them.
Iowa (+2000) shouldn’t be ignored despite their relatively long odds. They have a talented group of receivers coming back and very good running back. If their new quarterback, Spencer Petras, can live up to expectations, the offense is going to be in great shape. The only question may be the roster holes on defense.
The big Ten Bottom of the Barrell and Maybe a Sleeper
Oddsmakers may be overlooking a talented Minnesota (+2500) team. With much of last season’s very good offense coming back, the Golden Gophers are going to have no problem putting points on the board. However, they do have some spots to fill on defense.
But after starting the season 9-0 last year and being in the mix, a case could be made they deserve more respect.
Outside of the teams mentioned above, it becomes harder to make a reasonable case for winning the conference. Mel Tucker may be lucky to get Michigan State (+3300) bowl eligible this year. Indiana (+4000) could be a team to watch this season. They will be tough, but will they be tough enough?
When it comes to Northwestern (+4000), Illinois (+5000), Maryland (+5000), and Purdue (+500), well—there is talent on each of their rosters. Do they have enough to compete for the conference title? Probably not.
Each has the ability to mess up someone else’s title bid, but it is hard to see any of them winning the Big Ten.
So—who should you bet on?
Good cases can be made for several teams this year. While Ohio State is the front runner, there is more value in risking your money on some of the other teams (i.e., Minnesota, Iowa, Penn State, etc.). However, a lot can happen between now and the beginning of the season.