Welcome back my friends! It’s Big Ten time; land of the Leaders and the Legends (seriously, may we please never let them live that down).
2016 was a banner year for the B1G; they got the first non-conference champions into the playoff, then they proceeded to get beat by 31. Good job Ohio State. You don’t get to be called “The” anymore after you throw up a goose egg in the Final Four.
Believe it or not, Penn State actually won the conference last year and still didn’t make the playoffs. Although they were fun as hell to watch, especially that USC game in the Rose Bowl. I caught that game on ESPNU the other day, and damn what a time.
Alright, enough about 2016. Let's get to this year.
Conference Champion Odds:
Ohio State -120
Penn State +550
Michigan State +3300
Wow, less than even money for Ohio State to win the conference? I would say that’s a hard pass but damn that talent and Urban at the helm will definitely have them in the thick of things. Penn State at +550 is very enticing. Wisconsin at +375 is the only other bet I would consider, although they just lost Cichy, their defensive leader for the season, and that’ll be hard to ignore.
We’ll get back to the conference champion here in a minute, but first let's take a look at week one for the Big 10. Ohio State at Indiana is the “unofficial” opener to the college football season on Thursday August 31st, although there are a few random games the Saturday before. Rutgers and Washington will be a snooze fest on Friday night, then the B1G actually offers us some decent action on Saturday. Wyoming and Iowa should be a sneaky good game, Maryland and Texas might not suck, and the headliner will be Michigan and Florida in Jerry World.
Indiana is hanging out around a 21 point dog against Ohio State. If that keeps up our friend Stone Cold Steve Austin might be cracking some brews for the Hoosiers.
Iowa is a 13 point favorite at Iowa as of now. If I can find that at 14 then that’ll be a big play in week one as well.
Michigan is showing a three point favorite against the Gators right now. No telling what that’ll do before kickoff with Florida suspending seven players for the game.
Enough of week one- let’s talk a hidden gem and a team to stay the hell away from early on.
Minnesota is a team I’ll look at early on. Call me a sucker, but I’m buying into the PJ Fleck hype. I’ll be interested to see if the market is inflated at all due to him being on the sidelines now, but if not he may can keep them on the right side of the money. Other than that, I’m not sure there are any sneaky bargains early on.
Michigan is my early fade team. They lost basically their entire starting defense to the NFL last year (10 of 11 starters). I don’t know how well equipped they are to handle that from a depth perspective. Harbaugh should have their numbers inflated early on, which should offer some good opportunities to make some money.
Alright now let's take a look at some season long over/unders:
Michigan Under 9 Wins (+150) - Value! Alright, let’s take a look at this; Michigan opens with Florida which if you ask me could go either way. They also have to go to Penn State, to Wisconsin and have Ohio State. Another sneaky game could be at Indiana. I don’t think four losses are out of the question here. Even if it’s only three, I’ll take my chances.
Maryland over 3.5 Wins (-130) - This is where it gets fun - hoping for a team to eek out 4 wins. I think the Terps should be improved in year two under D.J Durkin. He’s been recruiting well and I think that should start to show a little more this year. I’ll take my chances on at least 4 wins from a team that actually went bowling last year.
Nebraska Under 7 Wins (Even) - I think I’m going against the flow on this one, but I don’t see the Huskers making a leap in year three under Mike Riley. In fact, I think this will probably be his last year in Lincoln. They’ve got a rough schedule and I think it’ll catch up to them; they’ll be lucky to even get to a bowl in 2017.
STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN LOCK OF THE B1G:
Wyoming +14 @ Iowa (Week One). That’s right! Regular season games creeping into conference preview locks! Josh Allen should have a field day against an Iowa defense losing top DB Desmond King. Iowa lost outright to North Dakota State last year at home, and Wyoming is better than that team NDSU team. Also, this Iowa team might not be as good as last year’s squad at least to start the year off.
2017 Big Ten Champion:
Ohio State is probably going to get the most love from everyone, but I’m going a bit against the grain here. Give me Penn State +550 to win back to back B1G Championships, a sentence I never thought I’d type a calendar year ago. I love Trace McSorely and Saquan Barkley has to be one of the top Heisman candidates headed into the year. Wisconsin at +375 is enticing, but I really do think losing a defensive leader for the year is a lot bigger deal than some people might think. If you don’t love the bet, lay a little bit on Ohio State as well as to try and hedge your bet. I don’t see any other real contenders to the throne this year.
Keep checking in the next few weeks as we’ll have the rest of our Deep Fried College Football Previews dropping!