Big Ten Betting Preview: 6 Over/Under and Conference Winner Bets to Make

Ohio State is on a tier above anyone else in the Big Ten. Is that enough to make the Buckeyes a value bet to win the conference?

The Big Ten is Ohio State’s world, and everyone else is just living in it.

The Buckeyes have won the last four Big Ten titles and are an even bigger favorite to win the conference this year than Alabama is to win the SEC. The usual competition for Ohio State had a collectively down year last season as Wisconsin, Penn State, and Michigan all had conference records at .500 or worse.

With the Buckeyes' odds juiced up, bettors might have to look elsewhere for value to win the Big Ten, and with five teams in the preseason AP Poll, the conference has no shortage of possible contenders. The question is whether they can hang with Ohio State.

Here are the odds, via FanDuel Sportsbook, to win the Big Ten for each team as well as the line for their over/under win total for this upcoming season:

TeamBig Ten
Championship Odds
Win Total
Ohio State-22011.0
Penn State+9009.0
Michigan State+100005.5

Ohio State
Freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud was recently named the starter by Ryan Day, and he’s got big shoes to fill after the Buckeyes lost Justin Fields to the NFL. However, Ohio State is absolutely loaded at wide receiver with Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson returning this season after finishing second and third, respectively, in the conference in receiving yards. As long as Stroud can utilize his weapons, the offensive line, anchored by preseason All-American Thayer Munford, should take care of the rest.

If bettors want to roll with the Buckeyes to win the conference for a fifth straight year, they’ll have to lay a hefty price. However, the win total for Ohio State is currently at 11 wins, and of teams currently ranked on their schedule (Oregon, Penn State, and Indiana), they have to travel only to play the Hoosiers. They also avoided Wisconsin, Iowa, and Northwestern from the West, so their schedule is quite manageable. At the current odds, over 11.0 wins is a much better play than betting the Buckeyes to win the Big Ten.

Ohio State’s odds to win the conference are too expensive despite their talent level being a tier above the rest of Big Ten teams. The smarter play might be taking Wisconsin to win the league since the toughest Big Ten games on their schedule are home contests against Penn State and Iowa. If the Badgers can get past those two, they’ll probably face Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship.

Wisconsin returns 17 starters, including quarterback Graham Mertz, who played well in his debut season despite the Badgers’ 4-3 record. Mertz will be protected by an excellent offensive line -- as is Wisconsin tradition -- and all of his receivers are returning, including All-Big Ten tight end Jake Ferguson. At +600 odds, Wisconsin is a good bet to improve on last year’s record and return to the Big Ten Championship Game for the seventh time in the last 11 years. Perhaps they can get the job done and actually win it for the first time.

Wisconsin’s biggest competition out of the West is Iowa, who has a more difficult schedule. The Hawkeyes drew Penn State and Indiana out of the East and have road trips to Iowa State, Wisconsin, and Northwestern.

The Hawkeyes will have a good defense, but besides All-Big Ten running back Tyler Goodson, their offense has much left to be desired. Hawkeye fans will have to hope that quarterback Spencer Petras can take a step forward this year, or else Iowa will have a hard time scoring enough to win nine games to get the over. Bettors should consider betting against Petras and the offense and play the under at 8.5 wins.

Including quarterback Cade McNamara, the Wolverines return all 11 starters on offense. Their offensive line struggled with injuries last year, so a healthy front five along with a solid running back combination in Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum should take the pressure off McNamara and make Michigan’s offense much more productive than last season.

They return seven starters on defense, but more importantly, they retooled the defensive coaching staff. Jim Harbaugh might be on the hot seat and hired a new defensive coordinator, Mike Macdonald, who has likely installed a more adaptive defense than what the Wolverines have employed in the past under Don Brown. Macdonald’s coaching and likely first-rounder Aidan Hutchinson should lead the defense to be more of what Michigan fans have been accustomed to under Harbaugh.

The Wolverines’ schedule is difficult with five ranked opponents: Washington, at Wisconsin, Indiana, at Penn State, and Ohio State. Michigan likely will be favored in the rest of their games and will be only short underdogs against the Huskies and Hoosiers if they aren’t favored in those games, too. An experienced Michigan team is likely to be improved, and Harbaugh may be coaching for his job, so over 7.5 wins is a smart play.

Northwestern has a good chance at topping Iowa in the West due to the Wildcats' soft schedule. They play the Hawkeyes at home and avoid Ohio State, Penn State, and Indiana out of the East. The Wildcats are one of the best coached teams in the conference with Pat Fitzgerald at the helm and will likely have another strong defensive season led by All-Big Ten cornerback Brandon Joseph.

Northwestern has to win just seven games to go over their total and will likely be favored in all of their games except for road tilts against Nebraska, Michigan, and Wisconsin and a home game against Iowa. Over 6.5 wins is the play for a team that is always competitive in the conference despite not having top-tier talent.

Scott Frost’s Cornhuskers have an absolute gauntlet of a schedule this season. They have to play in Norman against title contender Oklahoma and drew Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State from the West. While they play Northwestern and Iowa at home, they have to travel to Madison to face the Badgers. Even behind experienced quarterback Adrian Martinez, it wouldn’t be surprising if Nebraska was an underdog in all seven of those games (the closest being the Spartans, who they play in East Lansing).

Frost might be on the hot seat more than any other coach in the Big Ten not named Jim Harbaugh and could be coaching for his job, but the NCAA investigation could present a major off-the-field distraction for the ’Huskers. Bettors should strongly consider betting under 6.0 wins in the face of uncertainty for Nebraska’s season.

Best Bets

- Ohio State over 11 wins (+105)
- Wisconsin to win Big Ten (+600)
- Iowa under 8.5 wins (-105)
- Michigan over 7.5 wins (-125)
- Northwestern over 6.5 wins (+110)
- Nebraska under 6 wins (+100)