2017 Big Ten Football Betting Preview

2017 Big Ten Football Betting Preview

Coming off a year in which four Big Ten teams finished the season ranked 8th or higher, there is plenty of preseason excitement surrounding the conference as we near the start of the season. Ohio State has earned the impressive reputation of being “one of the teams with the best chance to challenge Alabama this year”, but before they get there they’ll (likely) have to establish themselves as the best team in the Big Ten, a feat perhaps easier said than done.

In 2016, the Buckeyes fell short of the Big Ten Championship Game, yet still rode their 11-1 regular season record to the College Football Playoff. Penn State, thanks to an early season victory against OSU, represented the Big Ten East in the conference championship, and despite beating Wisconsin,  finished ranked 5th, just missing the playoff.

And of course the Michigan Wolverines, who found themselves on the wrong side of a controversial spot in one of the best games of the year against Ohio State, finished ranked 6th, unable to make a solid case for an invitation to the top four.

But onto 2017. Let’s take a look every Big Ten team’s odds for the upcoming season.

2017 Futures

TeamWin Big Ten
(8/9 5Dimes)
Make/Miss CFP
(8/8 5Dimes)
Win National Championship
(8/8 5Dimes)
Win Total
(8/8 5Dimes)
Ohio State+128+140/-180+82511 (u-120)
Wisconsin+485+725/-1545+400010.5 (u-150)
Penn State+500+450/-750+22009.5 (o-125)
Michigan+565+500/-900+27009 (o-115)
Northwestern+2200+6000/-24000+400008 (o-115)
Iowa+3050+6000/-24000+400006.5 (o-135)
Nebraska+3100+3700/-14100+225007 (u-130)
Minnesota+3300+8000/-35000+600007.5 (u-150)
Michigan State+4000+8000/-35000+600006.5 (u-185)
Indiana+8000+15000/-75000+1500006 (o-120)
Maryland+15000N/A+4000003.5 (o-140)
Illinois+15000N/A+8000003.5 (u-170)
Purdue+20000N/A+8000002.5 (o-145)
Rutgers+25000N/A+9999993 (o-130)

The Buckeyes are the clear team to beat in the Big Ten, entering 2017 at +128 to win the conference. And despite their humiliating 31-0 loss to Clemson in the semifinal game last year, they’ve got good reason to be so heavily favored. Ohio State will be returning 14 of their 22 starters from last season, including quarterback J.T. Barrett. Barrett has had an up-and-down career at OSU, but enters 2017 with Heisman hopes. If he can live up to those hopes, this team will be scary.

My eye, however, is on the next team down the list. Wisconsin enters 2017 at +485 to win the conference, yet they’re all but a shoe-in to play in the championship game. Playing in the Big Ten West, Wisconsin can watch from a distance while Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan beat up on each other in the East. The Badgers will avoid arguably the best teams in the conference (OSU and PSU) altogether this season, and will get to face Michigan at home. If all goes as planned, I don’t see how they don’t at least play for the Big Ten Championship come December. They won’t be a +485 underdog in that game (probably), so I’ll happily grab ’em at that price now.

Penn State and Michigan are both well ahead of Wisconsin’s odds to win the National Championship, but playing in the East puts them at third and fourth most likely to win the conference. At +500, the Nittany Lions have the worst chance of repeating as conference champions among teams in the Power Five. They certainly shouldn’t be overlooked, however. QB Trace McSorley (senior) and RB Saquon Barkley (junior) are two of 16 returning starters for Penn State, and both are expected to make a case for the Heisman this season.

2016 Results (based off Pinnacle’s closing lines):

TeamATS RecordMoneyline Units (Record)Over Record
Wisconsin9-34.5 (9-3)6-7
Penn State8-3-19.0 (11-2)10-3
Nebraska6-4-2-0.7 (9-3)3-9
Northwestern7-51.1 (6-6)4-8
Ohio State6-61.0 (10-1)6-6
Michigan6-6-1.4 (10-3)8-4
Iowa6-610.7 (8-4)5-7
Minnesota4-5-3-0.6 (8-4)6-6
Illinois5-7-5.4 (2-9)6-6
Purdue5-7-5.4 (3-9)9-3
Indiana5-7-2.9 (6-6)4-8
Maryland4-8-3.8 (5-6)4-8
Rutgers4-8-8.7 (1-9)6-6
Michigan State4-8-6.4 (2-9)5-7

Wisconsin and Penn State led the way in terms of ATS betting within the Big Ten last year. In a year that they far exceeded expectations, it’s no surprise that Penn State also ended up +9.0 units on the moneyline. Iowa was the best team for moneyline bettors however, due almost solely to a +1200 victory against Michigan. The Hawkeyes ended up +10.7 units on the season.

As we saw with Clemson in the ACC preview, the moneyline has been nothing special for teams entering a season with high expectations. Despite impressive overall records, both Ohio State and Michigan were fairly disappointing for moneyline bettors, with the Wolverines actually ending up in the red.

2017-18 Heisman Candidates (8/9 BetOnline):

  • Saquon Barkley (RB, Penn State) +900, J.T. Barrett (QB, Ohio State) +1000, Trace McSorley (QB, Penn State) +2000, Ty Johnson (RB, Maryland) +6600

Saquon Barkley has seen his Heisman stock rise considerably recently, and has surpassed J.T. Barrett’s odds at BetOnline. At some books such as Bovada, he’s as high as +700, giving him the second highest odds behind USC’s Sam Darnold. Barrett finished fifth in Heisman voting in 2014.

Interested in our other conference previews? ACC

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