After a three-way tie at the top of the Big 10 East last season, there’s no doubt who the favorite is going into 2017. The Ohio State Buckeyes were the youngest team in college football last season and Urban Meyer still led them to the College Football Playoff. JT Barrett is the prototypical Meyer quarterback and Mike Weber is a powerful runner. This defense should be one of the best in the country too. Ohio State has one less conference road game than Michigan or Penn State and is a solid choice despite the low odds.
Sure, Penn State beat Ohio State last season, but the Nittany Lions needed quite a few breaks along the way. This year, they have to travel to the Horseshoe and the Buckeyes have been waiting all offseason to return the favor. Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley make this offense very explosive, but there are some legitimate questions about the defense after allowing 52 points in the Rose Bowl. Penn State should easily be the second-best team in the Big 10 East, but it’s hard to back them over Ohio State despite the generous +595 odds.
Michigan is only this short of a favorite because of its name. The Wolverines have just five returning starters from last season’s team and have not recruited at the level that Ohio State has. Not only that, but former coach Brady Hoke didn’t recruit well in his final two seasons. Way too many underclassmen are projected to start for Jim Harbaugh in 2017 and the Wolverines will be fortunate to go 9-3 in the regular season.
In the Big 10 West, Wisconsin is the runaway favorite. The Badgers didn’t drop a game on their side of the conference last year, only losing to the Big Three in the Big Ten East last season. Wisconsin did lose its best running back and best defender in the offseason, but has a lot of other key pieces returning. This team is odds-on to win its division for a reason. Nebraska and Iowa have to replace a lot more and the Badgers get to face their toughest divisional opponent, Northwestern, at home. Additionally, they only have to play Michigan in cross-divisional action.
The one team you want to stay away from is Nebraska. The Cornhuskers have to play Wisconsin and Ohio State in back-to-back weeks and also have to travel to Happy Valley this season. They outperformed their peripherals last season and are due for some regression, especially on offense. Tulane transfer Tanner Lee is expected to be the starter at quarterback, but he didn’t exactly light the AAC on fire.
If you’re looking for a long shot to get behind, Minnesota is somewhat tempting at +3500. The Golden Gophers are in the weaker side of the Big 10 and have the most exciting coach in college football with PJ Fleck. Fleck will have this team motivated for every game and it could easily win its first four conference games.
Odds To Win the Big 10
Ohio State +122
Penn State +595
Michigan State +6000
Odds To Win the Big 10 East
Ohio State -158
Penn State +350
Michigan State +2200
Odds To Win the Big 10 West
The Big Ten is the oldest of all conferences still around to this day. It was formed way back in 1896 when Purdue president James Smart thought it prudent to start regulating all intercollegiate athletics. Seven universities immediately joined the fold including the University of Chicago, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Northwestern, Wisconsin, and of course, Purdue.
Iowa and Indiana joined three years later to make the conference nine strong until 1908 when Michigan was voted out after failing to abide by league-wide regulations. Ohio State made the conference nine deep once again in 1912, and then after a decade long hiatus, Michigan was allowed back into the conference making it 10 strong; that my friends is where conference got coined the Big Ten and it’s stuck ever since.
Chicago bolted the league after disbanding its football program in 1946 moving the conference back down to nine members. Michigan State joined the conference in 1950 and nothing about the conference’s landscape changed for the next 40 years. That was until Penn State was admitted in 1990 and started competition in 1993.
Seven years later, Nebraska finally gets admitted into the conference after getting denied on numerous occasions back in the early 1900s. Even though the conference has 12 teams, it remains being called the Big Ten and is split up into two divisions the Legends and Leaders – with a championship game taking place to decide the overall victor. The division names would then be changed in 2014 to the East and West.
Three of the biggest stadium capacities in the country reside in the Big Ten. Michigan Stadium – home of the Wolverines – seats just under 110K people. Beaver Stadium in Happy Valley seats 106,572 crazed Nittany Lions fans, and a shade under 150K pack the seats to watch the marching band dot the “i” in Columbus.
As rich a history this conference possesses, you know some crazy rivalries have formed. There’s the battle for the Old Oaken Bucket between state rivals Indiana and Purdue, the battle for Paul Bunyan’s axe between Minnesota and Wisconsin, and the battle for the Land Grant trophy between Michigan State and Penn State.
With the Big Ten around longer than any conference, it comes as no surprise to see it reeling in a whopping 39 national championships. It’s only a matter of time until it surpasses the Ivy League who doesn’t partake in the festivities any longer. Michigan and Ohio State top the list with eight and seven titles respectively.
Automatic bowl tie-ins to the Big Ten are as follows: College Football Playoff, Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Holiday Bowl, Citrus Bowl, Outback Bowl, Pinstripe Bowl, Music City Bowl, TaxSlayer Bowl, Foster Farms Bowl, Quick Lane Bowl, Armed Forces Bowl.
|SEC Conference||Big 10 Conference|
|ACC Conference||Big 12 Conference|
|Pac 12 Conference||Big East Conference|
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