COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 28: Urban Meyer speaks to the media after being introduced as the new head coach of Ohio State football on November 28, 2011 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
A couple weeks ago we looked at the ACC, now we're onto the Big Ten, and what a pitiful conference this is. There are no teams with a double digit over/under -- they're the only one of the big-5 conferences that can claim that. As usual, the Big Ten will be mired in a malaise of mediocrity and the only question is which sacrificial lamb will be sent to Pasadena to lose as per usual.
Again, these lines are courtesy of Beyond the Bets, these are for regular season win totals only, and this is strictly a recreational exercise.
Illinois 6: Under
Illinois is finally out of the Ron Zook era, but it may take a bit for new coach Tim Beckman to get the program out of the rut it has been in. Zook was always an excellent recruiter, so there's decent talent in Champagne, but Beckman doesn't strike me as a guy who's going to set the world on fire right out of the gates. The schedule is more formidable than it seems, with a road trip to Arizona State early, and a home game against a Louisiana Tech team that should be sneaky good. If they start hot and win those two, they should start 4-0 and coast to the Over, but that seems unlikely, and I'd be less shocked to see 2-2 and a losing record on the season.
Indiana 4 Under:
Indiana is a bad program. There's no other way to put it. They won just the one game last season and most of their losses weren't even close. Sure, they open with 2 FCS teams, but there really don't seem to be any victories after that, much less 3 of them. There is 0 chance they make the over here.
Iowa 8: Over
A 5-0 start looks likely, but it's tough to find 4 wins after that. They should be favored against Penn State, Indiana, Purdue and Northwestern, but winning all of them seems unlikely. But then again, Iowa always seems to win a game that they probably shouldn't so that would get them to the Over. The big question is how Iowa's usual "half the team getting arrested in the offseason" storyline will play out and effect them, but I like Iowa as a darkhorse to win the Whatever-The-Hell-They-Call-It Division.
The rest of the conference after the jump.
Michigan 8.5: Under
Alabama in a neutral site is a certain loss right off the bat, so now we're looking at them trying to win 9 out of 11 games. They won't be able to rely on Notre Dame turning the ball over 15 times again, Michigan State has owned the Wolverines of late, Ohio State has more talent and now has a much better coach (UM also struggled to defeat the worst Ohio State team in the last 11 years), Denard Robinson still can't throw a football and they lose a ton of players off of their defense. Smells like a bit of a down year for the Brady Hoke rebuild, but with the way they're recruiting it could be the last one for a while.
Michigan State 8: Over
The Spartans have won 11 games both of the past two years, and Mark Dantonio has the program rolling. The defense could be one of the best in the country, and if they can find a suitable replacement for Kirk Cousins they should be the favorites to make a repeat appearance in the Big Ten Title Game.
Minnesota 4.5: Under
Last season Minnesota lost to both New Mexico State and North Dakota State, so to pencil them in as victorious against anybody would be foolish. Everybody loves Jerry Kill, but his turnaround year has always been year three and five wins would be a stretch in year two.
Nebraska 8.5: Over
Hitching your wagon to Taylor Martinez might be the most terrifying thing in sports. But here I am. To get their 9 wins, Nebraska pretty much has to win at least two against Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Iowa. Seems pretty reasonable, and the rest should be wins. I feel like this is the year Bo Pelini breaks his streak of losing 4 games every year.
Northwestern 6: Over
Northwestern could (should?) start 7-0. Looks like a no-brainer.
Ohio State 9: Over
I wouldn't bet this in a million years. Do they lose to Purdue and Penn State this year? Probably not. But the Cal game could be tricky, and they have to face the 3 best teams in the opposite division. There's just too much talent on the roster for them to not improve by at least a couple of games. Six of their seven losses were by one score, and that could easily be flipped around by Urban Meyer.
Penn State 6.5: Under
This was, of course, before the sanctions and transfers, so it's a bit unfair. The schedule is easy (no Michigan, no Michigan State), but there's just too much turmoil and Bill O'Brien is unproven.
Purdue 6.5: Under
Purdue looks pretty similar to last season when they won 6 games, minus the upset over Ohio State. I think 6 wins is about right, and if the line was 6, I'd probably go with the under as well. They haven't won 7 games since Joe Tiller was calling the shots.
Wisconsin 9.5: Over
I don't think there's any doubt that Wisconsin is the best program in the Big Ten right now, and with Ohio State ineligible they should make their third straight Rose Bowl appearance. I don't see three losses on the schedule, and the only games that should be close are against Nebraska, Michigan State and Ohio State. If the cards fall correctly, they may have a chance to get killed in the National Championship.