The Big Ten has a unique season ahead of it, and this could be the year for a new champion.
While the Ohio State Buckeyes are an obvious favorite to win the Big Ten Championship for the fourth year in a row, the title is certainly not a foregone conclusion.
The entire Big Ten will play a conference-only schedule because of the coronavirus pandemic, which adds a completely unknown factor to the typical season. Even in a year full of uncertainty, the predictions are out for who will claim the No. 1 spot.
The Buckeyes’ odds, according to Sports Betting Dime, are sitting at -125 right now, which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. They return one of the best quarterbacks in the NCAA with Justin Fields, and they acquired graduate transfer Trey Sermon from Oklahoma to help fill in the holes in their run game. The offensive line also has a ton of strong veterans from last season’s CFB Playoff semi-final run. They 100 percent deserve these odds.
However, the Buckeyes are not invincible, and it would certainly be a strong bet to put money on Wisconsin, Penn State, or Michigan. The trio comes in at +450, +500, and +600 respectively, and they are by far the most likely to topple Ohio State.
Wisconsin were the winners out of the Western division last season, and they ended up runners-up to the Buckeyes in the 2019 Championship Game.
However, the Western division is also notoriously bad.
No other team in the West has odds below +1000, and Purdue, Northwestern and Illinois all come in at or above +10000, so it’s not really an accomplishment for Wisconsin to lead that side of the conference. Technically, they have the second-best chance to win the Big Ten, but I’d be absolutely shocked if they could take down any of the top squads in the East.
The Nittany Lions and Wolverines hold bitter rivalries with Ohio State, and while the odds may not reflect it, they would certainly be favored to beat whoever came out of the West if they can overcome the far bigger challenge of getting into the championship.
Penn State has several new assistant coaches this season to complement a host of veteran studs like Micah Parsons and Pat Freiermuth. They also have a handful of young talent that should be able to fill in where the team has lost players.
The Nittany Lions have a ton of potential, but they need to put the pieces together. The Wolverines are in a similar situation. They boast an experienced defense, but there’s still a big question at who will be the team’s go-to quarterback. Like Penn State, if they can sort out their less experienced pieces in the offseason, they’ll be a legit contender.