The Big Ten is officially coming back.
The conference said Wednesday that it would start the season on Oct. 24. On Saturday morning, the Big Ten revealed each team’s eight-game schedule with the ninth game to be determined at the end of the season. With a start date and a schedule, it’s time to start thinking about betting the conference.
And you won’t be surprised to see three of the top four favorites from the Big Ten East. After all, no West team has won the conference since Wisconsin in 2012.
The East is once again the strongest division in the conference and has the top two favorites in Ohio State at -250 and Michigan at +550. Penn State is then tied with West favorite Wisconsin at +900.
After that, the going gets tough. It’s hard to see anyone else outside of those four teams winning the Big Ten this year. Especially Nebraska at +2000. The Huskers are here because of name recognition and name recognition alone. While Nebraska could be improved in 2020, the Huskers have to play both Ohio State and Penn State. Sure, the adage to be the best you have to beat the best can apply here, but Nebraska’s got a brutal schedule that will likely prohibit a sniff at the conference title.
Here are the full Big 12 conference title odds, via BetMGM
Ohio State: -250
Penn State: +900
Michigan State: +4000
Best bet: Ohio State -250
Yeah, the Buckeyes aren’t going to offer you the return that anyone else in the conference would. But why would you bet on anyone else at this point? Ohio State avoids the toughest teams in the West with only Nebraska and Illinois on the schedule from that division and its Week 2 game at Penn State will come without fans in attendance at the game.
The Buckeyes also got a huge boost this week when OL Wyatt Davis and DB Shaun Wade said they were coming back in 2020. The two stars had opted out of the season to prep for the NFL draft but came back after the Big Ten gave the green light for a fall season.
Best value: Penn State +900
The Nittany Lions are the second-best team in the conference yet are behind Michigan when it comes to the odds. That’s why PSU is a great value even without star LB Micah Parsons. He was one of the first players to opt out of the 2020 season and has not said if he’s going to reverse that decision.
Like Ohio State, Penn State plays Nebraska in the West. While the Nittany Lions draw Iowa, that game is at home and this could be a reloading year of sorts for the Hawkeyes. It won’t be surprising at all to see that Week 2 game between Penn State and Ohio State be what determines the Big Ten West and it won’t be shocking if Penn State wins in what could be a high-scoring game. The Nittany Lions return eight starters on offense including QB Sean Clifford and TE Pat Freiermuth.
Sleeper pick: Minnesota +2500
Yes, Minnesota has worse odds than Nebraska. Here’s the case for the Gophers.
Minnesota could bring back star WR Rashod Bateman to pair with QB Tanner Morgan. While Bateman had initially opted out of the season, he’s looking to play in 2020. That would give Minnesota a huge offensive boost on a unit that brings back eight other starters.
There’s a lot to replace on defense but Minnesota draws Michigan and Maryland from the West. The Michigan game is winnable because it’s at home and in Week 1 — and it’s anyone’s guess how Week 1 in the Big Ten is going to go this year. A win over Michigan and revenge over Wisconsin for denying Minnesota the Big Ten West title in 2019 likely puts the Gophers in the Big Ten title game and then something crazy could happen.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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