2018 Big Ten Preview: Any Urban Meyer Fallout?

The Ohio State Buckeyes claimed the Big Ten title last season and the oddsmakers are favoring them again to successfully defend their crown. Let’s check out each team and the corresponding odds to win the conference, national championship and projected total wins on the season.

Ohio State (2017 record: 12-2, Reg Season Wins 10 ½ U-140, Big 10 Title +190, National Championship +265) – The controversy surrounding head coach Urban Meyer continues to swirl, but one thing is for sure; the man wins football games. Last year was the only season in which the Buckeyes lost more than one-regular season game in any of his six seasons at the helm. Ohio State will miss JT Barnett under center, but Dwayne Haskins is an able replacement with a boatload of weapons at his disposal.

Wisconsin (2017 record: 13-1, Reg Season Wins 10 U-125, Big 10 Title +265, National Championship +2850) – A glance over to Sportsbook Review, the sports bettors’ bible featuring up to the minute odds from all the best online sportsbooks, tells us that the Badgers are the second choice to win the Big Ten title after they fell to the Buckeyes last season in the conference championship. However, Wisconsin, the clear favorite in the West Division, has more than their fair share of returning starters at the skill positions and is coming off their first 13 win season in school history. Could a Big Ten title and an invitation to the CFP be in the Buckeyes’ future?

Michigan (2017 record: 8-5, Reg Season Wins 8 ½ O-200, Big 10 Title +415, National Championship +1800) – Jim Harbaugh’s crew staggered to a disappointing 8-5 record last year but should be poised for a serious rebound. Ole Miss quarterback Shea Patterson transferred to Ann Arbor and if given the opportunity, should provide a more dangerous passing attack while the Wolverines’ defense boasts a tenacious front seven. Watch out for Big Blue!

Penn State (2017 record: 11-2, Reg Season Wins 9 ½ U-120, Big 10 Title +760, National Championship +3600) – Senior quarterback Trace McSorley is back for another season pulling the trigger, but no one expects the void left by Saquon Barkley to be completely filled and replacing NFL-caliber receivers Mike Gesicki (2nd round Miami Dolphins) and DaeSean Hamilton (4th round Denver Broncos) will also be a tall task.

Michigan State (2017 record: 10-3, Reg Season Wins 8 ½ O-170, Big 10 Title +860, National Championship +3500) – The pass-catch combo of Brian Lewerke and Felton Davis III is intact for the 2018 season as is the Spartans’ rushing attack led by once again by LJ Scott. Michigan State stunned the pundits last season with a 10-3 mark, including a dominating win over Washington State in the Holiday Bowl. All of this after a three-win campaign in 2016. The oddsmakers don’t expect such lofty results this season as evidenced by their 8½-win total for the upcoming season.

Iowa (2017 record: 8-5, Reg Season Wins 7 ½ U-120, Big 10 Title +2800, National Championship +35,000) – Some believe that the Hawkeyes can challenge Wisconsin in the West with QB Nate Stanley and tight end Noah Fant returning, but the departures of running back Akrum Wadley to the Titans and cornerback Josh Jackson to the Packers are losses that will need to be filled.

Nebraska (2017 record: 4-8, Reg Season Wins 6 ½ O-115, Big 10 Title +4200, National Championship +22,500) – True freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez comes to Nebraska with a world of expectations, but the Cornhuskers’ prospects are tenuous for much more than a .500 season.

Northwestern (2017 record: 10-3, Reg Season Wins 6 ½ U-160, Big 10 Title +6000, National Championship +100,000) – The Wildcats stumbled out of the gate last season by losing three of their first five but then ripped off eight straight wins, including a Music City Bowl victory over Kentucky, to land at 10-3 on the year. Most expect a precipitous regression to the mean for a Northwestern team that will face Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin in conference matchups while battling Notre Dame and Duke in non-conference games.

Purdue (2017 record: 7-6, Reg Season Wins 6 -110, Big 10 Title +8500, National Championship +75,000) – Head coach Jeff Brohm made an immediate impact on a faltering Purdue football program in his first season when his squad registered a 7-6 mark and a bowl win over Arizona. Better things are anticipated for this revitalized Boilermakers’ crew and the quarterback duo of Elijah Sindelar and David Blough has plenty of seasoning as they head into 2018.

Minnesota (2017 record: 5-7, Reg Season Wins 5 ½ O-125, Big 10 Title +9500, National Championship +200,000) – There will be a void in the backfield with Kobe McCrary having graduated and Shannon Brooks gone for the season with a knee injury. All-purpose back Rodney Smith is back, but the quarterback position is green with solely freshmen dueling for the starting nod.

Indiana (2017 record: 5-7, Reg Season Wins 5 ½ U-120, Big 10 Title +25,000, National Championship +400,000) – Defense is on the rise in Hoosier Land but whether this offense can score points is a question that lingers.

Maryland (2017 record: 4-8, Reg Season Wins 5 ½ U-125, Big 10 Title +25,000, National Championship +250,000) – The Terps could roll to a 3-0 mark after meeting non-conference opponents Texas and Temple at home while visiting Bowling Green on the road. But then things get dicey with the big guns of the Big Ten on their slate. Maryland has experience at some of the skill positions and that could help them eke over the 5½ wins that the oddsmakers from the best online sportsbooks have posted.

Rutgers (2017 record: 4-8, Reg Season Wins 3 ½ O-150, Big 10 Title +80,000, National Championship +999,999) – Rutgers may have improved last season over their dismal 2016 campaign, but the Big Ten takes no prisoners and the Scarlet Knights will be bringing a jousting sword to a conference loaded with bazookas.

Illinois (2017 record: 2-10, Reg Season Wins 3 ½ -110, Big 10 Title +80,000, National Championship +999,999) – Head coach Lovie Smith has lost 19 of the 24 games the Illini have played under his watch. Things don’t get better this season in Lovie-Land.

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