The Big Ten only has one more year left of being a conference with 11 teams, as the Nebraska Cornhuskers will join the fold in 2011. Even though there is a clear cut favorite in the conference this year, there are several other squads that can steal the show and snag the slot in the Rose Bowl.
1. Ohio State Buckeyes (-250 odds to win Big 10 in 2010) – For HC Jim Tressel, this season is really Rose Bowl or bust (unless the Buckeyes have National Championship dreams). The Bucks went 11-2 last season and had the second best defense in the Big Ten, allowing just 12.5 points per game. This is the third year in Columbus for highly touted QB Terrelle Pryor. He totaled 25 touchdowns in 2009 between his passing and rushing and accounted for 2,873 total yards to boot. Many feel as though Pryor is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate considering the fact that all of the finalists from last year aside from RB Mark Ingram are now in the NFL.
Trips to Iowa and Wisconsin could be dangerous for the Buckeyes, but one would like to think that a slip in just one of those two games will still be alright as long as they hold serve at home. This is a chalky bet, but Ohio State is certainly the team to beat in the Big Ten.
2. Wisconsin Badgers (+350 odds to win Big 10 in 2010) – HC Brett Bielema certainly knows what he’s doing with the Badgers in Madison; especially defensively. Wisconsin held opposing teams to 305.7 yards per game in 2009, including finishing fifth in the land at 88.2 rushing yards per game. There is a big question about who is taking over under center for the Badgers, but this isn’t exactly a team that has had stellar quarterback play in quite a few years. Instead, expect a rushing game that averaged a whopping 203.8 yards per game in 2009 to take center stage.
The other reason that we really love what Bucky the Badger might be able to do this year is that his schedule sets up fantastically. There is no reason for Wisconsin to be anything less than 4-0 going into Michigan State in the first week of October. Games against Ohio State and at Iowa could be the last hurdles towards a Big Ten title.
Best ROI Pick: Michigan Wolverines (+1500 odds to win Big 10 in 2010) – The Wolverines started last season at 4-0 and even snuck into the Top 25 at one point, but they failed to get to a bowl game once again. This is probably the last chance for HC Rich Rodriguez to impress Big Blue nation before a change is made. QB Tate Forcier really stepped up in his freshman year to take over the reins under center. Though 13 touchdowns against ten picks isn’t fantastic, Forcier showed that he can lead a team both with his arm and his legs. Look for him only to improve in his sophomore campaign.
Yes, Michigan has to travel to Ohio State and Penn State, which is going to make life a lot more difficult in the Big Ten, but if there is a coach that can pull all of this off, Rich Rod is the man to count on. If not, he’ll be on the unemployment lines by this time next year.
Betting Odds to win the Big 10 Conference in 2010:
– Illinois +2000
– Indiana +3000
– Iowa +350
– Michigan +1200
– Michigan State +1200
– Minnesota +3000
– Northwestern +2000
– Ohio State -250
– Penn State +650
– Purdue +2000
– Wisconsin +350
(Place Your Bets now on who you think will win the BIG 10)