The Big Ten has gone through its fair share of controversies over the last couple of seasons. Most notably Pen State’s humiliation, which has rendered the Nittany Lions unable to compete for anything for basically the next decade. Added to that list is Ohio State University, which will serve it one-year ban from post-season play in 2012.
So, when you knock those two out of the running, then factor in teams such as Purdue, Indiana, and Minnesota. It makes this year’s choice for team vying for the Big 10 title a little easier, but still interesting.
At best, there are six teams with a realistic shot to even get to the conference championship game, much less take home the BCS berth that comes with the win.
So to help you weed through this season’s conference calamity, here is the short list of teams and their odds to win the 2012 Big 10 Championship.
Michigan 7-4 Odds To Win BIG 10 Championship
The Wolverines changed a lot of things up after the 2010 season. A head coaching change and an offense change that was meant to mitigate the number of hits quarterback Denard Robinson (heisman odds) took during that 2010 season. That amount of hits is just unsustainable for a guy of his size. So taking on a more pro style offense seemed to make an impact. Denard’s ability to run the rock will still be utilized, but for Michigan to have any real success, his arm will have to be able to lead the charge.
As with most high-powered offensive teams though, they sometimes lack what it takes on the defensive side. Brady Hoke and his defensive coordinator Greg Mattison have turned that trend around. While there are other good teams in this conference, you would have to think that it would be a sizable upset if anyone else were able to bring down “House”. (Also see: Over-Under Win Totals – BCS Champion Odds)
Wisconsin 2-1 Odds To Win BIG 10 Championship
The Badgers are a virtual lock to at least appear in the conference title game this season. With the sanctions against Penn State and Ohio State, there is very little competition to contend with. That being said, it’s not like they are without talent on the roster. Montee Ball is going to be one of the better running backs in all of college football this season, after toying with the thought of entering the NFL a year ago. While they did lose their quarterback, this team has always been about the ground game. Danny O’Brien has the inside track for the job after transferring from Maryland, but he has not always been the most efficient man under center. If he can right the ship though, this team will be just as explosive as a year ago.
They do however have a defense that is almost the exact same as last year. This is a bad thing for the rest of the Big 10. They return 19 of the 23 players that most contributed on that side of the ball. (Also see: Over-Under Win Totals – BCS Champion Odds)
Nebraska 7-2 Odds To Win BIG 10 Championship
The Cornhuskers’ offense will always be plenty explosive with Taylor Martinez at the pivot spot. His ability to run and throw is rivaled by very few players around the country. His ability to handle the play action is second to none in today’s game. If the ‘Huskers don’t want to overuse him by Week 3 though, they are going to have to find someone out of the backfield to help lighten the load. That is not the biggest area of concern though. That would be the defensive unit. Since losing a few players to the NFL draft a couple of years ago, the defense just has not recovered. They are going to have to figure out a way to make some things happen this year if they expect to compete with the big boys in 2012. (Also see: Over-Under Win Totals – BCS Champion Odds)
Illinois 20-1 Odds To Win BIG 10 Championship
The Fighting Illini would have no shot of being on this list in a normal year. Lucky for them this is anything but a normal year in the Big 10. No Penn State and no Ohio State means this team has an outside shot of getting to the title game with a few lucky breaks. Of the eligible teams, it is hard to debate that they are number two on their side behind Wisconsin. Illinois hangs its hat on its defense, and if it is as good as it was a year ago, this team has a shot to surprise the BIG 10 in 2012. (Also see: Over-Under Win Totals – BCS Champion Odds)