The Big Ten is an interesting conference for a number of reasons. One is the collection of storied football programs in the league — Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan have rich histories in terms of competing in football, and so do Wisconsin and Nebraska. Michigan State has come on in recent years to join the other top teams in the conference. However, the two divisions of the league mean that most of the top teams have to face each other for the chance to make the conference championship, while the other division often sends a lesser team to the title game. This happened last year, when Ohio State won the Big Ten East and Northwestern won the Big Ten West. Nebraska expects to make noise in the Big Ten West this year, but if they were in the East, their likelihood of making the title game would be slim indeed. For college football betting enthusiasts and casual fans alike, we have put together a list of five bold predictions for Big Ten play in 2019.
Five Big Ten College Football Betting Predictions in 2019
Minnesota will win the Big Ten West
I know that Nebraska is the popular choice right now. However, no team in the Big Ten West has more experience than the Golden Gophers. Their road conference games include Purdue, Rutgers, Iowa and Northwestern. Purdue may be the scariest of those four, but they lost some key contributors to graduation. Minnesota does not play Michigan, Michigan State or Ohio State; their toughest cross-division game is Penn State, and they get the NIttany Lions at home. Given the parity in the Big Ten West, the Golden Gophers could drop a couple of games and still win the division.
Michigan State will win the Big Ten East
Ohio State is going through transition at head coach and quarterback. Michigan has a difficult time playing in clutch games. Michigan State does have to go to Ann Arbor this year to play the Wolverines, but the Spartans had the nation’s top defense last year, and most of their contributors return. Quarterback Brian Lewerke will not suffer another season-ending injury, and the Spartans will take advantage of down years for the Buckeyes, Nittany Lions — and potentially the Wolverines too.
No Big Ten team will make the College Football Playoff
Unless you play in the SEC, making the CFP with a loss seems to be just about impossible. If you’re in the SEC (and especially if you’re Alabama), you don’t even need to make your conference championship to make the national semifinal, but for teams in other Power 5 conferences, the job is tougher. This might be the nation’s toughest conference in 2019, but that also makes the conference slate into a gauntlet that no team can survive without a loss or two.
Michigan will go 7-5
I know, Shea Patterson returns, and some people think this Wolverines squad will be the best ever in Ann Arbor. However, their 2018 team was terrific, at least on paper — they lost a ton of talent to the NFL draft — but they still dropped three games to teams that ended the season in the Top 25. Michigan has a couple of tough non-conference games, facing Notre Dame and an Army team that won 10 games.
The Black Knights play a grueling option offense and have a physical defense, forcing a slow pace that could frustrate Michigan and lead to a Wolverine loss. They face a tough Iowa team, and they have to play at Wisconsin and Penn State. They do get Michigan State and Ohio State at home, but if we’re going to be honest, how do Jim Harbaugh’s teams perform in clutch games?
Nebraska will get exposed as overrated
Yes, Scott Frost delivered an amazing two-year turn around at UCF. UCF is a program in the American Athletic Conference, where the competition is significantly less impressive. Nebraska did finish 4-2 over their last six games in 2018, but they have major holes to fill at wideout, tailback and center, and they have no linebacker depth. That Big Ten West division is a minefield with a bunch of teams that are quietly on the rise but still unproven. Quarterback Adrian Martinez is terrific to watch, but there are too many holes around him for the Cornhuskers to do much more than qualify for a bowl game.