2015 Big Ten Season Football Preview
While Wisconsin is the model of consistency and Michigan is making waves with their splashy hire of controversial coach Jim Harbaugh, the Big Ten still begins and ends with the Ohio State Buckeyes.
NCAA Football Gambling Lines
It’s not that the conference is devoid of strong teams. Michigan State arrived a few years ago and the Spartans haven’t gone anywhere; the excellent coaching of Mark Dantonio has made MSU accountable, hard-working and well-prepared. Iowa has always been able to beat you with nuts n’ bolts football.
Taking all that into account, 2015 is still little more than a layup for superstar coach Urban Meyer and all the scarlet and silver clad faithful in Columbus.
The following is a look at the Big Ten’s top contenders, along with their odds.
(Odds from Bovada)
Ohio State Buckeyes -300
The Buckeyes dismantled Marcus Mariota and the high-flying Oregon Ducks in last year’s National Championship and it looks to be the same narrative in 2015. There are people buzzing that this year’s Bucks squad can be one of the best college champions ever. While that may perhaps be a bit overblown, this OSU team is very, very good.
Until recently, Ohio State had three QBs that, due to a range of circumstances, started under center and were all very successful. Original incumbent Braxton Miller decided to switch to WR, which bodes well for his NFL future. As such, pivot will be handled by the big-bodied Cardale Jones, who was the hero in the title game, and J.T. Barrett, a Texan that ran the offense with aplomb in the regular season.
Ohio State also features maybe the most explosive RB in the nation in Ezekiel Elliott and probably the best defender in the country in DE Joey Bosa. Sophomore CB Eli Apple is capable of being a superstar. In short? It’s all good in Buckeye-land.
Michigan State Spartans +700
“Sparty” is the closest competition for the Buckeyes this year. Senior field general Connor Cook is a stud; maybe they don’t have the stacked talent of OSU, but they feature good players that are well coached.
Cook will be buttressed by a great offensive line, led by C Jack Allen and OG Jack Conklin. If the skill players can make enough happen, MSU will be fine offensively.
The “D” is led by DE Shilique Calhoun, probably the best pass-rusher in the conference not named Bosa. Senior Ed Davis helps him at linebacker. Michigan State must rely on its strength on the offensive/defensive lines to neutralize the opposition.
Wisconsin Badgers +800
The Badgers are in the mix in the Big Ten year after year. They are one of the more solid football programs in the country, led by an always-dynamic running game and big, powerful O-lineman.
This year, RB Corey Clement joins a mile-long line at the position that includes Montee Ball, Melvin Gordon and great backs really going all the way back to Ron Dayne 15 years ago.
An unheralded part of this year’s team in the defensive secondary, which is solid and experienced thanks to seniors Darius Hillary and Michael Caputo and junior CB Sojourn Shelton.
Nebraska Cornhuskers +1000
The Huskers use their always strong recruiting base from Texas and junior college players from California to stay in the discussion. Nebraska has been rather underachieving since joining the Big Ten, but they can beat any team on any given week.
Junior returning starting QB Tommy Armstrong will bring his dual-threat game, an O-line of upperclassmen is led by OT Alex Lewis and the defense is spearheaded by safety Nate Gerry. Keep an eye out for punt returner De’Mornay Pierson-El, an undersized lightning bolt who can make magic happen on special teams.
Penn State Nittany Lions +2500
This spot could perhaps go to Michigan also, with the electricity about Harbaugh, but realistically the Wolverines are still a year or two out from being truly impactful in the conference. The Nittany Lions, however, have the most important position covered.
Quarterback Christian Hackenberg needs a bounce-back season, but he has oodles of talent and will be closely watched by NFL scouts this year. Penn State’s offensive line is rounding into form and they are recovering from the heavy sanctions levied by the NCAA with the Joe Paterno scandal.
Hackenberg should have fun hucking the pigskin to sophomore WR DaeSean Hamilton, and the defense will be led by DT Anthony Zettel.
Complete Big Ten Odds
- Ohio State -300
- Michigan State +700
- Wisconsin +800
- Nebraska +1000
- Michigan +1600
- Penn State +2500
- Iowa +2500
- Minnesota +2800
- Northwestern +5000
- Maryland +10000
- Illinois +10000
- Indiana +10000
- Purdue +30000
- Rutgers +30000
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Check out our Updated College Football Odds.