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2017 Big Ten Predictions

2017 Big Ten Conference College Football Predictions and Picks

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

When you talk about the Big Ten Conference, you're talking about some of the big heavy-hitters in college football. In terms of winning national titles, this conference makes up a big part of college football's championship history. Every season, this conference produces major contenders that could potentially win it all. This season, three Big Ten teams are on the list of the top eight favorites to win the College Football Playoff Championship Game.

In the last twelve seasons, the Big Ten Championship has been won by either Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, or Michigan State. Three of those teams are considered among the top favorites to win the conference this season. Last season, Penn State went on a big roll at the end of the season, culminating in a big win over Wisconsin in the title game. They also beat Ohio State, though they were slaughtered earlier in the season by Michigan. The Wolverines look for their first conference title in a dozen years. Still, with what looks to be a loaded bunch, the Ohio State Buckeyes are prohibitive favorites to win this conference. But for those inclined to look elsewhere in a conference that is often filled with surprises, there are some high-value choices to be had.

The Big Ten is split into two separate divisions—the East and the West. A team naturally needs to post the best conference W-L record, before winning the Big Ten Championship Game. That's how you become Big Ten champion. It's important to consider the difficulty in making it down that path, so we really urge bettors to look over the schedules carefully. You might love a team, but if that team is battling other contenders in the division with far more-cushy schedules, it could be really tough. Also look at the divisions, namely how the East Division has heavyweights like Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Penn State, while the West Division has a good team like Wisconsin that only has to beat out good but less-powerful teams like Iowa, Nebraska, and Northwestern. In other words, a team like the Badgers have a much-easier path to the title game than, say, the Michigan Wolverines.

Betting Odds to Win the Big Ten in 2017
Ohio State wins Big Ten Champ +123
Field wins Big Ten Championship -143
Wisconsin wins Big Ten Champ +415
Field wins Big Ten Championship -525
Penn State wins Big Ten Champ +575
Field wins Big Ten Championship -850
Michigan wins Big Ten Champ +575
Field wins Big Ten Championship -850

About the Odds: You'll notice that picks for teams to win the Big Ten are accompanies by a "field" selection. Big Ten favorite Ohio State, for instance, is listed as +123 to win the conference title, with "field" listed at -143. That basically means any other team besides Ohio State, as it does with all the choices on this list. As of press time, it's also considered early in the game to be getting involved with this bet. Therefore, you see an incomplete list with only the major contenders being listed with odds.

Looking at the Contenders:

Ohio State Buckeyes: A 3-point regular season loss to Penn State kept them out of the title game, with the tiebreaker going to the Nittany Lions after both posted an 8-1 Big Ten mark. Quarterback JT Barrett is back and things seem to be lining up for him to put up some big numbers. The defense is a prime unit and it's understandable on some levels why they would be such prohibitive favorites. A competitive conference, some potential issues in the secondary, and the lack of cemented and developed playmakers on offense could pose some problems. Still, the Buckeyes are rightful favorites to win the Big Ten Championship in 2017.

Wisconsin Badgers: It's hard to overlook their chances coming out of the West. Not to discount the rest of the teams in the division, but a few things standout in this equation. One is that they might be better than last season, or at least on the offensive side of the ball. And last season's team nearly made it all the way despite some really tough spots. Schedule-wise, things could shake out for the Badgers to make it to the title game. And if you land in that spot with +415 odds, that's not doing so bad on the defending Big Ten West Division champions. After all, they lost just 38-31 in the title game last season and with some more offensive spark in 2017, they stand out as very legitimate contenders indeed.

Penn State Nittany Lions: It could be a fool's game to discount the Nittany Lions after what they accomplished last season—taking down the Conference title game. After a close win over Wisconsin in the title game, they remain viable contenders this season. Some feel that they stumbled on some magic last season and a Rose Bowl beating by the Trojans and a season later, they might not find the same recipe for success. Sure, a lot of their offensive firepower returns, particularly with QB Trace McSorley and RB Saquon Barkley, but the O-line will need to find its footing quick, while the defense is dealing with some voids up-front. The schedule, with road games versus Ohio State and others, along with home games against Michigan and other tough conference foes, it could be hard for them to outrun other contenders in the top-heavy East Division.

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Michigan Wolverines: Many pointed to last season as the year for the Wolverines to shine brightest in the Big Ten and it didn't pan out that way. Maybe with less people forecasting a big season, the Wolverines can get it done. Still, with just half-a-dozen returning starters, the success of Big Blue is dependent on a lot of unproven talent rising to the occasion. QB Wilton Speight returns with a deep cast of runners. Now it's time for those last two highly-ranked Jim Harbaugh recruiting seasons to manifest. We will see, but road games at Wisconsin and Penn State, along with a meeting against Ohio State suggests the scenario might not shake out ideally for the Wolverines in '17.

Lootmeister's Pick to Win the Big Ten: We're taking the Wisconsin Badgers at +415 odds. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and make college football prop bets by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 50% sign-up bonus!

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