It’s now been a full two years since Ohio State put the Big Ten back on the map with a national championship. While the conference appears to still be on the rise, they had another poor showing in bowl games.
As a whole the conference went a mere 3-7. With that said they did have a bunch of close losses. Still, that’s not a record the conference wants to be associated with.
No one performed worse than Ohio St, who earned a spot in the college football playoff. The Buckeyes lost 31-0 to eventual champ Clemson in the semifinals. There was plenty of controversy over the Buckeyes making the playoffs. They didn’t even win their own division. That was Penn State, who also beat Ohio St in the head-to-head matchup.
Big 10 College Football Preview & Predictions
The conference still ended up with four teams in the Top 10 of the final AP and Coaches Poll. No other conference had more than two. That includes only one representative from the SEC (Alabama).
One of the reasons for the rise of the conference is the influx of new head coaches. Not only are they getting some of the best in the business like Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh, but the other programs are signing top level guys.
While Meyers is in his 6th season with Ohio St, 10 of the other 13 teams have a coach in his 4th year or less. Don’t get me wrong the 3 exceptions are no pushovers. In fact,they are 3 of the most respected guys in college football. Mark Dantonio is in his 11th season at Michigan St, Kirk Ferentz is in year 19 at Iowa and Pat Fitzgerald is in year 12 at Northwestern.
New Head Coaches
|Name (School)||Previous Job||HC Exp (Record)|
|Tom Allen (Indiana)||DC at Indiana||None|
|P.J. Fleck (Minnesota)||HC at W. Michigan||4 yrs (30-22)|
|Jeff Brohm (Purdue)||HC at W. Kentucky||3 yrs (30-10)|
As you can see there are 3 new head coaches for the 2017 campaign. I like all 3 hires, especially Fleck going to Minnesota and Brohm to Purdue. Keep in mind that it typically takes 2-3 years for a coach to really turn things around. We saw a prime example of this last year with James Franklin at Penn St, which was his 3rd season on the job.
Below is a look at my projected records for all 14 teams. I’ve included the records for both conference play and overall. I’ve also included an assortment of betting odds throughout the article. For a more complete picture on the college football landscape, be sure to check out my NCAA football predictions page. Now is also a great time to start looking ahead to opening week odds.
2017 Big Ten Projected Standings, Rankings & Betting Odds
|Pos.||Team||Conf||Overall||East Odds||Big 10 Odds|
In what is a loaded East Division, I’m going to side with Meyer and the Buckeyes to reign supreme. Sure Ohio St has lost a lot of talent to the NFL, but like Alabama they just reload. Not to mention Meyer is right there with Nick Saban as the best coach in the business.
Last year’s loss to Clemson was only the third time a Meyer led team suffered a bowl loss. Follow each of the previous two defeats, his team went on to win it all the next year.
It’s not just the talent in recruiting that has me liking Ohio St. In fact, the Bucyeyes have 15 returning starters. That includes an experienced signal caller in senior J.T. Barrett. I also love the move to bring in Kevin Wilson to improve an offense that clearly missed Tom Herman.
No secret who the other contenders are in the East. That would be Penn St and Michigan. The Nittany Lions came out of nowhere last year to win the division. Penn St has 15 returning starters. That includes the dynamic duo of Trace McSorely (QB) and Saquon Barkley (RB). They also have to play 5 league road games and have to travel to Columbus this time around. Not to mention they won’t be sneaking up on teams.
Michigan is in the picture simply cause of Harbaugh and the talent he’s brought to Ann Arbor. The problem is the Wolverines only have 5 returning starters (1 on defense). While close, I don’t feel they are on the same level as Ohio St and Alabama in reloading. With that said, I wouldn’t be shocked if Michigan ended on top.
My surprise team on this side is Maryland. The Terps doubled their win total in D.J. Durkin’s first season from 3 to 6. They got 13 starters back and should be much better off on both sides of the ball.
I know some are high on Indiana this year, but I just think the schedule will be too much for them to be a serious factor. They play 5 of their 9 conference games on the road. Three of their home games are against Ohio St, Michigan and Wisconsin. Getting to 6-6 would be an accomplishment.
Michigan State fell on hard times last year, going just 3-9 after winning 11 or more in 3 straight and 5 of 6 seasons. The Spartans should be improved, but only have 8 starters back and are likely a year out from returning to form.
That leaves Rutgers in the basement, which I don’t think anyone is surprised out. The Scarlet Knights have just 4 wins in confence play in their first 3 years in the league.
|Pos.||Team||Conf||Overall||West Odds||Big 10 Odds|
I’m going with most experts and taking the Badgers to defend their East title in 2017. Wisconsin wasn’t far from being the best team in the league last year. They lost at Michigan by 7 (7-14) in overtime at home against Ohio State (23-30) and to Penn State in the title game (31-38).
This year’s team is even stronger, despite the loss of one of the conferences best running backs. Wisconsin has 15 starters back and figure to be the most talented team Paul Chryst has fielded. Note that this is also that magical 3rd year for Chryst on the job. The only real concern is the loss of defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox.
I believe there’s just two legit threats to the Badgers on this side. That would be Northwestern and Nebraska. The Wildcats have 16 returning starters from a team that wasn’t far off from a 10-win season. Northwestern won 7 games and had 3 losses by 4-points or less.
Nebraska only has 10 starters returning, but I like the moves they made in the offseason. Head coach Mike Riley (Year 3) finally has a QB for his system in transfer Tanner Lee (Tulane). The defense also figures to see improvement right away with former UConn head coach Bob Diaco calling the shots.
There’s a lot of excitement in Minnesota with the addition of Fleck. While I like the hire and think he will do good things, I don’t expect immediate results. He went just 1-11 in his first year at Western Michigan before finishing 29-11 over the last three.
Iowa is a difficult team to put a finger on this year. The Hawkeyes lost a quality talent at QB and don’t have much experience coming back. They will also be in the first year of a new system, as Ferentz’s son Brian takes over the offense. Will he open things up? Doubtful given the track record. If the offense surprises, so will Iowa. They should have an excellent o-line and front 7 on defense.
Purdue’s hiring of Brohm was a huge step in the right direction for this program. Brohm is a disciple of Bobby Petrino and I don’t think it will take long for the results to start showing up. With that said, the first year figures to bring some growing pains, as he’s got to find the players to fit his system. The schedule is also brutal.
That leaves Illinois, who I had a tough time picking to finish last. The Illini went just 3-9 in the first year under Lovie Smith. I just think they are more on track to take that next step in 2018. It will all come down to whether or not they can win at home against the likes of Nebraska, Indiana and Northwestern.
Big Ten Championship Game Prediction: Ohio State Defeats Wisconsin
|Players (Pos, School)||Odds|
|JT Barrett (QB Ohio State)||+1050|
|Saquon Barkley (RB Penn State)||+1500|
|Trace McSorley (QB Penn State)||+3300|
|Mike Weber (RB Ohio State)||+6600|
|Wilton Speight (QB Michigan)||+12500|
Find out where these odds rank against the other top players in the country in our Heisman odds section.
Looking for more NCAA football future odds? We got you covered. Check out our college football win totals to see the over/under mark on the regular season wins for each team. We also have a special page dedicated strictly to the national championship odds.