2010 Big Ten Conference Championship Predictions – Betting Odds

by Badger of Predictem.com

Continuing on with our previews for all the major NCAA Conference
Championships in college football, now lets look at the Big Ten

The Big Ten took steps toward staging an official conference
championship game by swiping the Nebraska Cornhuskers out of the Big
12 this spring, and its no secret that the Big Ten brass are looking
at adding an East Coast school to the mix as well, with Rutgers and
Pittsburgh as the rumored candidates, which would clear the way for a title game on its own Big Ten Network in 2011 and beyond.

This years conference outlook looks like a carbon-copy of last year
as the top teams like Ohio State, Penn State and Iowa are once again
on the top looking down at the rest of the league trying to catch up.


Ohio State Buckeyes : -250
Iowa Hawkeyes : +350
Wisconsin Badgers : +350
Penn State Nittany Lions : +650
Michigan Wolverines : +1200
Michigan State Spartans : +1200
Purdue Boilermakers : +2000
Northwestern Wildcats : +2000
Illinois Fighting Illini : +2000
Indiana Hoosiers : +3000
Minnesota Gophers : +3000

Now that Ohio State quarterback Terrell Pryor is a junior, the Buckeyes are hitching not only their Big Ten hopes to the signal caller but their BCS National title hopes as well. I already covered
their chances for that in my 2011 BCS Predictions article, but as one
of two schools that are getting a large majority of money from
bettors (Alabama is the other), if you want to take the Buckeyes
youll have to lay big -250 odds. If the Buckeyes can pass their
early October test at Wisconsin, theyll have to finish the deal with
another big game at Iowa in late November.

The Iowa Hawkeyes made a solid and somewhat surprising run at the Big
Ten title last season, but injuries at quarterback and running back
took its toll on the offense and caused them to fade in November. The
good news for Iowa fans is that QB Richard Stanzi is back and healthy
again, but he must get better (17 TD-15 INT) because three-fifths of
his offensive line will be new. But the defense should be good enough
to win the league, with All-American end Adrian Clayborn leading a
unit that finished in the top-10 in the country last season. The
Hawkeyes also catch a major break by getting Ohio State, Wisconsin
and Penn State all at home in Kinnick Stadium.

The Wisconsin Badgers are the hot pick this season to pull off the
Big Ten title, but at +350 odds its appears the Badgers are no longer
a secret amongst bettors. The Badgers return 18 starters on both
sides of the ball, including quarterback Scott Tolzien, running back
and reigning Big Ten player of the year John Clay, and there entire
offensive line. But if Wisconsin has an Achilles heel its the fact
that only one of those returning starters in on the defensive line,
which means the defense could get run on this season and the Badgers
wont be able to control the clock and possess the ball so long. Back-
to-back games against Ohio State and at Iowa in late October will
indicate if the Badgers have what it takes in 2010.

If Penn State didnt have to replace the most important player on its
offense, quarterback, the Nittany Lions might be the short favorite
in the league. Penn State returns a bevy of talent, including running
backs Evan Royster and Stephon Green on offense and shutdown corner
DAnton Lynn on defense. Whoever wins the QB job, either Kevin
Newsome or Matt McGloin, will have to play way over their head to get
the Nittany Lions past their brutal road schedule (at Alabama, Iowa,
Ohio State).

With the microscope focused entirely on Michigans head
coach Rich Rodriguez and his embattled program, this could be his last chance
to straighten things out and get the Maize-n-Blue back into the Big Ten
race. But while Rich Rod is known for his option-style offense with QB Tate
Forcier running the show, its the Wolverine last in the Big Ten defense
that needs to make major improvements after allowing nearly 400 yards and
over 35 points per game in their final five conference tilts. With all four
of the Big Ten big boys on the schedule (Iowa, at Penn State, Wisconsin,
at Ohio State), its hard to envision the Wolverines running the table in

Michigan State fell apart at the end of last year and just like the
program across the state in Ann Arbor, the Spartans made more noise
for their off-field problems than for their on-field prowess.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins is solid, and so are RBs Larry Caper and Edwin
Baker, but the Spartans seem to lack the explosive dimension to their
offense like the other favorites in the league this season. If the
Spartans can get through a tough start to their conference schedule
in October (home vs. Wisconsin, at Michigan), they could set
themselves up to be a factor in the race with no Ohio State on the
docket this season.

Purdue was on the verge of breaking into the upper echelon of the Big
Ten standings this season, but then stud running back Ralph Bolden
blew out his knee and suddenly their hopes have diminished. The
Boilermakers welcome Miami transfer Robert Marve at QB, and hell
have a great target in receiver Keith Smith, but they just have too
many holes on defense, especially with all four players in the
secondary being brand new, to expect them to be able to hang with the
rest of the league late into the fall.

The Northwestern Wildcats are similar to the Boilermakers in the fact
they are on the verge of crossing over into the top tier of the
league, but too many questions and holes in their defense has
tempered their expectations for this season. Offensively the Wildcats
will be breaking in a new QB in Dan Persa, which always causes
growing pains, and defensively the secondary is new and raw too, so
coach Pat Fitzgerald will have to pull some off some magic to get the
Cats into the Big Ten race in November.

Illinois didnt replace head coach Ron Zook after last seasons 3-9
collapse, but it did force him to hire two new coordinators, so both
sides of the ball will be in transition in 2010. Nathan Scheelhaase
takes over for Juice Williams at QB, but just like Williams hes a
much better runner than he is a thrower, which will limit the Illini
offense and ultimately crush their chances at toppling the leagues

Indiana has perhaps their best team theyve had in decades, but with
a 4-8 record last year the Hoosier will be shooting for .500 and a
bowl game because theyre not really a contender in the Big Ten race
yet. Quarterback Ben Chappell and his bevy of solid receivers will
make the Hoosier offense tough to handle, and a solid and deep
defensive line will help them limit the damage on ground on defense.
The Hoosier should cover a lot of spreads in 2010 because they will
be better than most expect, but they just dont have the athletes to
stay in the race long term and pull of the stunner.

Last year was supposed to be the year the Minnesota Golden Gophers
broke out under coach Tim Brewster, but a disappointing 6-7 season
wasnt quite what they expected. Now the Gophers will be turning to
their third offensive coordinator in three years to revamp the
offense, so expecting QB Adam Weber to learn another offense and
contend for a title will be a major reach. The Gopher defense only
brings back two starters as well, so there are too many holes and
questions surrounding this team to expect them contend for anything
but the bottom of the Big Ten standings.

Badgers Picks to Win the Big 10:

Short Favorite Iowa (+350) The Hawkeyes bring back the best defense in the league in my opinion, and when you combine that with
the easiest schedule with their tough games at home makes me lean
toward them as my short favorite.

Middle of the Road Penn State (+650) The Nittany Lions only real
question is at QB. Now thats a huge question, but if they can find a
way to let the player who wins the job just manage the offense, the
rest of the team is talented enough for an outside run at the title.

Longshot Indiana (+3000) If the Hoosiers can find a secondary
that can stop big plays, their offense is good enough to pull off the
shocker. As a true longshot, Ill take the Hoosiers to pull off the miracle.