Big Ten Conference College Football Futures Preview

Since 2002, Ohio State has won or shared the Big 10 Conference title nine times, including three championships in the last five seasons. But the Buckeyes are a different squad this season, with head coach Urban Meyer retiring once again and quarterback Dwayne Haskins leaving for the NFL.

Is the door finally open for Michigan to step through it? After all, it’s why the Wolverines hired their former quarterback as head coach back in 2015 and it’s resulted in exactly zero titles.

Is there a chance that a Big Ten West division winner can actually compete with its eastern counterparts for the big hardware? Perhaps Wisconsin, who were the last western team to do it from 2010-2012. Before that, you’ve got to go all the way to 2003 to Iowa splitting the championship with Michigan in 2004. has the futures to help you solve both those quandaries.

First up, you can toss out pretty much every Big Ten West team off your board. There’s not a squad there tat can really get into the national conversation or even sniff at the College Football Playoff. The West winner here will only earn the right to get trounced by the East champion, as has happened in every championship game since they went to the East vs West format in 2014.

If you really wanted to roll the dice there, you could look at Wisconsin at +1400. There are statistical models that put them at nine wins this season and that’s not a stretch. The Badgers finished 8-5 last season. They’ve got the solid running back they always seem to have, led by Jonathan Taylor, and a stout defense.

The Iowa Hawkeyes are particularly intriguing from a betting standpoint. They have a great payoff at +2000 and were one score away in three conference games in doing something special last season. They won their last three, including a 31-28 over current West darling Nebraska, then beat Mississippi State 27-22 in the Outback Bowl. I’m surprised more people aren’t jumping on this bandwagon.

But this is a conference that everyone expects to come down to a two-team race, Ohio State vs Michigan. It worked out that way last season, with the Buckeyes trouncing the Wolverines 62-39 the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It was Michigan’s only conference loss and not only cost them a conference title, but probably a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Ryan Day’s Ohio State cupboard is fare from bare. These are still mostly Meyer’s players and those that aren’t are blue chip transfers like quarterback Justin Fields from Georgia. They’ve got four of five starters back on the offensive line and a defense that should be better than last year’s squad due to experience if nothing else. This is a team that’s raided by the NFL draft every year for a reason.

Michigan should have nothing but vengeance on its mind after losing out on pretty much everything because of their lopsided loss to the Buckeyes. What makes me think it won’t matter is they had a chance to end the year on a positive note in the Peach Bowl, facing what should have been an outmanned Florida team. Instead, they laid their worst egg of the season, losing 41-15 in a game that wasn’t even that close.

Ohio State remains the safest place to stash your cash in the Big 10 until they prove otherwise.

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