2014 Odds to Win the Big Ten East Division for College Football with Picks and Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 7/22/2014
The Big Ten East, at least in Big Ten terms, is loaded - though not as loaded as it could be. Thanks to the strangely unbalanced new divisions in the Big Ten, traditional conference powers Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State are all in the same division. Penn State, another program clearly on the rise, would be another contender, yet thanks to their seemingly endless suspensions they aren't eligible for the postseason again this year. There is serious imbalance in the divisions, so winning the Big Ten East will be almost as impressive as winning the whole conference. Here are the odds to win the Big Ten East for college football, with picks and predictions thrown in as well ( odds to win the division are from Bovada):
Ohio State (2/5)
Michigan State (13/5)
Breaking it all down
Ohio State: Urban Meyer couldn't lose a game at Ohio State. And then he lost his last two. Now he, and his team, has to bounce back and get back on track. Luckily for him and his cause, the Buckeyes are in very good shape to get back on track. Their quarterback is the third choice to win the Heisman. They have talent all over the field, bolstered by epic recruiting by Meyer. They have added some very nice pieces to an already strong coaching staff. They are just a good team. Their schedule is mostly very manageable. There are a few tough spots, though - although they get Michigan at home they have to travel to play both Michigan State and Penn State. They don't have to face Wisconsin or Nebraska, though. It is a manageable schedule. Though these odds are too low to offer any value at all, there is no doubt that they deserve to be the solid favorites to win their division.
Michigan State: The Spartans are the defending champs of the Big Ten, and it was no fluke. The question is whether they can recreate the incredibly punishing defense that carried them so far last year. The good news is that they were able to keep defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi around, even though he had his choice of several head coaching jobs. The problem, though, is that they have lost several key pieces of that defense - most notably corner Darqueze Dennard, who was a first round pick. They host their two biggest rivals in Michigan and Ohio State, though they have to do it in successive weeks. They beat the Buckeyes last year, so we know that it is possible. While the Buckeyes are rightful favorites, they are not six and a half times more likely to win than the Spartans. That means that there is value - at least relatively - in the Spartans.
Michigan: The Wolverines are a tough team to judge right now. Though they have recruited well under Brady Hoke, their play on the field has been in progressive decline over the course of his tenure. They made a much-needed change at offensive coordinator, though, and that could make a huge difference. The offensive line is laughably young, but there is some very nice talent in skill positions. Add it all up, and the team could be a real value at this price - if it weren't for the schedule. They play at both Michigan State and Ohio State, and they have been lousy in key games on the road under Hoke.
Penn State: You can't bet on the Nittany Lions this year, but you have to discuss them. The program has massive momentum under James Franklin and a surprising amount to work with. With Michigan State and Ohio State at home, and a trip to Ann Arbor, Penn State has a real chance to play spoiler in this division.
Indiana: This is Kevin Wilson's fourth year as the head coach of the Hoosiers. He seems to have some talent, so they should be on a path to respectability by now. They really aren't.
New blood: Rutgers and Maryland join the Big Ten this year. From a football perspective there is absolutely no way to justify the additions. They are outclassed, poorly-run programs that are in for a major struggle. They are no factor now, and it's hard to really imagine how they ever will be.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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