Weekly Big Ten Football Betting Report: Expert Predictions and Analysis
Week 1 of the College Football season is finally upon us, and there are several juicy story lines to touch on. For starters, there's the whole QB "controversy" in Alabama between Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts. Both guys are fully capable of leading a team, so whichever pivot Nick Saban decides to go with means the Crimson Tide won't miss a beat. And then there are two Big Ten storylines that I would much rather not talk about, but as a writer I feel it's my job to say a few words about them. First off, Maryland head coach DJ Durkin has been under the gun for putting his players through grueling practices and subjecting them to a terrible culture inside the locker room. I've never played collegiate sports before, but there is a definitive line between trying to get the best out of your players and going overboard. Durkin did the later, so I would not be surprised to see him as the first coach fired this year. That's unless, of course, Ohio State changes their mind about Urban Meyer's three-game suspension. Meyer was suspended three games by the school for his role in the domestic abuse case between Zach and Courtney Smith. In my opinion, Ohio State got it all wrong and Meyer should be looking for a job elsewhere.
But enough about off-the-field antics. As has been the case for the last couple of years, I write this weekly piece to give bettors an in-depth look at the Big Ten conference. The Big Ten was arguably the most competitive conference from top to bottom last year and is in a good position to be one of the top conferences again this year. I will be breaking down every aspect of the upcoming Big Ten schedule and keep you in the loop with the specific team situations.
Big Ten Rundown: Week 1
All 14 Big Ten teams are in action in Week 1, with one all-Big Ten matchup taking place between Northwestern and Purdue. As would be expected, all Big Ten teams are favored over their respective opponent, with the exception of Maryland, who is getting 13 points vs No. 23 Texas. With regards to the all-Big Ten matchup, Purdue currently sits as 2.5-point favorites. The rest of the Big Ten schedule looks like this: New Mexico State at Minnesota (-17.5), Utah State at No. 11 Michigan State (-22.5), Western Kentucky at Wisconsin (-34.5), Kent State at Illinois (-16), Oregon State at No. 5 Ohio State (-37), Texas State at Rutgers (-16), Northern Illinois at Iowa (-9.5), Appalachian St. at No. 10 Penn State (-23), Indiana (-10.5) at FIU, No. 14 Michigan (+1) at No. 12 Notre Dame, Akron at Nebraska (-24).
Biggest Mismatch of Week 1
I'm not sure which game to single out as there are a handful of games that could fall into this category. If we go off of the spread alone, the two biggest mismatches see No. 4 Wisconsin host Western Kentucky. The Badgers are 35.5-home favorites, with the total set at 51. Something tells me the Badgers may pitch a shutout in this game. And the other game involves the aforementioned Buckeyes as they host Oregon State. The Buckeyes are currently 37.5-point favorites, with the total set at 64. However, the game I will be focusing on is the Texas/Maryland game taking place on Saturday at Noon EST.
Texas comes into this matchup with major revenge on their mind after being embarrassed last year by a score of 51-41. The score line may tell the story of how it was a close game, but the Terrapins thoroughly dominated that game and Texas never really got close until it was too late. That will not happen again to the Longhorns. Tom Herman is now in his second full year as the Longhorns' coach and will be eager to get off to a good start this year and avoid suffering the same fate of 2017. Texas will rely on a more experienced Sam Ehlinger under center, and he will have a good arsenal of weapons to target offensively. Texas as a program is in much better shape than the Terrapins are right now, so it's tough to envision a scenario where Maryland gets the better of Texas for consecutive years. If I were a betting man, and I am, I'd lay the points with the bigger, stronger and more talented Longhorns team.
Biggest Game of Week 1
Without a doubt, the biggest game of Week 1 is Kent State vs Illinois. I'm kidding, it's obviously No. 14 Michigan vs No. 12 Notre Dame. As of writing this, the Fighting Irish are one-point favorites, but I would not be surprised to see that number jump the fence and favor the Wolverines come kickoff. Look, the Wolverines are vastly improved on the offensive side of the ball with the addition of Shea Patterson from Ole Miss. He has thrown for just over 3,000 yards in 10 career starts, and with the talent he has at his disposal amongst the playmaking positions like running back and wide receiver, he should thrive in this situation. Michigan's defense is also going to be extremely good again this season, led by Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich. They should be able to pressure a Notre Dame offensive line that lacks experience and a quarterback that is more of a de-facto starter than a true No. 1 QB.
If this NCAA was still using the BCS system to determine the two teams who earn the right to play for the National Title, this would be an elimination game of sorts. Instead, with the CFP set up the way it is, a one-loss Michigan or Notre Dame team could still make the final four if they got some help along the way from other big-name teams getting beat. I'm not saying that's going to happen, which is why winning this game means just about everything in terms of taking steps to achieving season goals - and for these two programs, the goals are similar - National Championship or bust.
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