CFB: Analyst Offers Season Win-Total Predictions For Every Team in the Big 10

SportsLine senior analyst Josh Nagel takes a look at the odds and gives his season-win total picks for every club in the Big 10.
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Sportsbooks have set their odds and prices on college football season-win totals, and we're ready to take an in-depth look at the betting board. 

BetDSI has released a full menu of such proposition wagers for the Big 10, offering over-under numbers on the fortunes of all 14 clubs.

Here is a team-by-team look at the Big 10, along with odds and a projection for each team:

Ohio State 2018 regular-season win total:
Over 10.5 (-110, bet $110 to win $100)
Under 10.5 (-120, bet $120 to win $100)
Pick: Over

The Buckeyes were denied a trip to the four-team playoff last year because of losses to Oklahoma and Iowa, but their two-loss regular season is an aberration under coach Urban Meyer. Speaking of Meyer, I liked the Over before a groundswell of potential trouble engulfed him. He is a difference-maker, and I wouldn't like this bet if ends up terminated before the season. if he remains, even if suspended, then 11 wins should be within reach. The club had won at least 11 games in each of his previous five seasons. Meyer has one of the top recruiting classes in the country, and tailback J.K. Dobbins is expected to be in the Heisman race. Iconic quarterback J.T. Barrett has moved on, but heir apparent Dwayne Haskins looked like a top-tier playmaker in limited action last season. Ohio State has a favorable schedule, with visits to Penn State and Michigan State posing potential obstacles. But it seems unlikely the Buckeyes will lose both, and an undefeated regular season is a real possibility. This number allows for one slip-up, and that's more than enough value to support the Over.

Wisconsin 2018 regular-season win total:
Over 10 (-120)
Under 10 (-110)
Pick: Over

The Badgers are coming off an undefeated regular season that came up short of a playoff berth because of a loss to Ohio State in the Big 10 title game. They have all the key factors to again be the favorite in the Big 10 West. They return all of a standout offensive line, which should help workhorse running back Jonathan Taylor become a Heisman candidate. Moreover, QB Alex Hornibrook came on strong last year and ended the season with four touchdown passes in the Orange Bowl. Wisconsin also has had a top-five scoring defense the past two years. The schedule offers challenges at Penn State and Michigan, providing a strong possibility of a push on this number. But backing the Over feels like a bit of a freeroll on a Wisconsin team that seems perpetually undervalued by oddsmakers. 


Penn State 2018 regular-season win total:
Over 9.5 (-115)
Under 9.5 (-115)
Pick: Over

This one is an extremely close call versus the number. The Lions not only lose iconic running back Saquon Barkley, but receiver DaeSean Hamilton and tight end Mike Gesicki also are off to the NFL. The program also lost offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, who took the head job at Mississippi State. But underrated dual-threat Trace McSorley leads a talented returning cast, and coach James Franklin has proven to be one of the better coaches in the country. Matchups with Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan threaten this total, but the Lions would likely to have to lose all three -- as the rest of their schedule is favorable -- in order to send this Under. McSorley is gaining momentum as a dark-horse Heisman selection and he will no doubt emerge as a candidate if leads Penn State past this win total. 

Michigan State 2018 regular-season win total:
Over 8.5 (-115)
Under 8.5 (-115)
Pick: Over

This is another razor-thin call versus an accurate win total. The Spartans exceeded most projections last year by winning 10 games, and they should have a better club returning this year. The benefit of the doubt goes to coach Mark Dantonio because of his penchant for extracting the maximum from his clubs. Highly touted QB Brian Lewerke must continue to improve, but veteran running back LJ Scott will help carry the load. The Spartans also return one of the most experienced secondary units in the country. A three-game Big 10 stretch against Penn State, Michigan and Purdue will determine this total, but history suggests betting against Dantonio and the Spartans is a bad idea. Take the Over on this one. 


Michigan 2018 regular-season win total:
Over 8.5 (-110)
Under 8.5 (-120)
Pick: Under

The immediate eligibility of transfer quarterback Shea Patterson from Ole Miss will no doubt help the Wolverines, who return 18 starters in what is looking like a critical season for polarizing coach Jim Harbaugh. The eclectic coach has yet to lead the Wolverines to a conference title or a playoff appearance. Conventional logic suggests the Wolverines are bound to improve upon an eight-win season in which they fielded one of the least-experienced teams in the conference. But their brutal schedule makes this a tough sell, with trips to Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State in store. They could conceivably lose all three, and just one more slip-up sends this Under.

Northwestern 2018 regular-season win total:
Over 7.5 (-115)
Under 7.5 (-115)
Pick: Under

The Wildcats are coming off their second 10-win season in three years, so it would be unwise to overlook Pat Fitzgerald's program. Even so, eight wins appears to be a tough sell given the numerous key personnel losses they are facing. Record-setting running back Justin Jackson is gone and veteran QB Clayton Thorson is still recovering from an ACL injury suffered late last year. Thorson is listed as questionable for the season opener at Purdue. The defense lost the core of its standout secondary to the NFL. A front-loaded schedule could result in a 1-4 start, and late-season visits from Notre Dame and Wisconsin are unlikely to pad the win total. I'm projecting the Wildcats as a seven-win team at best.

Iowa 2018 regular-season win total:
Over 7.5 (-115)
Under 7.5 (-115)
Pick: Under

The Hawkeyes were maddeningly inconsistent last year, with highlights that included a blowout win over Ohio State but low points marked by a home loss to Purdue. Nathan Stanley struggled at times in his first year as starting quarterback, but ultimately proved to be a capable signal-caller with a strong arm. But the Hawkeyes lose their best offensive player in explosive back Akrum Wadley, and the offensive line also will have to be rebuilt.  Standout cornerback Josh Jackson, a second-round draft pick, is among several key losses on the defensive side. The schedule features several toss-up games such as visits to Indiana and Purdue, along with a rivalry contest against Iowa State. I'm pegging Iowa for seven regular-season wins again.


Minnesota 2018 regular-season win total:
Over 6 (-110)
Under 6 (-120)
Pick: Over

Realistically, a push seems like the most likely outcome against this number for the Golden Gophers in their second year under coach P.J. Fleck. A soft early schedule could result in a 4-0 start, but it will be rough footing the rest of the way. Rodney Smith is one of the better and more experienced backs in the Big 10, and transfer Vic Viramontes could be a breakout player as dual-threat quarterback. Carter Coughlin leads an otherwise inexperienced defensive front seven. If Minnesota takes care of business against inferior opponents and springs one mild upset along the way, there's a decent chance for a seven-win season.

Nebraska 2018 regular-season win total:
Over 5.5 (-105)
Under 5.5 (-125)
Pick: Over

The Cornhuskers were at their lowest point in recent memory after the predictably ill-advised Mike Riley Experiment ended with four straight losses and the last three opponents scoring a minimum of 54 points. But the program scored a major coup in hiring iconic figure Scott Frost, whose dazzling transformation of Central Florida from winless to undefeated is one of the most remarkable coaching feats seen at the FBS level. The pressure will be on Frost to conduct another rapid about-face at his alma mater. It won't be easy considering the team's massive shortcomings on the defensive side, though Frost has some offensive weapons to work with. If Frost can extract an on-field performance that is slightly better than what his on-paper roster suggests is its ceiling, this club could easily become bowl-eligible in his first season.  

Indiana 2018 regular-season win total:
Over 5.5 (-105)
Under 5.5 (-125)
Pick: Under

In first full season as head coach of the Hoosiers, Tom Allen kept alive some recent program traditions. Most notably, they maintained a penchant for competing until the final horn with the Big 10's elite, only to come up short at the end. Their lone conference wins came over Rutgers and Illinois. Now, Indiana looks at a potential rebuilding year as veteran quarterback Richard Lagow and receiver Simmie Cobbs have departed. The defense has several holes to fill as well, particularly in the secondary and at linebacker. At this point, it looks as though the Hoosiers could exceed somewhat meager expectations and still find themselves with five wins.

Purdue 2018 regular-season win total:
Over 5 (-120)
Under 5 (-110)
Pick: Over

Coach Jeff Brohm led an impressive transformation of Purdue from a moribund three-win program to one that managed seven victories, a bowl win over Arizona and a home attendance improvement of more than 13,000 fans per game. Quarterbacks David Blough and Elijah Sindelar, who split duties last year, return although both are recovering from serious injuries. It also remains to be seen whether having two capable QBs is more of a blessing than a curse. Purdue returns three of its top five tacklers on the defensive side, but will otherwise be in rebuilding mode. A push against this number feels like a probable outcome. But if the Boilermakers can somehow manage a 3-1 start against a tough nonconference slate, they could be in position to reach six wins in their regular-season finale against Indiana.

Maryland 2018 regular-season win total:
Over 4.5 (-115)
Under 4.5 (-115)
Pick: Under

Former Michigan defensive coordinator DJ Durkin has yet to bring Maryland to a consistently competitive level in the Big 10. The Terrapins stunned Texas on opening day last year, but won just three games the rest of the way, beset by a slew of injuries to offensive playmakers. Dynamic receiver DJ Moore is off to the NFL, and Maryland's top two signal-callers are still recovering from knee injuries suffered early last year. The Terrapins must improve a vulnerable defense that had one of the worst pass rushes in the country last season. New offensive coordinator Matt Canada is a coaching nomad who will be at his sixth stop in eight years. A revenge-hungry Texas club is up first on the schedule, and there aren't many favorable matchups the rest of the way, either. Another four-win campaign or worse is likely in store.  

Rutgers 2018 regular-season win total:
Over 4 (-130)
Under 4 (+100)
Pick: Under

Coach Chris Ash has made strides with this program, and the Knights appear headed in the right direction. Last year, wins over Illinois, Purdue and Maryland showed vast improvement from a club that wasn't far removed from being barely able to compete at the FBS level. But Rutgers' general talent and depth deficit versus the rest of the Big 10 showed in losing its last three games to Penn State, Indiana and Michigan State by a combined score of 116-13. Speedy playmaker Janarion Grant has moved on, Jon and graduate transfer RB Jon Hilliman will likely be a focus of the offense. But the Knights have a much tougher schedule than last season, and early-season meetings against Texas State and Kansas stand out as the most beatable opponents. There's value on the Under, especially at this price. 

Illinois 2018 regular-season win total:
Over 3.5 (+100)
Under 3.5 (-130)
Pick: Under

Lovie Smith's club went winless in conference play last year in fielding one of the least-experienced rosters in the country among power-five clubs. Dual-threat QB Cam Thomas, who started twice last year, looks as though he could develop into a reliable playmaker. Standout running back Mike Epstein is still dealing with the lingering effects of a foot injury that ended his season after five games. Depth and experience are issues on the defensive side. The Illini should start the season with two wins, but two more are going to be difficult to come by. Lay the price on the Under. 

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Josh NagelSenior Analyst