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Brendan's Best Bets: Big Ten Preseason Win Total Bets

Updated: Aug 22, 2023

A new season of College Football is almost here. With a new season comes an opportunity to have a little extra change in your pocket.

In the coming weeks leading up to kickoff on August 26, I will go from conference to conference sharing my preseason win total bets that are worth putting some coin on.

For this edition of Brendan’s Best Bets, we are taking a look at Big Ten preseason win totals. Odds are provided by FanDuel Sportsbook.

Illinois Over 6.5 Wins (-110)

Illinois is a serious contender in the Big Ten West. Bret Bielema had this team rolling in September and October last year but the Fighting Illini fell apart in November. They still went 8-5 though. Illinois might have the two best defensive ends in the conference in Jer’Zhan Newton and Keith Randolph. The offensive line should also be good and the rushing attack will go as far as the offensive line takes it.

Illinois’ schedule is easy for Big Ten standards. They avoid Michigan and Ohio State out of the east. They get their two toughest games at home (Penn State and Wisconsin). Illinois starts the year against Toledo, at Kansas and vs Penn State. The Illini could start 1-2, but the schedule gets lighter. They also don’t have a back-to-back away stretch. I like the chances of Illinois having a winning regular season.

Maryland Under 7.5 Wins (-110)

Mike Locksley has done a good job at Maryland in a loaded division. Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa is returning for another season and the Terrapins have decent skill position talent. However, the Big Ten is built on line of scrimmage play and Maryland will be inexperienced in that department this season. Maryland returns just one starter from last season on the offensive line and has zero returning starters on the defensive line.

Locksley brought in Josh Gattis as the offensive coordinator. Gattis flamed out at Miami last season after the team garnered a lot of preseason hype. I’m not too high on the hire by Maryland. In order for the over to hit, Maryland needs to improve by at least one win from last year. I don’t think that will happen in a loaded division and with all the line of scrimmage talent departing College Park.

Michigan State Over 5.5 Wins (+128)

On the surface, losing quarterback Payton Thorne and wide receiver Keon Coleman after spring ball seems like a huge deal. While it will likely hurt the team, Michigan State has improved depth on the roster. The Spartans were bit by the injury bug last season and still finished 5-7. Assuming the injury luck turns around, this team has the talent to win seven to eight games.

The schedule is tough with games against Washington, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State, but there are also enough winnable games to hit this over. It’s even a bonus that you can get the over at plus odds.

Minnesota Under 7.5 Wins (-150)

This play here is mainly about the schedule. Minnesota should be a good team this season. They return a lot of good pieces defensively and acquire solid talent on offense via the transfer portal. The schedule is a gauntlet though. The Golden Gophers play at North Carolina in non-conference play. They also draw Michigan and Ohio State out of the east division alongside the usual suspects like Wisconsin and Iowa from the west division.

They are breaking in a new quarterback in sophomore Athan Kaliakmanis. He’s gotten some playing time but struggled. There might be a learning curve for Kaliakmanis, but he has a bright future. I think PJ Fleck and the Gophers will take a slight step back this season, but that should set up for a good 2024 season and beyond.

Nebraska Under 6.5 Wins (-140)

At times, it looked like Scott Frost was on the precipice of breaking through the glass ceiling. It never worked out for Frost and in comes Matt Rhule. I thought the Rhule hire was fantastic and it will work out long term for Nebraska. However, I think expectations should be tempered in year one.

Historically, Rhule has never been good in his first year at a new head coaching job (2-10 at Temple & 1-11 at Baylor). While he won’t have that bad of a record, I don’t think Nebraska will have a winning record this season. The front seven isn’t up to Big Ten quality just yet. It’s going to take a bit for Rhule to get going.

Purdue Under 5.5 Wins (-160)

First year head coach Ryan Walters is being thrown into the deep end. Purdue returns only 11 starters and is a young team. The Boilermakers don’t have an easy game on the schedule. They play Fresno State, Virginia Tech and Syracuse in non-conference play.

The schedule does get lighter in the last two games as Purdue will play Northwestern and Indiana to finish the year. Purdue has one of the toughest schedules in America and that doesn’t bode well for a first year head coach who is replacing a QB and top two pass catchers on offense.

Rutgers Over 3.5 Wins (-188)

Rutgers has won at least four games in back-to-back seasons under head coach Greg Schiano. The Scarlet Knights will be average to good on defense which will keep them in games this season. On offense, Rutgers returns basically its entire backfield. If they can get average play at the quarterback position, this team can get to four wins easily.

The Scarlet Knights could start the season 4-1 and the over could very well cash before October. Rutgers' first five games include Northwestern, Temple, Virginia Tech, at Michigan and Wagner. Four of those games are at home. This team has a decent shot at a bowl game.

To recap, here are the bets we are making:

  • Illinois Over 6.5 Wins (-110)

  • Maryland Under 7.5 Wins (-110)

  • Michigan State Over 5.5 Wins (+128)

  • Minnesota Under 7.5 Wins (-150)

  • Nebraska Under 6.5 Wins (-140)

  • Purdue Under 5.5 Wins (-160)

  • Rutgers Over 3.5 Wins (-188)

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