Big Ten 2015 Season NCAA Football Odds Preview
We are 20 days away from September 3rd when all the offseason noise will come to an end, paving the way for the long-awaited 2015 college football season. That means we still have 20 days to discuss our favorite teams and what to expect from them in college football betting odds, 20 days to talk about the defending champs, the Ohio State Buckeyes, and what to expect from them in the new season, and 20 days to give an analysis of the conferences in the league. And in line with that, our focus today will be on which will be the best teams in the Big Ten Conference.
Check Out Our Big Ten 2015 Season NCAA Football Odds Preview
Ohio State Buckeyes, Predicted Finish in 2015: 12-0 (8-0)
Irrefutably, nothing is ever cast on stone in the college football betting lines, but it would be overly ambitious to expect any other team, other than the Buckeyes, to win the Big Ten Championship in 2015. This is a team that has two solid quarterbacks, Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett, that know how to win games, a solid receiving corps that is boosted by the stellar services of QB-turned-WR Braxton Miller, and a coach (Urban Meyer) that has mastered the art of tailoring his team to win big, fluidly balancing his high-powered offense and above-average defense to beat opponents. Added to the motivation of winning last year’s National Championship, the Bucks should be good to make it to the playoffs once again, even if the two Michigan games at the end of the season will be tough to handle.
Michigan State Spartans, Predicted Finish in 2015: 11-1 (7-1)
Had it not been for the fact that the Buckeyes are a better team compared to Michigan State, the Spartans could have easily made the cut for the best team in the Big Ten. Unfortunately, the Bucks are here to stay. So until further notice, the Spartans will have to settle for a close second-best ranking in the Big Ten. Returning a mature group of starters, led by star QB Connor Cook in the offense, the Spartans will have no problem with taking care of things in the attack. Plus, Mark Dantonio’s team features arguably the best defensive line in the conference, something that will make it difficult for teams (Ohio State included) to torch the Spartans for points or yardages. And even if the Bucks still manage to beat the Spartans at the end of the season; Michigan State could still end up vying strongly for the playoffs as a really good one-loss team, especially if they can handily take care of the game against Oregon at the start of the season.
Wisconsin Badgers, Predicted Finish in 2015: 9-3 (6-2)
Though this team has been weakened by a number of key departures, including running back Melvin Gordon and head coach Gary Anderson, new head coach Paul Chryst has sufficient talent to still work his way to the top of the Big Ten West. Of course, I don’t expect another 11-3 (7-1) record from Wisconsin like last year; there will be more struggles than in 2014, but things should still work out in their favor, even if they’ll lose around two games in the regular season. The biggest advantage for the Badgers in 2015 is their soft schedule, which includes Rutgers and Maryland as crossover opponents. Winning the divisional title should thus be possible for them, before they eventually get blown out once again in the Big Ten Championship game, as was the case last year.
Nebraska Cornhuskers Predicted Finish: 8-4 (5-3)
If all goes well for the Huskers, they could actually beat the Badgers to the Big Ten West title. The loss of players like RB Ameer Abdullah in the offense and star defender Randy Gregory will certainly be tough for the team, and adjusting to new rule books under new head coach Mike Riley will also be challenging. That notwithstanding, the Huskers have some decent pieces to give it a go for the divisional title. Quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. is an excellent leader and he proved that he could be relied on to lead the team when needed, like when he recorded 422 total yards and TDs against USC in the Holiday Bowl. Defensively, safety Nate Gerry leads a promising group that is eager to step out of the shadows. So although we currently figure the Huskers to finish second or third in the West, it would not be a surprise if they did better, climbing all the way to the top.
Minnesota Gophers, Predicted Finish in 2015: 8-4 (5-3)
Coach Jerry Kill has shown continuous improvements over the last couple of years, growing from strength to strength, no wander many pundits expect them to be the second-best team in the West (maybe even first, if the Badgers take a slip). And looking at the team, it’s easy to see why there is a lot of enthusiasm—QB Mitch Leidner is a true journeyman, Peter Mortell, Craig James and Jalen Myrick are super-punters and great special teams players, and the duo of Eric Murray and Briean Boddy-Calhoun were All-Big Ten cornerbacks in 2014. However, even with the all that talent edge and the advantage of not having to go through coaching changes (like Nebraska and Wisconsin); the Gophers have a shaky O-line, especially at wide receiver and running back.
Notably, the Gophers lost their star tight end Maxx Williams and stud running back David Cobb (who rushed for 1,600-plus yards in 2014). Their schedule isn’t friendly either, starting with TCU at the beginning of the season, followed later by landmine-laden home games against Nebraska and Michigan, Ohio State (on the road), and finally Wisconsin (at home). The TCU and Ohio State games are near-guarantee losses, and if you add a loss to either (or both of) Nebraska and Wisconsin, the hopes of a divisional title looks unlikely. So although you can expect at least 8 wins from Minnesota, plus a top-3 finish in the West and a strong performance against the “big boys,” a divisional title doesn’t look likely for the Gophers.
Michigan Wolverines, Predicted Finish in 2015: 7-5 (4-4)
Okay, I am not going to dignify your time by trying to dig up or cook up some big names in the Michigan team to vindicate this prediction; the honest truth is that this team doesn’t have your so-called stars or big players to depend on. However, because of Jim Harbaugh and his proven track record of scraping out flesh from even the most skeletal of rosters, I’d be willing to go out on a limb and say that the Wolverine Alma Mater will at least be able to turn the 5-7 (3-5) record from 2014 to 7-5 (4-4). Essentially, that means his team needs to win just one more conference game and one more non-conference game than they did last year to fulfill the predictions. That should certainly be within the realms of possibility for Harbaugh, right? Yeah, I thought so too..!
Just Missed the Cut…
For the following teams, it would be unfair to place them under the category of worst teams, but they also don’t deserve to be mentioned in the category of best teams. Simply put, they belong to the group of good/average teams. So rather than just leave them hanging, we’ll simply give them a honorable mention here, mainly because we believe they’ll at least finish on the .500 mark (6-6 record), or reach the 7-5 mark, if they play at their very best in 2015.
• Penn State: With a stud signal-caller in Christian Hackenberg, this team should still be good enough to scare and beat a number of opponents, even if the shaky D-line will probably fail the team, once again.
• Rutgers: Are a good team and have shown a lot of potential, but as long as their quarterback woes remain unsolved, reaching the 8 wins recorded in their debut Big Ten season won’t be possible.
• Iowa: Have a promising leader in C.J. Beathard, but will probably be mired by inconsistency, as has been the case over the many recent years.
Note: If you still haven’t seen the name of your team here, then you probably need to follow us in the next article where we have the dreaded list of worst Big Ten teams. Until we meet on the other side, Au Revoir!