August 2, 2010- By Jonathan Lowell
There was not much parity in the Big Ten last season as the Ohio State Buckeyes cruised to their 34th conference championship. Iowa earned the conference’s at-large BCS bowl bid, and dominated a Georgia Tech team that won the ACC championship.
The Buckeyes won the Rose Bowl in impressive fashion against the Oregon Ducks, pushing the conference’s record in bowl games to 4-3. John Clay was selected by the coaches and media as the offensive player of the year. Jared Odrick and Greg Jones won defensive player of the year. A total of 34 Big Ten were selected in the NFL draft.
The Ohio State Buckeyes finished first in the conference last season with a 11-2 regular season record, and an impressive 7-1 conference record. Several players are returning on offense and defense, but perhaps none more important than Terrelle Pryor. The Sophomore quarterback will try to bring the team its sixth straight Big Ten championship. With Pryor at the helm, the Buckeyes are favored to finish atop the conference at 2/5 odds.
After winning their first nine games in a row, the Iowa Hawkeyes surprised a lot of college football fans last season when they were ranked No. 4 going into their home match up with Northwestern. The Hawkeyes were upset by the Wildcats, and couldn’t rebound a week later against Ohio State. They finished with a 11-2 in the regular season, and 6-2 in conference. Quarterback Ricky Stanzi will try to bring his school their first conference championship since 2004. The Hawkeye’s pre-season odds to achieve that feat are set at 4/1.
John Clay was a breakout star in his freshman season for the Wisconsin Badgers. Clay rushed for 1,396 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2009. The Badgers stumbled in the regular season with back to back losses against Ohio State and Iowa, but finished strong with a 10-3 record (5-3 in conference games). Online sportsbooks have set the Badgers’ chances of winning the Big Ten this year at 4/1.
Joe Paterno will return for his 31st season as Penn State head coach, and will try to win the fourth Big Ten conference championship in the school’s history. The Nittnay Lions finished with an impressive 11-2 record (6-2 in the Big Ten) and capped the year off with an exciting Capital One Bowl victory. Quarterback Daryll Clark passed for 216 yards and one touchdown in the 19-17 win over the LSU Tigers. The Lions are among the top half in the betting odds to win the Big Ten at 13/2.
The Michigan Wolverines have fallen from grace in college football since hiring Rich Rodriguez to take over for Lloyd Carr. Tate Forcier was the top performer on the offense in 2009 with 2,050 yards passing, and 13 touchdowns. He will try to bring his team back from a very disappointing 1-7 record in the conference (5-7 overall) that tied them for last place with Indiana. NCAA football sportsbooks believe Forcier can take his team back to the top of the conference, and have set their odds to win at 12/1.
After losing to Central Michigan in the second week of the season, the Michigan State Spartans failed to recover and finished with a 6-7 regular season record (4-4 in conference). Patrick White and B.J. Cunningham were the bright spots of the team, averaging 14 and 13 yards respectively per catch. The rushing attack will need to improve after finishing 73rd overall in the country last season in rushing yards. Four star recruits Edwin Baker and Larry Caper will compete for starting time. If they can prove effective, the Spartans will possibly overcome their 15/1 odds to win the conference.
Ron Zook’s fifth season as the University of Illinois Fighting Illini head coach was a disappointing one after his team finished with a 2-6 record in conference (3-9 overall). The team opened up their conference schedule with five straight losses. If quarterback Jacob Charest can fill the void left by Juice Williams, the Illini may overcome the 30/1 odds placed on them to win the conference championship by NCAA football betting sites.
The Northwestern Wildcats played spoiler down the stretch during the 2009 college football season. They defeated No. 6 Iowa, and No. 14 Wisconsin to salvage their 5-3 conference record (8-5 overall). The quarterback position left open by Mike Kafka means there will be a competition for the starting role between Dan Persa, Joe Mauro, and Evan Watkins. Online sportsbooks have set the Wildcats’ chances of winning the Big Ten at 30/1.
Ralph Bolden had a breakout season for the Purdue Boilermakers in his freshman year with 935 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. The team finished 4-4 in conference and 5-7 overall. Second year head coach Danny Hope will try to bring the Boilermakers their first conference title in a decade. Pre-season NCAA football lines have set the team amongst the underdogs to win the conference at 30/1.
Though the Indiana Hoosiers finished out of the top 80 in rushing yards and points for, they did finish 35th in passing yards. That is a small glimmer of hope for fourth year head coach Bill Lynch after his team finished with a 1-7 conference record (4-8 overall). Ben Chapell led the way for the Hoosiers with 2,941 passing yards and 17 touchdowns. Pre-season NCAA football odds for Indiana to win the Big Ten are set at 40/1.
After seeing the departure of Ted Roof and Mike Dunbar, the Minnesota Golden Gophers had a tough season while trying to rebuild in 2009. The team finished with a 3-5 conference record and ended the season 6-7 after a close loss to Iowa State in the 2009 Insight Bowl. Eric Decker led the team with five receiving touchdowns last season, and David Pittman will try to be just as productive in 2010. The Gophers are the overall underdogs to win the conference at 50/1 odds.