The Big Ten brought many surprises last season. Michigan won the conference for the first time since 2004 and advanced to the college football playoffs, while Ohio and Michigan State played in the New Year’s Six Bowl. In the western division of the conference, Minnesota has bounced back from its 2020 slump and won nine games, as has Purdue, which has reached its highest win total since 2003.
On the other hand, Penn State had another mediocre 7-6 season and the Northwestern won the division title 3-9. Will we see as many surprises in 2022 or will everything return to normal? I have no idea, but that has never stopped me from trying to see into the future. Let’s do that by taking a look at the 2022 Big Ten totals from Caesars Sportsbook.
Over/under 4.5 wins
- victories: Wyoming, Chattanooga, Minnesota, Purdue, Northwestern
- Losses: Indiana, Virginia, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Michigan, Michigan.
Analysis: Illinois’ total wins last season were set at 3.5, but Bret Bilemah won five games in his debut on one of the best defenses in the Big Ten. With the change of offensive coordinator, Illini is looking to improve at least one win to get into the bowl game. I think it’s more likely than a team finishing 4-8 or worse. The first four games will be massive. Choice: Over 4.5 (-110)
Over/under 4 wins
- victories: Illinois, Idaho, Western Kentucky, Maryland, Purdue
- Losses: Cincinnati, Nebraska, Michigan, Rutgers, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan.
Analysis: I don’t think Indiana was as bad as it was supposed to be last season and a friendlier schedule should help the Hoosiers step up in 2021. There are win-winning home games against Illinois, Maryland and Purdue, and the toughest games are all along the road except Michigan. Having said that, the Hoosiers are probably regretting that they scheduled Cincinnati for a noncon. Life in the Big Ten East is hard enough without adding playoff teams to the schedule. Choice: More than 4 (-120)
Over/under 7.5 wins
- victories: South Dakota, Iowa, Nevada, Rutgers, Illinois, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Nebraska.
- Losses: Michigan, Ohio, Purdue, Minnesota
AnalysisA: When I first saw Iowa’s overall result, I thought, “That’s too low,” but then I looked over the schedule and saw that the Hawkeyes had the pleasure of beating Michigan and Ohio states from the east. The good news is that key division games against Wisconsin and Nebraska will take place in Iowa City, as will the annual clash with Iowa State. While a 7-5 is definitely in the game barring a crash or injury, an 8-4 seems to be within reach. Choice: Over 7.5 (+100)
Over/under 6 wins
- victories: Buffalo, Charlotte, SMU, Perdue, Northwestern, Rutgers
- Losses: Michigan, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio.
Analysis: The season in Maryland promises to be a roller coaster. The Terps must start 3-0 before consecutive games against the Wolverine and the Spartans. Then there is the soft middle before the Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Ohio glove in consecutive weeks. This could make the final against Rutgers much harder than intended! The most likely outcome here is a push, but if you’re forced to take sides, I’m more likely to see an unexpected loss than an embarrassing win. Choice: up to 6 years (-125)
Over/under 9.5 wins
- victories: Colorado, Hawaii, Connecticut, Maryland, Iowa, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Rutgers, Nebraska, Illinois.
- Losses: Michigan, Ohio
AnalysisA: I know a lot of people are expecting the Wolverines to take a big step back given everyone they’ve lost, but it should still be one of the top teams in the Big Ten and a top contender for a conference title after Ohio State. The non-conference schedule is bland, and the trip to Iowa is the only hurdle I see ahead of my mid-October clash with Penn State. Michigan is unlikely to win the Big Ten or make it to the playoffs again, but finding 10 wins on the schedule isn’t hard. Choice: Over 9.5 (-115)
Over/under 7.5 wins
- victories: Western Michigan, Akron, Minnesota, Maryland, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Rutgers, Indiana
- Losses: Washington, Ohio, Pennsylvania
Analysis: Last week I wrote that no one should be surprised ifa little in 2022, but this amount of gain is too drastic a step. The Spartans may be a little worse on offense, but they should be better on defense, and some of their toughest games (Ohio State and Wisconsin) are played at home. If they go on the road and beat Washington in early September, I don’t see how they can’t get eight wins. If they lose, they will probably get there anyway. Choice: Over 7.5 (-125)
Over/under 7.5 wins
- victories: New Mexico State, Western Illinois, Colorado, Purdue, Rutgers, Northwestern State, Iowa.
- Losses: Michigan, Illinois, Penn State, Nebraska, Wisconsin.
Analysis: Fans from Minnesota, would it help if I told you that I’m surprised that I got here? I did not expect, but after the usually easy work schedule, things become much more difficult. Gophers not only attract the states of Michigan and Pennsylvania from the east, but they get both on the road. There are also road games against Wisconsin, Nebraska and Illinois. Also, while I know the coaches are confident about the new look of the attacking line, I need to see it first and I have more serious concerns about the top seven, which should replace several key players after last season’s tough defense. Choice: up to 7.5 (-125)
Over/under 7.5 wins
- victories: Northwestern, North Dakota, South Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota.
- Losses: Oklahoma, Rutgers, Purdue, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa
Analysis: Can the best 3-9 team of all time improve to 8-4 in 2022? Considering Nebraska played 6-6 last year, technically it wouldn’t be that big of a jump, but I’m not going to bet on it. To be honest, I don’t know what anyone has seen from Nebraska in the past eight years that would give them optimism. However, I think we will see a rebound from the many terrible breaks this team has had in the past year. The greatest 3-9 team of all time will be a completely mediocre 6-6 team. It might even go as far as 7-5, but betting on 8-4 is stupid. Choice: up to 7.5 (-125)
Over/Under 3.5 wins
- victories: Duke, Southern Illinois, Miami (Ohio)
- Losses: Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Maryland, Iowa, Ohio, Minnesota, Purdue, Illinois
AnalysisA: Let me start off by saying that I wouldn’t bet that bet if I were you. I am not going to. My guess is that the Northwestern will go without a Big Ten win this year, which happens before the Wildcats find a way to win 10 games with just 17 points per game. While I’m not betting anything above this program, there aren’t many obvious reasons to bet it will happen. So if you absolutely have to post one, I would leave, but I won’t join you. Choice: up to 3.5 (+110)
Over/under 11 wins
- victories: Notre Dame, Arkansas, Toledo, Wisconsin, Rutgers, Michigan, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Northwest, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan.
- Losses: Nobody
Analysis: There is nothing I enjoy less than predicting that a great team will go undefeated. It’s hard to win, and going through a whole season without losing is a big mountain to climb. But Ohio State is more likely to go 12-0 or 11-1 than anything else, so with an overall set of 11 I don’t see how you can bet anything other than an over. It will have one of the best offenses in the country, and if Jim Knowles improves the defense, this team will win the Big Ten and return to the college football playoffs. Choice: Over 11 (-140)
Over/under 8.5 wins
- victories: Purdue, Ohio, Central Michigan, NW, Minnesota, Indiana, Maryland, Rutgers, Michigan.
- Losses: Auburn, Michigan, Ohio
AnalysisA: I strongly believe that Penn State is better than the team we’ve seen in the last two seasons. I don’t take too seriously everything that happened in the Big Ten in 2020, and there is reason to believe that this year the Nittany Lions will take a step forward. They continue to be one of the most talented teams in the conference, and quarterback Sean Clifford will play under the same offensive coordinator for consecutive seasons for the first time in his career. Despite the loss of several key components, the protection should remain good. Finally, the graphics aren’t that bad. The Lions get Ohio and Michigan at home, and the trip to Auburn won’t be as difficult as it seemed when it was planned. Choice: Over 8.5 (-105)
Over/under 7 wins
- victories: Indiana, Florida Atlantic, Nebraska, Iowa, Northwest.
- Losses: Pennsylvania, Syracuse, Minnesota, Maryland, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana
Analysis: Like Michigan State, Purdue is another team I expect to take a step back in 2022. The difference is that I think Purdue’s step back will be much more noticeable. The Boilermakers went 9-4 last year, but here they finished 5-7 and missed the bowl game. It might be a bit too steep a drop, but the Boilermakers play nearly all of their coin toss games on the road, which adds to the complexity of everything. With a few breaks, this team could have finished 7-5, but even that would only be a push and I just don’t see an 8-4 with that kind of schedule. Less is a solid bet. Choice: up to 7 years (-130)
Over/under 4 wins
- victories: Wagner, Temple, Nebraska, Indiana
- Losses: Boston College, Iowa, Ohio, Minnesota, Michigan, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maryland.
Analysis: I take a pessimistic view of every other team I plan to increase in 2022, so it’s time for some optimism. While I expect the Knights to finish 4-8, with this schedule, I think a 5-7 is more likely than a 3-9. The Knights won just five games last season and they’re doing a great job of being a thorn in…