The start of July is nearly here, meaning the rest of the world will start to realize that college football is just around the corner.
Readers of The Playbook have been doing their homework already, of course, as I have written about win totals for four different divisions. I would highly recommend reading about the SEC East, SEC West, Big Ten East and Big 12 if you are looking to bet on any of those conferences.
For now, let’s turn our attention to the Big Ten West. This is a division that figures to provide some value in the betting market, especially since it is a group that doesn’t feature Ohio State or Michigan.
Big Ten West Win Totals
Wisconsin: 8.5 (Over -120/Under +110)
Minnesota: 7.5 (Over 7.5 -110/Under +100)
Nebraska: 7.5 (Over -115/Under +105)
Iowa: 7 (Over -115/Under +105)
Purdue: 7 (Over -105/Under -105)
Illinois: 4.5 (Over -115/Under +105)
Northwestern: 3.5 (Over -120/Under +110)
All odds as of Friday, June 24.
2021 Big Ten West Standings
These Numbers Will Move Quickly
The reason why we do our homework this early is because these prices will move. Arkansas’ win total was a perfect example of that.
WynnBET opened Arkansas at over/under 6.5 wins, with the over actually juiced to +120. I recommend betting the over in my write-up on that division, and I know I wasn’t the only one that was ready to back the Razorbacks. Within a few hours, the line flipped to plus-money on the under.
As of June 24, Arkansas' win total is now exactly seven victories. Both the over and under have a -105 juice. So, you should jump on these numbers right away if you see a good price.
Wisconsin Leads The Way
In a division where four different teams have a win total around seven, the Wisconsin Badgers stand above the rest.
Wisconsin has the highest win total at 8.5 following a 9-4 campaign in 2021. The Badgers haven’t played in a Big Ten Championship game since 2019, but eight-year head coach Paul Chryst has done a great job of recruiting as of late and should have the pieces to be in the mix this fall.
Star running back Braelon Allen will look to lead the way. He accumulated 1,286 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on 186 attempts during his first season at the collegiate level. According to Pro Football Focus, Allen led all Power Five backs in yards after contact per attempt at 4.5 in 2021.
As all Big Ten fans know, a Wisconsin squad led by a strong run game will be tough to beat.
When I first saw Iowa’s win total was set at seven games, I had to check to see if my glasses were working. No way our oddsmakers had the Hawkeyes that low after going 10-4 last season, right?
Of course, then I looked at Iowa’s schedule and naturally our trading team has a method to the madness. Iowa has the honors of playing both Ohio State and Michigan this year, so go ahead and pencil in two losses on the 2022 schedule. But I am still taking the over, because I can find at least seven wins on this slate.
The Hawkeyes should be favored by double digits in three of their first four games, which includes South Dakota State, Nevada and Rutgers. I would still expect Iowa to be favored by about a touchdown against Iowa State, so a 4-0 start seems possible. Go ahead, add two more wins for the Hawkeyes against Illinois and Northwestern.
That leaves us with Iowa needing to record two wins over the final four weeks against Purdue, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Nebraska. How you stack these teams probably says more about how you expect the top of this division to shake out, but I’m ultimately trusting an Iowa squad that has won at least eight games every year since 2015 — not counting 2020 due to COVID.
At worst, Iowa wins seven games and this total ends up pushing. But I see a path to eight or nine victories for the Hawkeyes, who bring back roughly 70% of their production from last year’s team which finished atop the Big Ten West.