Apr 1, 2023; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) passes during the Spring Game at Michigan Stadium.
Apr 1, 2023; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) passes during the Spring Game at Michigan Stadium.

2023 Big Ten Betting Guide: Odds, Picks and Predictions for the Top Teams

The Big Ten is shaping up to be perhaps more competitive than ever for the 2023-24 season, as many star players from last year’s squads headed to the NFL, while some schools retained a lot of starters.

After kicking off our previews with a look at when college football starts, yesterday our SEC betting guide looked at the chances of a Georgia three-peat. Today, we turn our attention to the Big Ten and four teams in particular — the Michigan Wolverines, Ohio State Buckeyes, Penn State Nittany Lions, and Wisconsin Badgers.

We’ll analyze each team, offer the best bet on their win totals, and give a final prediction on who wins this college football conference by the season’s end. 

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Big Ten Win Totals Best Bets

Michigan Wolverines

  • Over 10.5 (-110)

  • Under 10.5 (-110)

The Wolverines are in an excellent position this season with quarterback J.J. McCarthy and running back Blake Corum returning for another season. They also have many experienced players, especially on their already stout defense that allowed just 16 points per game last season. They have seniors at edge rusher (Jaylen Harrell and Braiden McGregor) and seniors in the secondary (Mike Sainristil, Josh Wallace, and Makari Paige).

Look for McCarthy to build off his 22-touchdown season from a year ago and for Corum to be in the running for the Heisman trophy once again, as the Wolverines vie for the conference title. 

Michigan Wolverines Best Bet: Over 10.5 Wins (-110)

Ohio State Buckeyes

  • Over 10.5 (-120)

  • Under 10.5 (+100)

After a stretch of first-round NFL quarterback talents in Dwayne Haskins, Justin Fields, and C.J. Stroud, the Buckeyes are turning the reins over to true junior Kyle McCord. McCord hasn’t played much throughout his two-year college career, but he did have a start in September 2021 against Akron, in which he completed 13 of 18 passes for 319 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. 

He fits the bill size-wise for the position at over six-foot-three, and he’s applauded for his accuracy.

Fortunately, he’ll have a fantastic cast of receivers in Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka, two guys who are likely first-round NFL draft picks. 

McCord presents a bit of uncertainty, but he has a five-star prospect pedigree. Expect this offense to keep things moving and their defense with players like JT Tuimoloau, Jack Sawyer, Michael Hall Jr., and more to keep things intact.

Ohio State Buckeyes Best Bet: Over 10.5 Wins (-120)

Penn State Nittany Lions

  • Over 10 (+118)

  • Under 10 (-140)

The Nittany Lions are a bit of a sleeper team in the Big Ten. They lost a key player in cornerback Joey Porter Jr. to the NFL Draft, but the team hopes Kalen King can step in and perform.

The team will also have a new quarterback in Drew Allar. This is his second season with the team, but with 60 college passes under his belt, he’s thrown for 344 yards and four touchdowns. He’s six-foot-five and more than 230 pounds. 

He, like McCord, will be assisted by the team around him as they have 14 starters returning—yes, 14. That’s huge. 

To help Allar in his first season starting, he’ll have a great backfield with Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen while they, and Allar, have perhaps the best left tackle in the country, Olu Fashanu, protecting them. 

The biggest question mark is at receiver. They brought in Dante Cephas and Malik McClain from the transfer portal, and head coach James Franklin has installed a new receivers coach, so perhaps these changes help immediately.

The number of returning starters cannot be understated enough. Of their 12-game schedule, 10 look like pretty confident wins, with Illinois being the “scariest.” The other two are Ohio State and Michigan. If anything, a push seems the most likely here. 

Penn State Nittany Lions Best Bet: Over 10 Wins (+118)

Wisconsin Badgers

  • Over 9 (+110)

  • Under 9 (-130)

After a stellar coaching career with the Cincinnati Bearcats, the Luke Fickell era has begun in Madison. With Fickell coming to the team, he’s also enlisted Phil Longo as the play-caller, who tends to favor an Air Raid-style offense—something the Badgers haven’t seen with teams led by running backs Jonathan Taylor and Melvin Gordon over the years and a lackluster showing at the quarterback position. 

At quarterback this year, it’s looking like Fickell will be working with Tanner Mordecai, a senior transfer from SMU. 

Before SMU, Mordecai was at Oklahoma, but he succeeded with SMU, passing for over 3,500 yards in the previous two seasons with 39 touchdowns in 2021 and 33 in 2022. 

However, Mordecai will have a great running back group to rely on with Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi. Allen has been on the team for two seasons and ran for over 1,242 yards in each of them, while Mellusi has a 4.8 yards per carry average across his four seasons in college with Wisconsin and Clemson.

To help institute this Air Raid system, the Badgers brought in Will Pauling, C.J. Williams, Bryson Green, and Quincy Burroughs from the transfer portal. 

Fickell brought Mike Tressl with him from Cincinnati, who will help keep an already consistent defense on track. 

There’s a lot of promise here, but this team could take a bit of time to get on the same page with the number of changes. Like Penn State, bets on Wisconsin likely result in a push, too, but I’d favor the under here instead of the over. 

Wisconsin Badgers Best Bet: Under 9 Wins (-130)

Big Ten Conference Winner Prediction

Despite the unknown at the position, the Buckeyes and quarterback Kyle McCord are the favorites to win this division. The offense is simply too talented and will overwhelm defenses across college football. Michigan will be steady once again, Penn State will improve, and the Badgers offense will look completely different, but none of them can contend with the Buckeyes. This puts much faith in McCord, but he’ll get it done.

Look for the East Division to finish in this order:

  1. Ohio State 

  2. Michigan

  3. Penn State

The Badgers are in the West and should easily win that over Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, and others.

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