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2009 Big 10 Football Picks
Team by Team Conference Preview and Odds
Big 10 Conference football teams are rarely on any pre season lists when it comes to making picks on who the potential National Champ will be. Rightly so. The Big 10 seems to disappoint year after year these days. Whether it's Ohio State being completely outclassed in the title game or Penn State getting spanked in the Rose Bowl or even Ohio State letting the Fiesta Bowl slip away last year to Texas, the Big 10 has had it's share of shortcomings.
But that doesn't mean it's not an exciting conference to watch and be a fan of. It's also a nice conference to handicap. Why? Because it's straight forward, smash mouth football for the most part (although Michigan with coach Rich Rodriguez is trying to change that.) It's a conference rich with tradition, history and rivalries which is what college football is all about.
Two games that you'll want to keep an eye in from a betting standpoint are the September 12th USC at Ohio State game and the September 26th Iowa at Penn State game. For the Buckeyes, it's a chance to avenge last years 35-3 loss early in the year to the Trojans. For Penn State, it's a chance to avenge a 24-23 loss to Iowa at a time in which Paterno and company were undefeated and looking at a possible BCS title game shot. Revenge is big folks, especially when that chance comes early in the year while last year is still fresh on the minds of the players and coaches.
The current odds favor Ohio State to win the Big 10 with Penn State a close 2nd. The Odds in this preview are a compilation from several of the Top Sportsbooks.
Let's take a look at the Big 10 Conference for the 2009 College Football Season with a look at each team along with their odds to win the Conference.
Ohio State Buckeyes - Odds to win Big
Ten 1.5/1 - The Buckeyes were just a couple plays away from winning the
Fiesta Bowl in 2008 before the Texas Longhorns snatched victory from the jaws of
defeat. I’m sure this has left a sour taste in Jim Tressel’s mouth. The
perennial powerhouse was left with just 4 returning offensive starters after
several guys left early for the NFL. Terrelle Pryor will be leading the offense.
The hulking sophomore stands 6’ 6” tall and he can really throw the ball. Much
of Buckeyes success will depend on how much Pryor has improved since last year.
Despite losing Laurenitis and Jenkins on defense, this is still a solid bunch on
that side of the ball. They are returning 8 starters, including senior Doug
Worthington who will help to anchor the line with junior Dexter Larimore. The
Big Ten title is not out of the question and they should win at least 9 games.
Penn State Nittany Lions - Odds to win Big Ten 3/1 - Joe Paterno did a great job with these guys in 2008, finishing with a record of 11-2 overall and 7-1 in the Big Ten. Their bowls hopes were dashed when they ran into the buzz saw that is the University of Southern California. Penn State will be returning 5 offensive starters this year. QB Daryll Clark will be at the helm for Nittany Lions. He finished second last year in the Big Ten MVP voting and he will be even better this year. He lost several good WRs, but the new guys will give him more height to work with. Tailback Evan Royster can really pound the ball, and he averaged 6.5 yards per carry last season. 4 starters are back on defense. All American LB Sean Lee will return after missing last year with an injury. The secondary hasn’t matured yet, and Paterno has expressed concern over this. Overall, this is a very good team. Look for them to win the Big Ten championship.
Michigan State Spartans - Odds to win Big Ten 5/1 - Despite a loss to Georgia in the Capital One Bowl, 2008 was a stellar year for the 9-4 Michigan State Spartans. Javon Ringer was one of the best players in the nation at RB, but is now a member of the Tennessee Titans in the NFL. Mark Dantonio’s squad will be returning 7 starters on offense. Kirk Cousins and Keith Nichol are both competing for the starting QB and as of now they will be sharing snaps in the fall. Ashton Leggett is a sturdy RB at 5’ 11” 255 lbs, but the sophomore is an unknown quantity.8 starters are back on defense for the Spartans. All of the linebackers are returning, including Greg Jones who will be playing MLB. He led the Spartans in tackles in each of the last two seasons. The secondary is a bright spot. Michigan State will remain ahead of the pack in the Big Ten this year, but they aren’t quite ready to contend for the championship.
Michigan Wolverines - Odds to win Big Ten 10/1 - The storied football school has certainly seen better days. They ended 2008 with a record of 3-9. That includes losses at home against Toledo, and on the road against Notre Dame. Despite this, things are finally headed in the right direction. Rich Rodriguez has added plenty of talent on each side of the ball in his second year on the job. On the offensive side of the ball, 8 starters are coming back. The super talented freshman Tate Forcier will be taking over at Quarterback. He completed over 70% of his passes in High School, and he will thrive in the spread offense. A healthy Brandon Minor at RB could mean 1,000+ yards for the senior. Michigan gave up 347 total points last year; a school record. New defensive coordinator Greg Robinson has plenty of experience and should whip them into shape. This team is still in rebuilding mode, but they are going down the right path. Making a Bowl game is a legitimate goal for the Michigan Wolverines.
Iowa Hawkeyes - Odds to win Big Ten 5/1 - Kirk Ferentz team went 9-4 last year and won the Outback Bowl over the South Carolina Gamecocks. Every fan on Earth remembers how they took down #3 Penn State in the late stages of the game. Iowa returns 6 starters on offense. Quarterback Ricky Stanzi will enter the season much more seasoned. The junior led the winning drive last year against the Nittany Lions and did very well. His only problem was turnovers. If he can stop throwing INTs, he will be one of the best QBs in the Big Ten. The defense has 8 starters coming back. The linebackers will shine for Iowa, along with the secondary. Games on the road against Ohio State, Michigan State, and Penn State all but guarantee they won’t win the Big Ten championship. Despite that, they are still a solid group.
Wisconsin Badgers - Odds to win Big Ten 8/1 - Bret Bielema’s team will need more consistency from QB Dustin Sherer for them to be successful. Last year ended with a crushing 42-13 loss to Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl. The offense is very potent. They led the Big Ten in rushing last year. The Badgers need more production from the defense, who suffered from poor tackling and communication in 2008. The defense lacks much needed experience. They may be able to build some momentum in the first three games of the year at home, but will probably go down in their first Big Ten game against Michigan State. If they score on a solid basis they could be dangerous.
Illinois Fighting Illini - Odds to win Big Ten 6/1 - 2008 didn’t treat Ron Zook and the Fighting Illini very well. They ended the year with a record of 5-7 and their only semi-noteworthy win came against Iowa. Things should go better for them this year. Fourth year starter Juice Williams will have some very good targets in Jeff Cumberland and Arrelious Benn. They should lead the Big Ten in passing once again. On the flipside, the defense looks weak. Their schedule is tough. They will play eight teams who had a bowl last year, including three who went to a BCS game. Things could go either way for the Fighting Illini.
Northwestern Wildcats - Odds to win Big Ten 20/1 - A win in the Alamo Bowl would’ve capped a big 2008 season for Northwestern, but they relented and lost to Missouri in OT. Pat Fitzgerald’s team finished last year 9-4. The offense returns just 5 starters. QB Mike Kafka saw action last year, and played well against Ohio State and Minnesota. The defense looks good with DE Corey Wootton anchoring the line. They have five games on their schedule this year that are almost guaranteed wins. A bowl game is not out of the question if they play their cards right.
Minnesota Gophers - Odds to win Big Ten 20/1 - Tim Brewster’s squad got crushed in the 2008 Insight Bowl against Kansas. A chance at redemption is possible if they can get some production from the offense. DeLeon Eskridge has to get yardage at RB, and Adam Weber has to be a playmaker at QB. The defense looks good and is chock full of speed. Six of the total team captains reside on the defensive side of the ball, which returns 8 starters from last season. The Minnesota Gophers need to improve to make it back to a bowl game.
Purdue Boilermakers - Odds to win Big Ten 75/1 - New coach Danny Hope brings just that with him; hope. That’s about all he can do as this 4-8 team isn’t likely to improve much. They lost their QB, RB, and top two WRs. On the bright side, the defense returns 7 starters. They are more than capable of containing some of the “lesser” opponents that Purdue will face. This team was 0-5 on the road last year. For them to succeed, the freshman class and the lesser known players will really have to step up.
Indiana Hoosiers - Odds to win Big Ten 50/1 - Third year coach Bill Lynch is ready to forget last year’s 3-9 season. The defense will shines at Indiana in 2009. They will be bringing back 9 starters from 2009. Greg Middleton and Jammie Kirlew are two of the best DEs in the Big Ten. The linebackers also look solid with Will Patterson and Tyler Replogle. The offense has changed their spread style to a formation called the “Pistol”. The RB will line up behind The QB like in the shotgun formation. This should add to their running game. With a lot of luck these guys could see a bowl game for the first time since 2007.
Looking for a dark horse pick to win the Big 10? That's always tough to do. There will always be a talent gap in the Big 10. A pecking order, which will see the best players go to Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and so on. Once in a blue moon a team like Illinois or Purdue may have an off the chart year, but more times than not it's going to be Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin or Michigan on top.
Several 2nd tier Big 10 teams return a healthy number of starters this year. None more than Minnesota with odds of 20/1 who returns 9 on offense and 8 on defense. They were a competitive football team until the end of the year in 2008, when they were blown out by Iowa and then Kansas. Michigan State, Iowa and Illinois could all surprise as well.
Check out all of our 2009 College Football Conference Previews!