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2) Key Releases
2010 Big 10 Football Preview
Current Odds - Predictions
Buckeyes Favored Once Again
Things should get interesting in the Big 10 next year with the addition of Nebraska to it's ranks. For now though, it's the same Big 10. Which means the talent is generally going to be distributed as it's been for years. You have Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin and, well, it used to be Michigan, and then you have the rest of the Big 10 and an occasional great year from one or two of the remaining teams. As far as we can tell, it like more of the same for 2010.
Looks like the oddsmakers and the bettors, at least thus far, agree with us as Ohio State is a prohibitive favorite to win the Big 10 at -250. For those not familiar with money line odds, that means you risk $250 to win $100. Compare that with the Odds on JoePa and Penn State who weigh in with current odds of +650, which means you risk $100 to win $650. Might be some value there.
Let's take a closer look at Big 10 Football for the 2010 season. Beside each team are the current odds to win the Big 10 as compiled from several top rated sportsbooks.
Ohio State Buckeyes - Current Odds to win Big 10 -250 - After failing to beat USC at home last year it appeared the Bucks season could be in trouble. That wasn't the case as they ended up 11-2 and victors in the Rose Bowl. QB Terrelle Pryor is finally flourishing and will be better than ever as a junior. He was the first Buck QB to lead the team in rushing since 1944. Pryor stands a great chance at winning the Heisman and that means his team will probably have a strong year. OSU has only one tough out of conference game this year and that comes in week 2 against the Miami Hurricanes. They beat Miami to win the National Championship in 2002. If they can win road games against Iowa and Wisconsin the Ohio State Buckeyes could find themselves playing for a National Championship for the 4th time in 9 years. The first half of the year looks like a breeze, providing they get by Miami. The 2nd half of the year will get interesting as they play the Big 10 elite with a big target on their backs. No value in Ohio State at the current odds of -250.
Iowa Hawkeyes - Current Odds to win Big 10 +350 - Whoa, did anyone see these guys coming last year? QB Ricky Stanzi led them to an 11-2 year with a win over Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl. Stanzi looks poised for a great senior year after passing for 2417 yards and 17 TDs in 2009. With 8 starters returning on defense the Hawkeyes will have a stout defensive yet again. Their defense allowed them to win the Orange Bowl and it will be the reason they are able to compete for top honors in the Big Ten this year. The offense is also balanced. They are staked at the running back position and have no shortage of targets for Stanzi at receiver. Only a touchdown and a field goal (in overtime at Ohio State) came between Iowa and an undefeated season last year. They gave up on average only 15 points per game while scoring 23. It would be a major surprise if the Hawkeyes did not compete for the Big 10 title in 2010. The talent is there. This is a solid, well coached, fundamentally sound football team that will have no excuses.
Penn State Nittany Lions - Current Odds to win Big 10 +650 - The legendary Joe Paterno led his team to an 11-2 record and a win in the Capital One Bowl over LSU in 2009. Their only losses came to Ohio State and Iowa. If they want to regain top honors in the Big Ten they will have to beat both of those teams this year. It's not out of the question for a team that boasts a good running game and strong defense. They will have to play 3 teams that won BCS games last year and all 3 of those games are on the road. We will know just how good Penn State is when the sun rises on September 12th. That's because after a warm up game to open the season against Youngstown State, Penn State goes on the road to play the defending National Champs, Alabama, on September 11th. Grab your popcorn!
Wisconsin Badgers - Current Odds to win Big 10 +350 - This team brings back 10 offensive starters after going 10-3 and winning the Champs Sports Bowl over Miami in 2009. 6 starters from 2009 are back on the defense. TE Lance Kendricks has the potential to make First Team All-Big Ten. He is one of the best pass catching TEs in the NCAA. John Clay is back at RB after scoring 18 TDs last year and gaining 1,548 yards. This team lit it up offensively a year ago, with the exception of their games against Iowa and Ohio State. With the 10 returning starters on offense, there are no worries there. It's the defense that needs improvement. Giving up 33 to Northwestern or 28 to Minnesota isn't how you go about winning a Big 10 title. If the defense improves, look out, this can be a scary team.
Michigan State Spartans - Current Odds to win Big 10 +1200 - Last season was subpar at best for Mark Dantanio and the Spartans as they ended the year 6-7 and lost their Bowl game against Texas Tech. They avoid Ohio State in Big Ten play this year and return 13 combined starters. QB Kirk Cousins passed for 2680 yards and 19 TDs last year. He will be even better in 2010. They will play host to Notre Dame on September 18. A win in that game could help them towards bigger things the rest of the season. One of the things that stands out is their losses from a year ago. They were close, with the exception of the pounding they took from Penn State, and that's a good thing. If they can turn those close losses into wins, this could be a 9 win team.
Michigan Wolverines - Current Odds to win Big 10 +1200 - It seems that this storied program has been lost in the wilderness in recent years. They finished just 5-7 last year under Coach Rich Rodriguez. He will be on the hot seat if they don't improve this year. The Wolverines have to play UCONN to open the year. That certainly won't be an easy game. They will then face Notre Dame on the road. Sophomore QB Tate Forcier has heaps of ability and he will have to utilize to keep his team in contention through a tough early schedule. The excuse that Rich Rodriguez needs time for his system to work will be running out soon. It had better start working, soon. He also better improve things on the defensive side of the ball where his team gave up 28 points per game. We still think Rodriguez and Michigan football simply don't fit. But, give him a little more time. He is a good coach. But anything less than 9 wins this year and the pressure will mount.
Northwestern Wildcats - Current Odds to win Big 10 +2000 - This team finished 8-5 last year losing a heart breaking close game against Auburn in the Outback Bowl. The Wildcats haven't won a Bowl game since the 1948 Rose Bowl. There is a huge chance that could change this year. They return 7 starters on offense and 6 on defense. On the offensive side of the ball fans should expect to see a better running game. On the defense the linebackers look much improved. A home game against Central Michigan won't be a gimme for the Wildcats. The Wildcats will also be in store for a tough game when they travel to face Wisconsin. With a bit of luck they can win both games.
Illinois Fighting Illini - Current Odds to win Big 10 +2000 - It seems like an eternity has passed since the Fighting Illini appeared in the Rose Bowl back in 2007. They finished 2009 with a record of 3-9. They return 12 starters from that team and they lose star QB Juice Williams. With uncertainty at the QB position, new coordinators on both sides of the ball, and just 8 returning starters from a 3 win team, Illinois has their work cut out for them. We'd expect them to improve on their 3 wins, but not by much.
Purdue Boilermakers - Current Odds to win Big 10 +2000 - Take solace Purdue fans. At least you have a good basketball team. Purdue returns 11 starters from a team that went 5-7 last year. They open the year @Notre Dame. Other than that game and Ohio State they don't really have any tough games. They can hope for Bowl play for the first time since 2007. 6 or 7 wins is within reach.
Indiana Hoosiers - Current Odds to win Big 10 +3000 - After going 4-8 last year the Hoosiers can hope for some improvement in 2010. 9 starters return on offense and 4 are back on defense. They can sweep their out of conference games and with a bit of luck they can have some success in the Big Ten. Their offense alone should add a couple of wins this year as it's one of the better offenses in the Big 10. This looks like a 6 win team.
Minnesota Gophers - Current Odds to win Big 10 +3000 - They couldn't win the Insight Bowl against Iowa State as 2 point favorites and ended 2009 with a 6-7 record. 9 starters are back on offense, but only 2 return on defense. They have an extremely tough schedule facing USC, OSU, PSU, and Wisconsin. On the plus side, 3 of those 4 games are at home. It looks like more of the same for the Gophers this year. Somewhere between 5 and 7 wins looks probable.
Other Conference Previews by Bettorsworld