Tips for Betting on Big Ten Win Totals in 2021

By Dan Vasta in College Football
| July 2, 2021 10:26 am PDT

The Big Ten missed out on some major non-conference matchups that ended up hurting some of their premier programs. Unfortunately, there were struggles among the likes of Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Penn State, and Nebraska.

To be considered the best conference in America, winning another national title would help. In any case, the teams in the tier below Ohio State need to start showing improvement. To get major accolades and to receive the love that the Big Ten desires, winning games is the cure.

I’m looking forward to this conference challenging for supremacy in the landscape of college football. Looking at win totals, here are my picks to click for the upcoming season in the Big Ten.

East Favorite: Ohio State

The Buckeyes are the worthy favorite, having won the conference four years running. Will they make it five in a row? Scroll down the bottom of the page for my official Big Ten picks, but know that this team has all the goods to make a return run to the conference championship.

Between the skill players and the offensive line, Ohio’s State’s offense is as robust as any in the nation. Their schedule is also favorable, so we should consider what other teams have a realistic shot at dethroning the champs.

Michigan is next in line at +450 (to win the conference) and sitting on a win total of 7.5. These are respectable figures for a program that has been on the decline, highlighted by last season’s debacle.

The Wolverines went just 2-4 in 2020 and failed to play in a bowl for the first time in the tenure of Jim Harbaugh.

Harbaugh enters the season on the hottest seat among any coach in the country. I would take a pass on throwing any coin on the Maize and Blue.

Penn State is also listed at +450 to win the East (win total set at 9), but they have a brand new offense with a ton of new pieces that were lacking from a season ago. Plus, they travel to Camp Randall in the opener, which is a tough place to start if you want to potentially win all of your games to challenge Ohio State.

Indiana (+1000), Maryland (+2000), and Michigan State (+2500) are priced in as the “next favorites” at the top college football betting sites.

The Hoosiers make the most sense in a landslide due to their major success from a season ago.

Over 75% of their offensive and defensive production is returning, with quarterback Michael Penix garnering most of the attention. The left-handed QB enjoyed a tremendous 2020 campaign before going down with a knee injury (torn ACL) that put a little damper on Indiana’s overall season. The Hoosiers gave the Buckeyes major issues in a classic offensive game in the Horseshoe last season; the matchup in 2021 will be contested in Bloomington.

West Favorite: Wisconsin

The Badgers are the slight favorites in the West over the likes of Iowa (+200) and Northwestern (+700). Somehow, Minnesota (+650) and Nebraska (+650) have better odds than Northwestern with a more favorable win total despite the Wildcats having more wins last season (7) than both of those squads had combined (6)!

Wisconsin brings back 83% of their 2020 production, which is the most among all Big Ten teams. Their ground game should be dominant as usual, and their stellar defense is something Paul Chryst and defensive coordinator Jim Leonard pride themselves in.

Purdue (+2000) and Illinois (+2500) finish off the basement of the division with hopes of getting a bowl berth now that regular schedules are back in place (non-conference).

I wouldn’t put anything on these two squads and would instead focus strictly on the value Northwestern brings. The Wildcats have been a Top-25 program and were a problem for the Badgers last season in Evanston. Wisconsin has more talent and should be the pick to win the West, but the schedule is just perfect for them.

The Badgers get to host Penn State in the opener and eventually host Michigan, Iowa, and Northwestern as well. They even play Notre Dame at Soldier Field in a neutral site game, so all the breaks seem to be lining up with the players from Madison. They will have a legitimate chance to win every game on their regular season schedule.

Big Ten Win Totals in 2021

Now that your appetite is whet for what’s in store for the B1G in 2021 let’s take a peek at each team’s win total.

2021 Big Ten Football Win Totals
Team Win Total
Ohio State 11
Wisconsin 9.5
Penn State 9
Iowa 8.5
Indiana 8
Michigan 7.5
Minnesota 7
Maryland 6
Northwestern 6
Nebraska 6
Purdue 5
Illinois 3
Rutgers N/A

Value Pick: Northwestern

The Wildcats likely won’t finish the season in the final AP Top 10 like they did a season ago. It won’t be easy to appear in a borderline New Year’s Six bowl for the second straight year.

The ‘Cats are second to last in the entire FBS in returning production, but the schedule is not a gauntlet. The Big Ten West is still searching for answers across the board, and Northwestern has been among the most reliable programs in the division (right there with Iowa, Wisconsin often).

There will only be three games where they may not be favored. In the final six games, NW travels to Michigan and Wisconsin before hosting Iowa. They should be competitive in all of those games, and I don’t see them losing many (if any at all) among other games not mentioned.

The Wildcats have proven to be reliable in games against Michigan State, Minnesota, Purdue, Duke (road), and Nebraska (road). Those are middling to struggling programs that Pat Fitzgerald has made his hay against throughout his career.

Barring a bad injury bug, I don’t see how Northwestern does not reach eight or more wins.

Team to Feast: Wisconsin

I am all in on the Badgers this season, especially since they are receiving little to zero hype. Many, including ESPN FPI, thought that the 2020 Badgers team would be a top-five squad. Wisconsin was littered with tons of accolades before playing a single down of football.

I just never bought in.

The Badgers humbling loss at Northwestern was the type of game that changed the season, derailing all momentum. Wisconsin will likely have revenge on their mind when they host the Wildcats on November 13th.

Looking back on last year, injuries to the wide receiver room stunted the growth of this offense. Danny Davis and Kendric Pryor are a couple of weapons who hope to stay on the field and make more of an impact. Jalen Burger enters his redshirt freshman season, and he could put on a dazzling display behind a typical Badger offensive line.

While the rest of the West division has some question marks with new signal-callers, Wisconsin returns Graham Mertz, who was fantastic in the limited games he played.

A monster non-conference showdown with Notre Dame could be the building block type of game that turns the Badgers into major favorites to win this division.

Paul Chryst has been widely considered as a Top 20 coach in the nation for many reasons. He does not often have the most talented teams in the Big Ten and yet is always in the running.

Case in point, in the six seasons he has been in Madison, Chryst has appeared in three New Year’s Six bowls. He won two of those three, which all resulted in AP Top 11 finishes. Their 2017-18 season was a sensational 13-1 year that included an Orange Bowl victory over Miami in their own backyard.

This current team is capable of accomplishing similar production. Another AP Top 10 finish is on the table.

I am buying the Badgers this season, and the lack of hype increases my confidence in their chances. Winning double-digit games won’t be a piece of cake this season, but they are talented enough to run the table and finish 12-0 heading into the Big Ten championship.

Team to Fade: Penn State

The Nittany Lions (9 wins, +100) are not a team I will back early on in the season. Issues arise at quarterback, and the skill players are not where they once were. John Lovett, Noah Cain, and Devyn Ford must become one of the premier backfields in the country if they expect to start the season on a high note.

The main issue for Penn State’s recent struggles is similar to the majority of programs in college football. It is never easy to replace legendary quarterbacks in a program.

When Penn State lost Trace McSorley, the program was left in a tough position. The ability to win close ball games put Penn State near the top of the mountain in college football. The signal-callers since McSorley have been inconsistent, and in turn, the offensive production has dropped significantly. On that note, I’m not in the camp who’s sold on Sean Clifford.

Clifford has had his issues throwing the football down the field. Taking care of the ball has always been an adventure, as has been completing enough passes (60.0% in career and 16 interceptions in last 21 games).

On top of the quarterback woes, the schedule is abysmal early. A trip to Madison before hosting a solid Auburn squad with an experienced quarterback in Bo Nix will be tough. Trips to Ohio State and Iowa will also be games where the Lions enter as substantial underdogs. Beating on Michigan at home is no guarantee, and a home date with Indiana is far from a lock.

In short, the wins won’t be there to get to nine. It might be tough just to come close to eight. I don’t view even view Penn State as a top-four team in the Big-Ten, let alone the second-best squad.

Winner: Ohio State

Brutus will be back on the sidelines, flexing its muscles in what should be another special season for Ryan Day.

The team does return the seventh-fewest amount of production from a season ago, but that should not matter much. The Buckeyes are simply loaded on the depth chart, and new guys have filled in admirably over the last decade-plus. I am jealous of their offensive line every season, and the one-two punch at wideout is a cheat code.

After Ohio State has a nice winning streak going in October, the odds may have doubled to -300 or so, and by that time, all the value is completely gone. We saw them last season at -225 to win the Big Ten to open with the three seasons prior, all with longer odds. The win total (11) suggests they have a realistic shot of going undefeated, and on paper, it looks rather likely.

The Badgers at +800 bring a ton to the table as well, but Ohio State has owned them over the years. Wisconsin has lost eight straight, including three straight in the Big Ten title game. Ohio State has a talent edge over every team in the B1G, and it hasn’t been that close.

Ryan Day has the special ingredients to continue conference dominance – there is no reason to think the Buckeyes won’t keep it up.

Betting College Football Win Totals in the Power 5

Don’t overthink it when your betting Big Ten win totals in 2021. Back Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Northwestern to soar over their projection. Get some money down on Penn State’s under.

When you’re ready to shift gears and tackle more college football win total odds, check out the following posts.

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