2019 Big Ten championship odds, picks: Is Nebraska actually the best bet in the league?

The Big Ten keeps its headquarters in Chicago, as it's the largest city in Big Ten country and resides somewhat in the heart of the conference. Plus, the city is filled with Big Ten alumni, all of whom will soon be able to bet on sports in their own city legally. We wouldn't want them to go about doing something like that unprepared, would we?

Thankfully we have some 2019 Big Ten title odds from Fanduel to break down. Not surprisingly, Ohio State opens as the betting favorite to win the conference, but Michigan isn't far behind. Here are the odds for all 14 teams in the conference. Let's break down what we've got.


Ohio State






Penn State






Michigan State
















Best bet -- Nebraska (18-1): Now, let's make one thing clear. This is not a prediction that Nebraska is going to win the Big Ten. I don't even know that it will win the Big Ten West. Still, these are some juicy odds for a Nebraska team that may have finished only 4-8 last season but was 4-2 in its final six games. All four of those wins came at home, but the two road losses in that stretch were to Ohio State and Iowa, and they came by a combined total of eight points.

We've seen Scott Frost pull off a quick turnaround before, and Nebraska enters the 2019 season with possibly the best quarterback in its division, if not the entire league with Adrian Martinez. When you look around its division, everybody has key players to replace, and Northwestern, Wisconsin and Purdue will have new quarterbacks. The Huskers could be in a good spot to win the division, and then it's just the Big Ten East winner between them and a conference title. At 18/1 odds, the Huskers only have to win the conference 5.26 percent of the time for us to break even on this play. I think the low end of Nebraska's projection should be closer to 10 percent, so there's a lot of value here.

Worst wager -- Ohio State (EVEN): There are just too many questions about Ohio State only to be getting even money with it. Ryan Day went 3-0 as coach while filling in for Urban Meyer last year, but Meyer wasn't really gone. Now he is off the field (though still with the program), and Day is not only running the team himself, he'll be doing so with a new quarterback in Justin Fields, who was at Georgia last season. Yes, Fields is exceptionally talented and was one of the top recruits in his class for a reason, but he's not yet been asked to be The Guy at this level yet, so we can't say for sure how good he'll be.

Plus, Ohio State loses so many key players at other positions. Now, being Ohio State, it'll be able to replace that talent easier than most, but it's still a question mark. Winning a conference like the Big Ten is difficult enough as it is, and with all these questions, the payout on this bet isn't worth your risk.

Personal pick -- Michigan (2-1): I'm not incredibly confident about it because Michigan needs to get through Ohio State to win the Big Ten, and it hasn't been able to do that under Jim Harbaugh. I do think the odds of that happening have increased with Meyer gone, however. While I don't believe this is a great bet, there aren't a lot of other picks I like either aside from the value on Nebraska, so I'm rolling with the Wolverines.

The hope is that Shea Patterson takes a step forward and that the new offense is an improvement on what Michigan's had the last few years. Even with some key losses on the defensive side of the ball, we can count on a Don Brown defense to be one of the best in the league, and that will help tremendously. Again, I'm not super confident about this pick, but it's my favorite realistic bet. I'd recommend taking Michigan to win the conference, but sprinkling a little bit on Nebraska as well.

CBS Sports Writer

Tom Fornelli has been a college football writer at CBS Sports since 2010. During his time at CBS, Tom has proven time and again that he hates your favorite team and thinks your rival is a paragon of football... Full Bio

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