2019 Big Ten win total picks, predictions: Ohio State and Michigan face big numbers

The 2019 Big Ten season could be one of the more interesting we've seen in the conference in recent years. There are a number of teams that can compete for the Big Ten title, and unlike most seasons of recent vintage, not all of them are located in the East. Now, while such parity may not be a great thing for the conference's playoff hopes, it should make for an entertaining product for the fans. For those of us who are asked to pick overs and unders on preseason win totals in the conference ... well, it just makes things more difficult.

But I did it anyway, using the win totals posted by FanDuel. I want to make it clear, however, that while I give a pick for each team, that doesn't mean I think you should bet it. Unless I say I like the pick and the price FanDuel is offering, it's best to avoid it.

For those uninitiated on "prices," minus-odds of -120 mean you'd have to wager $120 to win $100, while plus-odds (+120) means wagering $100 would win you $120. An "EVEN" price would result in a $100 payout for a $100 wager. Also, since FanDuel is located in New Jersey, it does not give odds on Rutgers, so the Scarlet Knights are not included below.

2019 Big Ten Win Totals

3 wins: Illinois is coming off a 4-8 season, yet its win total is set at 3 entering 2019. I like the over here, even if I'm not super confident. Illinois' defense was atrocious in the second half of games last season, and it lost one of its best players to a horrible injury this offseason. There are also questions at quarterback, which is a pretty important position. All that said, with a nonconference schedule that includes Akron, UConn, Eastern Michigan and a home date against Rutgers, I think there are four wins on this schedule. There are possibly more on the table if a QB emerges and a young defensive line fulfills its potential. That said, I wouldn't bet the over at this price. -- Over -184, Under +154

6 wins: Indiana has been pretty consistent in recent years. It wins two or three games in nonconference play, and then it struggles through Big Ten play before finishing at 5-7. So to justify taking the over at six here, we have to believe Indiana can improve its win total by two games this year; mind you, the last time Indiana won seven games in a season was 2007. That's tough to do in the Big Ten East. I do think the Hoosiers win their three nonconference games and get a fourth over Rutgers, but where do the other three wins come from? Road games against Michigan State, Maryland, Nebraska, Penn State and Purdue are probably losses. So can they win three of their home dates against Ohio State, Northwestern and Michigan? I very much doubt it. Take the under, especially at this price. -- Over -136, Under +116

7.5 wins: The right play here is the under. You can justify picking Iowa to win eight games as it's well within range, and the juice on it makes it even more attractive. Still, I think the under happens often enough to justify the -130 price on it. The Hawkeyes will be on the road for key games against Iowa State, Michigan, Northwestern, Wisconsin and Nebraska. That means they would have to be perfect at home to realistically get to eight wins. Iowa certainly can do that, but Penn State and Purdue won't be gimmes, and Minnesota could be more challenging this season as well. -- Over +112, Under -130

4.5 wins: The Terps are hard to get a read on heading into 2019, but my gut tells me the under is the correct play here -- though I wouldn't bet it at this price. That said, I don't think the price on the over is right, either. I believe Maryland will get to four wins, but finding that fifth is difficult. Looking at this schedule, I wouldn't be surprised if Maryland is sitting at 4-4 before losing its final four games of the season against Michigan, Ohio State, Nebraska and Michigan State. -- Over +124, Under -146

9.5 wins: I'm high on Michigan heading into the 2019 season. So high that friends and colleagues have begun joking about me getting a Michigan tattoo soon. But do I like the value on taking the over 9.5 here? Actually, yes. I'm not thrilled at the idea of paying -168 here, but I don't see this Michigan team losing three games during the regular season unless it suffers a ton of attrition at crucial spots. In my opinion, even if Michigan isn't the most talented team in the Big Ten (that's still Ohio State), it enters the 2019 season with fewer question marks than any other team in the conference. Take this over. I'm confident Michigan will have already reached 10 wins before it faces Ohio State to end the regular season. -- Over -168, Under +142

7.5 wins: My natural inclination when I see a bet on Michigan State is to take the under, but that's game totals, not win totals. When it comes to figuring out whether the Spartans will win eight games or not, a lot of it depends on what the offense does. It's almost hard to imagine it doing worse in 2019, but realistically, how much better can it get with its personnel? I think this team almost certainly gets to seven wins, but eight seems like a bridge too far, especially when considering Sparty has to play Ohio State, Michigan, Northwestern and Wisconsin all on the road. The under is the right play here, and it's a reasonable price, too. -- Over +100, Under -120

6.5 wins: Minnesota won seven games last season and is 12-13 in two years under P.J. Fleck. The problem is that the Gophers are only 5-13 in the Big Ten, proving wildly inconsistent. One week they're losing to Illinois 55-31, the next week they're beating Purdue 41-14. So can they get to seven wins again? It'll all likely come down to a nonconference game at Fresno State. Last year the Gophers struggled to beat Fresno in Minneapolis, and the Bulldogs should be good again in 2019. If Minnesota wins that game, it has a decent chance of getting to seven wins. If it doesn't, it will be very difficult. If the odds were even, I would take the over, but they aren't. The price on the under is much more attractive, so let's go that route. --Over -190, Under +162

8.5 wins: An argument could be made that Nebraska enters 2019 with the best QB in the conference in Adrian Martinez, and an offense that got better as the season went on in 2018 should take a larger step forward in 2019. The question is whether Nebraska's defense will follow suit. If it doesn't, getting to nine wins will be damn near impossible. What's working in Nebraska's favor a bit is its schedule. It gets Ohio State from the East but avoids the Michigan schools and Penn State, drawing Indiana and Maryland instead. Like the Minnesota situation above, if we're just picking over or under, I'd take the under 8.5. But look at that price on the over! Can Nebraska get to nine wins 37.88 percent of the time? I think so. I think 8-4 is more likely, but 9-3 happens often enough to make it the right play. -- Over +164, Under -194

6.5 wins: I've been yelled at by a lot of Michigan fans in recent weeks because our CBSSports.com coach rankings had James Franklin as the best coach in the Big Ten. I was only one of six voters, but since I wrote the story, they all assume it's just my opinion. What they don't know is that I had James Franklin third on my ballot. Of course, even if they knew that they'd still be mad at me because I didn't have Jim Harbaugh at No. 1. I had Pat Fitzgerald there. I get that there are a lot of questions about Northwestern heading into 2019, but it's going to get to seven wins. It's more likely to get eight than seven. Take this over. -- Over -108, Under -108

10.5 wins: As I said earlier: Ohio State is still the most talented team in the Big Ten, and when it comes to college football, talent overcomes a lot of problems. Still, there are a lot of questions about this team that makes me uncomfortable betting the over here. Ryan Day has never run a program on his own, let alone a program of this size with these expectations. Justin Fields has never been a starting quarterback at the college level. The Buckeyes will also have to play Nebraska, Northwestern and Michigan on the road this season. There are tough home games against Michigan State, Wisconsin and Penn State as well. I don't think it's insane to think this Ohio State team could finish the regular season 10-2, nor do I think it's absurd to believe they can go 11-1. It's just, if I had to pick one, I lean to the under more than the over, though I don't like either option at these prices. --Over +112, Under -130

8.5 wins: This is another situation I don't have a great read on. Penn State finished 9-4 last season, and watching it there were times I thought it was a much better team than that record. But there were times I thought it was worse, too. Now Trace McSorley's gone, and the Nittany Lions have tough road games against Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State. That could be three losses right there, and then there are home dates against Michigan as well as a Purdue team that could prove problematic. In the end, I'm going to take the under, just because the price on it is great. -- Over -166, Under +140

8 wins: Listen, I like Purdue and I love Jeff Brohm. Rondale Moore is amazing and might be my favorite player in the country to watch. But eight wins? Doesn't eight wins seem like a pretty high bar for a team that hasn't won eight games in a season since 2007 and hasn't won nine games since 2003? I get that the Big Ten West is open, but I'm not ready to pick the Boilermakers to go 9-3, not even with that price on the over. I'm taking the under here because I have to make a pick, but I wouldn't bet either side of this total. -- Over +156, Under -184

8.5 wins: Was last year just one of those reset seasons that every non-elite program is bound to have once in a while, or was it the beginning of a downturn for the Badgers? I'm assuming the answer to that question is somewhere in the middle, but I'm not a big fan of Wisconsin's QB situation heading into 2019. I'd love to be proven wrong, but the Badgers have road games against South Florida, Ohio State, Nebraska and Minnesota. They also get Michigan, Northwestern and Michigan State at home. Oh, and Iowa and Purdue, too. Nine wins seem like a lot with questions at QB and that schedule, so I'm leaning under, and I like the price on it too. -- Over -114, Under -102
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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